A’Kai Silks

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got boob?


Ahhh the challenge of being blessed with womanly curves .. like most women I do enjoy shopping but it can be frustrating to find unique, stylish clothing made for curves. At a tall 5’8″ , my height and um..bust size makes for an interesting treasure (chest , ha!) hunt . As you may have guessed, while I love jeans and t shirts, I also gravitate towards a dancer friendly gypsy boho style of dress.

What I have found is that tanks can be too clingy (which is uncomfortable in a humid Hawaii environment), OR the looser fitting ones drape right across the cleavage then hang like a tent, leaving a perfectly good waist and hourglass hips undetected.

I did discover that layering helps accentuate curves (and layers can be purchased separately). For example in the photo where I am wearing the green and orange skirt, I wore a black tank but layered a vest style over it, the vest ties right under the bust so it creates that cleavage and waist definition. Layering also enables a woman to switch from day to cooler evening (opt the sleeveless vest for a long sleeve wrap) , AND it’s fun to play with colors.

So I’ve been stocking up on layers and sharing the info with other busty goddesses. Except.. I’m changing the fabric around so that it’s made from a sturdier bamboo. I don’t mind paying extra for a well fitting vest or cardigan, just so long as it can live up to an active lifestyle..

Here’s a few other examples of using layers to help define bust versus waist.

Imagine this mostly turquoise with a brilliant pink and orange bottom hem. Bird of Paradise on a princess top.

Imagine this mostly turquoise with a brilliant pink and orange bottom hem. Bird of Paradise on a princess top.

silk top made by A'Kai Silks

silk top made by A’Kai Silks

skirt and cardigan by A'Kai Silks

skirt and cardigan by A’Kai Silks

limited amount of silk veils ready to ship


Aloha dancers, as of the time of this post, there is a limited quantity of ready to ship silk rectangle veils listed at http://www.akaisilks.etsy.com

All are made using china silk in the perfect 6 mm weight. All dyed in the signature A’Kai Silks ombre colors.

As I’ve been hinting at for some time, I’ll be making efforts to keep the store stocked with veils, although every color in every size and shape won’t be in stock at the same time.

Some of my much needed tasks include turning this blog into the main website for A’Kai Silks, however since I’ll be adding new items and products, it’s at a bit of a standstill .

If you are wanting the large half circle silk veils that A’Kai Silks is best known for, check back on the blog or the store.

Aloha and keep dancing

Glow with the Flow


Along with other creative pursuits in veils and dance, did I mention I love dancing with flickering lights? LED hula hoops, poi (learning), and THIS… this jellyfish like device called Fiber Fly.. wow did this change the meaning of flow. Fiber optic cables are bunched together into a hand held wand that is battery powered. I have yet to find many instructional videos on it but I think the point is just to get one and start moving. I’ve seen some fantastic videos of dancers using two together as poi.

You’re going to want the Fiber Fly model. I have another one but found the cables to be thicker and not flow as smoothly. The Fiber Fly provides a smooth snake across the body and does not tangle in on itself.

As time allows I’ll be out at the beach experimenting more with this lovely toy, it’s best when it is super dark. I also recommend tight fitting clothing (no fringe) so that the fibers can groove over your body smoothly. I’ve been so incredibly inspired by flow toy worthy clothing that I’m creating my own line of flow friendly pieces.


Some musical artists I recommend for using the fiber fly
Desert Dwellers

if you google those names you will likely find more :)

this is a small excerpt from a very shaky video clip , my first night with the fiber fly.. I am a spinner at heart and find this to be an extension of aura.. sorry the video is shaky .. song is from Museum of Consciousness by Shpongle.

silk flow dress


Another best selling item that I’d like to bring back in limited quantity is the silk dress. The beauty of these dresses are that they are made with long straps and can be worn multiple ways. My favorite is just as a basic halter cross over a bikini.. but for those not near a beach, they look great over a pair of yoga pants or jeans.

For flow dancers , rippling silk shows off every movement. For hula hoop dancers, the dress is loose fitting enough to allow for maximum movement and won’t get caught up in off the body techniques. For sustained spinners, again you have the splash of silk color without a lot of bulk getting in the way.

I’m making efforts to return these to the store as well. I have a limited number of photos. They can be dyed in many of the A’Kai Silks color schemes. A velvet ruana can be dyed to match up and wear over when you are not dancing.

