More Dancing in the '70s"
My phone rang, and
once again it was Bert Balladine
sending me on another gig out-of-state.
I flew to
The first night was uneventful and everything went well. Mama came into the dressing room between shows with another plate of food. I was to eat it immediately, she said, and she would have another one ready when I left for the hotel.
I liked the food, but a dancer never eats between shows or an hour before one, so I started bringing a plastic bag with me, and wrapping the plates securely, I stashed them in my make-up case until I could dispose of them on my way back to the hotel.
I started thinking about dancing in heels, so I bought a pair of gold strappy ones. I figured if the New Year dancer could do it, so could I. I had never danced in heels before but I figured it was no big deal. It did make the hip shimmies a lot easier, and I was beginning to enjoy the experience; that is, until I did the Turkish Drop. As I landed on my back, with my legs tucked under me, I felt a stabbing pain in the vicinity of my kidney. One of the heels had become imbedded in my flesh! Somehow, I was able to unwind and continue to dance. The adrenalin of being on stage masked the pain,
Needless to say, that was the last time I ever did the Turkish Drop while dancing in heels.
Downstairs from the hotel was a health food store and I would have lunch there everyday when I got out of bed. One day, a young man introduced himself to me. He said his name was Putt. He had long hair, tie-dyed shirt and raggedy blue jeans. His two companions, a young woman and man were also dressed like "hippies." We got acquainted and he said he and his friends lived in a commune outside of town. He wanted me to visit the commune where they lived. When he found out I was the local belly dancer, he said he wanted to see me dance. Two nights later, in the middle of the first show, Putt and his two friends came strolling into the club dressed in their usual colorful clothes, sat down at a table and ordered dinner. I went into the audience to pick up some tips but stayed away from his table. When he saw the other customers giving me money, he rushed over and started shoving five dollar bills under the straps of my bra, and into my coin girdle. Later, in the dressing room I counted fifty dollars! I was shocked at the amount. Where had he gotten all that money? When I asked him about it, he said he and his friends had just robbed a bank. I didn't know whether to believe him or not. I decided to err on the side of safety and NOT visit his commune. I kept that particular fifty dollars separate and didn't spend it until I returned to the Bay Area. Nevertheless, I looked over my shoulder every time I used one of the bills.
My time at the Athenian
went well, and although Mama Katsanevas wasn't able to put any weight on me, she, along
with her two sons, invited me back to dance again. At the airport, Putt
saw me off. "If you ever decide to come back here, be sure and
get in touch with me," he said. "Maybe then you'll be ready
to join a commune." I never saw him again, and although communes
were big in
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