Great Shakes, Belly Dancing's On The Move
by Louise Perry
First published in the Weekend Australian 15-16 February 2003

Despina Rosales had stuffed one envelope too many. Life was dull, work as an office clerk was duller.

Some serious fun was needed. Some sparkle. Some shimmy.

So she tried belly dancing - the oldest dance form in the world and increasingly popular in Australia.

Now belly dancing is shimmying its way into suburban loungerooms, embraced by women from all around the country.

From Kalgoorlie to Gunnedah, and Melbourne to Sydney, classes are ballooning, with more than 100 major belly dancing schools operating in most Australian cities and many smaller schools opening in country towns.

Ms Rosales, 30, runs her own school in Sydney's east, which has grown in five years from 60 irregular students to 180 dedicated belly dancers. "It's a lot of fun and it's great exercise for people who don't like the more traditional forms of workout," she said.

"It's also seen as quite exotic - something different that is part of an unknown culture.

"And no matter what you look like, you can do it - we get a lot of mums who've just had kids and want to shape up a bit or just do something where being incredibly slim is not an issue."

Ms Rosales said there were still some people who got the wrong idea about belly dancing, but Australia was an ideal place for it because of our multiculturalism.

"This is not about tits and arse," she said. "Some guys behave badly when we perform, but on the whole people are very respectful and really open-minded."

Caption: Body language: Ms Rosales shows students how it's done at a belly dancing school in Enmore, in Sydney's inner west.

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Great Shakes, Belly Dancing's On The Move
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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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