Please Don’t Heart React to This

Artwork by Candace La

by Anonymous


I attended Pride in New York City for the first time and you were there. It is sickening, the number of formative experiences you have ruined, but perhaps this is one that I resent the most. A slick layer of sweat and glitter coated my skin that day. Blue, pink, purple — these colors, the ones that meant something to me then and mean even more to me now, sank into the creases of my eyes, poorly blended perhaps but they were there and they meant something. I drew a heart on my face, tiny and black on the crest of my cheekbone. It was a different time. I know this because I wanted to be seen as soft, as kind, as open to a world that would accept me, me as I am. If I am always on display, if my existence is this form of unwilling performance art to be consumed by men, then that day was the one where my body, my skin, my eyes were not for you, but for the people who are like me. Earlier, and with trepidation, I bought a flag, it was blue and pink and purple, and as difficult as it was I displayed it with the pride that I could muster. You asked me what the colors meant — you didn’t know, why would you have known? I told you it was a representation of me, and it wasn’t even a month later that I would hate that part of myself because of you.


On September 14th, 2019, when the NDCA announced their official change to Rule II.A.6.a, it didn’t matter to me, their reasons why. It didn’t matter to me that the rule changed not out of the recognition of basic human rights but as the result of an impending lawsuit. It didn’t matter to me whether I would compete at BYU Nationals this year, next year, the year after, ten years from now. It only mattered that it was possible, for me, for everyone who has competed same sex, for everyone who has wanted to express a love that dare not speak its name through the art of dance. A door has been opened that cannot be shut. There are so many NDCA competitions every year, and this rule would change them certainly, but BYU Nationals is the epicenter of amateur dancing in the United States, and that means this rule would change the heart of it all. They could not close this door now. 

The queer community constantly reckons with our existence as a form of exchange, and the world of Dancesport is no different. We exist as commodities. We are dollar signs, reflected in the pools of their eyes. We are a marketing campaign. We are good publicity. We are not people who live and love and dance. We are not professionals with careers, or amateurs with ambitions. We are not individuals, not to the NDCA, anyway. 

I’m certainly not going to ask any more of my fellow collegiate dancers. I’m not going to get down on my hands and my knees and ask you to recognize us as people. It is not for us to convince you that this fight is ours; that in order to win, we need your support. I think we’re well beyond that now. Who claims to be our allies? Who has attended our pride socials, dressed in a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors, and told us that we are supported? Who has danced with someone of the same gender and seen it simply as a joke? Who has watched a showdance with men who wear dresses as a punchline? Who has recognized their own complicity in this game?


I am sitting in darkness. You put me there. I am blindfolded. I am bound to the bed — yes, you tied my hands, but I’m also paralyzed by the fear of this. There is a power dynamic here. I’m in a room with both of you, and you’re at least seven years older than me. You were my coach, once upon a time. No, I’m sorry, not once upon a time — it was only two weeks before this. Do you understand? Age is a power dynamic. Experience is a power dynamic. Trust in a teacher by a student — is a power dynamic. Here I am, standing above my body now, and I’m watching this all happen. I’m watching what you are doing to me in the name of your own pleasure, you and your partner, who was not invited to join, but my hands are tied, and suddenly I feel ill. I wish I’d never told you that I was bisexual. Would I be lying here if I never did? Would I regret ever meeting you? And people ask me why I am angry all the time. Do they know this fury simmering inside me? Would they recognize it in themselves? Do they know what it means to be truly powerless? In the meantime, I still lose sleep over the lives I could be leading if I’d never met you. Bisexual women are your sexual commodity. We exist to make your sex life more interesting. We are a solution to your pitiful boredom. You call yourself an ally because you like to have threesomes. Let’s see what kind of ally you are in March.


On November 25th, 2019, shortly after registration for the National Amateur Dancesport Championships opened, it came to our attention that Brigham Young University would be shirking their NDCA sanction for the upcoming national competition. Once no longer sanctioned by the NDCA, the competition is no longer subject to the NDCA rulebook. For our convenience, they made it very clear which rules they were going to ignore. They are these (boldface added for emphasis):

Exception #1: the definition found in NDCA rule II.6.a. will not be used. Instead the following will be applied: “A couple in the traditional Ballroom Dance genre is defined as a male and a female, with the male dancing the part of the lead and the female dancing the part of the follow. This rule applies to all competition classifications and events. Exceptions are not allowed.”

