Shimmy into the new year

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  • Carol Lofland is looking for local belly dancers to prepare for this year’s Shimmy Mob in May. The annual event celebrates World Belly Dance Day and raises awareness of domestic violence. — Photo by Phil Houseal
    Carol Lofland is looking for local belly dancers to prepare for this year’s Shimmy Mob in May. The annual event celebrates World Belly Dance Day and raises awareness of domestic violence. — Photo by Phil Houseal
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As you shake off 2016, Carol Lofland wants you to think about shimmying in 2017.

That’s when she and a troupe of belly dancers will prepare for Shimmy Mob, a worldwide event that celebrates World Belly Dance Day and raises funds to fight domestic violence.

She wants you to join them.

You don’t have to be a belly dancer. You don’t need to be any particular shape, size, weight, or gender. All that is required is an interest in joining other like-minded souls and ... well... shimmying.

“Nope. No experience necessary,” Lofland confirmed. “I say dance is for everybody. If I can dance, anybody can dance.”

That is not false modesty. It comes from someone who was always told she “was too fat and ugly” to dance like that.

Lofland is not shy about sharing her painful personal story of being in a “very abusive” relationship.

“In 2004, my now ex-husband beat me unconscious and left me to die on our living room floor,” she said. “He walked out on me. I lost part of who I was.”

After that episode, Lofland returned to her hometown. She remembered seeing her first belly dancer at an earlier event, and was more than intrigued.

“She was a very large woman, but she was stunning,” Lofland said. “I loved the way she looked: beautiful, strong. I wanted to do that.”

So she took a belly dance class. The next year, through a friend, she was introduced to Shimmy Mob. She danced her first Shimmy Mob by herself in her parents’ living room. Lofland “was hooked” on how the event combined the art of belly dance with a good cause — to raise awareness of domestic violence.

“Dance taught me how to be strong again,” she said. “That is why this is so important for me.”

She kept at it, moving to Austin, where she worked her way up to Team Leader and brought the concept to the Hill Country. She is now in her sixth year with Shimmy Mob, and her second year living in Fredericksburg. She will lead Shimmy Mob Fredericksburg in 2017.

It is hard to overstate how important Shimmy Mob has been for Lofland.

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