I used to go two-stepping, back when I lived in Boston. I loved it while I did it, and remember fondly the evenings I so spent.
My pleasure in that activity was contingent upon several premises, perhaps least among them the fact that the activity was explicitly and deliberately tobacco and alcohol-free (the organizers included several gentlemen in recovery, but there was also the frisson of my grandmother’s WCTU activity, as well as the subject-matter of the thesis I was writing at the time). Perhaps next among them was the explicit rule that one had to accept a dance partner once, but only once. This equilibrated much of the scan-and-model horseshit that bedevils gay social interactions. But most of all there was the pure physical joy in controlled movement. Ballroom dancing is fun no matter how you do, and there is no substitute for hitting one’s stride – downbeat and cross-hitch – shod in a pair of fine chestnut boots of a Friday evening.
It was only some years later that I learned to problematize this activity, to regret it, and ultimately to mourn that I have had to set it aside.
Much as I have had to mourn setting aside Uncle Remus stories. The two things being ineluctably tied up in narratives of white supremacy.
It is an unfortunate thing, especially given that there is nothing (so far as I know) inherent to the genre of country-western music that involves one in reciting the canonical tenets of racial dogma. Sexism, sure — that pretty much goes with the territory. But racism? It’s not a requirement.
And yet it is. It took me moving to Texas to realize this. That two-stepping, so much a part of the Texas bar scene, revealed what had been obscured when I undertook the activity uprooted (as it were) from its native soil. That everything about C&W is poison. All of it. From the gender dynamics to the hearkening back to a pastoral idyll made possible only, always only and always utterly, by the exploitation of black bodies.