Silk has been ordered and I will be dyeing an array of colors and capturing them with new photographs. A few examples are listed at http://www.facebook.com/akaisilkshawaii in the photo section. I’ll be dyeing them in some of the most popular color schemes.

For those desiring a very high end exclusive one of a kind dress for special occasions, I will be dyeing some made of crepe de chine silk. This is the kind of silk I can achieve wild hand painted work. I can guarantee that I won’t be able to make the same item twice and no factory can duplicate my painted work. The targeted date to release these to the public is a bit further off as they are very limited.

I realize winter is approaching, why bring back silk dresses now? There are some places that enjoy year round summer wear. And for those getting ready for the winter, I’m sure you can find a warm studio to dance in.

And there’s always the option of wearing it as a nightgown. Nothing is better than sleeping in silk and your partner will absolutely love undressing you.

one of the original brochures



A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with Erifily, a graceful dancer in Greece who in exchange for a few silk items, did some modeling for me and created this beautiful back and front brochure. Although the phone number is outdated and I do not have silk skirts in stock at the moment, it is fun to look back at the evolution over time.

I’m thankful that I kept everything with calendar dates on a hard drive. A’Kai Silks became so busy that it was difficult for me to keep albums and galleries organized. I’m very OCD about organization but as previously mentioned, I don’t want to overhaul the entire machine, but just go with the flow.

Silk hoodies


Of the many silk garments I experimented with,I created silk cape/wraps with hoods. While they aren’t designed to be resistant against rain and snow, fluttering colorful silk adds a one of a kind accessory to your existing wardrobe and I guarantee you can’t find it in Walmart.

I’ve been delving through some old albums of works I used to create and reevaluating if I should start making them again. The immediate answer is yes.

The silk capes are lightweight and flirty, designed to flutter instead of protect. Adding color and movement and can be paired with a silk dress or skirt, or even a pair of jeans.

Sizes proposed would be large and petite, most sizes of women would fall somewhere in between. Since this garment does not require exact measurements, buying online just got a lot easier.



If you had asked me many years ago when I purchased my first piece of silk to dye where I thought I was headed with A’Kai Silks, I would not have had an answer. If you ask me today, I would list a few ideas and maybe a wishlist, but I still allow what was once a kitchen project to evolve and change course.

I did not have a business plan with a mission statement, projected expenses, or anything formal written up to present to investors. I’ve never taken out a business loan. When I review the photos and the path this business has taken (and I prefer to call it a lifestyle because business sounds so formal), it literally started out as wanting to dye a silk for a bellydance class.

I was a new graduate from nursing school and had a part time job in hospice care. My entire life was school, then more school, then work. I started attending every music festival that came through Colorado and although I was taking bellydance classes, I was more drawn to the live concerts. In fact it was a live concert that first took me to Maui where I fell in love with the islands. I had never really considered living in Hawaii. Colorado is an incredible place to live. Many of my friends have a life changing time at Burning Man. Mine happened in Maui. When I returned from Maui, I still did not focus on making silk into a business. I just did what came natural and what I enjoyed. It was not a direct line that led me to living in Hawaii. It was life naturally unfolding and opening new doorways.

In late spring of May 2005, I was offered the choice between taking a room in Pacifica (right outside of San Francisco), or puddle jumping the pacific to take a room in Hawaii. Fearless, without a big plan or much funding, I took the room in Hawaii. Twenty three days later I arrived on the island, sort of bewildered, but then began the discovery of island life. My dress code changed. I slowed down on festivals and learned to surf. I started to let go of the “rush” lifestyle of the mainland. I sank in to the culture and aina of Hawaii. I did not fully understand all the changes that were happening to me until I returned to the mainland for a visit, and I had a difficult time assimilating back into mainland life. Shoes and bras? What are those? Evening news with stories of murder and destruction? I felt lost and rather claustrophic. Where was the beach I was so used to walking to? How come everyone was in such a rush? Why didn’t I own 30 different pairs of shoes? Why was I content to own what would fit in a suitcase? I returned to the island and fell back into the plumeria scented air.

We are presented with opportunities constantly. Some are not always apparent. Some are choices with known consequences. Some are hard learned lessons that take us a while to figure out later.

