joreth: (dance)
www.quora.com/Why-did-so-many-Latin-music-and-dance-genres-originate-in-Cuba

They didn’t. Latin dances originated in a lot of different places in South America and are heavily influenced by Afro-Caribbean rhythms from the booming slave trade and trans-Atlantic travel of the 1500’s-1800s.

Samba originated in Brazil in the very early 1900s: Samba - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Salsa doesn’t have a single point of origin but Cuba likes to take the credit for it: Salsa - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal Salsa includes influences from Puerto Rico, Haiti, Africa, and even a little bit of European country dance styles. Mambo is also Cuban, but today’s Mambo is basically the Salsa on a different beat.

Tango comes from Argentina: Tango - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Merengue hails from the Dominican Republic but Haiti likes to claim credit for it: Merengue - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Cha Cha is genuinely a Cuban dance, having been created by a Cuban composer who invented the music that people eventually developed a dance for: Cha Cha - What Is it? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Bachata comes from the Dominican Republic: Bachata (dance) - Wikipedia

Rumba is a Cuban dance, but it also has some differences with today’s rumba/rhumba in the US. The *music* came from Cuba, and a dance was made up to go with the music, but the 2 versions danced today are American Standard (which was invented in the US) and International Standard (which was invented by a French instructor in London). Rhumba - Wikipedia

Bolero is a dance that has two separate styles and two completely separate and independent origins - Cuba, and Spain, with the Cuban version being heavily influenced by other countries like Puerto Rico and Mexico: Bolero - Wikipedia

Paso Doble is usually categorized as a “Latin dance” when you watch the TV competitions, but, ironically, the partner dance is French (based on Spanish military marches & bullfights), and then adopted by Spain and Portugal: Pasodoble - Wikipedia

And then there’s Jive, which is classified as a “Latin dance” under International dancesport categories, but Jive originated as Lindy Hop in New York at the Savoy Theater by a primarily black community and was later codified by Arthur Murray and other ballroom studios to make it easier to teach, and also to compete in. This led to the development of several different sub-categories of Lindy, and the competition version which is classified as a “Latin dance” is called Jive: Swing Dance - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

joreth: (dance)
www.quora.com/How-do-I-learn-to-dance

That depends on what style of dance you want to learn. Generally speaking, taking lessons are a pretty good way to learn how to dance.

If you want to learn how to *partner* dance, I wrote a whole article on how to decide what to learn: What To Learn? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Basically, you need to identify your goals, look into the different types of instruction to see what meets your needs, and then choose a dance style to start out with.

My personal bias is that partner dancing requires in-class lessons with a partner and an instructor, supplemented with videos *after the lesson* for “homework”. I usually recommend group classes first because it’s a low-investment, “dip the toe in the water” kind of method for exploring dancing. It costs less than private instruction and there are other people there who are also learning that you can share the experience with. Plus, you don’t need to bring your own partner with you.

I believe you need in-person instruction before videos because it won’t feel the same without the resistance and communication from a partner, and most people need someone who can observe their body and offer corrections. Beginners simply *cannot* tell if their bodies are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Partner dancing is as much communication as anything else. Partner dancing is a *conversation*. It’s not just learning steps. In fact, memorizing step patterns is the least important part of dancing, believe it or not. The important part to being a good partner dancer is the communication between you and your partner. And, for that, you need to dance with another person, not watch a video. The steps will feel *very* different if you try to do them alone, and some people aren’t even able to do certain steps at all without the partner providing the resistance and communication. Partner dancing is a collaborative effort.

Do a Google search for the name of the dance style you want to learn + “lessons” + the name of your nearest largest city.

joreth: (Swing Dance)

I got an amazing compliment last night. I have never danced bal before (balboa, a variation on the original lindy hop swing dance that was developed for really fast music in really crowded nightclubs) and I don't even know what the basic pattern is.  But a guy in the local lindy scene who knows bal was at the Gatsby party last night and none of the other follows knew how to dance it either, but a good bal song came on and he wanted to dance.

I've always wanted to learn and, through years of dedication and commitment to learning dance, I have learned how to push through my fear of looking foolish in public and I asked him to teach me right there at the (non-dance-event) party, with dozens of strangers looking on.  He showed me the basic step and then led me into the dance. I know I was off-beat the whole time - I could feel it. We weren't in sync and it felt awkward. But he led me and I followed.  Afterwards, he gushed, not just to me but to the others in the party, about what a good job I did, that he couldn't believe I had never danced bal before, and that I was able to keep up on some non-beginner steps that he threw at me.

This has inspired me to add bal to my "I will learn these dances this year" resolution. I mean, it's already on my list of dances I want to learn, but I am resolving to actually take lessons in certain dances in the coming year (Argentine Tango being the top of the list, previously the only one on the list).  Pushing through my fear of messing up in public has brought me more skills, more enjoyable memories, and more confidence than literally any other thing I've tried. The dance community has been instrumental in that because of the embedded nature of acceptance and welcome for newcomers, especially those who look foolish.

We were all that goofy newbie once, and we are all that goofy newbie again with each new skill we learn. No matter how long we've been dancing, or how good we get at it, we're still always that goofy newbie who messes up on the floor, steps on our partner's toes, bumps into someone else, and generally makes a fool of ourselves in public.  I've been that fool so many times, and it still frightens me. But I do it anyway because I have lived through the embarrassment in the past and nothing truly bad happened to me for being embarrassed. And now that I know that, I can tell my anxiety to shut up and I can do it anyway.

I can't always push through my anxiety - as my messy house and full sink will attest. But the more times I do it, the easier it gets to do it the next time. Sometimes I backslide and I just can't in that moment, but I know that I'm a flawed human and that's OK, so I can find the strength to do it next time.  It's that "do it next time" that's important, though. Accepting that I'm flawed and then not pushing through next time as every time becomes "I'll do it next time" doesn't make me better. Dancing, because of the acceptance of the community and the knowledge that we are all still beginners at something, makes it easier for that "next time" to happen, to not allow "next time" to become code for "never".

So, I had a good compliment - one that actually makes me feel good about myself as a person and inspires me to be even better. That's what a good compliment should do - not simply notify the other person that you have pants feels for them, but inspires them to be their best self and accepts them for their current self at the same time.

#WordsOfAffirmation #5LoveLanguages #DancingIsLifeSkills #MadFollowSkillz #NewYearsResolutions #RealMenDoNotHarassComplimentWomen #ToDanceIsToLive #JustKeepDancing #IWillLearnAllTheDances

joreth: (Self-Portrait)
http://tacit.livejournal.com/627806.html

This is fascinating! I also had no idea that other people don't feel cold as pain. I mean, I knew other people had higher thresholds for cold than I do, but I still assumed that their experience of cold was similar to mine, just at higher doses, if you will. For me, cold is *pain*, like stubbing your toe pain, as well. I absolutely can't do ice treatments for injuries because the ice causes a deep ache that I interpret as being "in my bones" and in my joints and aggravates the pain from the injury.

I do sometimes use ice to numb the area around insect bites because I'm allergic and numbing the entire area is the only coping mechanism that works even a little bit. But the ache from the cold hurts so much that I don't know which is worse, the body-aching cold or the mind-maddening itch. Both sensations are so unpleasant that I often wonder if this time will be so bad that I will literally lose my mind in order to escape the sensation.

I also find being wet very uncomfortable. Especially the *transition* from dry to wet. It's one of the things that I associate with my OCD that prevents me from doing the dishes as often as I should. If I get hot and sweaty *enough*, I will start to find the thought of being wet less unpleasant, and once I'm in the water, I'm mostly OK about it. But I'd rather not get wet. I was just talking with Ben the other day about how grateful I am that we all come with electronics on our bodies nowadays because I have a built in excuse that everyone respects for not being thrown in pools (since, y'know, my consent isn't a good enough reason on its own).

Oh, and I don't do caffeine. Like, at all. I went off caffeine some 21 or more years ago as part of the process to diagnose a sleep disorder and by the time we ruled out caffeine as a causal factor, introducing it back into my system started giving me migraines. So I just don't take caffeine. Chocolate, as having something very similar but not exactly the same as caffeine, doesn't trigger the migraines, and also doesn't cause any other similar symptoms such as more "energy" or the ability to fight off exhaustion or sleep deprivation better. It does, however, help keep my mood more even and less volatile, so I eat chocolate fairly often.

But I otherwise *do* inhabit my body. I *feel* myself in my space, almost all the time. I'm acutely aware of where I exist and I believe that's related to being in chronic pain as well as having to compensate for other people (mostly men) being largely unaware of the space that they occupy, with a little bit of "oh no, am I going to sit on my cat?" pet-owner-concerns thrown in. The chronic pain and being acutely aware of my body is why, I believe, I developed the reaction to pain of feeling sleepy. It's the only time I can disassociate from my body so when I hurt, I sleep. This has the drawback, however, of being able to sleep through some discomforts that ought to wake me, like needing to pee or my arm being asleep or whatever. Because, otherwise, I'm very much "living in my body".

What's more, I can also start to "feel" my partners as extensions of myself when I am in close proximity for extended time periods or when I am granted extreme amounts of physical intimacy. They did a study on dancers a while back (I don't have the citation on hand) that showed that partner dancing develops this particular encapsulation of other selves over time, so I suppose it's not surprising that I do it too. Knowing that it's a dancer thing, I now use this to teach people how to deliberately foster this sense of partner-as-extension in relationships through my and Sterling's Simple Steps workshop where we use dance techniques (with no actual dancing required) to improve relationship communication.

I am one of those people who "feels" music the way [livejournal.com profile] tacit describes never having understood before. I knew that others didn't have that same sensation because I've tried to teach people how to dance and I've seen the lack of recognition when I try to describe this feeling. Knowing that he has synesthesia, I didn't realize that he also doesn't "feel" music. I sort of imagined the act of "seeing" music as being like "feeling" music only with extra visual stuff. Because of my connection with music, I'm particularly fascinated with how he experiences it and how his experience can be consensually manipulated to better communicate with him through music.

One thing I noticed, though, is that I do have periods where I don't feel like I'm living in my body and I feel like I'm this ball sitting at the top of a meat vehicle. Those periods are my depressions. That description of being a ball sitting on top of a biological vehicle isn't metaphor, it's literal - that's what my awareness of my self actually is in those periods. If you've never been aware of your body yet separate from it, I think it's very hard to understand from the descriptions. If you've *only* been aware of your body yet separate from it, I think the feeling of being connected to your body, of *living within* the body is very hard to understand. In both cases, the descriptions all seem metaphorical to the person who doesn't know those feelings themselves. I know because I am both of those people. When I am feeling connected to my body, the description of a ball atop a meat vehicle sounds metaphorical and I can't quite wrap my head around it empathically even if I grasp it intellectually. But when I'm in a depression, I can't remember what it feels like to be connected and I doubt that I ever really did, and my brain insists that my memories of once *believing* I was "living in my body" are lying to me and that I never *really* felt that way at all, therefore I likely never will again, or if I ever do, it'll just be a return to a delusion. Depression sucks.

I find this particularly noteworthy because Franklin isn't prone to depression that I know of so this sensation is either different from his or isn't dependent upon depression to exist. I don't know if the sensation of not living in my body has a causal relationship with my depression or just a correlated relationship, but they always go together. In fact, that's one of the red flags I use to determine if I'm in a depression. When the depression turns suicidal (thankfully rarely), I don't just feel like a ball sitting inside a meat vehicle, I feel like a ball being *constrained* by the vehicle, limited, like the vehicle is filtering out all the color and warmth in the world and if I could just break free of the body, I would no longer feel the pain of being colorless, of being cold, in a sense, of an absence of life and warmth and color and joy.

Because to me, cold is pain.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
In just 2 short weeks, Sterling and I will be bringing back our Lead & Follow Communication workshop to Atlanta Poly Weekend! It's the first workshop on the schedule, so you have to get there early!

In this workshop, we will teach you exercises to practice at home with your partners that will improve your ability to:

1) be aware of the physical and emotional space that you take up and how that affects those around you;
2) be conscious and considerate of your actions with your partner and how they affect people outside of the two of you;
3) how to better navigate metamour relations and juggling the emotional considerations of multiple partners while still allowing time to focus on one person at a time (i.e. it's not all everyone together all the time or compartmentalize everyone always);
4) how to get better attuned to recognizing nonverbal communication and expressions
5) how to get more comfortable asking for consent;
6) how to get more comfortable giving clear, verbal, affirmative consent;
7) how to become more comfortable giving clear, verbal rejection to your partner and to potential partners kindly;
8) how to hear a rejection and learn how to not take it personally or to accept it and move on more easily.

These are techniques learned over time in the dance community, but we will be teaching them to you without any dance experience required. In fact, we will not be teaching any dancing at all so you do not need to be good at dancing or even interested in dancing to attend! But we will be having fun with music and movement, so if dancing *is* your thing, whether experienced or not, you will have a good time! If you *are* an experienced partner dancer and are already familiar with leading & following, you may still enjoy learning how we put these skills together with relationship communication.

You do not need to come with a partner for this workshop. You can learn these skills on your own and apply them to your relationships later. You will also receive a handout to help you remember and practice the exercises at home so you can teach your partners on your own time.

I hope to see everyone there!
joreth: (Misty in Box)
I'm getting awfully good at recognizing people who don't value consent from tangentially related warning signs.

Almost every nightclub I go to (usually that has alcohol - can't say as I've ever been in a nightclub without alcohol, and this never happens in ballroom dance parties, with or without alcohol) has that one lady. She's always drunk, she's always dancing off-beat, and she walks around the edge of the dance floor gesturing to everyone to get them to join her on the floor.

This, by itself, irks me in a way that any individual person approaching me to ask *me* to dance does not. I am flattered and I appreciate individuals asking me, in particular, to dance, even when I don't want to dance with them. It's what happens after they ask me that determines my final reaction to their request. But this action of both hands out, palms up, waving literally everyone in the club to join her on the floor really irritates me for reasons I never bothered to unpack. So I never accept. Even when I'm *already dancing* on the floor, I do not join this person.

But most people do. They're at a nightclub. They're often there to dance. If they're not there to dance, they're back at the bar or at a table, away from the floor, so she can't really see them through her alcohol-induced fog anyway. So most people accept her invitation and go out to the floor, including people who would rather not, but who feel awkward about rejecting her. It's not such a big deal, right? They *are* there to dance, after all. She's just trying to be friendly, and she's a little drunk, so we can give her some leeway, yes?

No. This person is never able to tell where the boundaries are, and she always crosses them. Without fail, this person will come back to me at least once more, usually twice. The final time, she will actually physically put her hands on me and try to pull me out on the floor. The last time someone did that, I yelled over the music not to touch me and she asked why, so I told her that I was armed. She got offended at *me* for "escalating".

Don't fucking touch me without my permission. That is a consent violation. I don't care what gender you are, you do not have permission to touch me until I grant it. Now that we've convinced ourselves that women are these helpless, fragile, delicate little things, it makes it possible to excuse all kinds of violations and abuses because women, apparently, can't violate or abuse anyone. Now that we've convinced ourselves that there are such things as "blurred lines" and that "no means maybe", it makes it possible to excuse all kinds of violations and abuses because, apparently, no one can even tell where the boundaries are anymore (hint: it's before you touch anyone and before you say anything sexual or insulting to anyone and before you look at someone in a sexual way - i.e. while thinking of either sex or power over them - if you haven't received clear, verbal permission to do so).

These things make it possible for *actual* rapists and abusers to push boundaries. Of course not everyone is a rapist (although, judging by the number of people who gleefully admit to rape as long as you don't call it by the r-word, there are more of you out there than it seems), but our culture protects and hides them. It puts the onus on the victims to be "polite", so people accept small boundary violations because they're "not a big deal", the people don't want to "cause a scene", and no one wants to be a "party pooper" when someone is just "trying to have fun".

So, regular people accidentally cross boundaries here and there, because it's more rude for the person whose boundary was just crossed to police that boundary than it was for the person who accidentally crossed it. In that kind of environment, an actual rapist or abuser can "accidentally" cross a boundary to see how easy it is to cross that boundary with that person. They're testing to see what they can get away with. And when their victim is more concerned with being a "bitch" than with enforcing her boundaries, they "accidentally" cross another one.

Baby steps. Small violations. Each one seeming like not a "big deal", especially when the victim has the previous violation to compare it to. "Well, I let him do that, it would be rude not to let him get away with this too." Until suddenly the victim looks up and sees that the rapist or abuser is WAY behind enemy lines and has no idea how they got there or how to get them back on their own side of the fence.

A lady came 'round the dance floor, waving everyone to join her. I declined. Someone next to me responded, but did so with reservations. The lady came back to me a second time and I declined again. The other person, apparently, didn't join this lady to her satisfaction and she assaulted them, grabbing the back of their clothing and actually pulling a fastening off.

Fortunately, the other person was secure enough to reprimand the lady at this point and she wandered off, probably forgetting the whole thing in her alcoholic fugue. But I declined originally because I saw the warning signs and I was put off. As long as everyone acquiesced to her boundary violations, things were fine. She wasn't going to rape anyone, sex wasn't her goal. But she had a goal for what she wanted other people to do, and if anyone did not consent to her goal, she pressed for it. She isn't a Bad Guy, a black-hat villain, she is a product of her culture. Our culture told her that this sort of behaviour was acceptable. You could pooh-pooh her behaviour away because she was obviously drunk, but being drunk and then violating consent is still a part of our culture - still something that our culture teaches is acceptable. Our culture says that everything about this situation is No Big Deal. Which means that someone who really is a Big Deal has a place to hide as long as he makes his Deal a series of little deals first. This lady does not value consent because our culture told her consent is not valuable. And someone always ends up getting assaulted when one does not value consent.

