Bellydancing in Kimono

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fangirlness and other thoughts

I cannot wait to see FF Advent Children! It looks so hot. I especially cannot wait since I'm afraid that my sister will watch too many trailers and will spoil the movie for me. I've seen at least two of the trailers (she made me watch part of the one shown at E3 this morning) and -pardon the fangirl escaping- Vincent Valentine is a total bishonen! Wooo!
Please excuse the outburst...

In other news, the obijime I bought was sent yesterday, but the lady screwed up and sent it 1st class when I paid for priority mail. No huge deal. She already gave me positive feedback since she screwed up and offered me free shipping on my next purchase, but I don't know if I'll buy from her again as she mostly deals in fabric from kimonos and obis. Nice stuff, but I want the whole shebang! I noticed that she listed a few more obijime today after her first three listed were snatched up within a day. I also noticed she's raised her prices. They're still better deals than the other obijimes, but I think she realized how sought after they are and how she might have undersold. Plus I didn't like them as much as the one I bought. ^_^

Monday, June 27, 2005

Silly people on ebay

People on ebay can be pretty obtuse, but this one is priceless:

The seller thinks it's a kimono and hakama- yes they did add a question mark, but still it is ridiculous. The item in question is most probably a hanbok- the korean traditional garment I mentiones in an earlier post. There is nothing resembling hakama in this outfit. Hanbok have a skirt that comes up to an empire waitline and also have a very short jacket that starts at the empire waist. In this one, there appears to be an under-dress because the outer layer is chiffony and thus kinda transparent. Come on, people! If you at least know the word hakama, you can at least recognize one or look up pictures. I realize not too many people know about korean traditional dress, but this falls into the "they all look alike" catagory and irks me to no end. I can't tell you how many chi bao (the fitted chinese dresses) are listed as kimono. They look nothing alike!!!

I also love it when people list bath robes and try to pass them off as kimono. Most western bath robes are designed with little ties to keep them shut that force you to put the right side of the robe over the left which is the way japanese dress their dead for burial/cremation.
I guess you could call me superstitious because I won't do right over left. When I was in a japanese theater production, we had to teach the inexperienced kids not to "kill themselves" when they got dressed. We would say "Look what you did! You're dead!"

So yeah, lesson of the day: Do your homework and don't throw around the word kimono, because even though hanbok and kimono are related garments historically (china -> korea -> japan), they haven't ever been interchangeable terms or looked similar for hundreds, maybe a thousand years! I'd have to check my sources so don't quote me on the period of time- just know that it's a frickin' long time.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

No time for obi, Dr Jones

I gave up on the obi. I'll find another I love some other time. I'm going to be moving soon, so I think it would be better to not buy any more heavy purchases. That includes obi, kimono, fabric (for bellydance projects), and any other silly things. But I was able to find an obijime that will work well with the kimono and obi for a mere $11 total (shipping included). Sure it's $4 more than my yukata and is only a 60" silk cord, but it will look nicer than the obijime I have that are pre-tied and it's much cheaper than other ones I've seen and not liked as well. And, I get the practice of tying one - the pretied ones are fancy, but they take up so much room and hide my pretty cranes on that obi. This one is nice because it's purple on one side and cream on the other, so I can flip it over if I don't like one of the colors. Versatility!
Here's the pic from the auction:
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I'm happy. Hopefully it will arrive before I leave for a short trip on Thursday.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Bleh.. not much dance and not much kimono

I officially have two dry sockets form my lower wisdom teeth, which sucks, but the medicine is fabulous. It's also nice to know I'm not a whiner and a hypochondriac. The taste of the medicine is not so great, but it's better than not sleeping and feeling like I wanted to cut my face off.

