I'm going to get a bit social model on you folks today.
used to do gymnastics, and I dance. I participate in 4 kinds of dance
and am therefore dancing 5 days a week. This isn't something I did when I
was young, I'm not particularly musical, so what draws me to it?
This is something I've had to think about a lot with the access issues and intentionally harmful lying about access
of the Portland swing dance/lindy hop community in particular. And, not
only that, but sometimes dancing hurts. Belly dance class makes my old
gymnast knees hurt. I've got bruises in new, exciting places from
modern. Ballet makes me hurt everywhere. And if my back, knee, or ankle
doesn't already hurt come Saturday night? Well, that's what swing dance
is for, right? But I cannot give it up.
Part of that may be this:
When I am dancing, I am not disabled.
am still Autistic when I am dancing, possibly at my most
Autistic-sometimes I am a being of pure joy and sensation while I
dance-this is what gymnastics did for me, & that is what I am trying
to recapture, I think. I still have epilepsy and my other various
cooties. Not a single thing within me changed. My neurology is the same.
My physicality is the same. I am the same.
changed is my environment, and the expectations it has for me. The
expectation is that I can move with the music in a specific way. I can
move with the music in those specific ways, and I can do it at an
average or better proficiency. When the language is movement, when the
social cues are the leading and following of the whole body rather than
of subtleties, I am on even footing. I may not exactly shine, but I am
also not struggling, not having to run everything through translators
In the environment of pure movement, I
am not Other. And I love and accept and embrace my Autistic self with my
whole heart and soul, but it is restful to be Same for a couple hours.
It is restful to have a place where things are easy, where I am seen as
equal, as like, as same without fighting for it.
Because in that place with the mirrors and the hardwood floors, I am not disabled. I am just another dancer.