I saw the warning signs. Sometimes I hate being right about people.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
www.thedancesocks.com/

I was at a conference recently and one of the evening entertainments was an electroswing (swing jazz + electronica music) event that I didn't know about when I packed for the event. So I didn't have appropriate attire, including shoes.

I did, however, have The DanceSocks with me, which I threw in my suitcase as an afterthought. I packed both pair, my smooth floor socks and my carpet socks. And I'm so glad I did!

The room that the event was in did not have a dance floor set up, so it was just ballroom carpet. I threw my carpet socks on over my Converse sneakers and I was able to swing dance as if I had a new pair of sueded shoes on a smooth wood floor.

For $5 a pair, I highly recommend everyone get some who even kinda thinks they might want to start learning how to partner dance someday. They fit in most purses and in my thigh cargo pockets (which I was wearing the day of the event). They come in multiple colors and fit over almost any size shoe (my partner, Ben, got the pair I gave to him to fit over his hiking boot-type shoes & fairly large male feet).

They're good for any style of dancing, including partner dancing, hip hop, zumba, and many styles of aerobic workouts, where you might want to twist, pivot turn, or slide when your rubber soled shoes might grab the ground and prevent you from doing those things easily. But they don't make your shoes so slippery that it's like walking on ice. I walk normally in mine.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

Atlanta Poly Weekend 2015 is coming up soon! Make sure to get there early, because Sterling and I are giving our Breaking Up workshop first thing Friday afternoon and you don't want to miss it! We've added new content for how the metamours can handle a breakup. Last year, we received rave reviews, including the comment:

"If More Than Two is the General Theory of Don't Be A Dick, then your breakup workshop is the Special Theory of Don't Be A Dick!"

We give practical advice for how to handle a breakup with compassion and grace even in the face of an uncooperative ex, and how to deal with your partners' breakups as the metamour. Given how common breakups are, we believe that we need to shuck the notion that discussing breakups isn't "romantic", and instead, we need to develop relationship skills that will help us to handle the inevitable.

Our culture tells us that we should find our One True Love the first time we try dating and that the relationship will last until we both die. Statistics suggest that this is FAR from true. So, as a culture, we need to take the blinders off and put on the big boy pants and learn how to deal with a situation that we are almost guaranteed to go through at least once in our lives.

Come to our panel at 1 PM on Friday to learn how!

On Saturday at 5:30 pm, come and hear me talk about Polyamory & Skepticism - What's Love Got To Do With It? I'll be revising an updated version of my keynote speech on the intersection between ‪skepticism‬ and ‪polyamory‬, and why they are so important to go together.

And finally, a brand new, hands-on workshop (yes, you can just observe) just for APW 2015 - Using Lead & Follow Techniques To Improve Your Relationship Communication!

Right before the Masquerade, come hear Sterling and me show you how to apply the partner dance techniques of Lead & Follow to your romantic relationships to improve your relationship communication. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO DANCE! Seriously, you can totally have 2 left feet and still get some important tips for your relationship! We will not be teaching how to dance at this workshop.

Lead & Follow are dance terms for who gives the signals in a dance and who receives the signals in a dance. They are not dance steps and they are not specific to any style of dancing. You do not need a partner to participate in this workshop and you do not need any dance experience or even any interest in dancing. This is a communication workshop that applies certain skills from partner dancing to relationships.

We will tackle issues like consent, invitations, acceptance and rejections, non-verbal signals, trust, and more. This is a fun and interactive workshop that will take place conveniently right before the Mardi Gras party, the Drag Show, and the big Masquerade ball! We'll have a few exercises and play some fun music, plus a couple of dance demonstrations with some fun and sexy dances! We'll get you up and moving and ready to party the rest of Saturday night!

Everyone is welcome - extroverts, introverts, dancers, non-dancers, singles, couples, any relationship configuration and any relationship style, and even lurkers! If "interactive" isn't your thing, you can still come in and observe, take notes, and practice at home using our helpful handout. In fact, the tips we teach in this workshop are intended to be continuously practiced, so *everyone* can take what they learn here and bring it back home with them to keep improving their relationship communication!

You won't want to miss this!

If you can't attend Atlanta Poly Weekend, then share this post to spread the word to those who can!

joreth: (Swing Dance)
www.thedancesocks.com

So, a while back I was researching DIY dance shoe resoling and I came across a new product called The DanceSocks​. I'm often at parties where I'm dressed in sneakers and someone will ask me to show them a dance step, and I'll have to take off my shoes and dance in my socks or bare feet in order to do it. Which is kind of dangerous if I'm outdoors or if I'm showing a partner who has never danced before and might step on my toes! So I thought these looked interesting.

The basic premise is that the smooth floor sock is just a little tube of fabric that goes around the ball of your foot over whatever shoes you're wearing. The sock fabric is chosen to give you the right amount of "slip" for spins and slides while allowing the rest of your shoe to act as a stopper since the rubber isn't covered. They primarily advertise this for zumba, where you might need to stop suddenly and where you might prefer sneakers to dance shoes. It sounds pretty good for Lindy Hop & swing as well.

They also have a version for carpet, which is a sock that covers the entire shoe and is of a different fabric pattern designed for providing slip and spin on rough carpeting. I used to perform as a Bollywood dancer, and most of the time, our troupe was booked in hotel rooms or classrooms where there was no stage only carpeted floor, or where the stage itself was carpeted. Most of the time, we danced in bare feet because of the style of costuming, but carpet can really eat up even callused feet so we would often wear Hermes sandals with leather soles to dance on carpet. When I'm at a party in someone's house and the floor is carpeted and I'm asked to dance, I'll usually dance in socks instead of bare feet just to protect myself from blisters, but even in socks, dancing on carpet can hurt.

So, I decided to test these Dance Socks out. At $10 a pair, why not? I got both the carpet and the smooth floor versions (the smooth floor version comes in a 2-pack for $10, as I pleasantly discovered). I gave one of the smooth floor pairs to one of my partners who is learning how to dance and happened to be at an event with me on the day mine arrived, and we tried dancing in the garage at an Easter party. They actually allowed him to lindy hop in hiking boots!

Then I went to a friend's house where I was teaching him and his fiance to rumba for their wedding. We had been doing the lessons on their living room rug, but they had new leather-soled shoes for the wedding so they were able to do it. I kept showing up in sandals or sneakers because, well, I wasn't doing all the dancing, I was only demonstrating the steps, so I could cheat. But, I figured, I have these new carpet socks so why not? I put them on over my sneakers, and it happened to be on a day when the bride was too sick to dance, so I gave the lesson to the groom while she watched from the couch. Which meant that I had to *actually* dance.

Let me tell you, I was dubious about these carpet socks. I've spent a LOT of time dancing on carpet in different kinds of shoes, bare feet, dance paws, socks, etc. Other than leather-soled shoes, I've never been happy with anything on carpet. I even went out and had a pair of dance shoes re-soled in leather (over the suede) just so I would have at least one pair of shoes I could dance on carpet on!

But these Dance Socks did the job. I was quite surprised at how slippy they were, without being dangerous. They maybe weren't *quite* as slippy as a brand new leather sole that hasn't been roughed up yet, but they were definitely slippy enough to do point turns in!

So far I love these socks as a backup. I'm planning on keeping these in my car (if I had a purse, I'd keep them there) so that when I'm out "in the wild", if dancing opportunities just happen to come up spontaneously, then no matter what I'm wearing, I'll have the proper shoes without having to actually carry around a pair of dance shoes with me everywhere! Because, really, who does that? And who then wants to go out to their car, come back in, change their shoes, all because your date's favorite song came on at the jukebox and they want to dance right now? With these Dance Socks, I just have to pull them out of a purse or pocket, slip them over whatever I'm wearing, and hit the impromptu dance floor!

So, since I've actually tried them out, I'm recommending them to anyone who might find a use for having a pair of "dance shoes" with them no matter where they are but who doesn't want to actually carry dance shoes with them everywhere they go. They're small, washable, fold-able, and incredibly convenient, not to mention affordable!  Go get yours today!  Seriously.
joreth: (Swing Dance)


I've been asked a lot recently about my dancing, so I thought I'd make a public post.  I get told that I'm a good dancer and people want to know how long I've been dancing and where I take lessons, so here's the story:

I've been dancing for 18 years, and yet I'm only considered a "beginning-intermediate" dancer.  See, I've only had 2 lessons and I only know a handful of steps and no "styling". When I was about 20, I took a class in college called "social dancing" - a 3-hour evening class once a week (I think it was 3 hours with a break, but it was a long time ago, so I'm not sure ... coulda been 2 hours).  The class introduced us to a new dance every week - we reviewed what we learned the previous week at the beginning of the time slot, then learned a new style (about 3 or 4 steps) for the rest of the time.  For each step that we learned, we practiced it a couple of times with a partner, and then we switched partners to try it again, and we did this multiple times throughout the class.

In this way, I learned, not only 8 or so different dances, but more importantly, I learned lead & follow techniques.  It's the lead & follow techniques that make it look like I know what I'm doing. Leading & following is all about communication.  The real trick to social dancing (as opposed to, say, competition or performance dancing), is A) keep your feet moving to the rhythm no matter what; and B) communication.  That's it.  This means that I can get out on a dance floor and, no matter what my dance partner throws at me, I keep my feet moving (and quickly go back to the correct rhythm if I happen to lose it) & I "listen" to what he's telling me to do through his body signals while I "tell" him through my own signals where I am and how I'm doing.

Then, about 2 or 3 years later, I changed schools and discovered that my new school also had a social dance class.  So I took that class, and I took a dedicated swing dance class, and a dedicated salsa class - all of which met 3 times per week for an hour each.  I ended up dropping the salsa class because dancing for 3 hours a day was too much, so I didn't really learn much salsa.  The social dance class covered more or less the same steps I had already learned in the class at the prior school.  The swing dance class covered more steps than I had previously learned when the social class taught swing, naturally, but it was still "beginner" level.

So, how did I get so "good" when I've only had two lessons?  I dance.  Really, that's it.  When I took the dedicated East Coast Swing class, my teacher convinced me to compete as a beginner, so in addition to dancing 3 times a week, I also had rehearsals for my competition every day.  I danced *every day* for half a semester. I also go to social dance events as often as I can.  It's nerve-wracking to attend a ballroom dance as a beginner - you don't know the steps, you don't know the people, you don't know the etiquette.  Plus, I'm an introvert, which means I have difficulty in social settings because they tire me out.  On top of that, I used to be painfully shy.  I still can't ask anyone to dance unless they're already a good friend of mine.  So, it's hard.  But I did it anyway.

Most of what I know, I learned at social ballroom dances.  I just kept going.  As I danced with more people, I got better at learning dance communication.  As I danced with more people, I learned more steps because new partners know steps that I don't, and vice versa, so we can teach each other out on the floor.  As I danced with more people and watched more dancers, I learned certain stylistic movements that seemed popular or flashy or neat and I tried to adopt them, eventually creating my own style.

Many social dances offer a free group lesson at the beginning of the event.  They will teach the same 3 or 4 beginning steps in a particular dance style appropriate for that event (so, a dedicated swing event will teach a swing dance, a social ballroom event will teach one of any number of dances that you can expect to be doing at that event like waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, or even swing).  Even though it's the same handful of steps that I learned 18 years ago in my first class, I attend as many of those pre-event group classes as I can.  I consider them "refresher" lessons.

And as a more seasoned dancer, I find myself "teaching" my newbie partners when they have difficulty getting the step.  The instructors are usually trying to teach 20 people at the same time, so there isn't a lot of time for personalized instruction.  I can explain something specific to my partner based on what he is doing or not doing, and I find that "teaching" in this way also helps me be a better dancer myself.  If the class is teaching something really basic or something that I'm already really familiar with, I'll switch sides and learn it as a lead (traditionally the guy's role) instead of as a follow.  Again, this helps me to be a better dancer and it also helps me to teach those same steps to my partners later.

There are things called "stylings", which are certain movements that make a dance look really sharp; really professional.  If you watch competition or performance dancers, or even just really good social dancers, you'll see things like the women raise their free hand in the air, or run their hands through their hair, or the men will break from the rhythm and kick or freeze and strike a pose.  I know nothing of these, and that's what keeps me from advancing past beginning-intermediate.  Most social dance classes - the kind I took that just try to introduce beginner dancers to a variety of dances in a short span of time - don't teach stylings because they have to focus on just getting the steps right.  They might occasionally throw in a styling here or there, but mostly we're just trying not to step on our partner's feet.  I'm hoping to take a styling class soon, it's just difficult with a freelancer's schedule because I can't dedicate the same day every week without potentially losing work.

So, if you've ever wanted to learn how to dance but felt intimidated, or you've seen my dance videos and were impressed but thought you couldn't do it or thought it would take too many years, hopefully I've inspired in you the possibility.  People are impressed with my dancing and it sounds impressive to hear that I've been dancing for 18 years, but I'm only a beginning-intermediate dancer who has only had 2 lessons, which means that anyone can learn to dance at least to my own level with a little dedication.  I attend the same beginning group classes over and over again, I dance socially as often as possible with as many different partners as possible, and I try to explain to anyone else interested in learning.  Repetition, practice, and exposure - and you too can dance well enough to impress your friends and family and have a good time doing it!

So inquire at your local colleges and community colleges to see if they offer dance as a P.E. class, do a google search for "social dance" in your area, check at your community halls like city parks and recreation departments or neighborhood community centers or even local churches, and just drop in at a dance studio if you happen to see one as you drive by it to ask if they offer lessons or know where you can take lessons.  It really doesn't take very long to learn how to dance socially, and to do it well enough to impress other folks.
joreth: (Self-Portrait)

I'm a fervent believer in the Me Manual - an "instruction manual" telling people how to deal with yourself.  It can include your quirks, your fears, your Love Languages, your kinks, your triggers, your medical history, whatever.  The point is that I am strongly opposed to treating partners and loved ones as if they have magic crystal balls and can divine what you want and don't want in relationships.  So I put together a Me Manual, detailing all of those kinds of things.  In fact, it's here, in my LJ, under the tag Me Manual.

But [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx, of the Poly Weekly podcast, has a background in marketing and has put together a User Manual template that is short and to the point (also available at the end of her book 8 Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory).  It's much easier reading than my jumbled novel-length posts sparked by random thoughts and situations.  So I've taken her template and created my own based on it.  This covers pretty much all the same things as my Me Manual does, but in a single, digestible format.  I'll probably end up posting it on my website in the About Me section too.  But here it is:

Part A
Family Background/History
(this might explain some of my quirks)


  • I'm an oldest child.  Excellent student, overachiever, bored easily, often in competition with my younger sister who excelled at everything I didn’t & who felt challenged at everything I was good at.

  • I am a Gifted child. This means that I am incredibly smart, but I was praised for *being* smart, not for trying hard.  Consequently, I get embarrassed or frustrated when something doesn’t come easily to me, so I will often not bother trying or I’ll give up quickly and move onto other things and that my potential in many areas has not been met because I gave up and moved on.  But it also means that I have a great deal of interests and knowledge, and I’m proud of that.  And it means that I will grasp things fairly quickly and will probably have a decent working understanding of certain topics that I have formed opinions or conclusions about and may not wish to hear an opposing viewpoint if I feel that I’ve heard it already and rejected it.  It may be the first time you’ve spoken about it to me, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.

  • My family is the classic American “normal” nuclear family. Catholic parents who married right after high school, still together, 2 kids, dog, suburbs, one scholarly kid & one jock kid.  They believed very strongly that family was forever, so fights don’t generally frighten me & I don’t assume there is anything wrong with the relationship just because there is the occasional fight.  People who do fear fights or see them as automatic symbols of relationship distress confuse and frustrate me.

  • I'm independent. I was raised to be independent, but really, this is an internal trait that far exceeds what my parents actually intended to instill.  I like lots of alone time, I like taking care of myself, I take pride in developing the types of skills that allow me to be self-sufficient.  However, I may occasionally feel a little bit left out when everyone in my life has someone to depend on and I end up taking care of myself when I’m sick and attending parties alone.  So very small gestures of assistance or partnership are incredibly meaningful to me, as long as they are not done after I insist that I don’t want the assistance and with the acknowledgement that I am still capable of doing it on my own.

  • I have abandonment issues because of a long history of men “trying out” polyamory for my sake, only to dump me for the first girl to come along who wants them but doesn’t want polyamory.  I also have a long history of men just up and leaving with no contact or explanation (i.e. the Disappearing Act form of breakup).  I need lots of assurances that whatever new partner comes along, that I won’t be “replaced”, that my partners intend to stick around for a while, that breakups will be civil and respectful and compassionate, and that my partners have a commitment to being “friendly exes” themselves.  After a recent series of very bad breakups, I have an even larger amount of anxiety about people’s breakup skills and dedications to polyamory or to me in particular.

  • I’m adopted so I have an, apparently, unusual ability to see poly analogs in monogamous society.  Most of what I learned about how to manage multiple adult families and how to love multiple people came from my loving, heteronormative, family-oriented, monogamous family.  It also means that I’m very sensitive about intentional families and intentional family-planning.  I feel very strongly about issues of family being one of choice, not blood, and in the right to choice in parenting, and extrapolating those concepts to polyamory and other family and relationship issues.