People always ask, how did I start A’Kai Silks. They look confused when I say it just happened. I didn’t look at others in the business of bellydance and try to duplicate what was already done. The best stories are those made from true stories. Business guides talk about the importance of branding. I see others spending hundreds of dollars creating an identity, a logo, a brand that represents the company. Business experts say that success comes from the algorithms they present in books and presentations. One must first define, what is success? Secondly, as I learned along the way about advertising and social media, to me networking was more about sharing story than making a commercial. A typical commercial tries to illicit a feeling from you, the end result is they want to sell you a product. But they may use themes or images to represent what your life may be like if you own such product. I suppose the blogs, facebook status posts, tweets, photo sharing, etc can all be considered a commercial. But while most commercials have 30 seconds to grab an audience , a life story takes longer.

A life story evolves literally along the time it takes to live such life. I did not wake up one day dressed in a silk sarong with barefeet listening to island reggae . I did not discover overnight that the most sensuous dresses for walking the beach are long rippling silk ones. It really didn’t even occur to me that photos of silk veils at a Hawaiian beach would become the branding image for A’Kai Silks.

We all experience life taking many turns. A few years ago I decided to reinstate my nursing license and work as a nurse. I had in mind that I would work as a nurse and continue to create A’Kai Silks on the weekends. It was a tough balance. I tried to maintain the pulse of A’Kai but soon found I was working way too much. I was at the computer too much, not enjoying the island. I stopped surfing. All the magic that I enjoyed about Hawaii faded into the distance as I put my health at risk to perform a very emotionally challenging job as a nurse. I was suddenly on a schedule again. A five day work week. I lost touch. The harder I worked the worse things became. I sort of gave up and thought maybe my time on the island is over and I could move back to the mainland and find a nurse job with more flexibility. Last August, 2013 I returned to Arizona. But again after the initial comfort of visiting my old hiking grounds wore off, I felt stuck in the desert. This isn’t working.. I was supposed to take time off , rejuvenate, and build the silk business again. I worked at it but again the more I ran towards it, the further it faded away. I am stubborn and don’t always learn a lesson the first time around. I needed to go back to Hawaii. The fastest way possible. So again I took a nurse job as a means of support , thinking I would work harder at balancing life. I returned December 2013. And now, September 2014 I am at a computer again.

I’ve been working in the evenings to revise A’Kai Silks. However instead of returning to the 50 hour work week of dyeing silk, mailing, doing emails, creating more on the side, I have been slow at the approach. As foolish as it was to jump back into a soul sucking nurse job, it would be foolish to rush back into A’Kai Silks doing what I did before. Yes it was successful, yes it was profitable. But this time I started from the top and worked backwards.

What I’ve been doing is maintaining that lifestyle that was so important to me in the first place. Any type of work or business should be based on a lifestyle. Those who are successful with business have a passion about it, or live it every day.

I recently made an announcement that I’m changing things around so that I am not the only one handling all the tasks. I have identified mistakes I made in the past. I would buy a large order of silk, dye it, sell it, use the money to buy another lot of silk. This caused an interruption in inventory. No one likes to visit an empty store. This is new territory for me. Most importantly I need to maintain the lifestyle you see portrayed in the photos I share. As excited as I am to unveil a fully stocked store, this time around the lifestyle has to balance with a plan.

But just as the original A’Kai evolved naturally over time, so too this revision will as well. When things are outgrown we move to a bigger playing field. Our circle of friends changes. The tides change and fluctuate and one adjusts their sails to catch the most of the wind. If there is no wind, we swim.

So now as I prepare to head over to the beach to enjoy the waters, know that changes are happening. But true to the Hawaiian lifestyle I adopted, there’s no rush.

Here are a few short term goals I’ve set (because the long term goals maintain lifestyle)
1) maintaining an inventory of rectangle and half circle silk veils in the store.. not all color schemes will be in stock at all times, but I hope to maintain a good variety of the top sellers along with some one of a kind works

2) having an assistant do the prep work, store listings, shipping, and possibly email responses..overall I need my time opened up to manage the big picture

3) running limited edition stock of items that have been in demand since their first introduction a few years ago.. I hope to maintain a small stock with room to grow

4) finally incorporating certain clothing items into the inventory.. I have many unpublished clothing items that I have sold thru non-online venues and I’d like to test out offering them online

5) getting things in place to be on an auto pilot (or run by assistant) so that I have the opportunity to travel more, to source fabrics, to co-create items that are dance related but not specifically bellydance anymore ..this will include slow overhauls of the etsy store. The main A’Kai Silks website is still on the internet. I will make the final jump to point the URL so that http://www.akaisilks.com will lead you to the blog directly. Static websites are hard to maintain. Blogs allow me to update photos, write, share content, and highlight seasonal activities without requiring a lot of work revising a website.

