Monday, September 22, 2014

Close embrace, awkward-close, and making intentional choices

Dear dancer-leaders: close embrace is not best accomplished by squeezing. Specifically, it is not best accomplished by leaving your hand where it was in closed position and applying force on my back to bring your hand directly towards your chest. 

For starters, it's not actually possible for me to come properly into close embrace without offset between our bodies; my toes cannot occupy the same space as yours, nor can my knees. If you draw me directly towards you, I am stuck something like 10 inches away. I refer to this position as “awkward.”

But even once we’re in a decent close embrace position, holding me *tightly* is a choice I would ask you to (re)consider before/when you do it.

My major personal objections to being 'squeezed' towards you or being tightly held while dancing (these are phrased as "I" statements but I don't think they're unique to me): 
  • If it is not a reciprocal desire, it makes me feel super TRAPPED, like I am being held in place (because I literally am). 
  • Pulling me directly towards you puts your face really close to my face if we're anywhere near similar heights. I experience this as extremely intimate. I'm personally pretty tolerant to body contact as long as I'm not being held in place, but "your face close enough to my face that you could kiss me without moving anything but your head" is fairly personal space, for me. (Actual close embrace does not violate this for me because we are looking past each other, or my head is on my leader's chest.)
  • In "awkward" position, the closer we are to the same height, the more difficult it is not to have to choose between extended eye contact and staring at the floor. And then tilting my head down brings my face even closer to yours. :/

Holding me against you with force, lingering with your face very near mine, especially if you are also holding me in place, and unremitting eye contact are pretty intense things to do. Not categorically wrong or bad, but they are intense.

Something else that's really intense? Putting both of your hands directly on my torso (shoulders, rib cage, hips) and exactly manipulating where you want my body to be in space for an extended period of time.

**Did you mean to be that intense?** Do I seem into it? Am I matching you? Are you paying attention such that if I try and move away/toward-less-intensity, I can? If I ask "can you please not hold me so tightly", does it register? do you argue with me about it? Would there be a better way to ask you?

Do you trust and respect your follow enough that if s/he moves in a different way than you wanted, you move with them, or do use force to “tell” her/him where to go, leaving few options?

Do you make assumptions about the level of intensity someone else is OK with dancing at after watching them dance with someone else? (Please don't do this.)

From a friendly local follow, please do have some intention about the level of intensity and/or intimacy you are requesting in a dance. And please do not "correct" me with more force when I try and move away from "awkward" position.

I left SFLX early last night because I am not [your] puppet.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On having an adult discussion in the lindy hop community- which I think we are.

This is a followup post to the conversation in Lindy Shopper's original post "Assaulted by Breasts," my post "My breasts don't assault you by just sitting here, actually," other, responses including by Aries, and Lindy Shopper's response to the ensuing blogstorm at "On Having a Reasonable Discussion in the Lindy Hop Community."

I titled this post "On having an adult discussion in the lindy hop community- which I think we are." because the criticism that most stung me personally was that the discussion we are having right now is somehow immature, unreasonable, or childish.  Lindy Shopper has clarified that she did not intend to imply those things about my post.

I think some of the comments across the many platforms have been all of those things.  But on the whole, I think this IS a good, productive, and yes, "adult" discussion of some issues that both me and Lindy Shopper hold pretty dearly, and I'm glad it's happening.  

I messaged Lindy Shopper (LS) last night after her followup post, and we've been having a private conversation. While we have different personal speech and writing styles, I think we ultimately agree nearly entirely on these issues. She has been gracious to engage with me respectfully in response to what was, at times, a viciously sarcastic post.

LS is kind of horrified and more than a little saddened at the messages that we read from her original post, which she says in her followup. And I believe at this point that they were not her intent.  But text can stand alone, and without personal knowledge of someone's character, it is impossible to divine someone's intent, so she understands why the post was read the way it was.