Part B: How to turn me on -
Emotionally


  • Make time for me but don’t demand all of my time. Not enough regular contact and I’ll assume you’re not that into me and I’ll just go about my life without putting too much thought into how it affects you.  This could even happen after a relationship has been established.  If I feel that you don’t have time for me but I’m not otherwise unhappy about the relationship enough to breakup, I’ll just start to withdraw myself and start going about my life with less consultation with you, transitioning to a more casually structured relationship even if I maintain a deep emotional connection.

    But too much *demand* for regular contact and I’ll start to feel confined.  I want regular contact with my partners, but I also want flexibility from my partners with regards to my chaotic and unconventional schedule.  In order, my preference for “contact” is: face-to-face / in-person time; phone conversations; online chat & public social networking interaction (tied); Skype; texting & email (tied).  One exception is that public social networking interaction that is positive/complimentary/flirty/ or otherwise publicly acknowledges & reinforces a relationship is also very meaningful for me.  But that’s Words of Affirmation Love Language, whereas the methods of contact fall under Quality Time Love Language.  Both are equally meaningful to me.  If you aren’t familiar with the Five Love Languages, ask me and we’ll talk more on the subject.  It’s pretty extensive.

  • Ask your partner(s) to reach out to me. I prefer family-oriented inclusive networks, and having a metamour reach out to me reinforces the impression that my partners & metamours share my family values.  It also greatly reduces my initial anxiety at the beginning of a relationship regarding the question of whether or not I am wanted or if there are any hidden anti-poly feelings or traps waiting for me.

  • Share my values on personal sovereignty, freedom in relationships, trust, and personal security.  I am very attracted to people who are secure in themselves and their relationships to not feel the need for emotional crutches like veto power & behaviour-limiting relationship rules.  Even better if you’re not just personally secure enough to not need those things, but if you actively disapprove of those things and see the harm they cause everyone involved, not just the incoming partner who is typically the most disadvantaged in these situations.

  • Call me with stuff you think is funny / happy. I've developed an aversion to people with tremendous drama in their lives, and one of the things I've grown to appreciate is a partner who will share joy, not just pain. I’m also prone to the cynical (and I don’t particularly want anyone to try and change that about me), but I do appreciate having happy, joyful, optimistic people around to balance me out.  Making me smile or laugh is a great skill.

  • Be willing to cry in front of me. I'm touched when someone trusts me enough to cry in front of me. Show me your vulnerability, and I'll show you mine. Very few people get to see it.

  • Be willing to say "I was wrong" Admitting you were wrong with humility and without defensiveness is a huge turn-on for me. Not being able to do this is a deal-breaker.  And be patient with me when I have a hard time doing the same, that’s also an emotional turn-on for me.

  • Be willing to stand your ground when you believe I’m wrong. As the episode from Sex And The City goes, I’m looking for someone who is strong enough to catch me.  I don’t want a yes-man, but I don’t want an argumentative jerk either.  I want people who are strong and confident and who treat me like a person, not a fragile angel or a goddess or a superstar.  Listen to me, even if I'm ranting. Chances are that once I think you understand my point of view, I'll figure out all on my own that you're right on quite a few of your main points.

  • Let me leave.  If I leave the room or ask to stop the conversation when things are getting tense, it’s because I’m becoming overwhelmed and I’m feeling attacked or cornered.  I need to escape to give myself a chance to calm down and think more rationally.  When I leave, I’m not waiting the obligatory 5 seconds to see if you come after me.  I’m really trying to escape, so please just let me go.  If you have the ability to switch gears and change the subject to something lighthearted, especially if you can make me laugh, then I don’t have to physically leave the room; I just need to emotionally “leave” the argument or situation, so you can ask me to stay and I’ll stay.

  • Tell / show me you like me for who I am, not just for my hot ass and not just because I'm “Joreth”. I'm really proud of my work and my accomplishments.  In addition to a long history of men who leave when they find a “real girlfriend”, I also have a long history of men who either date me or fuck me because they think I’m hot or they’re somewhat starstruck, but they don’t seem to really like me very much.  They build up this model in their head of who they think I am or who I should be, and they tend to get resentful when I behave exactly according to who I told them I was instead of the model they made me out to be. So if you show an interest in getting to know all of me, not just the fun bits, I'll be really grateful, and it will help build trust. I’m looking for people who don’t just “put up with” or tolerate these parts of me, like my temper or my “masculinity”, I’m looking for people who celebrate those difficult or messy parts of me, even if they are also trying or frustrating at times.

  • Rub my shoulders, neck, and back, and don't be stingy with the pressure. Show me you have nice, strong hands and aren't afraid of all the tension I keep in my neck and shoulders.  Don’t use massages as a prelude to sexual encounters, as flirting, as an excuse to get your hands on my body, or try to “sneak” in sex or erotic touching.  My back is damaged & I am in constant pain (some days are better than others).  Back rubs do not equal “sex” to me, and attempts to make them erotic really anger me.  If you really want to get in my good graces, give me a therapeutic massage and keep the sex out of it.  Do it because you care about the pain I’m in and want to help, not as a selfish excuse to get something out of it for yourself.

  • Read my writings and follow me on social networking sites.  I get not having a lot of time for the internet, but I spend a lot of my own time there, so I spend a lot of me there.  If you want to really know me and who I am, be a presence in my internet life and read the things that I take the time to write.  The less in-person time we spend together, the more important this is to me.

  • Get to know my other partners.  Taking the initiative to reach out and get to know my other partners is a HUGE emotional turn on for me.  Especially Franklin ([livejournal.com profile] tacit), as he is someone I admire outside of just being my partner.  He often expresses the things I want to say in a more lucid way than I can.  So it’s important to me that my other partners read his works and interact with him.  But it’s also important that my partners get to know each other even those who aren’t Franklin.  When my partners are local, I need to be able to have Quality Time when multiple partners and/or metamours are present, so it’s important that they get along with each other even if they don’t become best friends outside of me.  When my partners aren’t local, I need to have multiple eyes and checks on my behaviour and my emotional state, so coordinating and comparing notes with each other is a valuable tool for keeping abreast of my well-being.  Also, being interested and willing to contact each other independently of me shows that you want the kind of inclusive, interconnected network that I want and resistance to reaching out to my other partners often signals an underlying issue with polyamory or my other partners specifically.  Even if it doesn’t signal that in you, I will read it as such because of past patterns and it will distress me if you don’t initiate or respond to contact and attempts at finding your own friendly path with my other partners.

  • The Five Love Languages are a good start to the kinds of things that I need to feel loved and how I express love.  I am multi-lingual; I need for love to be shown to me in Quality Time and Words of Affirmation the most, but very closely following is Acts of Service and Physical Touch.  I could write a whole Me Manual just on how I need each of these Languages to be expressed and how each can be used to hurt me in especially damaging ways, so talk to me about this and check in every so often to see which Language is expressing itself the most at any given time.  Gift Giving is tricky with me and it doesn’t mean as much to me as the other languages, so if you like to express your love by buying gifts, it’s best to stick with my online Wishlist or to outright ask me how I feel about something.  I’m also terrible about knowing what to buy, so if you feel loved when you receive gifts, I’ll need a wishlist from you.

Sexually: Flirting

  • Quote my favorite movies, or movies in my favorite genres even that particular movie isn’t one of my favorites.

  • Fix my computer/server issues or car issues. I consider myself technically & mechanically competent, but I am extremely turned on by guys who are as competent as I am, or more, especially in those areas that are not my areas of expertise, like computers & cars. Only do so because you want to help me and not with the expectation that I will "reward" you for helping me by offering sexual or relationship favors. Kindness is hot, entitlement is not.

  • Prefer to wear practical clothing. I especially like geek clothing, stagehand clothing, and “country” wear for casual or practical.  There’s nothing like a hot ass in a pair of worn jeans or a shirt that shows off biceps and work-roughened forearms to get me going.  I also like it when guys are ready to “do stuff”.  When something needs to be fixed, or we go outside in the heat, or we’re working, or we’re just goofing off and playing around, I like a guy who isn’t worried about damaging his clothing or dressing in clothes that won’t let him do what needs to be done.

  • But also enjoy dressing up for special occasionsIt’s also incredibly attractive to me when guys take the effort to dress up for occasions, either in costume or in nicer outfits for dinner, dancing, or other formal events.  Knowing how (or expressing interest in learning) to dress for the occasion, whether it’s up for special events or down for practical daily stuff, is attractive to me.  Do the emotional labor of paying attention to fashion and its consequences so that I, as the woman, am not the only one held responsible for attire since the consequences for improper attire of either gender tend to fall more heavily upon the woman in hetero relationships. Shouldering emotional labor is attractive. Bonus points for coordinating outfits with me.  This is not exclusive – coordinating outfits with multiple people is also win.

  • Go dancing with me. I really love a guy who dances or who is willing to learn how to dance.  If dancing isn’t your thing, being interested in watching me dance is another option.  This goes back to liking me for who I am – appreciating one of my skills which is a particularly strong passion of mine.

  • Send me sexy texts. I enjoy little random reminders of our sexual relationship, but especially when they are stand-alone flirting and do not have any expectations attached to them.

  • Use puns & double entendres. I like humor with multiple meanings, and if something can be said that is completely innocent but also taken sexually, I’ll probably find it amusing.

  • Options for Joreth-friendly dates: ice cream; rock climbing; ballroom & swing dancing; something physical or unusual; interesting meals; movies & hot chocolate afterwards to talk about the movie; photography expeditions; exploring or urban spelunking; learning something new; attending science-themed and/or educational event; attending skeptical events; exploring shared kinks (but only after we have discussed and developed a kinky aspect to our relationship).

  • Share my interests with me and share your interests with me.  I have a lot of interests, not just sex, poly and kink. If you love to cook, I would love someone to cook an elaborate dinner with or to appreciate someone’s cooking skill if you want to cook for me. If you are into interior design/home renovation, I'd love someone to brainstorm and carry out home improvement projects with. If you dance, I'd love someone to hone my dance skills with. If you travel, I'd love someone to go on trips with--sightseeing in Europe, relaxing on the beach in Mexico, exploring Tibet, rambling through Ireland or New Zealand, cruising to Alaska, discovering local Florida.  Share your interests with me, involve me in your world, and engage my participation.

  • I do not drink caffeine, alcohol, or smoke any substance, so being sober around me is a good start to any attempt at flirting, as is taking me places where sobriety will not detract from my enjoyment of the environment.

  • Be aware of times of the day when I’ll be most receptive to flirting. I probably have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which is when the circadian rhythm is off by several hours.  This means that I am not a morning person, and nothing you can do or say will change that.  Getting on a “schedule” will not fix it, going to bed early won’t fix it, waking me up with sex won’t fix it.  My best times for interactions start in late afternoon.  If you can stay up late with me, bonus.

    I also probably have OCD, which means that if my mind is on something like a project or a task, I will be unreceptive to being interrupted with sexy times, although flirting without attached expectations may be appropriate, depending on the task that is distracting me.

Sexually: Sex

  • Casual sex: I have a wildly fluctuating libido, so I will go for short bursts of wanting sex all the time to long months, sometimes years, of not wanting sex at all.  This means that when I have a deeply intimate local partner, I don’t generally have enough attention or libido left over for casual sex and I find casual sex partners to be fun but ultimately not fulfilling.  So I generally don’t expend much energy in pursuing or maintaining casual sex partners.  However, I am also somewhat opportunistic about sexual activities.  If a rare opportunity comes up for a particular sexual activity that I might find interesting, I tend to want to act on that opportunity even if it means taking on a casual partner or one-night-stand to do it and even if my libido is otherwise in a low point.

    I have to be in the right frame of mind for a casual sex relationship, and I am usually aware of when I am and am not capable of such a relationship.  If I am not in the right frame of mind, I will likely be very unreceptive to casual sex propositions.  If you are hoping to have a casual sex relationship with me, it is absolutely paramount that you accept rejection gracefully and do not continue to push.  If I change my mind, I will approach you.  If you push, I am not likely to change my mind.

    If you are hoping to have an emotionally intimate relationship with me, I need the freedom to pursue the occasional casual sex relationship as certain opportunities arise without you feeling like it is a commentary on our relationship (this is particularly important if I become interested in a casual partner while I am in an otherwise low libido phase).  I accept temporary safety boundaries imposed between us due to my casual partners, as I would probably request the same of you.  I also prefer to have partners that do not desire casual partners themselves, at least not often, because of those safety boundaries – I don’t want to have many boundaries between myself and my partners so I’d rather be with people who do not do the sorts of things that result in me needing higher safety boundaries between us.  But I am not imposing a “no casual partners” rule for my partners.  I am just more comfortable with partners who themselves have a low desire for casual partners.  It’s a double standard, I’m aware of that, and I understand if you don’t like it.

  • Libido:  As mentioned above, I have a wildly fluctuating libido.  I am beginning to suspect I have what’s called a “responsive libido”, which is where the default position is “off” but it can be turned to “on” in response to the correct stimuli.  But it also means that even when it’s “on”, it can quickly be turned to “off” with the incorrect stimuli.  The difference, it is explained, is that people with non-responsive libidos think “hmm, I’m aroused, let’s go find someone to have sex with,” while someone with a responsive libido thinks “hey, this activity is arousing me, I guess I can have sex.”

    It’s more nuanced than that, and we can talk more about it, but the gist is that my libido will take a sharp nosedive after the NRE has worn off and it’s not a statement on the relationship or my feelings for my partner.  I will lose interest in sex and I will stop initiating.  This can be very difficult on my partners, but repeated attempts to stimulate my libido when it drops usually result in lowering the libido further.  I need partners who have a strong sense of self-esteem who can withstand the drop in sex without feeling it as an assault on their attractiveness or the state of our relationship, and who can work with me on compromises so that I can continue to show and express my love and affection without instigating the resentment that comes from implications of entitlement and neediness (i.e. low self-worth) that many attempts to boost my libido often come with.

    That all being said, with the right context and contact, my libido can often be coaxed into being “on”.  Check in with me to see if the context and contact is right at any given moment.

  • What is sex to me? To me, in general, sex is anything that I am most likely to get an STI from such as vaginal or anal penetration or oral sex or genital contact as well as anything that contributes to and/or results in sexual arousal and/or orgasm such as fromage (dry humping), “making out”, heavy petting, “snogging”,  sexting and webcaming. I do not consider kissing to be sex, but it is a behaviour that can transmit an STI, as well as other infections.  I have a chronic respiratory condition, so when it comes to safety measures, I do include kissing in STI and safety discussions even though I don’t consider it “sex” in the same way that I consider other acts.  Also, I separate BDSM scening and sex; kink for me does not necessarily involve sex or sexual contact, so in discussions about sex and/or safety, BDSM is not included unless a specific activity also falls into the category of STI transmission, sexual contact, orgasm, and possibly arousal.

    I also separate out “things that are a safety issue” and “things that are an emotional issue” with regards to sex.  So even though I don’t consider kissing to be sex, I’m still going to want to be notified about intentions to kiss and as soon after kissing has happened as possible when my partner’s other partner is not an established partner, and only part of the reason I want to be notified will have to do with safety issues.  When a partner has an established partner, I am much more comfortable with not knowing about each specific instance of sexuality.  But I have difficulty with change and I have my own emotional issues (discussed elsewhere in this document), so knowing ahead of time that there is potential for sexuality with a new partner, knowing that there is *interest* even if the other person isn’t aware of the interest / hasn’t expressed reciprocal interest, and being notified as soon afterwards as possible of a new sexual development or encounter is very important to me and I may ask for emotional reassurances.

  • People often ask me what I'm into sexually. And in truth, the answer is, "It depends." There are a few activities I know I enjoy, to be sure. I've discovered, though, that it's often not the activity; it's the dynamic between the people and their respective levels of enthusiasm for and skill at the activity that matters. If you do something really well or have some special skill or kink, just let me know. Even if it's not my favorite thing now, it might be with you. And my favorite thing now might not be all that great with you. Let's just see what we're into together, shall we? That being said...

Turn ons:

  • Grabbing me by the hair but not pulling.  I do not like the pain of hair pulling at all, but I do like the intensity of emotion or passion that is often signaled by gripping the hair and I enjoy the use of hair grabbing to control me.

  • ForcefulnessOnce we are in an established relationship and once I feel comfortable and safe with you and once I feel accepted by your other partners, I am really turned on by a partner manhandling me and pinning me to a wall or a bed, or pretty much anything in that vein.  Slam me up against a wall (protecting my head with your hand), push me down, hold my wrists above my head or behind my back, and don’t let up when I resist unless I say “ow” or “stop”.  If I say “no” in this context, I might not mean “no”.  You have to be able to tell by the tone of my voice and if  I’m explaining something seriously whether “no” means no or is just part of the aggressive scene.

  • Watch porn with me. Not boring straight porn. Gay and/or gang-bang porn.  And parody porn, although that might illicit more laughter than arousal.

  • Flirt with me in public.  Use double entendres and over-the-top promises or threats.  Make it light-hearted, something that can be taken as a joke.  You can even flirt by saying things that are totally off-limits in real life or that you do not actually intend.  The point is to make me smile and think sexy thoughts, not to be a serious negotiation.

  • Tease me.  Make promises/threats, touch me in almost-erotic zones, flirt with me in public, steal me away from work or public events for quick make-out sessions and then send me back while I’m still hot and bothered, draw out the foreplay until I beg to be fucked.  Foreplay can last a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days.  Just pay attention to see if I’m enjoying the foreplay or if I’m starting to get frustrated.  If it goes on for too long, I’ll lose my arousal.  But don’t just go straight for the nipples, the crotch, or the sex.  I need to get worked up first.  However, if you’ve been teasing me well, like getting me aroused while I’m at work, then when I finally do get you in a place where sex is appropriate, you can go straight for the sex with no warm-up because the warm-up will have been happening already.