I will still be catering to bellydancers but opening it up to a much larger sector. As life has changed, so do the participants. I will also be working collectively with others on blogs, forums, travelling boutiques, and other opportunities that have opened up. We keep spinning, by doing so we maintain balance.

why normal is the new scary

Turn up volume for full effect

How to explain to mom

This post is dedicated to my guy friends. Don’t start with the Harry Met Sally quotes, I don’t care if they see me as a sex object, I do care that they are among the best people I’ve ever met. Go ahead fellas, tag yourself in this post and show yer mama :) Disclaimer: not saying I don’t have any good girl friends. You know who you are. But we’re letting the guys have their 60 seconds of fame here.

I won’t display the abundance of links to excellent music, how to fix the ipad, youtube links of some twisted stuff, countless photos, and just general cackling fun my guy friends have provided, just use your imagination. Guys are funny. Think JackAss. Not stuff I would do but it’s funny to watch them do it. I guess my “sick” sense of humor stemmed from my father, a rather conservative quiet Colonel in the army. Did the right thing. Reliable. A great leader. But not scared at all to teach us at a young age that humor is good, it’s healthy. It may disturb others. It may raise eyebrows. That’s kinda why it’s funny.

Ladies, you know the guys who seem intriguing at first but then YAAAAAAAWWWWNNNN huh? The kind of guy who puts on his pants one leg at a time and dutifully shows up for work. Well ok they have a paycheck. But money can’t buy sanity. Don’t you remember the one who made you laugh all the time? It didn’t matter what he looked like (well it did a little) ..he was just..funny…and not scared of what the others thought.

The normal ones are the ones you have to watch out for. What’s brewing under that clean cut focused goal oriented pay my bills on time exterior? Hacked up body parts in the closet? Ok maybe not. But you know who I mean. They may have the common sense to pour piss out of a boot (favorite expression learned from my father) but THEN what. (Did anyone ever find the boots I left in the fountain on Kuhio.. there was no piss in them but those suckers filled with water quick and I couldn’t walk. They were on their last leg anyways. Leg. Lol.)

Nah I like my sicko buddies. I can depend on them. They know me and my sicknesses too. They can be outrageous but their crazy is predictable, and harmless. They don’t walk through life with a straight face. They invent cool shit. They have cool chick friends like me.

Guys, you make my life better. Keep sending..
your beloved fan and friend,
“she aint right in the head”


Full Circle



Considering how often I post on various nurse forums and facebook, it surprises me that I did not keep up with my original goal of maintaining a blog.  My writing hands are out of touch, save for the quick mini posts that don’t require sitting still for too long or trying to correct grammar (which many of you know, I don’t always abide by..) . 

I could recount the steps of the last year, or two, but so much growth has come from those years and my focus became one of physical experience dominating over the more creative writing process.  Because during those two years my health was seriously messed up.  Some time in late September 2013, the cosmos tossed me a pillow.  With the steady kind words of a very special tiger that I met (think Life of Pi), I started turning again, the momentum grew, and I was able to cushion the blow from the last two years with endless spinning.  And.. I picked up the hoop again.  On those many restless evenings while I waited in Arizona, I would drown in music and used the hoop as a guiding crutch to regain balance in spinning again.  It’s hard to describe spinning, some picture the Whirling Dervishes, others may think of ballroom dance.  Those of us who gravitate into its force know that the term spinning is only a simple way to describe something that photos, videos, and songs cannot capture.  I had stopped spinning when I left the mainland, mainly because I stopped attending festivals.  Despite the disasters in Arizona, it led me back to spinning, so in a way it was worth it.  I’ll introduce you to Eddie another day.  He appeared like magic when my body was drained and I was so off balance I had to lean on the back gate.  But a gentle encouraging pull of the hand and got me twirling again.  It was difficult to spin without him, at the time my body remembered “how” to do it, but the will wasn’t there.  Every Sunday I would spin with Eddie, then during the week I would use the hoop as my dance partner.  I had enjoyed hooping before as an exercise but it wasn’t until I started spinning again that I understood how it could balance me and become almost an alternate ??? dance partner? 

