That's only one form of dancing with yourself, though. There's another way to dance by yourself, and that's to close the doors and draw the blinds and clear out a space of your very own. Put music on the computer, the stereo, the ipod. Listen to it, and dance.
There are similarities between club dancing and solitary dancing. The movements are oft the same, flailing arms and legs, shaking hips, jumping and bouncing and twirling around. But solitary...solitary I can shake off even that last pervasive edge of people thinking I look like an idiot. I can move by myself, and I can move for myself. That's important, moving *for* oneself. It means I'm not afraid to get a little silly.
I was doing it some last night, having a melancholy evening filled with Vienna Teng. Her song "Between" is actually an excellent waltz, or cross-step waltz.. I've danced it by myself half a dozen times since the last time I was lucky enough to have a partner. It's becoming one of those songs, where you know every line and note and chord, that you just don't want to share anymore. Cross-step can be adequately danced alone --you just have to not fear swooping a little more than intended.
I also danced to her song "The Tower", which I had never danced before. This is the really interesting part of dancing all alone, to random songs from my 10k+ collection. What kinds of movements get paired with what songs, and with what moods. It's not always the same, after all.
The Tower surprised me by being sharp. I found myself moving in ways reminiscent of the two years I spent doing kung-fu --no actual figures or forms worked into my dance, but the flow reminded me, the quick steps, the give and take of the arms. I'd like to dance it again, to see if that's always the case. Ah, but finding a space where I can dance alone is not always easy --sure the stage at school works, but not if the auditorium is locked, or full.
I always feel different after I do it. It heals, it stabilizes, and yes sometimes it reopens old wounds. Regardless of the mood in which I start, and the mood in which I finish, dancing solitary always makes me feel whole, feel like myself and only myself. Not too shabby for some made-up moves strung together on impulse.
1: Technically I believe they were meant to be fans. But they looked like jellyfish! And tasted delicious.
2: I later talked to at least one other --the reason she provided was that she went to so many balls that were so female skewed that this was the only way she could be sure of A) getting to dance at all and B) dancing with good dancers --there is a lot more choice available to gents than to ladies. It was neat to talk to her though!
Easily the most frustrating part about being dancequeer is constantly having to come up with rebuttals against all the justifications and explanations and reasons why I shouldn't dance across genders, or why I shouldn't dance with other men/other women1.
I consider many of these to be bullshit --I refuse to even bother arguing with anything that smacks of homophobia or trans(queer)phobia-- but every once in a while, someone comes up with a justification for my dancing "normal" that I am actually willing to entertain. One of the most understandable of these is the idea of "think of the newbies": When you dance cross-gender, especially if your partner is also dancing cross gender, you lose the convineince of "go to the lady's side of the dance" or "trade places with the gentleman you're facing".
I understand what it's like to be a new dancer. It's confusing to remember who stands where, and when, especially when it's not consistent. And I believe in extending every support possible to new dancers, to keep them excited for the danceform. After all, if your new dancer finds themself easily confused or frustrated, they'll be less interested, less likely to return.
But only to a certain point, and that's where it gets difficult. Where do we draw the line between "new dancer, who should be coddled" and "experienced dancer, who can deal with wackiness"? I am willing to make the sacrifice of dancing "normal" in order to help out people who have never danced before. I'm willing to make the sacrifice for people who have only danced once or twice. But where does it end? Most dance forms don't have magical level tests you must pass to determine whether or not you are "experienced", and even if they did, experience from skill level is very different from experience from time spent doing the form.
Additionally, is it misleading to dance normal for a new person, especially in a group that doesn't regularly do that, or has a regular population of ambidancetrous or rolequeer2 persons? After all, the status quo for that specific population is to have certain people dance against the norm. If they all dance normal for newbies, then will the newbies be more confused when suddenly people start switching roles again?
Tech Squares, at MIT, seems to have struck a fair balance, in part by dividing their dances into club-only --experienced dancer-- tips, and teaching, or class tips. In the club tips, a little more excitement happens, people dance in hexes instead of squares, or snap-switch places and roles in the middle of a dance, as well as just relax a little more about what genders and roles they are. Because newbies are often present, they get to see that this is a regular thing among the club, but they aren't overwhelmed while actually trying to learn the figures themselves.
Additionally, I've found the population of Tech Squares to be very good about naming their gender when the call requires it. "Boys run around the girls" is often met with the person next to you declaring "boy" as they run around you, to save confusion, just like Load the Boat has people declaring "inside" or "outside" and complex partner-switching figures leading to the person returning home informing their new partner "side" or "head". This provides an excellent cue, and helps direct dancers, new and old, to where they need to go.
It's a hard balance, and most places I've danced aren't nearly as well-arranged to meet both the needs of the new dancers and the dancequeer dancers. So I request advice --how do you easily mark out to those who might otherwise get lost, which side of the dance is which?
 I use this structure specifically to cover instances when I am dressed as and dancing as a man (which I do at Regency events) and instances where I am dressed as and dancing as a woman (which I do at SCD and other formal dance events)
 In case it's not very obvious, I am making up words for this blog as I see fit. I use queer as a non-pejorative term to mean not normal, specifically in terms of dancing your expected role for your apparent gender.