  • Be a good kisser. This is very subjective, so what it means is to pay attention to how I'm kissing you and attempt to match my style (as I'll be doing with you), as well as modifying the style for different purposes. I love deep kissing and that's a huge turn on, but I also like sweet, tender kisses, and quick I'm-just-thinking-of-you-and-wanting-to-connect-with-you kisses. I like kisses that start out chaste, and then turn flirty and teasing, and then turn passionate, just like sex. And I especially like partners who like to kiss just for the sake of kissing not only as a prelude to something else. If you're interested in some hot, passionate kissing (especially in public, or pulling me aside privately when we're in a place where that kind of kissing is not appropriate) that gets us both worked up but then ends with the kissing and we go about our business, that's almost a guaranteed way to keep me coming back for more.

  • Give me oodles of aftercare. Cover me with a blanket and hold me. Let me cry if that’s where I go afterwards.  Let me ramble if *that’s* where I go.  Let me sit in silence.  Have my favorite after comfort food ready for me – milk chocolate Symphony bar and Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider.  If that’s not available, one of the many sweets that I enjoy will work too, but that’s my favorite.

  • Make sure I get home safely, and call me the next day to connect.  Live chat online may work as a substitute, but texting is less preferable, especially if I have to work the next day.  I hate back-and-forth conversations by text, but I love small, immediate reminders of my loved ones and our time together.

Turn offs:

  • Insulting your former partners. I understand needing to complain about past relationships or being honest about the problems or flaws with past relationships, but guys who call their exes “crazy” or who can’t maintain any friendships post-breakup are a major turn off and red-flag for me. The same could be said for present partners. If you don't respect your current partners, then I'll have trouble respecting you for your choice to be with them.

  • Lack of communication. I fall in love with the brain first, so if you can’t talk to me (or your partners can’t), we probably won’t go anywhere.

  • Being too popular / high turnover. Guys with five or more partners or high partner turnover will probably find dating me challenging, since I like to take the time to get to know my metamours.

  • Dating too young. Guys who are dating in the 18-25 range tend to enjoy either the drama or glib dependence of youth, and I have a low tolerance for both in my dating life.

  • Not getting tested. Not being willing to wear protection and not getting tested regularly are hard limits for me.  Let me repeat that – this is a deal-breaker.  Getting tested and wearing protection just with me isn’t even enough.  I am only interested in sexual relationships with guys who are interested for their own sakes in getting tested regularly and using protection when appropriate no matter who their partners are or how many they have.

  • Not respecting feminism or agency or autonomy or personal sovereignty.  You might not understand that feminism is all about the latter three, and so don’t consider yourself a feminist.  That’s OK, education can clear that up.  But the issues of agency et. al are literally about my very humanity, so not respecting them means not respecting me as a human being, and not respecting me is a turn off.  Any current connection with MRA or PUA culture is a deal-breaker.  Libertarianism or admiration for Ayn Rand also don’t work too well for me.

  • Missing The Point Pedantry.  I get very irritated when I’m trying to make a point and all knowledge of who I am, my history, precedent, social convention, casual language, and poetic license get pushed aside in order to argue with me some issue of pedantry that misses the point of what I’m trying to say.

  • Co-dependency.  Just like I need my partners to respect my own agency and autonomy, I need for my partners to be autonomous, independent individuals who choose to share their lives with me and their other partners because they want to, not because they feel that they need to.

  • Unwillingness to explore sexuality.  We don’t have to have all the same kinks, and you can have tried and ruled out certain things before I came along, and you can even have thought about something and decided without trying it that you’re not interested in it.  But even with our overlapping Venn Diagram of sexual interests, we will each have interests that the other has not explored yet, and I need for my partners to exhibit a sense of curiosity and active exploration about sex and BDSM in order to remain sexually attracted to someone.  “Vanilla” sex is fine, even if that’s the majority of our sex.  It just can’t be the only kind of sex we have or I will get bored.  Since my sex partners are not interchangeable, “getting it from someone else” won’t solve my problem.

  • Chivalry.  I absolutely loathe any and all expressions of sexism, even "benevolent sexism", and that includes gender-based “politeness”.  Treating me different from others because of my gender (as opposed to our unique relationship or connection or personal preferences), even if you treat me “better” is not acceptable in any form.  I like nice people.  Gestures of politeness on the basis of my gender or to live up to some standard of your own gender (i.e. being a “gentleman”) are not nice.  This is not up for debate and I am not interested in hearing justifications or why it’s “different” when you do it.  If you can’t understand why I have a problem with this, we will have much bigger differences later on.

  • Woo.  I am a skeptical atheist and I have lost all patience for being in romantic relationships with people who view the world in a fundamentally different way than I do when I consider that worldview empirically wrong.  I have no problem being friends with people of different worldviews, but if I’m going to build an intimate romantic connection with someone, I have to be compatible with them on the most fundamental levels, including what reality is and how to approach life.

joreth: (Self-Portrait)
Someone asked me the following question, and this was my off-the-cuff answer (with a couple of minor additions & polishes after the fact):

What is your "price of admission" in a romantic relationship? Something that could be considered a flaw or a drawback, but that someone has to deal with to be in a relationship with you.


  • I'm independent, solo poly (even if I choose to someday cohabitate and/or marry, I will still be an independent person who happens to be partnered, never "half of a single unit"). I make my own decisions. I ask for input and I consider how my actions will affect my partners, and I will try to make them part of the decision-making process if I can, based on how these decisions affect them, but ultimately, I make my own decisions about my life, I need to be seen as an independent, unique, and individual human being by my partner and the world around me, and that's that.

  • I still need public acknowledgement of my relationships and to present as part of a "couple" at social functions, even though I'm solo poly (to me, presenting as a "couple" is not exclusive and does not preclude my partners from also presenting as part of other couples, even at the same events, nor does it preclude me from presenting as part of a couple with other partners, even at the same events).

  • I'm a mass of contradictions on the surface and it may take some digging to understand the motivations that actually make my contradictions totally not contradictory.

  • I'm poly and that's not changing, although the structure of my network will ebb and flow and change over time and I will occasionally have only one, two, or no partners.  The number of my partners and/or metamours is not what makes me poly, it's how I view & structure relationships that make me poly. I will never leave my other partners for someone, and I will never be comfortable dating someone who wants only me, unless he's even more solo & independent than I am and the reason he wants only me is because he spends so much time alone that he can't fit in another partner and still give me the time I need from him, and it's his choice that he's fine with.

  • I'm atheist. I fucking slam the needle on atheism. I'm anti-theist. I'm firebrand atheist. And I will mercilessly mock religion and supernatural beliefs. My friends know this about me and accept it of me because I don't pick fights with them over their beliefs, and they can choose to read my social media or not, knowing how I feel and that I will express my opinions here. Although I will challenge them if they say something to me directly that I know to be false, I am perfectly capable of holding my tongue and not *bringing up* my opinions against supernaturalism right at my friends because I can still like people as people even if I think they have silly ideas. However, I am *not* perfectly capable of holding my tongue with intimate partners and I need for them to be on board with my brand and style of atheism.

  • I'm feminist. That actually explains most of the above. And a good portion of below too.

  • I'm a ballroom and swing dancer. If my partner won't dance with me, I'll dance with others. Even if my partner *will* dance with me, it's proper ballroom etiquette to dance with others, and I happen to like that etiquette because it's primarily responsible for making me as good of a dancer as I am, since I've only had 2 real classes in dancing. And I will always feel like something is missing in my relationships where dancing is not an important shared activity.  I view dancing as a metaphor for life and relationships, and vice versa.  It's hard to overstate how important dance is to me.

  • I have a very dangerous job and I love it.

  • I have a job that keeps me poor, and I love it (the job, not being poor).

  • I cuss. A lot.

  • I do not want kids. Like, not even a little bit. And I'm pro-abortion.

  • I do, however, enjoy having pets. And those pets will always come first because they are dependent creatures that I have accepted responsibility for. Some days I have a reasonable handle on this, and some days I don't. So I might appear inconsistent in when I prioritize my pets above my people, but it's consistent in my own head and that's where it counts.  You do not get a say in how I prioritize them, and you do not get a say in when I'm being unreasonable about handling my responsibilities.

  • I'm a teetotaler. I don't drink *at all*, and I don't do any kind of drugs that aren't prescription and absolutely necessary for medical recovery or treatment. I'm not opposed to those around me drinking alcohol, but I don't date people who use drugs or smoke cigarettes (but I'm fine with people who used to or people who try things once or twice for the experience and that's enough), and I'm only going to barely tolerate social drinking and vaping. I will never stop hoping that someday my partners (who do them) will give up those things too, although I won't pressure anyone to change what they don't want to change.  I will, however, assist in their efforts to quit if they want.

  • I'm a cranky, cynical motherfucker who gets into fights on the internet, even though they cause me massive anxiety and make me disappear for several days. This isn't likely to change.

  • As [livejournal.com profile] tacit has once said, I'm a little bit scary sometimes. And I consider that a compliment.

  • I'm kinky. I don't have to have kink in all my relationships, but I am kinky and that's not likely to change.

  • My gender identity today is "tomboy". It may not be that tomorrow. But whatever it is, I probably still won't want to have sex with your girlfriend.

  • I am inconveniently straight. Yes, I find it an inconvenience. No, that doesn't mean that you can find some magical phrase that will "fix" this. On the rare occasion that I do engage in sexual activity with people of female biology, it's usually twigging some kind of gender play in my head, so I *still* consider myself straight even in that context. If you're wigged out by my fluid gender or by me experiencing mixed or different genders during my sex, we're really going to be a bad match.  And I still probably won't want to have sex with your girlfriend.  But I might be willing to have sex with certain of my metamours, under the right circumstances & with the right chemistry.  If you don't understand the difference between those last two sentences, we're going to be a bad match.

  • I likely have what's called a "responsive libido", meaning that it's mostly low-to-non-existent, but can be revved up on occasion. Sex will likely fade to nearly gone over the course of a relationship and the only thing that will prevent it from disappearing all together is the acceptance of this fact and appreciation for the times when I can get it going. No wheedling, pressure, or moping about its loss will help.

  • I am not a beginner relationship partner.

  • And I do not react well to being "dealt with" or "tolerated" by partners.  This "price of admission" needs to be paid gladly, gleefully, considered an honor to pay, or else I will begin to feel dismissed, condescended to, and unappreciated, and that will sour any relationship with me.  The price of admission for a relationship with me is someone seeing all these things about me, truly seeing them, and saying "I'm not paying a goddamn thing.  I'm so privileged to be in a relationship with you, that these are not deficits that I have to pay, they are things I am getting in return for providing you with the space to feel safe in being who you are around me.  It is you who is paying me with the honor of seeing you as you are."

joreth: (Swing Dance)
While at the Suits, Star Wars, & Sinatra dance at DragonCon this weekend, I had the opportunity to teach a couple of guys how to dance. The event featured music from the '30s ragtime to big band of the '40s to Sinatra style jazz, which made it excellent for swing dancing. It also made it excellent for cha cha and foxtrot, but nobody there knew those dances.

But because it was Star Wars and suits, it also brought in a large number of non-dancers who were just attracted to the theme. While standing on the sidelines, trying to identify who were swing dance leads so that I could possibly ask them to dance later, I overheard a girl talking to two guys. She knew how to dance, but was mainly from the local lindy hop scene which may or may not have any formal training (sometimes people just learn from the community, which is totally a fine way to pick up social dancing), and knowing how to dance is not the same thing as knowing how to teach. I'm actually a better teacher than a dancer, personally.

Anyway, she knew how to dance and seemed to be trying to pick up the two guys (who seemed to be trying to pick her up) so she was trying to encourage them to dance. They pulled all the usual objections: "I have white boy syndrome", "I have two left feet", "I tried to learn and couldn't pick it up immediately so I gave up", etc.

So she was trying, and one of the two guys seemed to actually be trying to get into it. I moved closer and closer, as I usually do when I see a dance lesson happening, and eventually got close enough to make a comment. The other guy heard me, and he responded, to which I responded, and so on until I eventually got to admit that I teach beginning swing. So he got the attention of the others and introduced me as a teacher. The girl looked over at me gratefully and asked for help to teach.

So I moved over to the guy who was making an effort to learn and I taught him a few things. In a social setting, where the music is loud, ongoing, and ever-changing, it's a very different environment than a dance class. You can't teach the same things in the same order. You have to be able to give just a couple of pointers that the student can then use immediately to have a good time. If the student is spending his whole time trying to remember memorized steps, he won't be having a good time.

So I start out with 2 goals that I think are the bare minimum for enjoying dancing - rhythm and communication.

Step one: learn the basic rhythm, the pattern of steps, where to put your feet. Unless you're planning to perform or compete, if all you want to do is go to a silly little dance at a sci-fi con and impress someone who knows less about dancing than you do, the only thing you need to know about steps is the basic rhythm. No matter what happens, keep your feet moving in the same rhythm and you'll look amazing. If you lose it, pause for a moment and then start over.

Step two: learn the proper points of contact and what signals communicate what moves. As a lead, if you can communicate to your partner what you want them to do, then you can make up shit all night long and look amazing. If it seems like fun, you can take a class later and learn actual proper steps with names and everything. But if all you want to do is go to a silly little dance at a sci-fi con and impress someone who knows less about dancing than you do, all you need to know is how move your arms and where to place your hands so that the follow naturally responds to your signals even if the follow knows nothing about dancing.

That's it. That's all you need to know to go out and have a good time. After I got done with the one guy (in the span of less than one song), I looked over and saw the girl trying to teach the more reticent guy. So I brought my partner back over to the girl (proper dance etiquette - always return your partner to where you found them), and she asked if I'd like to swap and take a turn at teaching the other guy.

We swapped partners and the two of them went off to dance. The more reticent guy told me that he had White Boy Syndrome (to which I automatically responded that many of the top swing dancers in the world are white) and that he tried to learn how to dance once and was unable to. So I launched into the two-step spiel again. He did have a more difficult time with rhythm. He seems to be one of those people who just can't hear the beat, so I broke it down mathematically for him instead. He almost immediately picked it up that way.

Once he got the hang of the rhythm, I showed him how to communicate and I reiterated that he needn't get hung up on memorizing steps - if he just keeps doing the basic step and moves his arms so that the girl can dance around him, he'll be fine. It was fantastic to see the lightbulb go off behind his eyes. He lit up, thanked me, and said that he learned more about dancing in those couple of minutes than in his entire life up until that point.

I returned him to the girl again, and they all tried to apply what they had learned. Since I saw them together for quite a while, they seemed to be happy with the results. I wandered off to do my own thing.

I love teaching people how to dance. Some people avoid dancing because they think they'll never look like the pros. Of course they won't. Just like any other sport, pro dancers are a very small minority of the very top of the heap. Don't go into dancing thinking you're going to be good at it. Go into dancing thinking that you might develop a new way to enjoy music and social interactions. All you need to learn is a couple of things. If the dancing bug bites you, then you can take that and improve on it with classes and practicing, but that's not necessary. My goal in teaching is to help people have a good time. That's it.

Oh, and possibly to have a good time without injuring anyone else in the process - people who don't know how to dance flinging each other around trying to emulate people who know how to dance is a dangerous thing. It takes control and finesse to do those flashy moves. Learn the basics first. Please.

Here's a video of DragonCon that captured a one-second clip of me dancing at this event.  It's about a minute in and it's literally only a second long, but it did get me in mid-twirl and shows part of my USO costume.  I'd love to embed it, but the site doesn't offer an embed code that LJ recognizes, so you'll have to click on the link.  I've cued it up to just before my dance bit.



joreth: (Swing Dance)
I'm going to reveal some secrets that normally would be held by the Girl Code, where we all get together and decide what's acceptable and what isn't, and then we agree not to tell anyone outside the special Girl Meeting so that we can make them guess about what's acceptable and what isn't, and then we can punish them when they guess poorly. But I got a special Hall Pass for this one from the Girl Council because of special circumstances. So listen up, because it's not very often one of us gets to break ranks and reveal our special secrets.

Ok guys - this is for all cis men, straight men, bi men, trans men, gay men, and anyone of any gender or orientation who takes on the "aggressor" or "pursuer" role, but ESPECIALLY those who think of themselves as "gentlemen", or as guys who are capable of putting the moves on a woman. Since most of those types of guys insist on retaining the sexist terminology like "gentleman" because they refuse to see how objectifying it is, I'll use that terminology if it's the only way to make you think that this should apply to you.

Should you find yourself in a heternormative situation, such as a nightclub, where it would be reasonable for you to talk to, flirt with, hit on, ask for a phone number from, ask out, or try to fuck someone who appears to be female, there are some lessons in classy from the ballroom dance scene that you should utilize if you don't want to actually freak her out, piss her off, frighten her, traumatize her, or have her male friend beat the shit out of you for.

So let's talk about how to treat a lady in these situations. Anyone who is biologically female, appears to be female, calls herself a woman, or is otherwise a person whom you are targeting for talking to, flirting with, hitting on, asking for a phone number from, asking out, or trying to fuck will be referred to in this discussion as a Lady. No matter how she's dressed, how she acts, how she talks, or even whether she herself likes or doesn't like the term "lady"; for succinctness, they are all "ladies" for this post.