Once the momentum started, I didn’t lose interest in other creative pursuits, I had regained my strength back so I was focused on agility, flexibility, and the euphoria came from dance and movement again. 

Everything I sought in Arizona ended up being right here on the island.  But I had to hit the reboot.  And sometimes I may need to run off to plug in that battery, but I’m so happy to be home again.  It feels good to fly when there’s firm sand to touch down again. 

Cute photo I found on the net from a fellow hooping chick.  Not sure I can bend like that just yet but will work on it.

sailing and whale season

joy of sailing

joy of sailing

Life has been a whirlwind lately…I fell into a new group of friends who sail every Friday night in Waikiki. For the seven years I have lived here, I used to watch on Fridays at sunset this battalion of boats that would cross the water ..I thought it was the most romantic sight. I met a group of sailors and have been an active, ecstatic participant on the Coyote every Friday evening. Watching the choreography of the crew work together (and we win often) leaves me in awe. The tip of the boat as the wind fills the sail and we start racing..

So of course I had to learn for myself. Michael is teaching me on a small sailboat, just basics right now, but I love it. On to windsurfing next. I’ve never been the type to lay on the beach or build sand castles, I love the involvement with the water. There’s a beauty to watching my hands gather rope and point the sails, to study the winds.

Last night we witnessed an incredible whale breach. And then their tails rise up over and over again. I’ve seen this before and it never gets old, I cling to the side of the boat and feel elated. Water life is soooooo for this girl.

change is inevitable for growth

You know when you get back from a vacation and you immediately have to start up your job again, and those beautiful memories of where you were start to fade? And pretty soon it seems like a distant dream wtih floating images, but the messages that were abundant start to show up in dreams or hints, but you dismiss them as you get back to work?

I have been guilty of this.  After a few days on the big island and then a fabulous trip to Costa Rica, I don’t even allow much time to look back at the photos anymore.  Every inspiration and discovery, idea, plan, was washed away quickly as I resumed work , stepped back on the treadmill that just seems to run in place.  I forgot.

And then almost by magic you start to get these reminders.  I have this very simple necklace that I bought from a Tican at Playa Tamarindo, he needed money badly after the big quake.  I’ve worn the necklace ever since.  I had a dream the other night that I had lost it.  I’ve spent so much time lately looking at the job I have as a nurse and wondering, is this what I want ten years from now?  A solid paycheck that pays for a tiny apartment and covers the cost of car repairs (which have been costly lately)..maintaining a shadow of what is really out there to explore..possibly give my child a chance to live in a different world and not endure the 7 hour a day desktop learning experience.

I was hoping the time off from work, I’d have some momentum to explore different ideas.  For a week I was stationary.  Trying to encourage creativity is not easy, it’s almost like a gift that is given to you at the right time.

Through a recent series of events and meeting “the right people” things fell into place this morning.  A blue morpho butterfly landed on my shoulder and whispered..don’t you remember?  I started researching websites, the stories of others, gaining inspiration from those who took the leap and did it, and probably look at the rest of us like, what are you waiting for.

All great things take time and patience (I’m not always good at the patience thing) but there it is, the rainbow that leads back to what I left behind in Costa Rica.  It’s as if I tied a ribbon on a tree and said, I’ll be back.  But the old idea I had of doing it is, like the butterfly, emerging into something else..which still holds part of the old idea but has a garden of new ones to play with.

At my nurse job I work frequently with people who have had a recent discharge from the hospital.  Unfortunately they end up right back in the hospital.  An illustration of how life can be..do we cure symptoms (or mask them) or do we cure the cause?  I’m gonna put my money on curing the cause.

This should be an exciting journey.

how to stave off the copycats

It’s another typical day in paradise, hazelnut espresso in hand and I have multiple projects going on at once.  A fellow artist emailed me as she has a unique idea, she asked my thoughts about how to avoid copycats.  Here’s a few tips that I have in my book that I’ll share…

You can’t avoid copycats.  If you are selling on a venue such as ebay or etsy, your feedback and sales record is on public display.  Use this to your advantage.  Do others have a record of 200 sales, or 2000?  Who do you think a customer will buy from?  Don’t have much of a feedback yet?  Consider offering your item at an introductory price, get it out there, get feedback..see if the item is a winner.  Listen to customer feedback, use it to improve your item.  Building feedback will build your credibility.

