Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lead | Follow | To Inspire and Surprise

About twice a week, my friends and I go dancing at Seattle's favorite country western tavern, The Little Red Hen. We love it, and the Hen loves us. While confirming an identity and fueling your spirit is tricky business, it has become clear to me that the dancefloor of this small neighborhood bar is a place to do those two things.

I love to dance and I love music. My friends know this, and I want you to know this. I performed with a rockbilly band for years, and have made certain I am on a dancefloor in front of a band ever since my time on stage went on hiatus. Sadly, my taste in music doesn't quite match up with the sounds you'd hear at Seattle's gay nightclubs. Sundays at The Cuff are my only glimmer of a merge between the music I love and the freedom I seek in nightlife. So, I opt for the Hen. This, in return, means I opt to hang with straight folks most nights.

This summer, however, has offered up a steady stream of surprises that have brightened my outlook on life, on love, and on people's ability to open their minds and hearts to new things at unexpected times and in unexpected places.

My new friend John is the first of many male friends who was willing to give two-stepping a try at the Hen. And not only give it a try...but give it a try with ME. Its a place young gay guys would probably not think of visiting...namely because this very same type of bar in my hometown would have been prime venue for haters and hurters of our kind. But, on a whim I thought "what the hell...this is Seattle!" so I invited Johnny to learn the two-step. He, of course, had the steps in his back pocket after a few laps around the pool table in back, and we soon found our spot on the dancefloor. After our very first dance to the fabulous Ruby Dee and the SnakeHandlers, we not only managed to make it through the song without a stumble or stomp on one another's feet, but found Ruby stopping the band between songs to announce her excitement by initiating a round of applause to celebrate the first boys she's ever seen dance together at the Hen. What happened at that moment felt about as good as anything could feel. For the rest of the night, we were approached by folks to meet and greet us, and tell us how happy they were that we were out there dancing together. They'd give us smiles, affirming nods and thumbs up from across the room...even hugs after each song. Confirming our addiction, we've gone back night after night - and danced song after song.

I'm telling you this because it means so much to me; it means more than finishing graduate school, and more than getting the second sleeve to fit right on the first try. The women I dance with at the Hen are a dream, and wonderful partners in fun and crime. But following the hetero mold is troublesome sometimes, and can feel dishonest and unfair. Knowing what you want to do, and knowing you can't do it is aweful and heartbreaking. I wear what I want to wear. And now I have learned that I can dance with who I want to dance, and everything will be ok.

To you folks out there who actively make others feel welcome and loved: Thank you. To bands who keep playing: Thank you! To Miss Ruby Dee: Thank you! To the folks at the Hen who didn't bat an eyelash, or quickly let their lids relax after seeing a change in the weather : Thank you! To Johnny for being such an excellent follow: Thank you! My faith in people and hope for real, steady and genuine freedom has been restored.

Long.... long.... quick quick....long....long....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long, long, quick-quick! You make these moves all look so easy, Mike, when I know they aren't, physically and emotionally. Those brave actions pay off immensely. So happy for you. xo, Sarah

9:53 AM  
Blogger John said...

I promptly printed out your entry and will put it in a scrapbook that I may have one day:)
I am really going to miss our dancing days together, but I'm sure we will see each other again sooner than later. Take care of yourself handsome!

12:08 PM  
Anonymous coryallen said...

Glad to see you're still dancing. I convinced a lesbian couple to dance at a wedding, same reaction. :)

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Mr. C said...

This might be your best and most heartfelt post. I know how important dancing is to you, so to have it mesh with so many other equally important elements is lovely. And what a soundtrack behind it all!

9:13 PM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

I've just stumbled across your blog and I'm very glad of it. This entry is beautiful. Seattle makes me want to sigh in disappointment sometimes, but I love it when the city and its people surprise me with something wonderful.

6:00 PM  
Blogger mc said...

thank you, dorothy!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Martin Penner said...

Hooray for the Hen! Hooray for Mike! I miss you.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Martin Penner said...

Hooray for the Hen! Hooray for Mike! I miss you.

5:50 AM  
Anonymous (((codee))) said...

......beautiful..... I closed my eyes an saw you two dancing. Tears of joy man, tears of joy!

2:36 PM  

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