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Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love [Hardcover]

Anne Thomas Soffee
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2002
This hilariously uplifting memoir follows an Arab–American woman’s merry life as she shimmies her way from getting dumped by her tattoo-artist boyfriend to coming to grips with being single, ample, and 30. In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary but true, this uniquely American story is filled with colorful characters such as Rosie, the corn-rowed truck-driving belly dancer; Fahed, cologne-doused rich loser; Too-Tall Mary, a member of an amateur belly dancing troupe; and Gimmel, the author’s Jewish great-uncle. While searching online for a sexy sheik to save her from her lackluster existence, Soffee finds a belly dancing class in a catalog and, against the wishes of her Lebanese–American extended family, enrolls in an attempt to find her roots and heal her heart. Her life will never be the same as she discovers the riotous world of American belly dancing, a warm and welcoming subculture where younger and thinner are not necessarily better. Surprised to find happiness among the zils and trills of attending classes and performing in moose lodges and county fairs, she finds true love along the way.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

After being dumped by her loser boyfriend, Soffee, a "sober, nerdy, rock 'n' rolling, coffee-drinking, school-teaching, erotica-reading, kitsch-loving Lebanese American" moves back home to Richmond, Va., to wallow in self-pity. There, she comes across a flier advertising the usual classes in yoga, vegetarian cooking, ballroom dancing and... belly dancing. Her girlfriends think she's lost her mind, but Soffee knows she's found the perfect distraction. Not only does belly dancing have nothing to do with her ex, it's a fine way to reconnect with her Lebanese roots. Plus, "it is a relief to be part of a subculture where younger and thinner do not automatically equal better." Soffee learns to roll her hips, shimmy and make her stomach poof out; spends wild amounts of money on the tackiest costumes imaginable; and most satisfying discovers the ultimate cool of "belly dancer bonding." Her ethnic high leads to marital fantasies, e.g., being "third-favorite wife" to a young sheik she's cyber-dating, although she admits "being obedient is easy on-line." She also has flings with an insufferable Iraqi yuppie and a born-again Lebanese boy-next-door all hilarious disasters. Soffee's women friends keep her from feeling too lousy ("[t]he good thing about girlfriends is they usually hate your exes before you do") until Mr. Right catches her by surprise. While there is a lot of information on the belly dancing culture, this is not a how-to book, although an appendix lists resources for the interested. What Soffee's really offering is a guide to mending a broken heart: embrace a totally distracting activity, bond with your girlfriends and don't forget to laugh.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Soffee found the cure for her broken heart in her own belly--belly dancing, that is. In a larger sense, belly dancing was something she could throw herself into, a focus, a passion, almost a calling. In this engaging memoir, she recounts how her life changed for the better when she took up the ancient art after her too-cool tattoo-artist boyfriend dumped her. The half-Lebanese Soffee had always wanted to learn more about the Arab side of her heritage, and belly dancing provided the opportunity to explore the music and culture of the Middle East. Along with describing her obsessive listening to Arabic pop music and her late-night Internet searches for information on belly-dance greats past and present, Soffee shares her ongoing dating adventures, including the Emerati millionaire she meets online, the Arab American history professor who offers wine to the 12-stepping Soffee, and the born-again guy who avoids "appearances of evil" in public and wrestles Soffee to the bed in private. Memoirs that chart personal journeys toward self-acceptance often seem self-indulgent, but that isn't the case here. Soffee's witty, flowing prose draws readers into this unlikely but captivating story of how a "sober, nerdy, rock 'n' rolling, coffee-drinking, school-teaching, erotica-reading, kitsch-loving, Lebanese American belly dancer" came to terms with herself. Beth Warrell
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Been there and done (most of) that June 18 2003
As a bellydancer, I picked up this book out of curiosity, mostly just to see what the author had written about the dance and how accurate it was. I was surprised to find the book both well-written, compelling, and absolutely dead-on about the world of American bellydance. Even though I learned to dance some twenty years and 3,000 miles away from where Anna Soffee first took lessons and even though my personal life is nowhere as turbulent as hers, I found myself repeatedly nodding my head and saying "Sister, I have been there and done that." The first performance at the country fair, the sleazy come-ons from men that assume that because you're a belly dancer you are also stripper/hooker, the terrible audience that is ABSOLUTELY not interested in you, the lack of understanding from family and friends, the in-fighting between dancers and troupes--it was like the author was writing about my own life.
My advice? Even if you aren't interested in belly dance, buy this book and read it any way. The style is edgy, hip, and funny and the moral of the book--that you have to accept yourself the way you are before you can achieve any sort of personal fulfillment--is ultimately very uplifting. I came away with a lot of respect for Ms. Soffee as both a dancer, a writer and a survivor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing queen Dec 12 2003
I've long had a fascination with bellydance, so when I discovered this book I made it a priority to read it. I was not disappointed; in fact, it was one of those rare reads where I loved it so much that I was torn - I wanted to find out how it ended, and yet I didn't want my pleasurable experience to end. It's a great story, though, how Soffee suffers a bad break up, and thanks to a friend suggesting a class at the community center, she decides to take a class in bellydance. She's a dedicated student, and along the way tells of her healing from the bad breakup, her fascination with the dance, her observations of other dancers as well as how other people react when they hear she's a bellydancer, and her efforts in trying to find a decent man. All of it is told with a healthy sense of humor and panache, and many parts are laugh-out loud funny. The only tragedy would be if Soffee never wrote another book. A must-read for bellydancers, bellydancer admirers and any woman who's gone through the ups and downs of dating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ROFLMAO - This book is great! April 2 2003
By oodles
This book is terrific! I'm almost done and it kept me up till 5am..AGAIN. I've been a dumbek player in a troupe who has been playing about 10 years, and an on and off beginning dancer occasionally, so I have been into the dance scene for a while. So many of the stories in the book sound like they could have happened up here. I knew JUST what she meant. The divas, the cliques, LOL. I've been to those dance shows, I've been at those gigs (or well, not quite as bad as that restaurant LOL but..). Its just hysterical. I'm so glad nearly everyone has given it 5 stars.
