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Monday, May 07, 2007

Better Now

Okay, last week was bad. I haven't been that depressed in a really long time.

I spent a long time contemplating the nature of respect and rudeness. John treated me rudely for my being rude, when you roll both of our perspectives into one sentence. What is rude or disrespectful is so subjective, more subjective than anything I've encountered to date. While I'd be the first to demand sharp footwork, straight arms, and attention to detail in a performance setting, this isn't at all my concern on a Monday night at the pub in Berkeley. Instead, I'm out to have fun, to see what we can do, to play and to dance as the spirit takes me. This was interpreted as offensively disrespectful, enough so that yelling at me in public was justified and appropriate in John's mind, even to the point of defending his actions later when Chris called him on it. It makes me worry that two people who have been traveling in such similar social worlds for so many years can't get along, can't even see each others issues or perspectives. What hope is there for conservative and liberal, black and white, Christian and pagan, Arab and American, gay and straight, to ever interact without offending one another? None, I suspect.

And speaking of gay and straight, the one time I came to tears about all this this week was Wednesday night after the gym. We stopped at Pizza My Heart for salad, and I was reflecting on this cute couple at the gym. I was stretching, and the couple was finishing abs and stretching out, and one was teasing the other about stretching, pushing his shoulders down in what was obviously affection and play. The one being shoved looked over to me, and I smiled approvingly, and they smiled back and we went on, but there was clearly a moment of checking on his part. I thought, "It's just so nice that they feel comfortable being mildly expressive in a setting like this, one dominated so heavily by manly men who do manly things with heavy weights. It gives me hope." But then I thought back to Monday, and how you can think you're safe and accepted as you are, and how quickly that illusion can be shattered.

I thought about Monday's events in comparison to other dancing and dance venues and how my behavior and comportment is so different in different places. At Fezziwigs, I'm likely to be the scold asking others to behave by Victorian and theatrical standards because it impacts the show that we're putting on. Meanwhile, at FNW, I'm just as likely to switch lead/follow mid-dance or try something experimental because the environment welcomes that. Until Monday, I'd always found the Starry Plough to be the kind of place that welcomed innovation and creativity, even this year working on new dances like Tricycle and new figures like the zipper hey. It always seemed the sort of place and the sort of crowd to push the boundaries of the figure dancing art form, and that experimental nature was something that kept me coming back again and again. I guess I overestimated that.

So I headed on up to Karfluki, made myself useful, working backstage providing food for the entertainers and running to the store, and listened to my all-time favorite live band, Tempest. What I've always love about Tempest is the fusion of traditional Celtic music and rock and roll. It honors the traditions while updating them and keeping them fresh. Cliff was there and tapped me for dancing. We danced a bunch of different styles, culminating in Cliff saying, "Hey, we should try Night Fever Line dance to this one." It was the right tempo, so we gave it a go. A couple near us remarked on not having seen/done that in 30 years. We cracked them up. So there I was, dancing Night Fever to a traditional reel, played on a double-necked electric mandolin, while a shaven-headed man with wild eyebrows played his electric fiddle in a Utilikilt. After Karfluki, I went to Davis and was met with many welcoming hails and much affection. Today I'm okay, almost whole again. I've lost something dear and familiar, but only the place, not the friends, and not the dance. Now I'm off to Alameda to dance with those friends, sometimes to traditional music, sometimes not. I think it's the right thing to do.


  • That's a wonderful post. I thought about similar things at FNW. We were dancing waltz/polka/swing/latin, to a huge variety of music, DJed by a man who has a PHD in dance from Stanford. There were people dancing Irish or Contra in the middle of the floor during polkas and as far as the DJ and organizers, it was ok (at least I have never heard a complaint).

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 1:20 AM  

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