Razzles and Dazzles

Dearest M.,

As you rifle for belly-dancing materials, I thought it would be of interest that sequins are the great-great grandchildren of the belly dance.  It seems a perfect ancestry.   Originally, at least according to my brief Internet research, coins were sewn into clothing to make them glint and jingle during the dance.  I’m sure this was also connected to a women needing to carry her wealth on her person, which the modern sequin also does. Now, the wealth represented is more in spirit than money, but it still is an outward shout of what a lady’s got.

I adore sequins because they hold their own conflict–extreme attraction and poor taste–in one little bauble.  They demand we look, and they also demand we understand they are fakes–not diamonds or coins, but little shiny plastic disks meant to catch our eye.   They were used on billboards before neon and electricity was a norm.  Sequins are advertisement, and I like to think the ones used on billboards were gigantic, pizza-sized things that flapped and shuddered like a sixties Brazilian lounge singer’s afterparty getup.

I also love sequins because they are constant enough for most people to have a memory with them: dancing at the prom, recital costumes, a great-aunt’s Christmas sweater, watching Anne Miller in old movies.  They were always the golden fleece of any dress-up trove as a kid visiting other friend’s houses, and they are the sole motivation in my short career as a synchronized swimmer.  They are also wealth because of their numbers–where there is one, there are usually a hundred.

Sequins are one of the good things in this world.  I think Baz Luhrman understands this.  But they are also costume, which might be the source of the joy.  They are for play.  When brought out as honest to goodness everyday wear, well, it’s problematic.

Other instant delights that demand their own little world?


Carla Fran

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