Now gentlemen, let's say you see a lady across a smokey nightclub. She's attractive and you'd like to connect with her on some level. This is how you do it.

DO: When you see a lady, you may approach her, but only in a manner that does not trap her. Stand side-by-side with her so that she can leave you if she wants to. If it's not possible to stand or sit side-by-side, then stand or sit at a diagonal to her, or place your body in a position that is 90 degrees to the direction her body is facing, so that she has a clear path of escape.  The exact placement of your body is less important than giving her a path that she can use to leave you that doesn't require you to move out of her way at all and that doesn't require her body to touch yours as she exits.

DON'T: Do not face your body to her squarely or front-on. Especially if her back is to a wall or she is seated with a wall or chair back behind her, do not face her squarely with your body. Most especially, DO NOT LEAN IN AND PRESS HER INTO THE TABLE BEHIND HER, forcing her to physically push you back to escape.

DO: When you speak to her, turn your face only (not your body) so that she can clearly see your eyes and mouth, being cautious of her personal space bubble. Pay attention to whether she leans toward or away from you and adjust your proximity so that she can sit or stand upright.

DON'T: Do not lean your face into her face. It is nearly impossible to tell if that move means you are trying to be heard better or to kiss her. Keep your face out of her space.  Think of it this way - she may have a contagious illness that is spread by air like a cold; don't put your face in close enough to feel her breath, or for her to feel yours where she might catch whatever germs you're carrying around or be forced to smell the cheap beer you just drank or the cigarette you just smoked.  Don't lean in so close that she can't focus on both your eyes and mouth at the same time.  Avoiding these things will also prevent her from thinking that you're trying to lean in and kiss her.  Don't lean in and try to kiss her.

DO: If it is too loud to hear properly and you need to lean in just to communicate, turn your face to the side and OBVIOUSLY aim for her ear. Keep your face out of her face. Again, pay attention to which way she is leaning. If she is leaning away, you are either too close or you are speaking too loudly for the proximity to her ear. Back up.

DON'T: Do not take advantage of your necessary proximity to touch your mouth or cheek to any part of her body. Absolutely DO NOT fucking kiss her neck or ear.

DO: Please do talk about relevant topics, such as the music, the atmosphere, the food or drinks available. If you saw her dancing prior to speaking with her and you admire her dancing, it is OK to compliment her on her dance skills. It is also OK to compliment her on an article of clothing she is wearing or her hairstyle.

DON'T: Do not compliment her on her appearance or her body. Even if she is doing things that you think invite complimenting, such as wearing revealing clothing or dancing in a suggestive manner. Especially do not tell her that you think she is "hot". Ladies who appreciate hearing compliments will also feel complimented if you stick to the "do" guidelines on complimenting and, at worst, won't notice that you didn't reveal to her the state of your arousal at the sight of her body. At best, she is probably used to hearing that she is "hot", so your unique and creative compliments will stand out and make YOU stand out from the crowd. Don't be one of the many jackasses that she's had to fend off forever and don't tell her that she's hot. Or that you love her. Or that you want her to be your girlfriend. Or anything at all that you wouldn't say to your younger sister, if you had one, or that you wouldn't want some strange drunk guy saying to your younger sister the moment he meets her. Because, apparently, you can't put yourself in her shoes and treat her with respect just for being a human being, otherwise you wouldn't need to be told to think of a family member in order to consider respecting her.

DO: Do feel free to ask her to dance at a venue where there is dancing. You do so by backing your body away from her space and towards the dance floor while extending your hand, palm up, as if to ask her to put her hand in yours, bow your head slightly in a "questioning" gesture, smile, raise your eyebrows, and ask her politely if she would like to dance.  Practice this in the mirror until you get it right.  Watch Fred Astaire movies for reference.  A self-depreciating comedic flare will probably go over well if humor is comfortable for you and also give you a face-saving way of accepting a rejection by making light of the situation.

DON'T: Do not grab her hand, arm, or any other part of her body and try to physically move her towards the dance floor. If she declines for any reason or using any method, including saying "no", shaking her head in a negative fashion, ducking her head and looking embarrassed, or explaining that she doesn't know how to dance, DO NOT cajole her, harass her, repeatedly request a dance, grab the hand she just pulled out of yours, or demand "aww, why not?" Do not respond to a rejection in any way other than a graceful acceptance.

DO: If she accepts, lead her onto the dance floor and proceed to dance in the manner common to that venue.  Holding her hand to guide her if she placed her hand in yours is acceptable, as is placing a hand on the middle of her back if you walk behind her to gently steer her and to let her know that you are still behind her.

DON'T: If she accepts, do not attempt to dance with her in a more sexually suggestive manner than is common to the other dancers on the floor (excepting those couples who are obviously in a preexisting relationship). Don't break with the protocol of the venue by going "down" or more sexually suggestive in dancing style, although if you have formal partner dance skills, it is OK to break the informal protocol to dance more formally. Especially if you have seen her dancing with other people and she clearly knows how to partner dance, do not immediately devolve your dance with her to a sexually suggestive style. If she has skill or dance training, going straight to the grinding is decidedly unimpressive.

DO: It may or may not be common etiquette for the venue to include body contact while dancing. Use the lightest body contact possible for the style of dance and/or music for the venue and allow her to close the distance if she wishes. Many dance styles require body contact and even placing the legs between the partner's legs to bring the hips and groin into contact - that is not necessarily an invitation.  Remember, many of the best partner dancers are siblings and family members who nevertheless perform classic dance moves that require familiarity with each other's physical presence.  She may be willing to allow body contact that is more than what she would be comfortable with if it weren't for the sake of dance protocol, but it doesn't mean she is consenting to anything else.  Keep your hands above the waist and on her back only.

DON'T: Do not grind on your partner unless she initiates it by moving her groin into yours. Do not touch her below her waist on either her front or her back. Do not touch her on her front above her waist.

DO: To look really classy, keep your right hand on her shoulder blade and use your left hand to gently hold her right hand (in a way that conveys enough pressure to give her leading signals but that allows her enough freedom to remove her hand if she wishes - no closed grips!) in the air about her shoulder height and maintain a firm frame with your arms so that she can follow your dance lead. A proper dance lead will be able to lead a partner even if she has no idea how to dance, or how to partner-dance and she will be really impressed if you make her look like an experienced dancer through your leading skills. If she expresses discomfort with that position because she's not used to proper dance hold, it is acceptable to allow her to place both of her hands on your shoulders or around your neck in the more common, informal closed dance position, while you place your hands in the middle of her back or the sides of her waist and NO LOWER.  If she exhibits discomfort with being in a closed hold, it is acceptable to allow her to break the hold and dance on her own in your proximity even if you were being the epitome of gentlemanliness with your proper dance hold.

DON'T: Do not take advantage of her willingness to accept body contact while dancing to kiss her. Anywhere. Not on the mouth, not on the neck, not on the ear, not on the breasts ... in fact, do not touch her in any traditional erogenous zone or secondary sex characteristic at all. Even if she presses them up against you, do not take the initiative and do not try for anything more than what she is actively requesting of you. If she wants more but doesn't indicate so, too bad, this is about how you can be a gentlemen and impress the ladies with your gentlemanliness.

DO: At the end of the song, step back, slightly bow your head and thank her for the dance. If your dance included dancing in a closed hold position of some sort, it is acceptable to gently squeeze the hand that you are currently holding while you bow your head and thank her in a sort of modified or implied handshake or hug-by-proxy.  If you are in the more informal hold with no hand-holding, it is acceptable to reach up to remove her hands from around your neck and offer the light hand-squeeze then or to pull back from her while running your hands from behind her back, along the length of her arms, to her hands, where you can then offer the light hand-squeeze - both with the bowed head and verbal thank-you.  If you ended your dance in a position with no body contact, it is probably safer to limit yourself to the bowed head only.  Then walk her back to where you found her. Dance only one song at a time. If you began dancing more than 2/3 into a song, it is acceptable to extend the 1-song rule to the second song and no further. After several dances (not in a row), it may be acceptable to offer a light hug in place of the head-bow while you thank her for the dance, prior to walking her back to where you found her.

DON'T: Do not monopolize her time. Do not dance for multiple songs in a row. Especially do not move straight from one song to the next song with no break. This traps her on the dance floor with you and she may be frantically signalling to her pretend-boyfriend over your shoulder to come rescue her because she doesn't know how to break a dance-in-progress without seeming rude or causing a scene, even if she thinks you're being rude.

DO: When you have reached the place where you found her, excuse yourself with an explanation that is clearly not about her and indicate that you'd like to reconnect later without demanding a commitment from her to do so. An example may be "if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get another drink. Perhaps we can dance again later?" or "I'm so sorry, but I have to go say hi to my friend who just walked in. We'll talk more in a bit?" Give her a chance to miss you.

DON'T: Do not sit yourself down in her space and command her attention. She needs a chance to decide if she wants to continue to be in your presence or if she needs a respite or a rescue. Especially do not beg or harangue her for more dances, particularly if she was the one to initiate leaving the dance floor.

DO: Wait a few songs before approaching her again, but then approach her again if you said you would - she may not feel comfortable approaching you, especially if you really are talking with someone else. Pay attention to her body language - is she leaning towards or away from you? Are her eyes scanning the room or looking at you or looking down or away? If she is not exhibiting signs of wishing you were dead or that a hole would open up in the floor and swallow her up to get away from you, now you can choose to have a conversation or ask for another dance - both of which should use the methods already described.

DON'T: Do not think that if she is smiling, she's happy for your presence. Look for other clues. Ladies are constantly told to smile regardless of their feelings and they are regularly punished for rejecting men, so many of them will be conditioned to smile even when they are uncomfortable. Don't rely on a smile alone for confirmation of her feelings. Especially don't give her shit for smiling while exhibiting discomfort or giving "mixed signals" - it's because of guys who desperately need this guide and don't have it or ignore it that she has that habit in the first place. Some of those guys may even be you. At any rate, it's not her fault that she does that.

DO: Do feel free to dance with other people in between dancing with her. If you do, be especially mindful to allow her to see you treating other ladies with the same respect, including not dancing more than one song in a row with any given lady, so that she doesn't mistake your gentlemanly behaviour with disinterest and so that she doesn't feel intimidated or awkward accepting dance requests from you or from other people. This establishes a friendly, open connection that reduces anxiety about feeling trapped or unwillingly committed. If she exhibits signs of jealousy when you spend time with other people or dance with other ladies, considering how early this is in your acquaintanceship, you can use this as your own escape and congratulate yourself on dodging a bullet so early on.

This is just to get the front door open - etiquette on how to approach a lady. There are whole other chapters on what to do now that the door is open and how to get your foot inside, and then the rest of you inside.


In ballroom etiquette, the gentlemen are required to ask many women to dance because there are often more women than men, so it is polite to give dancing opportunities to as many of the ladies as possible so that they are not left out of the event. Even if a gentleman arrives with a special lady, he is still expected to make the rounds, even if he saves certain dances or more dances for his lady. A gentleman asks for the privilege of dancing with a lady and accepts her rejection with grace. A gentleman escorts her onto the dance floor, dances one dance with her, and then escorts her back while thanking her for the opportunity to dance with her. A gentleman then politely excuses himself so as to give the lady opportunities to dance with others while he does his gentlemanly duty to ensure the other ladies are having their own opportunities. A gentleman only touches where is necessary for the dance and nowhere else. A gentleman does not take advantage of the proximity that the lady offers for the sake of the dance - a proximity that she would not otherwise offer if it weren't for the sake of the dance. A gentleman expressing his interest may then approach the lady several times throughout the event to give her the opportunity to respond to his interest. A gentleman also graciously accepts attention and requests to dance from ladies in the same vein that the ladies generally accept it from him and rejects with grace.

Ballroom etiquette is no longer in favor in nightclubs and pickup spots, so you are not necessarily crossing any social taboos by not knowing or following this etiquette. But someone who is concerned about whether or not he makes other people uncomfortable by his presence will want to take the safest route when dealing with unfamiliar people and ballroom etiquette is designed to minimize social discomfort even with the most ... sensitive ... of us.

If more people still followed ballroom etiquette guidelines, I wouldn't have had my ass grabbed tonight on the dance floor, I wouldn't have had one guy grab my hand 3 times after I pulled it away from him, I wouldn't have had someone tell me "but I love you, I want to dance with you!" repeatedly after I repeatedly rejected him, I wouldn't have had someone try to kiss me on the dance floor and when I turned my head aside and pulled back, had him pull me back towards him and have him kiss my neck because that was all he could reach, and I wouldn't have been pinned against a table as yet another guy ground his groin into mine forcing me to put both hands on his chest and physically push him back to get enough space to escape. I also wouldn't have had a friend see what was going on in that last example and rush over to rescue me only to have the asshole get offended that I ran off with another man and shout "what the hell?" and complain to his buddy who was next to us and saw the whole thing, then had the two of them shoot me dirty looks the rest of the night, prompting my friend to insist on walking me to my car at the end of the night.

Look guys, I know some of y'all think you're all smooth with the ladies once you've had some liquid courage, but you're not. I'm sober, I can see what you think is "smooth". You're not. If you're not a sociopath, you'll care whether the ladies you hit on in bars think you're an asshole or not. The advice I give might make you miss an opportunity with a more passive lady who doesn't know how to deal with someone who values consent and autonomy and personal space, but it will prevent you from being an asshole, whether you like the label "gentleman" or not.

Some people think that having some chick they hit on in a nightclub bitch about them on Facebook later that night isn't a big deal. So what? You didn't know her anyway, right? Most reasonable people care about not making people feel uncomfortable, especially people they were hoping to connect with in some way, but if you need a purely self-centered reason, these tips will help you to be your best self. If you like to brag about being a "gentleman" or you like to think of yourself as a decent person, this is how you start. This is how you start being a decent person and have the side effect that other people like you and like being around you because you're a decent person who can at least fake empathy and compassion while doing your best to respect other people's autonomy and space, if caring about their feelings isn't enough of a reason.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
How NOT to pick up chicks at a club:

  1. Don't invade her space before you've even exchanged names. I know it's often hard to hear and you have to get close to speak, but keep the body bent away and/or stand side-by-side, and back up when there are no words exchanged. Make it clear that you're leaning in towards her ear, do not drag your mouth across her cheek to get to her ear and then back across her cheek towards her mouth when you back up.

  2. Don't mistake her smiling at you for an invitation for anything. Women are socialized to always smile and be polite, and many smile when they're nervous and don't know what else to do. Watch her other body language, like is she leaning towards or away from you and is she trying to hide behind her drink and are her eyes flitting around the room rather than fixing on you?

  3. Don't shout "SMILE!!" when she's waiting at the bar for a drink and obviously annoyed about something. Ordering her to perform for your benefit is probably not going to be a reason for her to legitimately smile.

  4. Don't stand facing her squarely if she's sitting down or her back is to a wall so that she can't escape without feeling like she has to push past you (even if you think/know that she wouldn't have to do that; she doesn't know that).

  5. Don't do a weird step-forward-lean-in-step-back step on the dance floor so that she can't tell if you're trying to come in and kiss her or not;

  6.   5a) and then don't try to kiss her after she figures she's safe and it's just a weird dance step.
     
  7. Don't cut in on her when she's dancing with someone else. Especially if she's dancing with a female friend. ESPECIALLY if she then grabs her friend back and they "close ranks", don't try to cut in on her again.

  8. Don't stomp off to the bar pissed off when she does the last, or when she does anything to discourage you, for that matter.

  9. Don't try to kiss her when you haven't even exchanged names.

  10. When you're doing the kind of dancing that requires touching (i.e. swing dancing, ballroom dancing, pseudo-partner-ish dancing) and/or that requires you to lead her, DO NOT lead her into simulated sex moves. If she wants to turn her back on you and grind her ass into your crotch, she will.

  11. Don't challenge her to kiss or touch you by asking if she's "too afraid" to do so.

  12. When she clearly refuses your challenge, don't then challenge her with "am I too young for you?" Yes, that question shows you are definitely too young, like too young to have social skills and you should be put in a time out by your mother for misbehaving. Even if she's barely 18 herself, you are too young to be allowed to date.

  13. AND DON'T FUCKING TAKER HER HAND AND TRY TO FORCE HER TO FEEL YOU OR HERSELF UP OR TRY TO TOUCH HER BREASTS, ASS, OR CROTCH. Hands and back/shoulder blades only, even if she does allow you to do the kind of dancing that brings hips and legs into contact.

Shit like this is why I prefer swing dancing, ballroom dancing, and gay clubs. Ballroom & swing clubs may still be too heavy on the chauvinism-masquerading-as-chivalry but they emphasize maintaining a level of dance etiquette that makes women feel safe. Men are supposed to ask a variety of women to dance so that none of the women feel left out, but then they are supposed to return her to her table or spot after a single dance and not dance more than two in a row so that they don't monopolize her time. Even people who arrive together or as a "couple" are supposed to dance with others at least a little so that the single women have dance partners and none of the women are monopolized and can feel safe to socialize as they choose without feeling trapped or stuck and jealousy is strictly discouraged. (The reason why it's the man's job to dance with all the women is because there are usually more women than men and if everyone partnered up, there'd be a dozen women with no one to dance with. Women are also encouraged to ask men to dance so it's not one-sided, but women often outnumber the men so this etiquette exists so that women don't stop coming for lack of dance partners).

