7 Shvat 5781 / Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
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African Dance Queen    

African Dance Queen

It’s extremely important that our children associate with friends who are genuine, good, and positive. Our energies affect each other in very subtle, yet deep ways…


Many of you might know me as the self-titled Zumba Queen. But I bet you didn’t know that my dance moves have a little history. Let’s go way back to nearly the beginning of creation. For as long as I can remember, I was a complete klutz. I would trip over myself when I wore flats. Actually, I still do that. Even pouring a glass of water without spilling half of it on my hand was hard for me.  Drawing a straight line was out of the question. It still is.


Obviously, my klutziness transferred on to the dance floor during the most awkward stage of my life - the ‘tween stage. Okay, I’ve gotta think about this for a minute… got it. It was around the late ‘80’s/early ‘90’s when all the bar/bat mitzvahs were happening. Of course, I wasn’t invited to most of them, but when I was, you can be sure that I showed up looking like a million bucks.


If you’re old enough, you may remember the popular look at the time. I had hair-sprayed bangs that were seriously out of control. They were, I don’t know, like six inches high. If that weren’t enough, the hair at my temples was also sprayed straight out to the sides. Plus, my hair was krinkle-y and crunchy from overdosing on mousse and a diffuser. And I can’t forget to mention my unibrow and chicken legs that never met a razor. I was h-h-h-hotttt. If that’s not million-dollar-worthy, then I don’t know what is.


During this most horrifying and embarrassing time, I tried and tried to look cool on the dance floor. But I just couldn’t get it. I didn’t have the moves like the other girls had. Plus, I was so super-skinny and was still pre-pubescent, and that made me look even more pathetic.


Eventually, the years went by and the apes mysteriously and accidentally morphed into intelligent, thinking human beings. Over the billenia, (is that a word?) my eyebrows separated along with the tectonic plates, and now they are completely free from one another. Thanks to the miracle of evolution, the hair on my legs also disappeared. It could be because my mother had finally let me wax (not shave!) but I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to continue observing for another few hundred million years.


Somehow, my dance moves also mysteriously evolved, and when I hit my late teens, I was gettin’ daaaoooowwwwwnnnn. Aww, yeah. I’m a smooth criminal.


When I was nearing the end of my illustrious college career, I needed a few more credits to graduate. I was fed up with changing my major and just wanted to finish already. I needed an elective, which is basically a class that is a total waste of time. I didn’t have many choices, so I ended up signing up for African Dance. I’m completely serious.


On the first day, I saw that I was the only white girl in the class. No one wanted to talk to me. But, then, they saw that I’z gotz the moves. I could shake it just as good as my classmates. I don’t know how to describe the dancing we did. We looked like authentic African tribal dancers. At least, the rest of the girls looked authentic. I looked like I was suffering from some type of identity crisis. There were even a few people playing djembe drums and shekeres to an irresistible beat. Just thinking about it gets my shoulders going.


The girls were pretty impressed with my moves. They invited me into their circle and told me they couldn’t believe white girls can dance like that. That summer, we became like soul sistas. By the end of the summer, I was taking melanin pills and got myself a weave. I’m serious about the weave. I really did get one.


I was the original Rachel in Wonderland. I hung around my new black friends so much, I started to believe that I, too, was born as a black woman in a white body.


So I’m trying to squeeze a lesson out of this article, in order to give it some purpose other than ridiculing myself. And here it is. Who we are is so much a part of who we hang out with. Luckily for me, my girlfriends were only a positive influence on me. Yes, I thought I was black for a while. But that was just my craziness.


However, there could be people that we keep close to us who may not be good for our well-being. That’s why it’s extremely important we and our children associate with the ones that are genuine, good, and positive. Our energies affect each other in very subtle, yet deep ways. Our moods, our perceptions of life, our attitudes, even the way we speak is influenced to a large degree by the company we keep.


It’s also very important not to hang around with negative people. They just suck your energy and make you all negative, too. You may not notice it right away, but for no reason, you may find yourself fighting with your spouse or kids more after hanging out with such a person. If you want to cut ties with such a person but are feeling torn because you don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings, don’t feel bad about doing it. YOU are also important!


Even more important is who our children hang out with. As parents, many of us have a pretty good radar of who is a good influence and who’s not. It’s important that we set the boundaries and are firm with our children regarding who we let them be friends with. It’s also important that we get to know the parents of our kids’ friends, particularly if we let our kids go to their homes.


There. That’s good enough, right?


The years have since passed, and I’ve devolved back into a white woman. But my inner African Dance Queen is still lingering just under the surface. She likes to come out when I do Zumba. You know, maybe I’ll start my own version of Zumba. I’ll make it a combination of African dance and Zumba. Maybe I’ll call it Qumba. That’s catchy, no?



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Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at racheli@breslev.co.il

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