I’ve been attending the Big Fat Ass Dance Class this autumn – and it’s been the highlight of my week. Aileen, who leads the class, says there is one simple goal – to have fun. And we do. We move to music, play games, laugh, and get a good workout.
There are 28 of us in the Friday morning class, ranging in age from our early 20s to our 60s. We start out with the Name Game – using our bodies to introduce ourselves and to express how we’re feeling at that particular moment in time – so people act out being sleepy or frazzled or happy. We go on to move our bodies in a wide variety of ways. We throw an imaginary ball, imitate each other’s movements, form a blob and move together like a flock of birds.
It is so unusual for us in modern society to use our bodies to express ourselves. I love just moving freely – raising my hands in the air, swaying with the music, using my body to express happiness or grief. I was particularly moved when Aileen talked about our lower abdomen as the second chakra and a source of power and energy. We make low grunts that originate in that area and yet seem even deeper and more primal. It was so positive to feel that part of my body as a source of energy rather than disease.
I’m an introvert, and I found it hard at first to dance with other people. And some of the movements certainly do break down our personal space. Last week we were rolling our heads around and over our partner’s head. But there is an amazing trust that builds up in the group. And we are focussed inside ourselves, often dancing with our eyes closed, trusting our partner to stop us from hurting ourselves. So we’re alone inside of a friendly protecting group of people.
I really appreciate the fact that Aileen encourages us to move in ways that suit us. When my back starts aching, I lie on the floor and keep my spine immobile as I move my hands and arms and feet. Some of the others join me – dancing in a circle around me or wiggling their toes against mine.
As adults, we forget what it means to play – to twirl to the music without thinking about what we look like, to experiment with different ways of moving our arms and legs, to let go of our personal space and play together in a non-sexual way.
It’s good physical exercise, and it’s emotional release. I let go of my fears and worries and accept laughter and energy in their place.