On Saturday we were packed in like sticky sweaty little puppies, waiting for Zumba to start. The doors were open, Transformer-like floor fans roared, but still it was stifling.
"We're already dripping sweat and we haven't even started yet," we whined.
Finally the room filled with music and Ana our Zumba Guru started to move. We stopped our complaining and forgot that we didn't even have an arm's length apart from each other to move.
The typical whoops, whistles and cheers that have become our soundtrack drowned out the droning fan.
Belly-dancing music came on and Ana led us through the slow, silky introduction before the melody burst into a wild tangle of sound. We mimicked the piercing primal chant of the song.
Suddenly, this woman bolted from her spot a row in front of mine, and started to dance next to Ana. Her moves were of a woman possessed. She was powerfully large and her thick, dark braid, veined with gray, pulsated as she moved.
Her beaded forehead glistened under the lights.
Her raw chants silenced ours.
Her flesh became the vibration of the music.
She shimmied. She shook.
Her cupped hands sliced through the air.
I stopped dancing to watch her. My hands flew up to cover my mouth in awe. I tried to figure out her story. What if she was a famous belly-dancer when she was young and in her prime? Or...maybe she's been an oppressed housewife her whole life, complacent and obedient, and this was the first time she'd ever done anything so daring.
I looked around. Most people had stopped dancing to watch.
The room had erupted in celebratory laughter and cat calls. We clapped along to the beat.
We cheered for her because whatever her story was, this 50-something year-old-woman had gotten her sexy back.
We cheered because whatever our story was, we could get our sexy back too!
Unfortunately, Ana our guru did not seem to share in our excitement. She just kept following her own routine, throwing confused, nervous glances over at the woman.
She would not give her center stage!...this woman whose native music had filled her veins with life.
Finally, the woman stopped dancing and bowed a little to Ana, smiling sheepishly. She came back to her spot in front of me. I just had to give her a hug. Others came up to hug her. For the rest of the hour people hugged her. Thanked her for giving us this gift.
Ana, come on now! I can't believe you missed it.
You inspired her! You inspired us.
You helped us believe it isn't over yet...
even if we don't turn heads on the street as much...
even if stretching before and after Zumba has become a necessity and not just a formality...
A few weeks ago you were selling Zumba bumper stickers. One said,
"Zumba Changed My Wife"
and ain't that the truth.
In the year I've been doing your Zumba class, I've watched middle-aged women start coming to your class religiously and become inspired to change their lives.
I've watched them widdle their bodies into sculpted sculptures...probably the best they've ever looked in their lives.
What more could a guru hope for?
The woman honored you in the only way she knew how.