Build a branding image.  I cover this in more detail in the book.  Yes, you can create logos and such but your photos should be used to visually display your items in a very stand out, different way.  I believe there is a way to search ebay listings ( I will look into it and I can show you how my branding images evolved, and show you the very first listings on ebay with a date of when they were first released) .  Don’t just brand an item, brand a lifestyle.  When I first starting doing photos, I thought about how I could make my thumbnails in an ebay auction stand out from the others.  Of course this was easy at the time, only two other sellers on ebay were selling veils and one of them was not selling silk..the silk seller had a very different way of taking her photos.  What’s going to catch the eye and draw them in?  Use additional photos as closeups but your thumbnail should be something that catches the eye.

DOCUMENT.  As a nurse I can’t stress this enough.  In the nursing world we call this cover your ass.  Make sure the setting on your camera has the date displayed.  Save multiple copies of EVERY image you use in its raw and cropped version.  Try to organize your photos in albums chronologically (I need to do this and have it published) , date them according to when they were taken.  This is also helpful when, years later, you look back and see your progression.  Make it public.  Publish on facebook, your website, your blog.  Get screenshots of your website with the date when it was published, keep all of this information in a file.

Of course, people are going to copy anyways.  If you are doing something that sells well, they will pick up on it and likely copy and paste your description and also ‘adopt’ your photo style.  It’s up to you if you want to pursue intellectual property rights.  It’s a long, frustrating expensive road.  The easiest thing you can do is document your work, and publish it.

Every successful seller has a knockoff.  I know you’ve heard it before, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  But use your original mojo to look forward and don’t worry about what the followers are doing.  They will burn out eventually and you will be light years ahead.

ps I’m in the process of collecting thousands of images from the past 12 years of my published photos, giving them dates and writing a description about each.  It will be a big project.  It will be posted as a chronology of business evolution on the facebook page.


Shine bright..

There’s no other point to this post than to remind everyone to SHINE BRIGHT and run towards your dream.  No excuses.


falling into autumn gypsy

Even though we don’t really have seasons here in Hawaii, every autumn my Arizona roots tug on me and I break out the moccasins, feathered earrings, thigh hi stockings, and an array of much loved gypsy skirts.  My mind starts racing with fall colors..copper, chocolate latte, soft creamy golds, turquoise, rusty corals, and of course the witchy colors of deep purple, burgundy, blood red, Christmas spruce.  More more more!  The dyes start flying and I can’t keep up with myself.  I close my eyes and see trails of spinning skirts, long off the shoulder bell sleeves tops, fringy ponchos, velvet cloaks ..  I have to create autumn in Hawaii.

I usually visit Sedona Arizona in fall and spring to soak in the dry desert air and make a trip to the canyons.  My last visit was in March 2012.  But even if I don’t make it this month, I can channel the colors.  I know what will be in store windows.  I know what my desert sisters like.  We looooove gypsy, witchy, tattered edge skirts, layers of color, fuzzy warm things.  One wouldn’t think the desert can get cold but it bites like a rattlesnake.

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So as I slow down on certain areas of creating, the cauldrons are bubbling with freshness.  The winter clothes are unpacked and adorned with copper bangles. Hair is tied back with fringey pirate scarves.  Floor length capes, graceful burnout Scarchos, velvet neck warmers.  Pecan pie.  Boots did I mention boots.  I have a poncho and boots fetish.  My credit card burns my hand until I use it.

There’s lots to do today.  Photos are coming..along with a quick surf in the rumor’ed waves we have on south shore.  Light the sage, ignite the candles..fall is here and there will be a spiral of new goodies.

Sunshine Daydream with a Scarlet Begonia

Dedicated to Karin and Jeanette, I know you are out there somewhere


There’s cover bands and there’s the originals, and sometimes that original is so good that other cover bands become successful from the following CREATED by that original.  That kicks ass.  If it wasn’t for experiencing both the original and falling in to step with a cover band years later to feed the fire, I don’t know if A’Kai would have been here.