Alcohol-induced boundary-pushing is also limited at many swing and ballroom dances by not selling alcoholic drinks at all (although I've attended several swing dances in public bars and it's still usually fine because of the general swing etiquette of discouraging public drunkenness - it's too difficult to pull off many of the dance moves while drunk without hurting your partner or other dancers).

So even when I get hit on by people I don't want to be hit on at swing and ballroom clubs, it's always with much more respect and much less threatening behaviour than I do at regular night clubs. So I'd rather go partner dancing or club dancing at a gay club to avoid men all together.

This is why so many guys have so much trouble meeting or finding women, why they're not approached, and why they have to "do all the work". Many straight women, even those of us who are aggressive and totally fine with making the first move, get chased away by the few jerks that are out there, and because we can't tell the jerks apart until after they've done their damage, it's easier and safer to just go away so that we don't HAVE to try and tell them apart. There's also the complication that what could be inappropriate behaviour to some women may not be inappropriate for others, so even if we could label all the jerks with a big neon sign over their heads, we still may not be able to tell until after we've been made uncomfortable. All that unpleasantness often just isn't worth the effort to go out, so you guys get stuck with "were are all the women?"

If men who want to meet women, and men who care about women, want to help change this, then instead of bemoaning "where are all the women?!", you can help by addressing other men when you see it happening, or when you know someone who behaves inappropriately to make the places you are in feel safe for the women to come back on their own. Because the jerks are the ones fucking it up for you, not the girls who are running away.

I don't mean that it's your job to "rescue" women and protect us, I mean it's everyone's job as a participant in society to help create a society where people feel safe. And since a lot of hyper-masculine behaviour is done to impress other men and done completely contrarily to women's preferences (i.e. men who refuse to learn to dance because it's "not manly" even when their own female partners express a preference for male dancers), it is helpful to have other men discourage harassment and molestation. Again, not to be the white knight and "protect" us, but to be a responsible citizen and contribute to creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone.

And thank you to my friends last night who kept interrupting the guy I was with on the pretext of dancing with me to give me excuses to get out of uncomfortable interactions. Even when sometimes you guys were mistaken and you interrupted me with an actual friend, I really appreciated the effort because several times you weren't mistaken and I needed an escape.

Touch is one of my Love Languages, and when I'm nervous or anxious, I find that I need a lot of affectionate touching to help calm me down - stuff like holding hands or standing with arms around the waist or leaning against someone, nothing unusual and things that even platonic friends can do. But that contact really helps. Most of my coworkers, however, have remarked to me that I often seem very aloof and that I am really quite self-contained most of the time. So when I am affectionate with someone, it is REALLY noticeable by comparison and many times that affection is mistaken for meaning something more than is intended. Being affectionate, to me, means only that I am either really comfortable with someone, or that I am feeling a lot of anxiety. It is not an indication of sexuality, to me.

I noticed that, by the end of last night, I had practically not taken my hands off my friends for the whole rest of the evening. I was letting even dance acquaintances that sometimes make me feel a little bit uncomfortable stay close to me and keep their arms around me, and I kept holding onto my drunk friends to keep them upright, when I would otherwise close in on myself around all that. So I was more bothered than I thought I was at the time, which is why I woke up today with this rant running around my head.

Guys, don't do that to girls you just met at a bar. And guys, please do the other stuff I was talking about, like discouraging this kind of behaviour, giving your female friends "excuses" to politely escape and then backing off if they say that they are actually OK, and allowing her to do a little bit of what is necessary when she's not OK like leaving or hiding or being nearby.
joreth: (BDSM)
Another blogger wrote a post called When Dance Gets Kinky with some examples of BDSM elements found in dance performances.

I often use dance as a metaphor for sex and relationships, but for me, the parallels are so strong that "metaphor" is not always the right word. Dance, sex, and romantic relationships all rely on the same elements - communication first and foremost, physicality, and passion. Just like sex, dance can be done with strangers, friends, long-time partners, solo, or in groups. It can be awkward, silly, hot, fun, tender, or chaste. It can be comfortable or challenging. You can teach or learn something new or fall into predictable patterns.

Like good sex and good relationships, good dancing incorporates the skills and steps you learned from past situations to blend with the new partner, forming a unique, one-of-a-kind experience that can never be duplicated or replicated with anyone else ever again. Even with the same partner and the same steps, it will not be the same. The chemistry will be different, or it'll be more effort some times than other times, or it'll be faster or slower, or you'll hit it just right or it'll be a little bit off.

For me, dancing is not just a metaphor for sex and relationships. Dancing is almost interchangeable for sex, and what I learned from dancing I apply to relationships. The three very different activities are inextricably intertwined in my head, even though I am perfectly capable of having relationships without sex, dancing without relationships, and I certainly don't have sex with everyone I dance with! It's just that, to me, they are three sides of the same coin, as it were.

So naturally, I'm interested in examples of dance that also incorporate elements of BDSM. To stretch the coin metaphor way too far, BDSM would be the fourth side of that coin - in requiring the same elements, in who it can be done with, in the moods you can have while in a scene, and in how it can be mixed or isolated from the others. Most of my kink is separate from sex, I have to mix my kink with relationships but I don't have to mix my relationships with my kink, and I am desperately hoping to one day mix dancing and kink but finding a partner who does both (and who does my style of poly, since I can't do kink outside of a relationship) AND has that chemistry that makes any kind of relationship even possible is a pretty tall order.

Just a tip, if anyone really wanted to increase his chances with me, he'd learn to ballroom dance and be interested in at least some of my kinks and have advanced poly skills and he'd mix all that up under a rational & skeptical worldview. Seriously, the dancing & kink stuff REALLY goes a long way towards catching my attention - just as much as the poly & skeptic stuff does. None of this is a guarantee, of course, but dancing will catch my attention immediately and at least make me consider the dancer, even more than the other stuff (but, to be honest, the other three are more likely to *keep* my attention once I've decided that I'm interested).

Anyway, the examples she gives are from the TV show So You Think You Can Dance, but from a night when the dancers are doing the same choreography from previous episodes. While all 3 examples are exemplary, I am still partial to the originals just because they did them first and they are now associated in my brain with those routines. So I'm going to include the original videos in the comments, while the ones the blogger highlighted are embedded in her post:

http://reginawest.com/2012/08/16/when-dance-gets-kinky/



This dance is actually about addiction. It's passionate and entrancing and heart-wrenching and I cried when I saw it for the first time. But the blogger included it for the domineering manner of the male dancer and how rough he is with his female partner, who keeps coming back again and again for his treatment.

I want to take a moment to make absolutely clear that BDSM relationships are not about addiction and they are not abusive, 50 Shades of Fucked Up notwithstanding. They are also not exclusively about male Doms and female subs. This song and this choreography are NOT about BDSM or even about abusive relationships. The male dancer represents the addiction itself; he is the addiction personified.

But within BDSM there is role playing that superficially takes on the trappings of things that might look like abuse or pain or even addiction to someone outside of the relationship or unfamiliar with BDSM and kink. It was this superficial resemblance that attracted the blogger. Rough treatment and the resistance can sometimes be found in some BDSM scenes and the blogger's point was that there were elements of kink found in the choreography's individual steps, leading her to imply that the choreographer herself may have a background in kink to draw on.







This one is all about spanking. That should be self-evident why the blogger included it on a list of kinky elements in dance routines.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T209HHIJ8bc




The first song included on the blog post is a little different. It doesn't appear to be a remake of a past choreography and it's not one of the dances in the competition. It's one of the group dances that the contestants often perform as the opening number to kick off the show. Their performance will not be rated or included in the judges' consideration of the contest.

The video she embedded also doesn't work. At least, when I tried to watch it, it said that the user had been banned for too many copyright violations, so here's another upload of that same number:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9okkG-8BOM
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
"I've never been there, but I once met someone who talked about it and I didn't like that person, so I'll just assume that he's representative of the entire experience there and say that it'll probably suck."

When it's not a subject with objective data that can illustrate, contradict, and/or remove our own logical fallacies and cognitive biases regarding experiences, I'm going to take a pretty dim view of any review that includes "I didn't experience it myself", especially when combined with "because I don't like a person who likes it".

Now, if the objection is "the entire content is this subject I don't like" or "the target audience is people I don't relate to", it's probably a safe assumption to make that you're less likely to like it yourself.  But...

"I don't want to go to an adult store because only losers go there" and

"I don't want to go to Kentucky because my cousin is a redneck and he lives there so it's filled with rednecks" and

"I don't want to read Shakespeare because elitist snobs read Shakespeare" and

"I don't want to listen to country music because I once heard the joke about listening to it backwards gets your dog, your wife, and your truck back so it must all be filled with stupid lyrics" and

"I don't want to go to the ballet because I once saw a picture of a guy in tights so I assume there's nothing there but men in tights" and

"I don't want to go see your dance performance because I know a guy who pops gum and likes the theater so the audience will probably have people there who pop gum and I can't stand that" and

"I don't want to try Indian food because I was once in an Indian person's house and it smelled funny"

are all examples (from real life, I might add) of people being prejudiced, close-minded, and in some cases just stupid.  Telling others not to try the experience without having done it yourself (again, with experiences that are enjoyed or disliked subjectively, not that make truth claims and have objective data to verify those claims) only lets those around you *see* you acting prejudiced, close-minded, and in some cases just stupid.  And since I know no one thinks of themselves as prejudiced, close-minded, or stupid, I know that none of you will want to APPEAR that way even by accident, right?  So don't do that shit.

This is not to be confused with reading several reviews about an experience from people/organizations that have a stable pattern of having similar opinions as your own and reporting "I heard/read that This Person didn't like it for these reasons".  I want to be very clear that I am complaining about a specific thing - criticizing an experienced based on association with another person that you don't like, not for the content of that experience, which can be verified even second-hand, and assuming content of an experience based solely on the presence of another person that you don't like without verifying that content is, in fact, the content.

I have a habit of liking movies that get poor critic reviews, so I might decide to go see a movie just because all the critics said it sucked.  If my close feminist friends all say a particular movie was sexist and offensive, I might give it a miss.  But if one of my coworkers, who happens to be sexist, likes a particular movie, I won't assume that the movie is sexist just because he likes it unless he actually SAYS something about the content.  Him just liking it is not enough for me to assume anything about the content.  I need some other data point, like WHY he liked it or the demographics of the entire audience who liked it, to give me a clue as to whether or not I might like it.

And even then, I often surprise myself by discovering things I used to swear I hated and would never like.  Hummus, for example.  Absolutely hated it until about a year ago.  Tomatoes are another thing.  I've hated the texture so much that my mom had to puree them in pasta sauce before I'd even look at it.  Now I love them both.  I also used to really love the Chronicles of Narnia, even though I was an atheist child.  But back then, I lived in a liberal bubble where my atheism wasn't the target of oppression.  Now that I'm more aware of oppression, I can't help but feel turned off by the obvious religious apologetics in the series.  My tastes change over time, and the more I deliberately test my assumptions about my opinions, the more aware I become of who I am and I am better to more accurately predict what I might like or dislike and in what direction I might change.

And the more I find to like where I previously assumed I wouldn't like.  The universe is a vast and wondrous place, far more interesting than any individual can really comprehend.  And there is far too little time to discover all its wonder, so I don't want to waste time avoiding things that might turn out to be amazing just because some other jackass also happens to like it.

“Your true self can be known only by systematic experimentation, and controlled only by being known.” Francis Bacon
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
For the last several years, I've maintained a Group Me for conventions.  This is a web-based service that allows you to enter your phone number, join a particular Group Me (or be added by the moderator), and then send a regular SMS text message to the Group Me phone number that will then be relayed to everyone else in the group.  They have the option to do the same.  This has come in handy for sending a single message out to everyone to say "I'm going to eat at the hotel restaurant, anyone else free and want to share a meal?" and "Party tonight is in room 465!" and "Sorry, have to cancel the party - roommate is sick.  Please don't show up tonight!"  I send one message to one phone number and reach everyone who needs that information.  Everyone else can send a message or reply to mine and everyone else gets to see it too.

Some people have suggested that Facebook or Twitter is the same thing, or good enough, for this purpose.  But I don't agree.  For one thing, it requires that everyone whom you wish to speak to has a FB or Twitter account.  Second, it requires that you be friends with those people.  Third, it requires that you have the ability to access FB or Twitter whenever you want to send that message.   For some people, this is all true.

But not for me. And here's why... )

Group Me allows you to join yourself or have the moderator add you to the group.  No one else will see your phone number unless they already have your phone number in their phone's address book, so it protects your privacy.  It allows you to choose your display name so you can use the name that people can use to find you online or not, as you prefer.  It removes me as the central organizing point and gives everyone else on the list some degree of control or participation.  It works for all phones that have SMS capabilities (and if my ancient clam-shell dumb phone can do it, then every cell phone can do it).  It does not cost anything except whatever your current text messaging plan is.  If you have limited text messages, you can turn it on and off, and you can also check messages at the website with a computer or other device with internet access.

If you have no internet access and no or limited texting capabilities, then it's true, this service will not work for you.  But I'm also at a loss as to how to include you on con' plan coordination at all in this case if I can't text or send you internet messages.  So, sorry.

Here are specifics on how to join & use the GroupMe... )
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
So there's a guy who pissed me off recently and I want to delve into it to process the incident. As ya'll know, I do a form of ballroom dancing that's called "social dancing". It's basically people who have learned at least a little bit of formal ballroom, Latin, and/or swing dancing who then go out either to public venues or to ballroom dance studios and other dance spaces and just do what they do. Sometimes we learn something new, but mostly it's about having a good time and practicing or expressing whatever amount we *have* learned. Social dancing tends to focus on being good leaders and followers - on good communication - rather than perfect form or memorizing a lot of patterns (specific dance steps within a dance style). Many people only know a handful of patterns for each dance style that they've learned. It's about communication and connection and physical activity more than excelling at a physical art or sport. Perhaps not coincidentally, that also sounds like romantic relationships - being about communication and connection and physical activity.

Some background on the kind of dancing that's related to the incident. )

So back to the incident... )


Now I have some things to say about that... )


Video of the dance )
joreth: (Super Tech)
Someone told me recently that I seem really happy and wanted to know what my secret was.  How do I work in the stressful environment I work in, how do I deal with the people I deal with, how do I live in the world we live in, and still be happy?  I have 2 "secrets" to being happy.  They may or may not work for anyone else, but this is what I do:

1) I follow my passions.  I am dirt fucking poor.  I live below the poverty line and require government assistance on a quasi-regular basis.  I'm one month away from total disaster at all times.  I've been stuck here in this state when I really would rather live elsewhere for a decade past the point I had originally planned to leave because I can't afford to move.  Why?  I have skills in several job categories and could make a decent living.  I used to do a job that paid me $25K a year entry salary, with health benefits, 15 years ago and could be quite comfortable if I had stayed there with various promotions and raises over the years.  I could move up in my current job into management or equipment/personnel coordination, with either a salaried position or lots and lots of hours at a good hourly rate.  I'm poor because I love my job.  It's my passion.  I don't work in the other industries because I'm not passionate about them.  I don't move up into management in my current job because I like, as I usually put it, playing with my toys and getting dirty.  I'm merely a technician.

Don't get me wrong, even my lowly technician gig pays me very very well, per hour or day and plenty of people make good livings doing what I do.  But I also don't work as often as I should.  Sometimes it's because I take time off for my other passions, like relationships or hobbies or vacations.  Sometimes it's because I suck at the work-politics game and I don't know how to schmooze the right people to move up the corporate ladder.  Sometimes it's because my job is more about who you know than what you know.  And sometimes it's because I failed to keep up with changing technology and have trouble finding mentors to bring me up to speed so I can't always compete in the job market.

But the point is that I love my job so much, I'm willing to live in below-poverty conditions to keep doing it.  I do what I have to in order to survive, including taking other kinds of work.  But it doesn't make me happy.  When I'm gigging, I'm happy.  When I'm costuming, I'm happy.  When I'm dancing, I'm happy.  When I'm photographing, I'm happy.  When I'm creating, I'm happy, and that's what all my passions have in common - creating something. When I take the time to indulge in my passions, no, to pursue my passions with a ferocious intensity, I am generally happy with life itself.

2) I find outlets for those things that make me unhappy.  Like ranting on the internet.  Most people who know me primarily online think I must be profoundly unhappy because all they see are my angry posts.  But I make those posts in order to get the thoughts out of my head, where, if I didn't get them out, they'd just run around in circles all day, every day.  They're like music earworms, sorta.  Some people have to listen to that very song in order to get it unstuck from their heads.  I have to rant about whatever is pissing me off in order to let it go and get on with my day getting back to the business of being happy.

People who know me in real life first, who then find my online profiles, feel a little jarred at the difference.  I don't seem like "me" to them.  But if you were to ask most of my coworkers who have either not seen my online profiles or who don't read much of Facebook or Twitter or LJ even if they have a profile there, if you were to ask them to describe me, "happy" is a common descriptor.  A boss once quipped something to the effect of not recognizing me without my smile, or if I'd lost my smile, something must seriously be wrong.  I don't remember the exact line, but the occasion stuck out in my memory because I had just lost my place to live because I was "always angry" online, even though I'd never had a harsh word IRL with that person and, in fact, had been told when we first met that he had a crush on me because he so loved how often I laughed around him.  So when that boss remarked on how being unsmiling was a rare event, it struck a chord with me.

I have periods of depression.  I get overwhelmed by stuff and I start to withdraw into myself.  I stop reaching out to my friends and loved ones, I stop going out, I start to cry more easily, and I can start to say and do things that, to someone who doesn't know what's going on, may seem out of character because I stop being able to express myself clearly.  Being a generally happy person doesn't mean never feeling any other negative emotion.

