Next up is a collation of three somewhat shorter papers addressing feminity, the dynamics of the showgirl and the grotesque on stage. Read the rest of this entry »
Posts tagged dance
First the slightly dodgy wraps. Now the wrist bands arrive. Another zumba sesh, another day redolent with imagery of all the naughty stuff that us liberated women really aren’t meant to be into.
Yet the bands were selling like hot cakes. What is going on? Read the rest of this entry »
Two outwardly unrelated stories about the NHS, cropping up in the last couple of days, maybe provide some insight into the way in which public, press and, yes, trans community, too, deal with issues in the media spotlight.
Let’s start with some special privilege awarded to a group whose gender creds (and orientation) might just be considered by some members of the public to be ever so slightly dubious. I mean, of course, dancers. Read the rest of this entry »
Life continues to get back to normal. Today, gloriously, with a return to dance/zumba.
Not a full session. I hadn’t totally understood how unfit one can get after a three month holiday from exercise. And i’m still a tad sore, as became clear the moment i started to do anything that involved stretching.
Played today – one of my faves – was “Give me everything” by Pitbull:
and not played, but i’m going to stick it up here anyway for future reference is another fave – “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz:
A brief moment of panic before setting off: my usual attire for zumba has been crop top and baggy trousers. Mysteriously, the latter have disappeared. Mostly, i seem to have a drawer full of leggings, jeggings and skinnies.
(Yes: we’re talking a girl who may not have much in the figure department, but she knows she’s got good legs).
But…but…there was a definite and very personal reason for the baggy trousers: not least embarrassment at flinging myself about the floor pre-op with some obviously male bits still in place.
So the tight look is now OK? Not quite. The last thing i want to do now is head off into “inappropriate” territory on the other side. And i obviously hadn’t been paying enough attention to what the other women wore.
A re-assuring phone call from fellow zumba enthusiast, Fiona and i ventured out in jeggings.
I needn’t have worried.
We are a class of every age, shape and size. We are also, as i’d never quite clocked before, awash with vpl – and no-one cares.
That possibly feels trivial. It ain’t. A bit more explanation in the next post.
In stitches tonight. And telling myself very sternly: I mustn’t, I mustn’t, I mustn’t laugh AT.. .
Because really I am not.
Its just that of the two dance classes I go to, the Tuesday night one – which is much more aerobics in the style of zumba than pure zumba dance – has always had about it a touch of schooliness, with bad girls at the back and loads of giggling. Far more than the other dancier class, which I usually do on Wednesdays or Fridays or, if feeling especially fit, both.
Tonight was no exception and, since an ad in the local papers had filled the hall up with a whole load of newbies, there was an added element of chaos to the proceedings.
First up, my two giggly friends were on fine form. And out of synch. But not consistently so. If they were definitely out of synch with what the dance Mistress (?) was doing then that would be easy: I’d just do the opposite of what they did. But half the time they were and half the time they weren’t and, since the addition of new bodies made it decidedly difficult to see what was going on at the front, I was well out of synch for some proportion of the time.
No harm done, really – apart from the niggling fear that seized one of them that I might inadvertently end up in the kitchen. Not quite such a daft thought, since I was at the far end of the line, with an open hatch to my left. It hadn’t quite occurred to me, but the thought, once out, that I might do some Norman Wisdom-style dive into the area, was enough to set us off AGAIN.
Then there was the young first-timer, who just looked thoroughly alarmed by the entire proceedings. Which was sweet and sad and amusing all at once.
And yet another first-timer who took up position on the front row and managed to be out of synch almost 100% of the time. Not too bad when all you’re doing is stepping off on your right foot when everyone else is starting left: seriously scary when most of the class is moving rapidly two steps to the right – and you’re doing the same, but leftwards.
All good innocent fun – she didn’t appear in the least abashed by it – and more than enough to lift my spirits for a short hour on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday.
And its not as though I don’t make my own fair share of mis-steps. I’m better at this movement lark than when I started – but there are still numbers that leave me struggling, which is a large part of the enjoyment of it.
No-one is especially brilliant – and even if some of those just starting have some (literal!) faux pas to make yet, they are no different to the mis-steps that all the rest of us have made, keep making.
Tonight’s dance cul-de-sac, for me, was a routine to a song by Shakira. It involved making vaguely football-related steps, which I think I objected to on principle. Still, I remained puzzled: why were we doing football moves to this song.
Er: because this was the last world cup song? The taller of my giggly friends suggests.
Oh! So it really has something to do with football?
Sadly, yes. Which may be why it is the song to which I continue to flounder.
This is meant to be a bit of a reply to a piece over on the Feministing site, which had me slightly puzzled. Also a riposte to what I have been noticing of late: a sort of eeyore tendency amongst some quarters of the trans community which seems to mix gloom and political in-fighting in almost equal measure.
But first of all, its about dancing.
On Wednesday I was out, yet again, zumba’ing. Glorious! Especially glorious this week because about four numbers in I sort of realised that I wasn’t step perfect: but I was doing pretty well.