I am currently coveting an obi on Ebay. It would be nice to have two since my crane obi is so fancy I worry about getting it dirty. I would able to practice more since I wouldn't be so worried about damaging it. I really want this one... Hopefully no one will snipe me AGAIN!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hidden Fortress and Dancing with the Stars

Further proof (as if you needed any) that George Lucas isn't very creative:
I just finished The Hidden Fortress by Kurosawa and I had heard that Lucas borrowed some imagery but I had no idea how much or even how the characters are almost stright from that film. There's a Luke/Leia character (Hime Yuki), a Han/Obi Wan character (Mifune), a Lando(Mifune's friend), a C3PO combo (both peasants), and even a Chewbacca (the peasant girl from the princess' clan). Some of the shots were ridiculously similar. Sure, we all know Georgie Boy likes to borrow, but blech! I even realized that a shot from Episode III was taken from Warcraft 3- I watched my sister play the one of the last missions in the Human Campaign where a prince is driven insane by an evil sword and returns to his kingdom and promptly kills his own father. As he walks through the palace to the throne room, there is an aerial shot of him and his troops strolling through a large hall and his cape billows behind him. Compare Anakin going to the Jedi temple and you will not find a better match. I would have thought Lucas would be more careful since gamers make up a good deal of his audience. Some would argue it is homage, but I say : P

Oh, and Joey needed to be booted off this week, not Rachel. I like Dancing with the Stars, but sometimes the judges are a bit nutty. Plus I think the female host is an airhead.


Hehe. Yamatoku is selling a shibori yukata almost exactly like mine for $55 (plus shipping).
I don't think it's as pretty as mine either- mine has yellow flowers as well as pink.
I'm one smug kimono addict right now. : P

I'm so bored. I can't dance because of my lack of wisdom teeth and it sucks. My face hurts and I can't shimmy into oblivion.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ebay Argh!

Rcenetly I posted on how awesome it was to find a yukata ( an indigo shibori yukata probably from the narumi region as my research has indicated!) for a steal, but since then, every single obiage/obijime set I bid on is sniped. It's ridiculous! The first set I bid on was sniped but the other sets that people had bid on that were similar were untouched, save by the winning bidder. This last time, there were at least three sets offered by the same seller and I was the only person to bid on any of them. Then someone sniped me at one minute before the end of the auction and the rest of the sets remianed unsold. I had read about "groupthink" in Ebay, the concept that people bid on items that others have bid on even if there are other equivalent items for sale for the same price, simply because if someone bid on that item, it must be better. If that is the case for what happened in the auction last night, I am going to be so pissed because I picked out that set because it would coordinate with my obi and kimono. I tell ya- it ain't fair! I had my wisdom teeth taken out yesterday and my whole face hurts and I just wanted the satisfaction of knowing I had the final piece of my whole ensemble. But no!!! Bleh.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My sister's yukata

This is my sister's first time dressing herself in yukata. I talked her through the whole thing and helped her a little, but she did most of it by herself. Makes me proud. I bought her the yukata and obi for Christmas- it was my big present to her.
First pic:
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Geta and tabi complete the outfit.
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Nice bow, eh?
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Awwww... She's too cute.

I'm a proud big sis!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Another experiment

I tried on my hitoe (unlined) purple kimono (I have no idea what kind of textile it is) and gave the otaiko obi another shot. I looove my obi makura and my obiita, but I'm not sold on the kohlin belt. It's possible I'm just using it incorrectly, but it seemed kinda useless- nothing a koshihimo can't do. My taiko obi was better, but the part wrapped around my body got loose and still looked squished despite the lovely obiita action :P I'm still trying, learning more each time I give it a shot. I can't imagine how people wore lined kimonos when it was hot before it was the time of year to wear hitoe- I was boiling and I had a fan going....

Monday, June 13, 2005

Shibori Yukata!!!!

What are the odds?? My shibori yukata arrived here today along with the obi accessories! Of course, this means I'll have to try everything on...
Let me just say, it is GORGEOUS! It's actually really long. The seller said it was only 5' long from nape to hem, but it would probably fit someone 5'6", 5'7" probably. The fabric is amazing- I've never worn anything shibori (except my himo, but that hardly counts) and it is quite a texture. I used my new obi ita and the results were great. The obi looks so crisp and pretty. That one piece of equipment will make my obis look so much more elegant. I always see people with the classic squished obi, especialy when there is an obijime involved and I always thought it looked unfinished. I haven't tried out the obi makura or the kohlin belt, but I must say, they look really useful.

