I went into this last weekend tired, stressed and so unsure of myself and the future. I’ve come out the other side of it reborn and ready to accept the good things in this world once again. “Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart” was a big part of the song Tigress & I danced to in the Big Moves show, “En Masse” in Oakland on Saturday and Sunday and it was just that, following my heart. My heart did not lead me astray. I was surrounded by my fat community, by artists, by performers, by activists and so much love!
I really did not know what to expect in response to the performance. I’d been to Big Moves shows before and have always been moved in a myriad of ways by them. This one, though? This one felt bigger, more radical and just so much more, somehow. It all felt more daring to me somehow. Some of the numbers emFATic DANCE did this year were surprising and so fabulous! Specifically a Metallica number that gave me chills at dress rehearsal. I watched it three or four times and it just touches part of my old metalhead soul. 😉 Also, how fucking powerful it was to see thirteen powerful, confident fat women dancing to music so hard and unforgiving! SO GOOD!!!
The backstage scene was also interesting to me. It had it’s own energy. It made everything so urgent and fantastic! So many smiles and old rituals and last minute details and tidying. It was it’s own dance. And I did not hear a single negative body remark…over 20 performers and nothing but pure body positivity, baby! All glitter and eyeliner, all ruffles and polka dots, cleavage, belly rolls and booootaaaaay! I have never had so many people tell me to break my legs in my life! Ha-ha!
Our performance was the third in the first act. As I waited in the wings I stretched and focused on my breathing. I wasn’t nervous, I was calm and focused. As our music started and we moved into place, the world fell away and I connected with my dance partner. We were on a plane all our own. We floated and twirled and transcended what anyone ever thought of us before. We were two single, fat women, over 35, independent and fearless! We performed from our hearts and our minds. We fueled our steps and our flare with our deep love and spirit of activism in every reach and clutching hand.
As the lights faded with the music, we grasped each others hands in victory. We knew what we’d accomplished flies in the face of so much hate in the world. Backstage, we hugged and toasted to ourselves and future performances. It wasn’t until we were backstage after our number that I was shaking like a leaf with nerves, go figure. After the show we were encouraged to go out to the lobby to talk with those in attendance (okay, they actually said, “Go out and greet your fans!”). The first night my bff Jery was waiting at the top of the stairs for me, bouquet of flowers in his arms. It was his reaction and possible criticism I feared most, but I also trusted that he’s be real. He was and I love him for it. His one little tip did seem to distract from my missteps and dazzle instead. 😉
That “Special Geek” I’ve previously mentioned here (yeah, we’re still “a thing” though not entirely sure what that is yet but gosh he makes me so happy), was there, smiling and waiting for me, too. He loved my performance and seemed so sincere and happy to be next to me. My friends, “The Trio” surprised me by attending as well, they had a previous engagement but tore themselves away just long enough to see me! And my lifelong bff Steph was there for the first act but had to attend to her sick kitty (Love you, girl!). I felt so loved and supported and just…relieved! Ha-ha! No, it wasn’t terrible but that first big performance was quite intimidating. And to have some of my nearest and dearest see it live my first time on stage in seventeen years?!?! Yeah…a big deal!
I was encouraged to mingle, but I don’t know how! Ha-ha! I was already overwhelmed by the compliments and kindness given to me by friends, fellow fatties, acquaintances and more. To hear people I admire so much say that they are proud of me and lucky to know me?! Well, my head just about exploded, ya know?! That night I couldn’t sleep! I was wired and just happy! I accepted B’s invite for a nightcap at his place and got in some time with the puggyman as well as some therapeutic Mario Kart! The following morning I was sore, but ready for more! My bags already packed and just a quick visit with B & the puggyman for some coffee before I hit the road. It was a sunny and lovely day. When I got backstage the stage manager took me aside to tell me that she’d loved my performance, that she’d been dancing for years and that I was a dancer and that I had no choice, I must keep on dancing. I couldn’t believe it! I thought for sure she was going to give me a tip or technical instruction about entering or exiting the stage (I nearly hit the wall the first night).
More people said such lovely things to me about my dancing. I was sort of in shock. The “Special Geek” emailed me that morning, “You were amazing last night, it was a really beautiful performance. I’m really pleased I got to see it! Congratulations, and good luck for tonight :)” which had me smiling so big! Friends, too, text me encouraging words and love. Next thing you know we’re huddling with everyone before the doors open and the energy was once again high. Everyone was tired, many went out or simply stayed up late the night before. But we were all ready and excited for the show to start. This time as our music started and I saw Tigress enter across the stage, I became nervous. I don’t know that it affected my dancing, but I felt off balance as a result. But taking Jery’s advice, I smiled at a critical point in the song and stayed smiling through to the end. People seemed to notice. Thanks, Jery! 😉
After the show I was met in the lobby by B, Q and P…bff’s for life! B gave me the most beautiful mixed bouquet of flowers, featuring all of my favorites. We met up back in the south bay and had dinner together. Q had rented a fancy lens for her camera and had been taking these great and funny pics of P & B before the show. Inspired by my retro chic outfit (and no doubt my exuberant mood), she directed me to places and poses and took some awesome shots of me as well. We all goofed around a bit and laughed a lot and it was just what I needed!
I do not know what my future holds, in dance or other wise. But I do know that I am proud to have had the opportunity to perform in “En Masse” with some of my favorite and such talented people. I want to continue to dance, even if just for myself. (It’s done wonders for my knee and my posture.) I loved being a small part of something so much bigger than myself. To do the very thing I’m not supposed to do! I loved hearing from friends how surprised they were, how unexpected the performance was. Perhaps they were expecting booty shaking from me, I certainly don’t refrain often, but this was from a different place for me. This was a lifetime of not feeling like I fit in, no matter how much I worked or tried. This was from the poor kid who never could stack up. This was from the girl too shy to tell her crush she even existed. No, this was from the proud, confidant and beautiful rad fatty that I have become because of all of that and those who love and support me.
I do feel as though this was a major turning point for me. This was me facing a fear and conquering it once and for all. This was me doing something right out of my dreams and outside my comfort zone. I could not be more pleased. Watching the video of Saturday’s performance now I see something created out of nothing. I see weeks of work and discussion and worrying coming to fruition. Tigress and I weren’t sure we could choreograph the entire thing on our own at one point, but then we just did. I am so proud of us! It wasn’t easy with our different schedules and living far from one another, but it was all worth it in the end. And with that I present the following video to you (Tigress is on the right, I am on the left, at the beginning of the piece):
*I suggest looking up the lyrics if you’re interested, it’s a beautiful song and has helped me in the past, thanks to Tigress. 😉