Dance Parties and Queer Peer Pressure

I have a confession to make: I don’t dance. I don’t know how — that whole “just move your body, feel the music” thing always infuriated me because I just don’t get it — and I don’t like it. I feel so self-conscious. Dance parties literally terrify me. The worst part is that the dance parties are often such a central part of the queer party scene — in a more organized sense (Chicago has Chances Dances weekly, Queerer Park and FKA monthly, and Berlin all the time, just to name a few) and in the “and then it devolves into a dance party” sense. And that’s not who I am.

That isn’t to say that I don’t go to queer and trans events that are, or will have, dance parties. I certainly have in the past, and I sometimes even enjoy myself (with liberal application of time, good company, and/or strong drinks). I even occasionally go to non-trans/queer events that involve dancing. But that beforehand part — getting myself out the door and to the dance party (club / event with music at which people may dance) — is awful, and I hate it. It’s something I dread, each and every time.

I’m not saying that there’s anything intrinsically connecting queerness and dancing; they just seem to go hand-in-hand frequently. I wish there were more opportunities to spend time with queer people that didn’t involve dancing. I suppose that I actually wish I enjoyed dancing — that would make things so much easier — but failing that, it would be nice it if didn’t seem like such a near-necessity.

It makes me feel so weird, so other, and not in a good way. Who doesn’t like to dance? That’s what people do when there’s music, right? Everyone else seems so excited about chances to dance. I feel like I’m missing out — I know I’m missing out. I see photos of friends dancing in Chicago (A/S/L, anyone?); I hear about people dancing in Minneapolis . . . and I wish that I were part of that, on a more removed level, at the same time that the mere idea makes me hugely anxious.

It’s not as though there is actual, deliberate peer pressure regarding dancing. No one’s intentionally trying to push me to do anything I don’t want to do. People won’t stop being my friends if I don’t want to go out to dance parties. It just seems like something I should do.

I first thought about it as a matter of (unintentional) peer pressure at a Genderqueer Chicago meeting, one about the ways in which we compromise in which to have community. Or, perhaps, the ways in which we lose out on opportunities because we do not compromise. I just wish I were a dance party sort of person, and I wish I didn’t feel the need to be that kind of person — and I don’t know which I want more.

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2 responses to “Dance Parties and Queer Peer Pressure

  1. I find that I enjoy dancing the most when I feel most comfortable and confident about myself and my body. If I find myself conscious about whether I’m moving right or that I look weird (or anything else, like I’m fat), then I get uncomfortable, and I probably look uncomfortable, and I don’t enjoy dancing anymore, even if I had moments before. So, by extension, if you have ever felt uncomfortable in your body, you may feel uncomfortable about dancing.

    Also, the best advice for most things is to just be yourself. Who cares whether or not you are a dance party kind of person – I like you for who you are. If you are happy dancing, then dance. If you are happy not dancing, then don’t dance. And forget about FOMO – if you went and “didn’t miss out,” you probably wouldn’t have all that much fun if it’s not something you like to do. You are probably attracted to the happiness, carefree attitude and ease they give off, rather than the actual dancing.

    Honestly, you’re probably not the only queer or trans person who doesn’t like dancing, and they probably wish dancing weren’t so linked with the identity. Although there’s a fine line of balancing diversity within a movement while retaining unity, liking dance isn’t part of defining oneself as queer or trans. Admittedly, as an outsider who hasn’t thought about this as much as you, it seems like part of the identity is feeling able to express who you are, regardless of your physicality or other factors, including societal pressure. If that’s true, then you should be able to express who you are as a non-dancer without feeling pressure. Think of this as an opportunity to show that that is true by creating other events to mix with other queer and trans people who don’t want to dance or who don’t want to only dance.

    Just my 2 cents. ❤

  2. I agree that you shouldn’t feel like you “have” to dance to fit into the community-and considering that this community, for goodness sake, is supposed to be the epitomy of open minded and welcoming, etc, etc, and letting everyone express and define their own individual identity, then if you are feeling any pressure to do a certain (not particularly important) activity just to fit into it, thats not a good thing! I didnt realize that dancing terrified you (wish you had told me-I knew you didnt like it but I didnt realize that it was to this extent), but I would also say, not everyone loves to dance. And it is true too that you have to be comfortable with your body to enjoy dancing, which is something that you might find to be more true in a couple months than you do now. But regardless of that, some people just dont like to dance. And there is nothing wrong with that. If it makes you feel anxious and terrified, just keep standing up for your right not to dance if you dont want to. Im sure Ive been one of the people pushing you to dance-so I am sorry for that! I didnt realize exactly how strongly you felt about it, so I’m glad I know now. Nightclubs have been the center of alternative sexualities and genders for a long time, so it is not surprising that there is a strong dance component to the community. Its also often thought of as a free expression of self-that the individual who dances is not as “inhibited” as those who dont. And that is a stereotype, because you are not an inhibited person! So stand by your guns. Maybe at some point you will like dancing. Maybe you never will. And maybe you can start your own event (board games? Coffee time? Potluck? Culinary Madness?) for other folks who dont care to dance all the time. After all, even those of us who love dancing like a little variety.

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