The pictures I took are crappy- I only had my webcam to take them with so they are kinda fuzzy. I am really proud of the nape of my neck- I actually had some showing this time. I'm not sure this came out in the pictures, but hopefully it did.
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Here you can see how nice and smooth the obi looks.
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My collar is happy!
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And further proof that I am getting so much better at arranging the collar. :)

It's funny how conical my body became after using the obiita. My ohashori (the fold of the kimono below the obi) is really large. I don't know if that is a huge blunder, but it probably really can't be helped since the yukata is so long. I'm so happy, it makes me feel stupid. Maybe later I'll try on another kimono and try my hand at a taiko musubi with my new-found friends/helpers courtesy of Kyoto Kimono. Their obi accessory set is ridiculously reasonable and they were very nice and, as you can see, they sell good quality stuff. Bravo!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Back from Greek dance

It went pretty well. I learned a new dance called the Kritiko (from Crete :P ) which reminded me of a drunken person with a big attitude. There's a lot of kicking and swinging the feet around in a sort of circle and a lot of back and forth steps (almost stumbling but a little more dignified hehe). At first it was crazy because you start on the left. When I learned the kalamatiano and the hasaposerviko, I was taught that "all greek dances start to the right" so it was an eye-opener. Then we learned the dance you do to Zorba the Greek, but I was having spatial issues (the teacher was opposite from me) so I kept getting confused as to which foot was the one I was supposed to be stepping with. It was a bit of a train wreck for me. I doubt I will remember it unless someone reteaches me soon. Eh. It was fun though. I impressed them with my awesome kalamatiano variations. One of the old ladies yelled "Opa" and asked if I were Greek. That was a nice compliment.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Want a gig?

Class tonight. Hopefully I can eat early enough this time.
My old teacher surprised me today with an email offering her new gig referral service. I had to pick myself up off the floor. I feel silly, since I know I am capable of doing gigs since my debut went pretty well, but it is quite a compliment that my teacher would offer me a paying gig. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
I need to go eat!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Thoughts on geisha and bellydancers

I hope I do not come off as sounding stupid or completely naive, but here goes.
I was looking at some pictures from a trip to Kyoto on the Rising Sun Imports webpage and one long sequence involved being visited by a maiko (I'm assuming since her kimono is really colorful and "gaudy" although I personally don't think it gaudy- rather than the more sedate or "elegant" colors a geiko would wear) who pours a few drinks and later dances for the guests.

What occurred to me was that maybe geisha are a cultural analog to bellydancers. Many people have the misconception that geisha are well-dressed prostitutes and bellydancers also suffer a bad image problem. Some people cannot differentiate bellydancers from strippers (although they may share some of the same roots- read a bit about "hootchi-coochi" shows or Mata Hari), others think they provide "extra" services for an extra fee. I think in both cases, something I heard a professional bellydancer once say rings true: "we pay a lot for our costumes- why would we want to take them off??"

I think both groups are artists who really suffer from exotic harem fantasies. This is not to say that not all geisha or bellydancers feel this way. I read a comment in an article about geisha quoting a former geisha as saying that she tried to be the ideal woman for her male clients, that she fullfiled her clients' fantasies about women (but not in a physical sense, she was quick to add). That may or may not be journalistic license, which I see all to often in written articles about bellydancers ("writhing voluptuous bodies," etc). Bellydancers also have to contend with the odd bird who doesn't feel it is inappropriate to shimmy their breasts in a man's face or those who wear costuming that leaves nothing (and I mean nothing) to the imagination, especially during spins and turns :P. Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with cut-outs, side-slit skirts, etc, but one has to draw the line before we literally expose ourselves to the general public. Certaily in the bellydance community we have a long-standing argument of "bd is sexy" vs "bd is not sexy, it's sensual." In the case of the sensual argument, many believe that once you head down the "sexy" path, it means you are catering to men and you aren't powerful or expressive, etc. I don't agree with that in the slightest. I dance for myself, but I also dance to entertain everyone- all this nonsense about dancing just for men gets my goat. Do people think that half the audience disappears for me when I get on stage?? There's also a debate whether or not "bellydance" is a term we should use to refer to the artform, but I won't get into that. It's a big ugly fight.