In her response post, she brings up the "slut shaming" phrase, and quotes the definition from the wikipedia article (which I linked).  In response to that she says this:
This kind of phenomenon pervades in our society and it is one of the most terrible atrocities of perception that we live with in our society. As someone who is, first and foremost, a woman who is both educated and liberal, and secondarily, a lawyer who has studied a body of rape case law spanning the past two centuries and who represents women who are victims of domestic violence, I understand, fully, the implications of this phrase, from a social, psychological, and legal standpoint. As a person, [...] I disagree with “slut shaming” and everything that it stands for (and stands against) as to women.
That is a strong and articulate statement, and I wanted to share it here.

I think this discussion was and is valuable, and am glad it occurred. I think it was easy to read those messages in LS original post because I think some of that sentiment certainly floats around in our community, and definitely is prevalent in our society.  I am also glad that LS and I were able to have a conversation and come to understand one another better.

I also agree that re-reading, trying to think about multiple sides, not jumping to conclusions, being respectful, and referencing the post you're responding to are all good things when making a response.  So in a lot of the specifics, in addition to the general sense, I agree with her followup.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My breasts don't assault you by just sitting here, actually

So, over at Lindy Shopper, there is a post that went up a few weeks ago, but that I only just recently saw.  It's titled "Assaulted by Breasts."

I thought it was going to be an article on safety-pinning buttonholes or something, fashion tips on how to keep your boobs from popping out when you don't want them to.

It is actually a rant about what women wear at dances, and how they should cover up more lest they provoke men into being "distracted by so much cleavage or full boobage that it becomes ogling and/or pushes them into creepy territory," or scar children for life.  The rant is prompted by her husband having seen someone's boob that popped out of her dress on NYE; Lindy Shopper ends the post stating that she doesn't want to come home and hear stories about the breasts he saw, so we should all really cover up already.

(sorry for the quote so early in the piece, but it's just... I suspect I would be accused of hyperbole if I simply told you that Lindy Shopper thinks what women wear is responsible for how men act.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nathan Bugh's essays

Hey kids, have you read Nathan Bugh's essays from his website? No? I had not seen them till today. and they are all the shit, so I'm just gonna link them.

Where's the beat?

Sync or Swing?


Ladies First

Know, you don't

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

re: swing culture by WonderWomanProject

Hellooooo.  Lindy Focus trip report coming soon, but in the mean time, I typed a lot of thoughts in response to a facebook post about a blog post, by my enchanting friend Aries, so I figured I'd go ahead and toss it up here.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Solo dance performance: once as a girl and once as a boy

Earlier this year, I gave myself some dance goals for 2012.  One of them was "Choreo a solo blues routine and perform it in front of actual people."

First weekend in November, in Washington, DC, I was afforded the opportunity to perform a piece* I've been working on since mid-August at Bambloozled, which is put on every year by the fantastic folks at Capitol Blues.

I think it went pretty well:

Spoonful from David Mudre on Vimeo. Dancing and choreography by Christina Austin.

The second half of this performance was at Snowbound Blues in Rochester, NY.

The second time, I'm dressed as a boy.  Weird.  I won't lie to you, this post is gonna be long.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Solo blues performance

The blog has been very quiet all summer, but I have been working on stuff. Mostly blues.

Tonight, I will do my first ever solo dance performance.  I choreographed the routine myself.  I am fucking super nervous. Adrenaline dump all day, every time I think about it. I just want it to be really good. 

The closest way I can describe the feeling is that it is exactly the same as right before I redpointed my first 5.13 rock climb. (That's not world-class hard, but it's playing with the big kids. Mine was ~110 feet of rock that was on average, about 45 degrees overhanging.)

My pulse is not particularly elevated, but my hand are literally shaky with adrenaline. I am so excited, and nervous, and dissociatively calm.  I need to be absolutely focused, and utterly unentitled, such that I give it everything I have.

Gonna leave it all on the floor.

Lots more on this later.