It may surprise you but I was not originally influenced by bellydance to create veils.  Later, when I picked it up again to make a business from it, the bellydance scene was very much a part of it, as was my teachings under Adnan Sarhan at www.sufi.org .

But the original inklings in the mind came from no other than the Grateful Dead.

Both my college roommate and a dear DEAR friend I met in psych 101 were deadheads.  A happy coincidence that  I was introduced on both sides.  I shared a dorm room with a nurse student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff (damn I’m feeling homesick ) we used to fall asleep at night rotating our tapes from Grateful Dead to Bob Dylan, to Pink Floyd and occasionally she’d let me throw on the Doors.  I had a thing for Jim Morrison.  Who didn’t.

My dear friend Eric and I became inseparable, sharing that once in a lifetime friendship (and thanks to facebook I found him again).  He introduced me to excellent sound systems.  We heard about the Grateful Dead playing in Las Vegas..he wasn’t able to go but I tore across the desert with some dude and watched Santana open for the Dead for my first real concert.  I then started hitting every show in the area, I was in college and couldn’t get on the road with the band..if I could go back and change time would I have become a roadie? Damn straight.  Daaaaamn straight. But a strict father always told me to do the ‘right’ thing.  Lol like he knew what that might be.  Just kidding dad. RIP .

No instead I applied and got in to nursing school in Mesa Arizona.  My now 17 year old was a toddler.  At the daycare I met the loveliest hippie girl named Karin and she invited me up to Bostons on Thursday nights.  Dead cover band.  I was hesitant but then Thursdays became my once a week solace to the grind of school.  Classes were every day, and I worked on the weekend first as a CNA then as an LPN.  Dancing at the dead shows was my release.

I met Jeanette, a spinning top if the world ever saw one, I was in awe with her serpent like kundalini coil.  She wasn’t just a twirler, she was a flame.  I would secretly watch her, mesmerized by her furious spinning.  In the evenings when the house was empty and the boy was asleep I started teaching the feet how to rotate. I used the reflection in the large window to spot and find balance.  I practiced every night.  I found that wearing a gypsy skirt with a bit of weight to the fabric helped ground me..I watched the fabric spiral open like a flower blooming.

One evening I heard the familiar plink of China Cat Sunflower and mindfully started spinning..in a large open space and as if no one was watching. I spun the entire song.  As the band slipped into I Know you Rider, Jeanette ran up to me and grabbed my hands.  Do you remember that scene in Titanic when Leo and Kate are spinning by holding hands at that Irish dance?  That’s what she did, she grabbed my hands and started spinning me.  She shouted to me I WON’T LET GO OF YOU haha but I was not sure if my feet agreed.  We both leaned back and went faster and faster. I let go of the fear of falling.  My feet seemed to touch down on the ground only to propel me back up .  “She can wade in a drop of dew”

Thursdays became my favorite night of the week.  I started haunting the western stores in Arizona looking for bigger and bigger spinning skirts.  We were two dancing flowers ( another nicknamed earned) with tiny tank tops and yards of fabric like bells.  On a breezy night I had the issue of spinning so fast the skirt would catch in the wind.  Panty issue.  So I started layering my skirts..hmmm double colors.  Not being a seamstress and committed to nursing school I started browsing the web looking for skirts, and fell into bellydance costuming sites.  The chiffon skirts I found too whimsy for my needs but the tribal skirts fit purpose.

And so the obsession grew with building layers of spinning fabric.  We need wings I thought.  Silk.  Done deal.  I didn’t offer silk to the bellydancers at the time, chronologically that didn’t come til later.  Their purpose was a toy for a twirler.

I spent many happy years going to concerts and spinning so much my then husband would have to carry me out after the show.  I’ll post another time about spinning itself.  A joy that also naturally led to bellydance, a style of dance I truly love but honestly didn’t hold the same fiery free no rules thrill of spinning.  Even my brush with Sufi whirling didn’t hold quite the wild abandon as red hair and spinning skirts, anklets with bells, feathers and stones, sage and music, love and freedom…

It’s time again to start the rotation.  I don’t know why I ever quit.  Light some candles and iron out the old skirts and start the path of flame again.  A path that has led to many excellent side stops along the way.  Wish I had pictures of all those blessed years.  But the memories are still there and it’s a frequent subject of dreams.


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