But I digress. Clearly geisha also inhabit this narrow world of sexy/powerful/sophisticated- check out the nape of the neck on a geisha/maiko. I think at the bottom of it all, we both serve the same purpose. We entertain. Bellydancers don't need to be as well-versed in conversation and politics, but we are both there to set a mood and create an atmosphere.

Back to what inspired these thoughts in the first place. As I looked at the pictures of the maiko's face while she performed, I saw the concentration and the artfulness. Looking at the way she held her mouth with its exaggerated lipstick, I could see more and more of her persona; that she becomes someone else when she is dressed in her furisode and her makeup is applied. Even though I wasn't seeing it in real-time, I could see how she held the audience with her facial expressions and her gestures. I'm only speculating of course, but looking at her performing, I thought of myself when I perform. Sure, we're doing radically different dance steps, but I think the feelings underneath remain the same.

Kimono Nightmare

I think I have a serious problem. Last night I had a nightmare about my shibori yukata. In the dream, it was polyester and the shibori wasn't real shibori- it was just textured to look like shibori. (I actually saw a real kimono like this- it must have contributed to the nightmare) I think it's pretty funny that I had that dream. When I woke up this morning, I checked my email and the seller wrote that they sent it parcel post because it was too heavy for priority. It will be here in 5 days. I must have sensed the disturbance in the force...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Oh yeah! Plus some greek dancing

w00t! They replied. I paid. It should be out sometime tomorrow. Yay shibori yukata! {does the shibori dance} (I wish there were a folk dance associated with kimono production- that would be cool). Maybe there's an element of that sort of thing in bon odori. I only tried it once and managed to learn a "shovel, shovel" step and other stuff that I forgot.

Speaking of folk dances, I have a greek dance workshop this week. My dance teacher is a fabulous little Greek lady and it's nice how she includes greek music in her bellydance classes. I'm a big fan of greek music, especially the Greek-via-Sweden band Antique, who sing such favorites as "Dinata Dinata" and "Opa Opa" (and no, not all their songs have the same repetition in the title). Trust me, they are really fun- not classical chiftitelli, but excellent pop mixed with traditional instrumentation (my personal fav).

I know two greek folkdances from college: the hasaposerviko and kalamatiano (please forgive me if I butchered the spellings). I think we're learning some kind of sailor dance at this workshop. All I do know is that Greek dance is a hardcore cardio workout- seriously butt-kicking stuff! It's great fun, but since I performed a bit doing the above mentioned dances at a school dance performance, I get kinda irritated with the odd goofball who joins the line and refuses to keep up and pulls everyone all over the place (mostly because they don't know the steps and are just bouncing around). Last year I went to a Greek festival on Oahu (apparently there are lots of Greek people in Hawaii) and I had a great time joining the dancers and helping out people who wanted to give it a shot. I highly recommend social dances like Greek dance because if you learn the basic steps, its all repetition and variation and anyone can join in!

I love ebay

I just won a shibori yukata for a grand total of $7- can I say that again? 7 US dollars! Including shipping. Woohoo! Nobody noticed the auction because the page said nothing about shibori or even that it was a yukata and the picture was tiny. But, I knew shibori when I saw it.
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If all goes well, I should have it by the end of the week. And there will be pictures. I almost feel guilty...

I wrote them earlier to confirm the amount I was to pay to paypal, but no response yet. I hope they are not pissed since they probably lost money in the sale. Dunno. They are in Texas, so it's probably just a time zone issue.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

On an evil note....

Excuse my Livejournal moment (I promised myself I would keep this blog free from petty personal crap), but it is the most deliciously satisfying moment to know that other people realize how much of a crazy jerk someone is- something you've know for a looong time. Hehe. Sometimes it takes people a long time to reveal how messed up they really are, but boy, do I feel vindicated!

