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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Belly Dancer Should Own This Book! March 30 2008
By Shepherdess Extraordinaire TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 same time - I just loved this book! It had so many laugh-out-loud moments. Anne's recollections of her family reminded me so much of mine and brought to mind things I'd even forgetten about. Like "crawling across the desert is a specialty of Lebanese men"; I remember the talk about how a real man (Lebanese, of course) "would crawl across the desert for you". With chapter titles like, "Blood is Thicker than Sand", "Your Daddy Ought to Smack Your Face - Nice Girls Don't Undulate", "Debkeing Around the Clock in Norfolk", Anne's quirky crazy humour resonates throughout the book. Anne's dating adventures searching for the perfect unibrow Arab husband - recounted in three parts (chapters) - are hilarious! She is convinced that her true destiny is a palace in the desert and a nursery full of little brown unibrow babies. She'd even "settle for third-favourite wife, but not lower...third-favourite affords a hefty allowance, a lot of nice trips, and plenty of free time to pursue hobbies with no bossy husband breathing down your veil". Her stories of the Arab men she dates (including Fahed who she meets online at Arab Chat) are priceless.

(In response to the last reviewer, I didn't find the author's mention of being Lebanese overkill. As a Lebanese Canadian, I was able to relate to her experiences and laugh with her. Sharing her experiences in the Lebanese culture is what added richness and context to the book.)

If you are a belly dancer, this is a book you MUST own! Your collection of belly dancing books, instructional & performance DVDs, Arabic Music CDs, and zils just won't be complete without Anne's book!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good. Aug. 24 2005
By A Customer
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. I enjoyed reading the funny stories and the progression of the main character throughout the book but honestly, I started to twitch after the third time she mentionned she was a lebanese woman with a lebanese background. We know hwo to read and figured it out on our own, thank you vey much. According to me, and as she depicted very well in the book, bellydancing attracts people from many different backgrounds. But it does not mean that the reader has to have his or her head hammer with the fact (justification, reinsurance??...) that the author is Lebanese. Get over it.
It was the only thing that I did not like in the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT! June 4 2004
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. Books about relationships usually aren't my thing, but these stories are in a class of their own! Great book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cool April 7 2004
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 text. Too often books with an autobiographical spin will read slow and boring, devoid of any underlying personality. This not only was lively, but could be related to on a human level. Plus hey - it was a neat peak into someone else's perception of the belly dance world!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for belly dancers March 2 2004
By taaj
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK.... you'll thank yourself later Feb. 21 2004
"Snake Hips" should be required reading for all beginning bellydancers, those healing broken hearts, and anyone daring to live life with gusto. Soffee has put so very much of herself into her writing, truly baring her soul in these pages, and the result is magical. Hilarious and endearing, this book may just inspire you to take up middle eastern dance, too.
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars HILARIOUS!! Dec 7 2003
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 the reader an "insiders" view of what it must be like and the joy that it can and does bring. I would give it two thumbs up!!
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