Henceforth, on Monday nights, forever and ever amen, you will find me here.
I have finally crossed some barrier in my attempts to learn the country-western two-step. I don't mean that I've got it down -- hardly -- but I actually had fun tonight. After the lessons were over, I danced with several guys (not just with one or two, as I did last time).
These various partners tonight illustrated the particular pleasures of having a commanding leader (I'm a follower on the dance floor, and I've come to realize it's all about having a commanding leader) as well as the different, but in its own way equally comforting, pleasure of having a leader who is just as klutzy and incompetent as I am.
It's when I'm with someone who's just good enough to be better than me that I get into real trouble.
I first encountered country-western dancing at Remington's in 1993, when I went on a date with a guy I'd met through a personal ad I'd placed in the City Paper. I later described the evening parenthetically in an essay I wrote on a different topic:
I have him to thank . . . for my love of country music. No fan himself, he picked a gay country-western bar for our first date because he thought it was easy to talk in. As we chatted, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the men on the dance floor, their thumb-in-pocket line-dancing a chorus of seductive yet unself-conscious swagger.
That seductive yet unself-conscious swagger! I never did get over it. I took a couple of lessons back then, but both the dancing and the ogling at Remington's fell by the wayside when I got into a long-term relationship with another guy (now my ex) who wasn't interested in it. But I'm not going to put the blame on him. I could have continued the lessons on my own; I just didn't.
I sold my cowboy boots in a yard sale several years later when we were clearing out the house for a renovation. It pained me to do so. But then so much pained me at that point in the relationship.
Several months ago, a friend who is an expert two-stepper got me back to Remington's. (And I got a new pair of boots. The cowboy hat is optional, and it's not going to happen for me.) Between his commanding leadership on those occasions when we've danced together and the Monday-night lessons I've started attending by myself, I am determined to get this down.
My entire life, I have never before been able to dance any dance with steps.
I am determined to get this down.
As much as I enjoyed Dan Savage's book The Commitment, he's full of shit about the sight of two men dancing. In the following passage, he's not talking about two-stepping, but I'm sure he'd feel the same way about it:
"I think it looks silly when two men ballroom dance. There, I said it. . . . I'm sorry, gay ballroom dancers, but you look ridiculous. And do you know why? Because ballroom dancing is a parody of heterosexual courtship and mating, an elaborate send-up of male and female sex roles, and it just looks strange when two men in tuxedos float around the dance floor together doing the fox trot."
As I texted Diablo tonight, "Gay cotillion" -- as I've taken to jokingly calling Remington's two-step lessons -- "is subversive in its corny way. Love it!"
He texted back: "Yes -- in the way that drag subverts femininity."
He and I are right, of course, but . . . whatever. The sight of two men two-stepping, or a couple of dozen men line-dancing, is mesmerizing to me. And to be one of those men myself is . . . well, I'm still getting used to it, but "ridiculous" and "strange" are the last words I'd use to describe how it feels.