But, in general, I think I'm happy.  I love life and I think it's worth living.  I feel that death is the enemy and I can't even comprehend the idea that there might come a day when I'll be tired of life and voluntarily want to end it, even when I think of living for hundreds or thousands of years.  I joke easily and I laugh often.  Even when I'm in the depths of a depressive episode or feeling particularly down, I know, with every fiber of my being, that it'll pass and I'll be happy again.  Sometimes I even willingly indulge in periods of sadness, knowing that it's just part of the range of human emotion and expressing it can be part of getting through it.  I never need to be told after a breakup, for instance, that things will get better and I'll find someone new.  I know that, and I don't stay sad for very long.  I pretty quickly bounce back to being happy.  Even when Misty, my cat, died, I was able to be at work the next day, laughing and joking as usual with my coworkers.  I'm very much still in mourning for my cat, and I still cry at the drop of a hat when I think of her.  But the joking around at work the day after her death was not a mask I had to wear in order to get through my day.  I was genuinely happy to be working and to be with my coworkers.  And I'm creating a memorial for her, which goes along with my first point about creating making me happy.  Sadness doesn't overwhelm me and life goes on, dragging me along with it.

And I think that's essentially why I'm generally happy.  I follow my passions and I allow myself to express the negative emotions so that I can get through them and get on with the business of being happy.  I remember trying to suppress my negative emotions for a while.  I had a very troubled adolescence and, for a time, the only thing I wanted was to stop hurting.  But, even in that first depressive episode, suicide or self-harm was never a serious consideration (although I did consider them).  I shut off the negative emotions so that I wouldn't hurt.  But then, one day, I realized that I wasn't feeling any of the positive emotions either.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I still felt all my emotions, but they were all very, very muted.  I didn't feel strongly about anything.  I spent many years trying to turn back on the positive emotions without turning on the negative ones, and I failed every time.

Eventually I embraced the idea of feeling because I wanted to feel happy again.  Feeling sad on occasion was just part of the price to pay in order to feel happy.  I don't like the idea of an emotional roller coaster.  I know some people that swing from extreme to extreme, and I've heard of those who are basically emotion junkies.  And I'm not talking about any of that.  I just feel happy in a general sort of way, with moments of elation and joy, and, fortunately rare, moments of sadness.  Every couple of years I go through a depressive stage, but then I pull back out of it again.  To me, depression is not a "normal" state to be in.  Like my moments of sadness, it's something I have to occasionally go through, but those moments are like islands dotting a mostly placid but occasionally excitingly active, sea of happiness.  I'm not sure I could answer definitively about whether the chicken or the egg came first here, but I believe following my passions and allowing myself the opportunity to express and feel my sadness or anger in a controlled manner, are what cause me to be happy in life.  It could be that I have a "happy nature" and that's what gives me passions in the first place, or makes me seek out these outlets for my anger or sadness to expunge them.  But when I'm feeling down, if I can somehow find the motivation to get out and dance, or take my camera somewhere new, or get inspired by a new costume design, then my depression or anger or sadness usually lifts.  So I *think* the causal relationship goes the other way and it's that my happiness is caused by the things I do.

At any rate, I've found it to be a self-perpetuating cycle.  The more I dance, the happier I get.  The happier I am, the more I want to dance.  Same with work, same with costuming, same with photography, same with picking up some new skill or hobby even if that particular one turns out to be a phase that I drop later and never get back to.  Work is where I feel most like "me", where the most number of facets of my personality get to shine at once.  Dancing and my other hobbies are opportunities to focus on a single facet at a time; to really give each facet some undivided attention and undiluted expression.  Sometimes, that hobby is pure emotional expression, like dancing.  I was told not too long ago that he was sorry for staring, but even though he was surrounded by dancers, many in much less clothing than I, he couldn't help watching me dance.  I hadn't ever been told that before.  I've been told that people enjoy dancing with me, or they are impressed when I do a structured dance that they don't know, like swing or Bollywood, but not that my dancing was so sexy and beautiful that he couldn't help but stare.  And he wasn't hitting on me.  When he mistook my enthusiasm for dancing with him as a more personal interest, he was quick to back up and tell me that he was in a monogamous relationship.  He just genuinely felt drawn to me when I danced and was willing to tell me.  I know I'm only a mediocre or intermediate dancer, and that's OK.  I dance for myself, for the sheer joy of feeling my body move.  I dance as though my body was an instrument to join in the song.

And I think that's what people see when they say they like to watch me dance, because my technical skills are, well, they're above average but not particularly exceptional.  Because that's what I see when I feel compelled to watch someone do what they love.  I once watched an artist while he sketched me.  There was something in his expression, something I can't define, that changed everything about him.  When he concentrated on turning the visual signals he received from looking at a subject to a physical representation on paper, he was pursuing his passion.  And it showed on his face, and it made him compelling.  I think I almost fell in love just a little with him right there because of that expression.

My high school sweetheart is a performer.  He is never better than when he is performing.  He is always amazing.  His passion for his art is one of the reasons I fell in love with him in high school and one of the reasons I continue to love him to this day, even though we are no longer romantic and not even the slightest bit romantically compatible.  Back before I realized my stalker was, in fact, a stalker with Nice Guy Syndrome, back when he was just my best friend, I would sit at his feet or hours and watch him play music.  His preferred instrument at that time was guitar, but he could play anything except piano (for some reason, he couldn't put the two hands of a song together on a piano).  He put his soul into his music.  I loved another guitarist too.  He was blind, and he interpreted the world primarily through touch and sound.  Which meant that his playing was exceptional because it was the very essence of how he experienced life.  Not coincidentally, I met him at the same time that I met my high school sweetheart.  In fact, my first introduction to them was the guitarist playing accompaniment to the performer singing.  Two such passionate boys expressing themselves through their passion - it's no wonder I could never really choose between them, and it was only circumstance that kept my relationships with them separated by a decade. [livejournal.com profile] tacit is passionate about life itself, and consequently is one of the 3 or 4 happiest people I have ever known.  My Darling Boy also has many passions and is one of those people whose very presence in a room make it seem brighter, as though the sun through the window just came out from behind a cloud at the moment he walked in.  He's passionate about flying (he's a chopper pilot) and rigging and music and, like [livejournal.com profile] tacit, about life itself.

I surround myself with passionate men - men who are intensely, maybe in some cases obsessively, interested in something that makes them happy to experience.  I find this trait to be more compelling in a person than any other trait.  It might not be sufficient, on its own, to sustain a meaningful relationship with that person, but being passionate about something is a necessary element to being able to love them, for me.  That's the best thing that anyone can do to attract a romantic partner, or even friends, y'know - be passionate about something.  People who do interesting things are interesting people, and others are attracted to interesting people.  It doesn't work if you just try to do something with the goal of attracting a mate.  You have to actually feel passionate about that thing, and your passion will make you attractive - far more attractive than any nice clothing or nice car or slick pick-up line will make you, and it'll last longer than a superficial sheen's attractiveness too.

So, if you're still searching for the meaning of life and how to be happy or make your life look the way you want it to look when it doesn't, that's what I suggest you try.  It may not work for you.  Unlike those self-help books like "7 Tips Of Successful People" or whatever that try to boil life down into a series of steps guaranteed to make you rich, good looking, and happy, I'm not saying that my method will work for everyone.  But if you don't know where to even start looking, I think these two things are good to try.  Find something to feel passionate about and pursue it, and find an outlet and allow yourself to express the negative emotions every so often.  I'm not saying to revel in sadness or self-pity or anger.  I'm saying that repression of negative emotion may result in a difficulty or inability to also experience those strong positive emotions that are necessary for passion and happiness.

You may need to learn how to feel sadness or fear or anger, and consequently how to manage and get through it, before you can feel passionate about something else.  A lot of people try to manage their bad feelings by orchestrating their lives largely to avoid feeling bad feelings.  Then, when something inevitable comes along to make them feel bad, they lack the familiarity to recognize the early warning signs and the tools to manage it productively.  This can spiral, I think, into a never-ending cycle of always feeling bad and not knowing how to feel happy anymore.

[livejournal.com profile] tacit says that life rewards the path of greater courage.  I think that's essentially what I'm trying to do with my two happiness tips.  I'm certainly not claiming to never fail or fall off the path.  But I think it takes courage to feel bad and to get my hands right up in those bad feelings like mixing bread dough and really examine those feelings and deal with them.  And I think it takes courage to leap head-first into an endeavor, which is what I feel that "passion" is - feeling so strongly about something that I just leap into it, giving myself over to the creative process and rolling around in the joy of creating.  Passion, even though it's a positive emotion, can be scary.  It can put us in a place of vulnerability.  It can leave us open to criticism, condemnation, mocking, and separation.  You have to really put yourself into whatever you're passionate about, and a negative reaction about what you're doing can feel like the most intimate, fatal, of attacks.  But being passionate about something, at least for me, means that I can't help but to leap into it.

So I think my reward for pursuing my passions and for exploring and expressing the negative emotions is that I feel that I am generally happy with life.  I am rarely without romantic or sexual partners, except by choice, I often have a handful of people I can count on to be there for me when I need someone, and I enjoy life even when others might look at my situation and think it looks hard or uncomfortable.  My life, overall - the big picture - looks mostly like it does because of deliberate choices I made to make it look this way.  I'm not "lucky" to have multiple partners, or to have any specific partner.  I have these relationships because I arranged my life in such a way as to make these relationships possible.  I'm not "lucky" to be working my dream job.  I made choices that allowed me to pursue my dream job, and those choices have had some consequences and drawbacks that are part of it.  You can zoom in on any part of my life or history and find low spots or difficult spots or places where I didn't make the best choice in hindsight.  But when I pull back and look at my life as a whole, I'm generally happy with it, and the places on the timeline where I'm the most happiest are the places where I expressed my two tips the best.  I don't think that's a coincidence.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/dirty-dancing-is-a-subversive-masterpiece-and-here-are-four-reasons-why

OTG YES! Dirty Dancing is such a complex, multi-layered piece of art that had such a huge impact on me and several facets of my various world-views that it's hard for me to emphasize its importance enough.  This article only addresses 4 points, but I think that's just a starting point, although a very strong starting point.  The article covers having an awkward heroine who never turns into the "beautiful, popular girl" to win the guy, having a "hot guy" like the awkward heroine for who she is as a person without being blind to her until that magical "ugly duckling" transformation, giving "the sheltered 17-year-old all the sexual agency", class politics, and illegal abortion.  Set in 1963.

It's not a "chick flick" or a rom-com, or even your typical "coming of age" story. It's a sociopolitical commentary on class struggles, women's rights, sexual agency, gender relations, communication, trust, and personal growth. Baby remains one of my all-time epitomal characters that helped to define who I am, and Johnny remains the ideal romantic partner to whom I compare all my potential partners. It's not just because he has a nice ass and abs, it's because of his integrity, his character, his personal struggles, and his values.

Dancing, to me, is not just a fun physical activity. It is a vehicle through which we can achieve personal growth and relationship enhancement, as well as a story-telling device that we can use to address controversial and taboo subjects. And this movie combines everything that I find valuable about dance - the fun, the storytelling, the catalyst for growth, the beauty, the pain, the personal expression.  I don't think it's even possible to truly "get" me without understanding this movie.  That doesn't mean that you have to have watched it in order to get me, but that you would have to be the kind of person who *would* understand this movie if you saw it in order to understand who I am as a person.  But watching it helps.

Maybe, in my copious free time that isn't today, I'll write my own full post enumerating the points and analyzing the movie the way the article does.

joreth: (dance)

Hey guys, we're putting on a show just for our friends!  If you saw us perform at the 2011 Holiday Party, this will be a bigger show with more numbers!  If you missed us at the Holiday Party, this is your chance to see us!

This performance will take place at the Ventura Country Club ballroom.  This means that RSVPs are *required* because we have to put your name on a list so that the gate guards will let you in.  But it's free!

Please RSVP at the official event page: http://bollywoodangels.eventbrite.com/
joreth: (dance)
September is, apparently, "Step-tember" at the Enzian Theater (a local independent movie theater), with a whole month of dance movies & events. So I want to make September an annual celebration of dance appreciation!

I have 4 distinct inspirations from my childhood for getting into dance:

1) Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo - my very first dance movie and I actually learned to breakdance (poorly) because of it.

2) Footloose - which taught me that dancing wasn't just fun, it was inherently a celebration of life, in all its forms. Dance expressed joy, anger, sadness, love, passion, every emotion, and was a necessary form of expression for me.

3) Janet Jackson - one of the first female dance choreographers I had ever been exposed to, thanks to a summer day-camp in elementary school that offered a jazz class where we performed to one of her songs. I learned that there was a place in the dance world for women, not just as a pair of pretty legs, but as the creative directors and leaders in the industry.

4) Dirty Dancing - introduced me to partner dancing as something more than just "that stuff old people did at weddings" and to the concepts of courage, honor, and being yourself, no matter the cost.

Dance, for me, has always been more than just exercise or another chance to embarrass myself in front of my peers. Dance has always been about empowerment, about expression, and a metaphor for life itself. Even when I'm sore or injured, or having trouble getting a step right and looking stupid, I am rarely ever more alive than when I am dancing.

Happy Step-tember everyone! Go out and dance!
joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly. So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class. If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice. If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home. In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance. Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm. So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.

joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly. So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class. If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice. If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home. In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance. Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm. So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.


joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly.  So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class.  If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice.  If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home.  In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance.  Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm.  So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.


Video instructions & links below the cut )
joreth: (polyamory)
This week, Dancing With The Stars featured ballroom dance trios! As a poly & a ballroom dancer, how could I not love it? Besides just the idea of doing ballroom dance with more than one partner, the introductions to each of the dances show some themes that I think poly people will find very familiar!

First, all of the trios are actually pre-existing couples who invited a third person in. Second, within the trios there is a mix of all dancing together and sometimes splitting up into various duos - not always losing the new member, sometimes it's one of the pre-existing members dancing alone with the new member!  In other words, sometimes they all dance together, and sometimes one of them wanders off and leaves two of them dancing alone, and sometimes the two dancing alone are not the pre-existing couple - sometimes it's one of the pre-existing couple and the new person.  All relationships need some alone time, and many experienced polys know that, even in triads, you gotta have some alone time with each of the others and you have to nurture that relationship with the new person.

As for the dances...
  • There's the FMF that you'd think would be everyone's dream but was actually very rare as the only grouping in that configuration out of all the trios on the show, and the two girls who used to be rivals but are now whole-heartedly throwing themselves into a partnership with perfect harmony.

  • There's the MFM where one guy was afraid the other guy would be "better" than him & the girl wanted to use his jealousy to her "advantage".

  • Then there's the MFM where the couple brought in the guy's brother because of his talent and skill, so they thought they would be better as a whole group for the addition (and they were).

  • There's the MFM where the first guy brought in the other guy because he knew how much the girl loved the other guy & the first guy enjoyed the "break" and letting the other guy take care of the girl some of the time.

  • And finally are the two MFMs where the girls each brought in the new guy so that the first guy could learn something from him and grow and improve themselves through relating to the new guy. Although, ironically, the dance story of both of those MFM trios was of the new guy trying to "steal the girl" and the first guy chasing off the intruder!
While not every single possible scenario found in poly triads & vees, these 6 performances and the arrangements of how they got to be trios sure cover an awful lot of poly tropes!  What was I just saying, about not being a poly issue, but a people issue?


See the dances! )

joreth: (Swing Dance)
Now that I've held one beginners dance class and am about to hold another, with at least 2 more tentatively in the future, I thought it was time to talk dance shoes.

When people who have never danced before want to learn to partner dance, and either they are coming to one of my classes, an event I am attending & promoting, or are just talking to me about learning dance, one of the most important questions is "what shoes do I wear?"

Click here for a very long, involved explanation of what to look for in a dance shoe, complete with visual aids! )

So, to sum up:  when doing partner dancing, the most important thing is to have shoes that are comfortable, will stay on your feet, and have a sole that does not grip the floor but also doesn't make you slip as if you were walking on ice.  If you are buying or wearing regular street shoes, most dress shoes will be fine as long as they have a hard leather or hard plastic sole and a sturdy heel.  If you want to get dance shoes, the type of shoe depends on the type of dancing you plan to do and how much of an investment you are willing to make.  Character shoes are the best all-purpose shoe and usually the most affordable.  Dance sneakers are probably the most comfortable and best for swing dancing, but they cannot be worn off the dance floor.  Ballroom and Latin shoes have all the necessary elements for support, durability, comfort, and encouraging proper foot placement, which will then encourage proper posture, but they can be expensive and are dedicated shoes that cannot be worn off the dance floor.  Your favorite pair of street shoes can be turned into dance shoes if you are willing to get them resoled by a shoe repair store and then may not be able to be worn off the dance floor if you get the chromed/sueded unless you get leather soles.
joreth: (dance)
So, those who are part of the [livejournal.com profile] orlandopoly group have been hearing me talk about various dance events for a while now, as I've been trying to drum up interest in dancing among the group. Two dance events have really stuck out as being fantastic venues for non-ballrooom dancers, beginners, and experienced dancers alike. I want to write down a review of these venues so that everyone can hear what they're like before they go, and I can just reference this post when people ask me or when I mention that I'm going dancing again.