All those weeks of going over the same moves, feeling like a total two-left-footed idiot, then doing it all over again, seem finally to be paying off. I’m sure I’m still lacking loads in style but: suddenly I’m ahead of the music. Or on top of it.
I can feel what comes next. So I’m moving and dancing and REALLY dancing. Going with the music, floating with the music. Just about competent enough to improvise ever so slightly.
And the JOY! The sheer, blood-tingling joy of that sense: of being there with the music; of being in the middle of a class of women, not the best, not the worst either. For a moment I was overwhelmed. I could have danced with the happiness of it. Except I was already.
I almost cried, and they’d have been tears of utter happiness.
That is what dance is about. And life. And music. And, if you’re feeling especially philosophical about it, just being.
Not that I am that brilliant at dance: I only get to this stage after weeks of practice, and a couple of numbers further on – the one with the peculiar kick-change in it – has me smiling again at my own wrong-footedness.
Though even that is good: knowing that each and every one of us in the line at the back of the class are good at some stuff, hopeless at some, and encouraging one another, rather than trying to be “best”.
Which brings me back, with a bump, to the community. First off is the blog over in Feministing, which seems to be trying to argue that we shouldn’t follow a “tragic narrative”: that there’s a lot for us trans types to be happy about; but then proceeds to tell a sad story along the way.
I’m not sure whether I get that or not. I can sort of see what the writer is doing. She’s trying to say things aren’t that bad really: that we shouldn’t play to the general popular myth that we are all figures of tragedy, to be pitied before anything else. Its just it feels like the author ends up falling ever so slightly into their own trap.
And then there’s various comments I read from time to time from other trans women. “Woe is me”, or “woe is us” type stuff. Or if its not that, its just getting revoltingly po-faced and serious about the nature of who we are and what words we’re supposed to use when talking about ourselves.
Living for the moment
And sometimes, often, when I’m faced with this, I just want to share that dance moment. Because I feel that way often: not just dancing, but every day, now. I’ve said it before. Said it today to the psych person: I am alive.
I am alive in a way I wasn’t before and – whilst I’m not planning to quit this mortal coil any time soon – if I went under a bus tomorrow, still, every single day since I started to transition has been a plus. Even the bad ones. Because I am dealing with each day as me. As Jane.
So I am in love with and in awe of even the simplest of things, from the banalest of banale conversations on the bus, to the joy of brushing my hair out in the morning.
Blissed out? Probably.
Of course I’d rather I wasn’t trans. I wish I’d been born as I should have been. But then life would have been 100% different and…oh, I’m falling into philosophy again.
Sometimes we just need to stop thinking: to kick back and enjoy what we have.
Yes. God, or nature, or society or genes or something played a cruel trick on us. Just as ditto plays cruel tricks on all manner of people, from those brought low by a crippling illness, to those born with some disadvantage of body, or place or family.
And they get on and live in a way that sometimes puts our own eeyore tendency to shame.
It would be lovely if our entire lives had been perfect. They weren’t. But what I have now is life and joy and inner happiness – and I intend to live it to the full.
I do love my dancing. Its fun, joyful, good-natured stuff: a room full of women, some fit, some not, bouncing around to the commercial rhythm of zumba.
Two classes, actually: the delightful Siobhan, who is an absolute natural to lead a dance class, and reminds me of “Sally Bowles” at her most playful on-stage; and Cheryl, who is a bit more matter of fact and aerobics instructress-y.
So. Its fun. And in the last couple of weeks, I feel as though its making a difference. Though not quite as much as if I’d transitioned earlier. (Cause then i’d just be a super-dancer!)
Imagine: pre-transition, I lost 4/4-and-a-half stone dead weight. Good call, health wise, but left me looking like I’d had a particularly bad attack of stretch marks. Then, slowly, bit by bit, the dance has worked its magic. I’m still a bit stretched, but not by much.
On Monday, I did Siobhan’s dance class and.. .i am starting to get the moves…starting ever so slightly to improvise around them. And my tummy is not exactly flat, but its decidedly toned.
(Note to anyone out there reading this: any tips for improving suppleness at the waist and pulling my waist in at the sides?).
Tonight, back to Cheryl’s. Not quite so fun. As I said: more aerobic than dance…but some dance all the same. And good-natured when Cheryl has most of the class turning right and one embarrassed lone woman (half the time, me!) is turning left.
I stay to the back of the class (cause I’m tall), which means sharing my space with a couple of much younger women. Younger, giggly women!
The cool down at the end was hilarious, mostly because the pair weren’t taking it seriously. One (Monica?) had forgotten her exercise mat and was trying to use her hoodie as floor covering. Only she kept tangling, with the main result that she looked like nothing less than a pink hobbit. This set her off, as Cheryl was instructing us on the finer points of placing one foot on the opposite knee, then linking our hands through the gap to support both legs (it probably only makes sense if you DO exercise regularly).. .
.. . and that set her friend off.. .