At least I was good and sewed my torn seam on both the kurotomesode and the haori. I had forgotten about the haori's open seam, but it is all better now. I really would like to find a book about sewing kimono. I think my next big project might include buying a really neat karinui (basted, but unfinished garment) and finishing it. I am concerned about the lining part, though. I got all inspired from another blog I was reading:
Man, she really makes kitsuke look easy. I wanna be like her when I grow up hehe.


I tried to put on my kurotomesode and it was nearly a complete disaster. Again, the biggest issues arose while I was trying to put on the obi (notice I said trying because it looked awful). I need a real obi makura (my makeshift one out of a rolled up towel and an old pair of tights ain't cutting it). >_< I also managed to tear the seam of one of the sleeve while walking through a doorway and catching it on a handle. That'll be fun to sew back together.... I got so mad at the nagoya obi, I took it off without taking any pictures (believe me it's better this way). But I decided that it shouldn't be a complete loss and threw on my yukata obi and put on my fun haori.
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Please excuse the crazy hair- it felt like an epic battle with the nagoya obi, so no surprise. So again, this is a kurotomesode: silk with ryozuma (mirror image) yuzen work with some embroidery accents. No, I should not be wearing it given my marital status (kurotomesode is the most formal kimono for married women), but I felt like putting it on. The haori I believe is also silk and may be ro. I think so because it has a striated texture with lines that are more solid and others that are a more open weave, plus it is very light and is hitoe (unlined).

I was lucky enough to find these two, along with another haori, the plover kimono from earlier, and another informal kimono at the University I used to attend. The costume/fashion department was getting rid of a lot of old examples they had in storage and I was lucky enough to stumble upon the sale. They also had one of the traditional Korean dresses (hanbok) and I almost bought it- I really regret not getting that one. It was purple and it was neat to see how the dress works. It's actually a top that ends at an empire waist and you were a kind of apron underneath- straps go over each shoulder and fabric falls from where the top ends. Here's a link:
The one I found wasn't as poofy as those shown on that site, but then again, there's probably a crinoline or something under them.

On a silly note, I was so please with the yukata obi that I had my sister take a picture of that too. It's the best knot I ever did!
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Yeah, I'm a dork, but I wanted it for posterity's sake :P
More like for my own reference and proof to myself that I can tie at least one obi musubi....
Ah man! The crest (mon) is totally not centered- or maybe it's the obi... Argh!

Things to get:
Obi makura, obijime, obiage, maybe a more sedate jyuban, real kitsuke lessons!!!

Friday, June 03, 2005

First Attempt

Please be kind- it is my first attempt at tying an otaiko musubi and as such it took me about an hour to do it and I also pulled at my kimono while trying to tie the knot so things aren't as aligned as I wished they would be.
So, again, Here goes:
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I am in looooove with this combination! The whole ensemble was my present to myself for getting a few science papers published (in obscure journals albeit, but now I am in print, baby!). I had the tsukesage (courtesy of ebay seller ryujapan-99 who has the most awesome stuff ever!! although usually his stuff is too small for me) for a few months before I found the perfect obi (courtesy of yamatoku- see the link). It was really hard to find something light pink that wasn't too loud or ostentatious and I snapped that baby up right after it was listed (it was insanely reasonable too). For those who care, the tsukesage is a rinzu silk with gorgeous yuzen designs (hime, taiko, rose motifs). The obi is also silk with dyed crane with some additional embroidery.
View number 2:
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Don't get me started on the wrinkles and the fact that the obi is too low and slightly angled, I was just happy it looked something like an otaiko! I used the Japan Culture Club website as well as Rising Sun Imports page to help me figure it out. You can see my cute blue-greenish juban - also rinzu silk and according to Ichiroya, it's from mid-Showa period (1950's or so).
Last view:
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I really need a smaller obijime and a real obiage - the cranes on the front panel are almost completely obscured by the obijime (a really neat pre-tied one I found in an antique shop in Hawai'i). Despite having my collars out of whack, etc. I am so happy with this ensemble. Weeeeeeeeeeeee!!
I think ebay is calling- I have to go windowshop now....