The first is the Atlantic Dance Hall. This used to be a swing dance club on Disney property, all decked out like a well-to-do jazz club from the art deco era. For some strange reason, Disney shut down the swing dance club about a year before Dancing With The Stars (an ABC production, which is owned by Disney) started. Personally, I think that was poor timing and even poorer marketing.

But then it re-opened as a music video nightclub. That's right, they don't just play music, they project the videos for the music they play on the wall above the dance floor. It's a pretty wide variety of music and they take requests. They tend to default to the latest pop music videos, but whenever I ask for '80s music, they play a bunch, from across several genres. I got such classics as "Baby Got Back" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and even "Don't Stop Believing".

What makes this such a great club to go to as a group is that it is open during the week as well as weekends, and it is totally dead during the week. Yes, this is a good thing. As I told someone recently, Atlantic Dance Hall is not the place to meet people, it's the place to bring people.

Imagine having an entire dance club reserved just for you and your friends, with a bar and a VJ that takes requests! That's what ADH is like. And, since we have the floor mostly to ourselves, it also means that I can give a few dance lessons, for anyone who asks. The last time I went, I was able to teach someone hustle, cha cha, rhumba, and we also got to do a little swing dancing. Something that non-ballroom dancers don't seem to know (or remember) is that you don't need sleepy old classical music to do partner dancing. Just knowing a few steps each of swing, cha cha, rhumba, and hustle can have you partner dancing all night long in a regular nightclub with regular music.

So if you're in the Orlando area, I highly recommend checking out the Atlantic Dance Hall. Parking is free, there is no cover charge, there is a bar, and there is usually no one else there. The most full I have ever seen the place on the weeknights that I go, there were maybe 12 people there besides me, and they didn't show up until well into the night.



The other place is the Sunday Afternoon Tea Dance. A local ballroom dance instructor has started hosting these dance parties, mostly for his students, but the dances are open to the public. He hosts several Black And White balls throughout the year, a Masquerade, something he calls a "Hole In The Wall Ball" with a variety of themes (I think the last one was, like, luau or Hawaiian shirt day or beach day or something, I dunno, I didn't make it there), and, the most recent addition, the Tea Dance.

This is not his creation - there are other tea dances around and have been for I don't know how long. For all I know, this could be a tradition going back a hundred years or something. But his is the one I've been to. And I loved it! There are tables set up around the dance floor and they serve tea in vintage china and offer scones and cucumber sandwiches and other finger foods, and everyone comes dressed up for tea in light, spring-like "tea" outfits. Then everyone dances on the dance floor to a really interesting mix of music.

As usual for a ballroom dance club, the women far outnumber the men, and the average age is much older than me. But this is how I like it, actually. There's something about a ballroom setting with older gentlemen that seems to put everyone on their best behaviour. The men are "gentlemen" without being chauvanistic. Everyone is very polite and friendly, but there is no pressure to "hookup" like at regular nightclubs. People are there to dance, not hit on the ladies.

So, because there are more women than men, I can sit down and enjoy my tea and scones because there aren't enough men to keep me dancing every song. The men are encouraged to dance as much as possible, and the host reminds the men regularly to mingle and find new partners to make sure that drinking tea isn't the only thing we get stuck doing. But if any lady wants to sit for a bit, she can politely refuse a request to dance and the gentleman just moves on to the next lady. The women are also encouraged to ask the men to dance, but I found that I danced as often as I wanted to without needing to ask anyone.

In addition to dancing to a variety of styles, he also plays mixers, which is where the women get in a line along the edge of the dance floor, and the men line up next to them. The men grab a partner from the front of the women's line, dance her around the floor, and when he reaches the back of the line, he drops her off and goes to pick up the next woman at the front of the line. This is an excellent way to make sure everyone who wants to dance gets to when there is a gender imbalance (and traditional gender roles).

There were several dance instructors there, as well as beginning dancers, of both men and women. Everyone was really friendly. The host's wife greeted me as I walked in and even remembered me from the one and only time I had been there before, several months ago. She invited me to join her at her table and introduced me to the other ladies sitting there, and everyone asked how I was and if I came dancing often and what kind of dances I knew.

The music was really an ecclectic mix. He had some classic big band stuff for fox trotting and waltz and some of the latin dances, but he also had modern popular music. Even better, though, he also had covers of popular music that were re-done to dance beats that the original songs were never intended to do. For instance, he had a cover of a song from Phantom of the Opera that was a techno remix that we could hustle to. He also had a Madonna megamix cover done in a sultry jazzy-blues style that was either a rhumba or foxtrot (I can't remember, but it was the perfect tempo). We even did a waltz to the theme song from Pirates of the Carribbean! Since many of the dancers there are students, he also calls out which dance style goes with which song, so you don't have to guess if you're not sure.

If you like ballroom dancing, this was a great venue. If you like interesting music, this was a great event. If you are new to dancing, this was a great place to learn or work on dance steps in a low-pressure, friendly environment. If you are an experienced dancer, this was a very low-key, relaxing sort of dance that just felt comfortable and light. If you like tea and watching dancing or listening to interesting music, this was an fun opportunity to do something really unique. Parking is free and the cover charge is $12 for unlimited tea and scones.



For some examples of the huge range of music styles that can be partner-danced to, here are my partner-dance playlists again:

Cha Cha
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLVzw9wVd9o&list=PL0D5FE90B2FD29929&feature=plpp_play_all



Foxtrot
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99803-NFuFw&list=PL24897C498024A0A4&feature=plpp_play_all



Hustle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5MflfnGGUQ&list=PLB9E8F60E49152BFB&feature=plpp_play_all



Salsa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqIIW7nxBgc&list=PL1A669B1189086444&feature=plpp_play_all



Swing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZYOJQ79DOw&list=PLB2FF1261CBC9C404&feature=plpp_play_all



Tango
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4_H65XoykY&list=PL45AADEEB03484E6B&feature=plpp_play_all



Waltz
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bZyvbUsfpw&list=PL4ABB725CEEB3EA4D&feature=plpp_play_all


joreth: (::headdesk::)
Is it just me, or do straight men seem inordinately concerned with what other men think of them? Of course, this is not an every-man sort of thing (nothing is). But it seems as though, every time I get into gender-based arguments with straight men, the ones I'm arguing with seem to get their motivation for being "a real man" from other men. It seems to me that, if a man is heterosexual, it would be in his better interest to take his cues on being "a real man" from the women he hopes to impress.

Take the argument I got into with a coworker, who opened up with "Hey Joreth, you're a girl, tell me, is a theme park a good date?" That very quickly devolved into him explicitly admitting that he infantalizes women for the purposes of making male strangers of a certain ethnic type who just happen to be passing him on the street nod approvingly at his behaviour, in complete disregard to the preferences of the woman he is currently infantalizing. No, I'm not making that up or exaggerating. I asked him outright "dude, you don't see how treating a woman like a child is offensive?" and he said "no [full stop]", with no other explanation or trying to hedge or make it not sound so bad. Not "that's not what I meant!" or "you're taking it the wrong way". No, he said that he saw nothing wrong with treating a woman like a child and that the reason he did so was so when "a Latin dude walks down the street and sees me, he'll nod and be all 'that's right'." ::headdesk:: I wish I was making that up, or at least building a straw man.

Then there are all the arguments about Only Yes Means Yes, where, without exception, the objections to OYMY are: "If we waited for a woman to say yes, we'd die virgins" and "No only means 'not yet' and it's up to us to keep trying until it becomes a yes." Again, I'm not exaggerating or paraphrasing or taking it out of context. Not only are those direct quotes, but they are almost verbatim quotes from every single online argument I've ever had about OYMY. These particular men are completely unconcerned with how they appear to women or what the specific woman they are with thinks of them. From a purely strategic, cold point of view, it just doesn't even make sense to ignore the preferences of someone you are trying to get something from. That sounds like a much longer wait for sex than hearing a verbal "yes".  "Hey baby, I want something from you that you will resist giving me, and my method is to ignore what you want out of the deal entirely and concentrate only on what I'm getting."  That doesn't sound like utter fail to you people?  That doesn't sound suspiciously like rape?

And, of course, there are all the objections to male dancing. "Real men don't dance, men play football." "Dancing is for sissies." "That's a girl move, not a guy move!" "C'mon, my buddies'll make fun of me!" Seriously? As one young male dancer said during the human-interest story on this season's Dancing With The Stars, "you're in a sweaty locker room filled with other dudes; I'm in a ballroom surrounded by cute girls and my hands all over hot women." That is also as near a direct quote as I can remember. For most sports, the genders are separated, and for contact sports, we get a bunch of self-proclaimed straight guys (because they have to proclaim heterosexuality, since being gay is, well, gay, or something.) all wearing very little clothing, touching each other, sometimes with full contact, body-slamming each other, and showing off their muscles. But in dancing, you get men who have to develop strength, agility, timing, and rhythm, also with very little clothing, but with female-bodied partners rubbing up against them, putting their legs around them, holding onto them, and an audience of women oohing and ahing and drooling over hot male bodies.

Plus, I've had sex with football players, and I've had sex with men from the "girlie" sports like gymnastics and cheerleading and dancing. Guys, if you want to impress the ladies with your bedroom skills, you won't do it by bodyslamming 200 pound men. You'll do it by developing the core muscles & flexibility necessary to move with fluidity and musicality that dancers need. If I was given a choice between a football player and a dancer as a sexual partner (and that was my only choice and criteria, and I had to choose one), I'd take the dancer every fucking time.

So, straight men who do this, go on ahead and do what you think you need to do in order to impress your buddies. I'm sure you and your buddies will have good times together. Meanwhile, I and all the other women will be over here with the handful of men who are doing what needs to be done in order to impress women - namely being confident in themselves, doing things because they like it instead of because it's expected of them, treating us like humans, treating us like individuals, learning our specific preferences, listening to us, not telling us that we are wrong when we make statements about what we think or feel, engaging in the kinds of activities that we like to engage in and where we feel welcome, and generally being all-around decent people. And they won't be doing it for the purpose of "impressing" us, they'll be doing it because it's the right thing to do - because they know that human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and women are merely other human beings that they just happen to find attractive.

Of course that last paragraph can be extended to all genders and orientations by changing pronouns. I'm ranting at a specific type of straight men right now, so I used the appropriate pronouns for that audience.

Apparently I should also point out that this is not intended to be a dig at sports or people who like sports such as football.  I used to play football, and basketball, and many other competitive sports - both contact and non-contact.  I understand what a person might get out of playing sports.  My point is ONLY about people choosing or avoiding to do certain things in disregard to the people participating and BECAUSE OF APPROVAL FROM NON-INTERESTED PARTIES.  Treating a woman he is interested in romancing like a child BECAUSE SOME GUY WILL APPROVE; playing football, not because it's fun, but because HIS GUY FRIENDS WILL APPROVE; avoiding dancing, not because he's not interested or can't do it, but because HIS GUY FRIENDS WILL DISAPPROVE; ignoring a woman's stated preferences for sexual relations because of his erroneous idea of gender roles, which is more important TO HIS BUDDIES than to the woman he is disregarding.  

Basically, this entire rant is about people who ignore the preferences of individuals with whom they wish to engage in some kind of mutual relationship, and the football thing was an example within this context, not a commentary on football or people who play football.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
I have a performance coming up in which I will be giving a short description on the story behind some of the songs we'll be performing.  I tend to remember things better when I've written them down, so I'm writing them here.  This may be of no interest to many of you, but it may be of some interest to some of you, so rather than writing up a Word document in private, I'm posting it here instead.

Some background on Bollywood )

Maahi Ve )

Desi Girl )

Bumbro )

Taal se Taal )

Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai )


We have two "party songs" from movies I haven't watched yet also.  These are popular songs that we don't have any choreographed routine for, but we go out and improvise in the audience to get the audience up and dancing with us.  This is particularly popular at weddings to signify the end of our performance and the beginning of the reception where everyone gets drunk and dances.  Since I haven't seen the movies, I'm not sure where the songs fit into the story.


joreth: (dance)
Ballroom dancing? Psshhh, that's for old fuddy-duddies! That's what people did in Europe like, 300 years ago, or like in the '50s when people used to force their kids to take lessons at summer camp! Even if I admit it looks cool when people do it well, there's no practical use for it! I mean, who plays classical music anymore anyway?

That's a common attitude I encounter when I mention that I like ballroom dancing, in spite of ballroom dancing, and dancing in general, making a huge splash in popular culture lately with two of the most popular contest-style TV shows, Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. And I think it's great that both shows are so popular, but something they both fail to do, is convince the average American audience that your average Joe can pick up a few steps, go out anywhere in public, and expect to show off his skills. With So You Think You Can Dance, those dancers are all professionals or have been training for years, or are otherwise exceptional athletes, who just happen to be learning new styles for this competition. In Dancing With The Stars, sure, they take "normal" people, i.e. people who have not necessarily ever danced before, and teach them how to dance, but they're celebrities that can afford (and are getting paid) to spend hours and hours every day training one-on-one with a professional dancer. And many of those celebrities are, actually, athletes, just not in dance.

So, what about the average Joe? What about you and me, who will never have the money or the time for a dedicated pro, who has no desire to enter a competition, and who just wants to go to the next family wedding and pull out a couple of moves to impress people with even less dance talent than us? What about the guy who doesn't watch the shows and hears the phrase "ballroom dancing" and thinks 18th century Vienna?

Well first, there are lots of places, especially in cities, that offer dance opportunities. It's called "social dance", and the venues offer large dance floors to just go out and have a good time, with no judges, no ballgowns, and plenty of good music. Most of these places offer free or cheap lessons about an hour before the dance floor opens up, and you don't need to sign up or commit to a series of classes. You just show up, learn a few steps, then cut a rug an hour later with everyone else! I maintain a calendar of just such events for the Orlando and Tampa areas.

Second, there is a huge misconception about what kind of music qualifies as "ballroom" dance music. There are so many different styles of dance, that there is at least one for pretty much every rhythm available in Western music. See, Western music hasn't changed much in the last hundred years. Well, OK, there have been some major changes in music styles, but the rhythms come in only a few flavors that keep getting repeated, over and over again, for decades. Yes, there are exceptions, let's not get derailed by minutae from the point here. Basically, Western music comes in 4/4, 6/8, or 3/4 time* and, for the most part, that's pretty much it. Those time signatures can be varied a little by changing which beat gets the emphasis, creating a lilting or a swing feel, and the combination of lilting/non-lilting rhythms and those 3 time signatures are what makes up the foundation for Western music ... and for ballroom dancing!

As an example, I'm going to show you my own personal music collection for dance music. Below the cut is a list of songs arranged by the type of dance that you can do to it. You'll see some specialty, foreign, classical, and classic music, but you'll also see some popular, modern music - the kind you will hear at regular nightclubs, concerts, weddings, parties (especially office parties and conferences), and even restaurants and tourist attractions! I have often broken out into dance at restaurants that had music playing over the loudspeakers, or in hotel lobbies, or waiting in line at a movie or theme park. Now, I'm not the most up-to-date when it comes to the cutting edge of pop music and rock, so my playlists might skew a bit towards the older music, but I think you'll be surprised by a few of the songs in the list, and some of them should at least give you an idea of what to look for in whatever genre you prefer or whatever's playing on the radio and in the clubs at the time you read this.

Another thing that you might notice is that the playlists are weighted a bit towards country music. The reason is because I didn't go out looking specifically for dance music, I just searched the music I already had and this is what I came up with. So the list has a lot of country partly because I just like country music, so I have more of that than any other genre, but partly because "country" is like "rock" - a hugely varied genre that has dozens of distinct sub-genres of its own. Country music is a great place to find songs for ballroom dancing, which is the primary reason why I brave the cigarette smoke & obnoxious men and visit the country bars. I know, I know, many of you are just convinced that you don't like country music, and I have no solution to that. But if you want to dance, or you want to know more about dance music, and you don't know where to start looking for music that isn't in your grandpa's record collection, country music is a great place to begin.

Clicking on the names of the artist takes you to that version of the song, mostly on YouTube, but a few from other locations if YouTube didn't have it. Most are videos, but a couple are just the audio. Several of these songs can be danced by dance styles other than the category they're listed under. I duplicated a few, but I'm sure I missed some, and I also left out a whole bunch of dance styles, like rhumba and quickstep and paso doble, primarily because they're not dance styles I know well and they're not nearly as popular outside of ballroom circles as the ones I did list.

Click to see song list and videos )


*For those with absolutely no music theory, here's a very basic summary of what those fractions mean. 4/4 time is the most common time signature and what almost all of the music you listen to is written in (even without knowing what style of music you listen to). It's the music that you can count "1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4" to if you say the numbers on the beats of the song. It sounds like the rhythm repeats itself every 4 counts, because that's what it's doing.

3/4 time is music that you can only count to 3 before you have to start over with 1. 6/8 time is, for most people with no music theory, indistinguishable from 3/4 time, but people who understand it will actually count to 6 because the beat after 6 is heavier than the beat after 3. In other words, in 3/4 time, the heaviest beat is on the one, and it repeats itself every 3 beats. In 6/8 time, it might sound like there's a heavier beat after the 3, but it's not as distinctive as the beat after 6, so that, in order for the beat on 1 to match every time you say 1, you have to put the 1 after the 6, not after the 3.

If that's confusing and you really want to understand it, I highly recommend taking a musical theory class, where they can give examples and spend more than a single paragraph trying to explain it. I find a greater understanding of how music is composed increases my enjoyment of music in general, so that's not a brush-off, I really do recommend learning musical theory.

Tags

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
1617 18192021 22
2324252627 2829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Banners