Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In this place, in this activity, I am not disabled.

I'm going to get a bit social model on you folks today.

I 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.

I 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.

All that 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 and emulators.

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.


Ali said...

This is how I feel about dancing, too.

Brenda Rothman (Mama Be Good) said...


Steph said...

This is a wonderful post - thank you so much!

SennurUSA said...

That is so wonderful. My husband always been afraid to dance and doesn't do so well. I always suggested we go take classes together because I think he would do well once he realizes what it takes. I am going to share this with him. Thank you Kassiane.

Chickenpig said...

This is a beautiful post.

How you feel about dancing is how I feel about swimming. I don't have to interact with anyone, I am weightless and free and comfortable in my body.

Anonymous said...

This is why I Contradance. It is one of the few places/times when I can touch other people without reservation. There is hand-holding and there are swings. I don't do well with random touch from strangers or most acquaintances but I am fine with choreographed touch in Contradance and I feel like a genuine part of the social event, so long as the music is playing.

BiolArtist said...

Excellent post!

I was reminded of it when I met a man with cerebral palsy at the SJ Bike Party last month. There, he was just the dude with the sweet recumbent trike and giant sideburns.