In this article Arthur remembers beginning his love affair with square dancing.
I was “like a virgin”, figuratively speaking of course, until I graduated from
the Mainstream Class this past May. Phew! It took nine months to birth this
Last September, four days after the break-up from a ten-year
relationship, two dear friends who are in Plus literally dragged me to the open
house. I guess they thought this was cheaper than therapy and since I am the
caretaker/referee type I agreed to show up at PS 3 just to calm then down.
Square Dancing! I remembered doing it at the November Club
in Andover, MA where I grew up. I was ten years old and the girls would line up
on one side with the boys on the other. Even then I knew in my heart that all I
wanted to do was dance with the boys. We, too, had club uniforms. Blue blazers,
white shirts, grey dress pants, those hideous crisscross ties that snapped in
the middle and white gloves. The thought of do-sa-doing and allemande left-ing,
left me mildly nauseous. So, on that fateful September evening, I girded my
loins, took a deep breath and danced m first square dance as an adult.
To tell the truth, the whole night’s a whirling blur and
when the dance was over, I found myself stumbling down Christopher Street in a
half-daze and worried to death. What was the problem? I loved it! I loved the
dancing, the people, the geekiness (excuse me), the silliness of it. I just
loved it. And I thought, what the hell do I Do ow? Well, you go back. And I
did. Again, and again, like to many of the other new club members.
But the early weeks were rough. I had mixed emotions. Trying
to make every Thursday night available, exhaustion from work, awkwardness with
meeting strangers, performance anxiety, and angels breaking squares down. (Tee-hee!)
Some weeks were easy, others seemed like an unbearable struggle. But that
allowed us novices to complain to one another and bond quickly.
And then there were the dances… Peel the Pumpkin, Boxing
Day, Sheldon Green Valentine’s Dance, St. Elmo’s Fire … each allowing us to
dance to new callers, with different members and slowly but surely gain more
Enough so that I mustered up the courage to volunteer for
the exhibition dance. At the first rehearsal, I feared that I was in way over
my head until I looked around and realized that everyone else was just as
discombobulated. Thanks God the choreographer did not yell at me! (Just
kidding!) I’m glad I stuck it out because it was challenging, and I met more
new friends and it took me to … Trenton!
Good old Trenton, where I mastered the art of dancing with
no hands with not just one but several straight male dancers. I still have
mixed emotions about the trip. It was definitely a “psychological whack” but
the experience was important for me. I too, must keep my mind open and my
prejudices in check. To be fair!! I also danced with some straight men that
held me tighter and closer than most gay men! (I have their phone numbers if
anyone is interested.)
Most recently I did my first fly-in to Rehoboth. It was
terrific to see so many of my Mainstream class members there. I had a great
time. We danced to fabulous callers with friendly strangers from several
different states and all at the beach! Who could ask for anything more? By now
you’re probably thinking that I’m hooked I am. I’m addicted. Call me madcap but
I’m going to the convention in Las Vegas, looking forward to Square Dance de
Soleil in tights the nude Moonshine tip and all the people I’ll meet.
But now I’ve graduated Mainstream and will move on to Plus in the fall. I may be having nightmares about learning new square dance calls but I’m grateful that the club has allowed me to emerge from a self-imposed cocoon. And maybe my friends still snicker when I tell them I’m off to square dance, but I just smile because I know I’m the lucky one. I get to spend the evening dancing with the girls … and the boys.