.. .which set me off. This was definitely silly schoolgirl territory and I half expected at any moment for Cheryl to call over: “You three! Stay behind after class and write out 50 times ‘I must not snigger during crunch time’”
I was in a good mood (can you tell?). Earlier we were doing a step which required us to be on tiptoes and then raise our arms in the air and extend our fingers. Oh, so elegant!
Except I was standing under one of the fans that had been turned on to cool us down. “Ow! What the…?”
I realised, just in time, that I had been about to give myself an impromptu nail trim.
Monica spotted and burst out laughing. Her friend inquired what was so funny. “Oh”, says Monica: “she just caught her fingers on the fan”.
Yay! Correctly gendered with no hint whatsoever of political correctness, family pressure or.. .well.. . anything. Sometimes, in public spaces, work spaces, political spaces I wonder if remembering to gender me as female is ever so slightly forced. So when someone gets it right without the least hint of the above… does it reflexly, without being asked… it still gives me a certain glow inside.
Luckily, no real damage to my fingers: and a massive boost to my self-confidence.
I do keep saying I’ll get back to dance – and then I never quite do. Last week wasn’t altogether a success, although I put that down mostly to the weather.
The problem? It was hot, clammy, humid. So, whilst my dance prowess seems, at last, to be beginning to come together and I am actually anticipating many of our lovely instructor’s moves…I was quite quickly feeling ill.
That and…the boobs, again! We’re obviously in the middle of some sort of growing phase. Last night, I noticed that the B-cup, which for so long had been ever-so-slightly ill-fit is now full. Quite full. And therefore at this rate of progress, C is definitely on the cards.
That’s the good stuff. The real downside is that along with the rapid growth come growing pains, the like of which I haven’t had before. Or maybe I have, but differently.
Anyway. I now find myself hugging my chest if I have to run up or down stairs. Swearing at any clumsy passer-by who looks like they are about to back into me on the tube. And generally treating them like precious crystal.
And dance. Last week, not even a fairly tight fit crop top would do the job. So to the general discomfort from it being hot and sweaty, add the fact that every time I did anything that caused the slightest jiggle, my instant instinct was to clutch my chest. Which of course, i couldn’t: not in a hall filled with other women, anyway.
So about 15 minutes in, I wimped out and went and sat down. I felt faint and for a few hours that day I worried ever so slightly about my past heart condition. Irony of ironies if that decided to resurface shortly after I had the go-ahead on surgery.
But I think not. Everyone was uncomfortable. After about five minutes I was back on my feet and moving again and by the end of the lesson I felt like I was enjoying myself. Once more. Fiona, my delightful confidante and partner in dance was just about surviving. And Siobhan, our instructor looked like she’d taken a shower with her clothes on.
Humidity. That’s the problem. Humidity and fast-growing boobs.
Siobhan advised tighter tops and stuffing savoy cabbage leaves down them. I think she’s serious and I can sort of see the point as therapeutic treatment. But an hour of dance with cabbage next to your skin. Eeeeyuw! I can see how that is going to end: badly, with icky green bits all over the floor.
I’ll take it easy – and watch out for the hot and sticky days in future.
I must, I must…sooner or later… do what I keep promising myself: and that is sit down and write a bit more about my leisure activity. To wit: my dancing. Zumba classes and the like.
For now, though, just two small learnings from this evening’s class, to prove one’s never too old to find out new stuff.
First off, I learnt that I must remember to change out of my day bra before hurling myself into hot and sweaty dance exercise. The darn thing isn’t uncomfortable: but it sure as hell is not designed for the sort of exertion that Cheryl (our dance Mistress) puts us thru.
So. It wasn’t comfy. But I congratulated myself on successfully doing that slippy sort of thing, where you pull the bra strap down your sleeve and out at the wrist.
For about two seconds. After which I realized that with one strap down, I was suddenly jiggling quite alarmingly: and now the other strap was doing its best to slip out of its own accord. Bad idea.
I decided to leave well alone, and finish the class slightly embarrassed, but at least with around 50% of my modesty still intact.
Second learning – and this is the one that deserves the “well I never” tag – is about muscle memory. Huh? That is, the habit your body has of slipping into old ways, and over-ruling any new training you try and impose.
The problem is: whenever we do any dance move that leads on, say, the right leg, I move my right arm to go with it. Or vice-versa: I pair left leg and left arm.
That is wrong. Think about marching. People pair opposite arm and leg. As does every other woman in the dance class.
I do my best to over-rule it, but for some reason my body seems to think it knows better. Total mystery.
Until tonight, chatting with Cheryl. Had I learnt something in the past that would explain it, she asked.
No, I … wait a minute! About the only sport I ever did well or a lot of was ice skating and…as you limber up for speed, get into your stride, you pair same side arm and leg. Omigod! I never realized. And yet its that single habit that’s made me so ungainly in so many situations since.
Boing! I’ve learnt something both interesting and, for me, quite significant.
Now, if only I could learn how to be that much less stiff when we move…I’d be laughing.