One thing I really enjoyed was hearing more about all these familiar names. I'm hearing names of people that i've heard of before, seen before (Morocco) talked to in email when ordering stuff(Lucy), or even know somewhat(Anthea). It really shows what a small world this is. Not every day do you read about people you know in a book!
I bought this book because of the bellydance, but also really enjoyed the whole single 30s woman relating and coping and trying to find true love part. There seem to be a number of books on that line lately, and I tried to read a few of the more popular ones. A couple were just so silly and unrealistic, I couldn't relate, and quickly ended up flung against the wall to land in the bad bad book heap. Anne's on the other hand is very intelligently written. She's not talking down to us. She's someone I could see hanging out with. She's real. Though I haven't had quite the adventurous heavy metal tatoo past that she has had, I could still totally relate. Its a very down to earth book in that way.
So..5 stars!
Anne if you read these come to Michigan and do a book tour please! There are lots of dancers here, and plenty of arabic culture too. Arabic night clubs and a whole stores with just arabic music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dance like no one's watching Oct. 9 2002
By Audrey
I like the idea of finding a hobby to recover from a break-up, and I love the idea of the hobby being belly-dancing. But I can't claim that distinction; that is Anne Thomas Soffee's privilege, and the plot for her memoirs, Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love. As much as this comparision is unfair to Ms. Soffee, it reads a little like a certain diary by a London singleton. However, in this case, "true love" contains four things: 1. belly dancing and 2. getting in touch with one's roots and 3. self-love and... But, time out. I'm a disbeliever in true self love, so it's rather like a compromise between Ms. Soffee and herself, some point of satisfaction where you can stop judging yourself by society's standards and say, "Okay, so these are the things that are 'wrong' with me, but I could live with that." And when she finds this third love, it's when the fourth, Mr. Possibly Right, steps into the scene. This book also throws some light into traditional belly-dancing and the small-but-growing modern American society of belly-dancers, and erases most of the images I have of a slim, half-naked and gauzily-veiled girl gyrating. But who deemed that to be the only sort of beauty, the only "belly-dancer" that there has to be?
To be American, it's more or less likely that you came from elsewhere. To be human, it's definite that you've had one failed relationship. And when autobiographies are done right, they're like this-- an ordinary storyline told with sincerity and humor (some of it wry) and the more elusive flow, most often described in reviews as a "good ear." Don't miss out.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Belly Dancer Should Own This Book!
As a Lebanese Canadian woman (well..half Lebanese on my dad's side - but just like Anne!) who is also learning to belly dance - and getting in touch with my Lebanese roots at the... Read more
Published on March 30 2008 by Shepherdess Extraordinaire
3.0 out of 5 stars Good.
I fell in love with belly dancing about 2 years ago and I came across this book on the web. After reading the feedbacks on Amazon, I bought it. Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT!
This book had me laughing out loud, just ask my boyfriend! I couldn't put it down. I loved all her stories about her belly dance life and her relationship horror stories. Read more
Published on June 3 2004 by E. L. White
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool
I picked this book up when I was in the process of collecting any and all info on mid east dance - I really enjoyed it as it was an easy read with a lot of personality behind the... Read more
Published on April 6 2004 by Lilac Frost
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for belly dancers
This book has everything you loved about The Big Fat Greek Wedding. It's a funny and endearing look at self-discovery. I loved it.
Published on March 1 2004 by taaj
5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK.... you'll thank yourself later
"Snake Hips" should be required reading for all beginning bellydancers, those healing broken hearts, and anyone daring to live life with gusto. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2004 by Jennifer S. Willis
4.0 out of 5 stars HILARIOUS!!
A great light-hearted read for anyone who has known heartbreeak, or even if you haven't! Although it is not necessary to know how to belly dance to enjoy this book, it does give... Read more
Published on Dec 7 2003 by "sneds1"
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
I am a beginning Dancer, but have been through a few similar situations (who hasn't been dumped?) and love Ms. Soffee's style of writing. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2003 by Gertrude Ezell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written and well worth the time and money
I absolutely loved this book. It looks a little at the history of belly dancing and tells a story of the road traveled to really find something the writer needed and wanted. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003 by marsha womack
5.0 out of 5 stars This book reads lik a conversation with a friend
I loved this book! Being a newcomer to the dance (only been dancing a year), I could completely relate to the "belly dance obession" that many of us have when we first... Read more
Published on May 11 2003 by Dionne Ruff-Sloan
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