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What Dance Camp Means to Me

by Jozi Qamar

Jozi Qamar: opening up about the camp experience

It’s August already, and I find my mind drifting to the Texas Hill Country. Memories of Bahaia’s Cabaret Dance Camp fill my head as a smile creeps across my face.

When I first heard about Bahaia’s Cabaret Dance Camp, I had only been dancing for two years. Period. I didn’t start any kind of dance until I was forty-two years old. Oh, and just for good measure, I had never gone to camp either. The thought of going to a DANCE CAMP was just about the scariest thing I could think of. I pictured the most beautiful, perfect-bodied, young, very serious, very experienced dancers. These imaginary dancers were, of course, all vegetarians, if they even ate at all, needed no sleep, never needed to drill steps, and learned a choreography after seeing it once— maybe twice. A few of my dance sisters, from my home studio, had gone the previous year and assured me that it was not the way I imagined at all. They were confident I would love it and fit right it. I trust my dance sisters, so I gave it a shot.

This year, I’ll be forty-eight when I attend my third Dance Camp. I’ve learned that I while I won’t be the youngest, I also won’t be the oldest. I won’t be the most experienced; I won’t be the least experienced. I will not be the most serious dancer; I might be the silliest. The last two years at Dance Camp, I’ve had the best time immersing myself, as much or as little as I want, based on my needs, desires, skill-set, mood, and mindset at the time. I’ve attended some incredible workshops and learned new ways to approach familiar steps and techniques. I’ve learned different ways to simply walk as a dancer. And when I do, I think of Bahaia’s words, “Move your glorious ass!”

I love reconnecting with friends I see at my home studio but don’t really get to spend time with. I’ve had some fantastic conversations with some interesting new people that I may have never crossed paths with if it weren’t for Dance Camp. While there are plenty of workshops to attend, I never feel pressured to do anything but sit on the porch alone in quiet reflection or visit with a friend or two if that’s the feeling of the day.

Last year’s camp helped me so much. Not many people knew my mom had just passed away. She was my best friend, and we spoke every single day. I was at camp for my birthday. I expected it would be hard. This would be the first year she wouldn’t call and sing “Happy Birthday” to me. Instead of difficult, I actually found it to be an uplifting experience. I found the support I needed without having to ask for it. Knowing I was happy, that I found a place and a group of people who accepted me, was the best birthday present ever. That’s all Mom would have wanted for me. That’s all Mom ever wanted for me. I found peace in my place with these women, in this place; this scary Dance Camp. Turns out, it’s not so scary after all. I did spend a quiet day by myself— it was perfect. While I “missed out” on that day’s workshops, what I gained personally was priceless and guiltless.

The whole experience of Dance Camp helps me see dance, as well as people, in a new way. It helps me remember my #sisterhood, even when my sisters become forgetful of said sisterhood, and I try to carry that feeling into all aspects of my life.

The camp, itself, is so well organized, and the food is always incredible! #MissBecky deserves pageantry and accolades for the job she does cooking and running the cabin kitchen. The fact that Dance Camp offers all of this, plus shopping, games, massages, bonfires, #Smores, performance opportunities, silly contests, meet-and-greets, T-shirt decorating stations, yoga, #roundtable discussions, and so much more, it’s a wonder you can fit it all into just four days.

There is no pressure, no guilt, and no hard sell to go next year before you even leave. The place sells itself. Why would you not want to go back?

Bahaia’s Cabaret Dance Camp truly is a sisterhood that I look forward to every year.

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