Lots of shimmies

Last night in class, we worked on a lot of shimmies. One of the interesting things Amina said was that she viewed the dance as a reflection of the universe; how everything is actually vibrating and nothing is solid (which is definately true on a subatomic level), hence we shimmy to convey the energy in the universe. It's kinda NewAgey to me, but at the same time, when you imagine it and listen to the vibrations in the music, it makes the shimmy come naturally and easier. Amina really has a knack for getting me to focus on relaxing my muscles- it is pretty crazy how much we tense up while trying to work hard and get things right. She's definately up there on the "amazing teachers" scale. I only hope I can find someone as fabulous when I move up north.

Hopefully I will be able to post my first attempt at an otaiko musubi later today (the master of the photo card will be coming home later).

There were so many drool-worthy kimono on ebay last night and since I've had to put a moratorium on my spending, I keep getting upset when so many people are getting awesome kimonos for a steal! Argh! But I'm still on the lookout for The One: the furisode of my dreams (and pocketbook :P ).

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Off to class

This is why you don't eat a lot before you go to dance class: I feel like I'm gonna lose my cookies.
My teacher's name is Amina Salah and she specializes in Egyptian technique. She's the real deal too- I've had teachers before who had a real mishmash of styles, but I think I'm an egyptian girl myself. I've been lucky enough to study with Willow Chang as well- she's also an awesome egyptian technique-focused dancer. I noticed myself even picking up the whole "hand on my forehead" pose when I was trying really hard to figure a move out in class (kinda a "ya habibi" moment). At least that will come in handy if I ever have a rough time pulling off a move in a performance- maybe my hands will look nice and egyptian while I'm fudging it!
Gotta go get my bum over to class.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Here goes....

Something has compelled me to start this thing. Hopefully it will be interesting to someone other than me. I just wish I could get my profile photo to show up... Ahh. There it is. Success!

So, essentially, I am a bellydancing kimono addict. I couldn't have picked more expensive addictions except if I were into equestrian stuff (although have been there, done that too) or illegal narcotics or scuba diving (have not tried either of those heh). I hope to post my attempts at kitsuke (kimono dressing) and my various homemade and purchased bedlah (arabic word for "suit" which is the term used for a bellydancing outfit- the professional uniform as it were).

Here's my first kimono-related pic:

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I am wearing a vintage sha hitoe kimono with little plovers (chidori) decorating it - I need a close-up for them to be really visible. I showed it to an old professor of mine who lived in kyoto for a while and she said that it was possibly a geisha's kimono since the plover was the "mascot" for the geisha district near her. I dunno if it is true or not, but it would be nice. I cheated with the obi since I didn't have anything other than a hanhaba obi really only suited for yukata at the time. I've since purchased a gorgeous green fukuro obi and a pink nagoya obi with a simple crane motif-more on these in later posts I'm sure. I used the butterfly obi musubi since it was the only one I knew (hence the front only pose). I'm still practicing my otaiko knot and will post a picture of that soon (I still haven't figured out the whole digital camera card transfer yet).

And here is my first BD related pic:
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It's from my first real gig. It was my friend from high school's graduation from law school, so it was my present to him. Everyone, except for a few cranky older ladies, seemed to be having a good time, although it was hard to get anyone up to dance with me. Apparently, one of the older men had just had a bypass in the last month and everyone was worried I was going to give him a heart attack. Luckily nothing happened, and besides, there were a few EMT's and police officers in the family.

I bought this turkish bedlah (not a homemade, although I did make the underskirt which you can barely see) and it worked well, except the fringe covered my stomach up too much and nobody could see my belly roll. Also, I think it gave me bad posture (you can kinda see it in this picture), but that may be because I'm doing sword or I'm really nervous. :P

I had a great time and I improvised the whole performance. The funniest thing was this small boy who was playing his gameboy advance the entire time I was dancing. I asked afterwards if he actually looked up at all, but he didn't. Poor kid probably didn't even know I had been dancing at all.

Alright, enough for now. Maybe I'm gonna need to break up this blog into two pieces...


So yeah, my big bro is in Paris, living it up. He apparently saw Billy Idol in the airport and remarked, "He looked entirely too much like Billy Idol."