For most of my life I hated dancing. I can count on one hand the number of times I danced prior to my transition, and those were at the insistence of my wife when I was married. But then at the ripe old age of 53 I finally became enlightened and discovered how amazing it is to dance.
Before I transitioned, dancing for me was sheer torture because I felt totally awkward and uncomfortable. Looking back I can see how my gender struggles played a large role in that; I wasn’t comfortable with myself or my body and I just wanted to live in the shadows and not be seen, and dancing put me out there where everyone could see me. I viewed dancing as something very intimate and personal and I envied people who were comfortable enough to be able to express themselves through dance, to be able to show people that part of themselves. But I just accepted that it was one of those things I’d never be able to do and left it at that.
Even the first few years after transitioning I never danced; I was still trying to figure out my place in the world and struggling with a lack of self-confidence. But then I moved to Portland and my life changed in so many unexpected ways. One of my goals in moving to Portland was to develop a social life, so I went out and made friends and found a fun club to hang out at. As I grew more comfortable socially I actually began to loosen up and one thing led to another and I ended up on the dance floor making out with a beautiful woman while we danced. That was an epiphany for me and there was no turning back, especially after I moved to Los Angeles!
Living in Los Angeles has been quite an experience in many ways, but one of the most significant things that happened was that I discovered I loved to dance. Up to that point it was just something I occasionally did, but the clubs in Los Angeles were so much fun and got me out on the dance floor more often and showed me how amazing it is to let yourself go and dance with passion. To have that freedom to just let go is a wonderful thing. I spent an amazing evening dancing with a trans woman I had just met and had what was a very memorable night at TGirl Nights at Hamburger Mary’s in Long Beach. And I had some fun nights dancing at The Abbey in West Hollywood, although I’m not sure it actually qualifies as dancing because it’s more like you’re just moving along with the mass of people on the dance floor. But the place I danced the most and is near and dear to my heart is Club Shine in Van Nuys; that is where I learned to relax and let go and enjoy moving to the music. I don’t feel the need to always be up front on the dance floor, I’m perfectly content to hang in the back and just dance to the music by myself. There are moments when it strikes me that I’m happily dancing away and having fun doing my own thing, and how amazing that is; how far I’d come from those days of being too scared to dance and show that part of myself to anyone. It’s moments like those that make all the sacrifices and losses worth it; when I get a glimpse of the person I’ve always dreamed of being and to realize it’s actually happened.
I’ve also learned to appreciate dancing as an art form and enjoy watching those who have dedicated themselves to dancing and to see the results of their hard work. Many of the clubs in Los Angeles feature strippers, which never really interested me all that much, but then I saw Rose perform at Club Shine and I was blown away. I had never seen that degree of gracefulness and athleticism she shows in her dancing, and I was captivated. The way she dances is truly an art form, and I would love to learn to be able to dance like that. And her incredible body provides a great source of inspiration for me to push myself when I work out.
I had been wanting to photograph Rose dancing for a while and finally did it last fall, and got some pictures I was really pleased with. And as for pictures of me dancing, there are no known pictures of me dancing as far as I know, which is probably a good thing!
I also watched the show Flesh and Bone, about a ballet company in New York, and fell in love with how graceful and elegant ballet was. Up to that point I had thought ballet it seemed to be so dull and boring, but I just wasn’t seeing the beauty of it. I have a newfound respect and admiration for dancers and the all the time and effort they put in to master a difficult art form and make it look so effortless. Dancing had never interested me at all, in any form, but now I wish I had developed an interest in it when I was younger and could have had the opportunity to learn. I will admit I’ve been working out harder and stretching more and studying dance moves from YouTube, and I’ve been surprised with the results. There is hope! So if anyone out there wants to teach me pole dancing I’ll happily accept!
So, that is the story of how my love of dancing has evolved over the years. While it’s a minor thing in the large scheme of things, it represents something extremely meaningful to me. It represents growth and hope and shows that anything is possible. It shows we all have untapped potential which is just waiting for an opportunity to be expressed.