Exception #2: as with all NDCA All-Amateur Events, registration with NDCA will not be required for competitors in all divisions.

Exception #3: eligibility for all Novice and Pre-Championship events will be as listed in NDCA rule X.C.

This is how they choose to erase us. 

As of December 2019, the Rules and Regulations were changed to read as follows:

For many years the NDCA has recognized the value of the all-amateur events that are organized by educational institutions. Such organizations that apply for and receive NDCA recognition are permitted to engage NDCA officials. The NDCA website shows a great many such “Recognized” events on the NDCA All Amateur calendar. This event organized by Brigham Young University is now, by its own choice, no longer sanctioned by NDCA and is not, therefore, subject to the requirements NDCA Rule Book.

The NDCA has had a contract with the American Ballroom Company since 1970 for “ABC” to organize and present U.S. National titles through regional events such as the one that is held annually at Brigham Young University.  The sub-license agreement between the American Ballroom Company, which holds the trademarks to the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championships, and Brigham Young University is still in effect.

RULES FOR THE 2020 U.S. NATIONAL AMATEUR DANCESPORT CHAMPIONSHIPS:

22. Definition of a couple.  A couple is defined as a male and a female, with the male dancing the part of the lead and the female dancing the part of the follow. This rule applies to all competition classifications and events. Exceptions are not allowed.

As of December 3rd, 2019, both NDCA and BYU have made a continuous fool’s attempt at damage control.

Email #1: November 27th, 2019

Dear Concerned Dancers,

We are in receipt of your concerted effort to remind us of a rule change allowing gender neutral partnerships that was implemented earlier this year.

Contrary to your assumption, NDCA has not gone back, changed its mind, or its ruling, in this regard. The rule change remains in force for all NDCA sanctioned events as stated in the NDCA Rule Book.

Brigham Young University has voluntarily given up its NDCA sanction; consequently, it is no longer subject to following the requirements of NDCA Rule Book to organize its event.

However, for many years the NDCA has recognized the value of the all-amateur events that are organized by educational institutions. Such organizations that apply for and receive NDCA recognition are permitted to engage NDCA officials. If you care to look at the NDCA website you will see that there are a great many such “Recognized” events on the NDCA All Amateur calendar.

The event organized by Brigham Young University is now, by its own choice, no longer sanctioned by NDCA and is not, therefore, subject to the requirements NDCA Rule Book.

Sincerely,

NDCA Ballroom Department

Notes:

  • On the official NDCA group, commenting has been turned off re: this announcement.

Email #2: December 3rd, 2019

Contrary to misinformation that has been circulated on Social Media the 2020 U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championships are alive and well, and the relationship between NDCA and Brigham Young University is as strong and cordial as ever.

This coming March 10-14, 2020 the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championships will be held in Provo, Utah.

•  NDCA National Judges and licensed officials

•  National titles in all styles for Amateur, Under 21, Senior, Youth, Junior, and Pre-Teen

• Prize money for Amateur Ballroom, Latin, Smooth, and Cabaret, as well as the Under 21 and Youth Ballroom and Latin

• NDCA Travel Allowances in the amount of $42,000.00 to top couples for the WDC World Amateur Championships to be held in December 2020 in Dublin, Ireland

The NDCA has had a contract with the American Ballroom Company since 1970 for “ABC” to organize and present U.S. National titles through regional events such as the one that is held annually at Brigham Young University.  The sub-license agreement between the American Ballroom Company, which holds the trademarks to the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championships, and Brigham Young University is still in effect.

These championships in Provo have never offered Pro/Am events, and stopped running the U.S. National Professional Ballroom Championship over ten years ago.  Consequently, it seemed to be a good fit at this time for the organizers of this event to voluntarily place the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championships under the umbrella of the NDCA Amateur Division.

For many years the NDCA has recognized the value of the all-amateur events that are organized by educational institutions. Such organizations that apply for and receive NDCA recognition are permitted to engage NDCA officials. If you care to look at the NDCA website you will see that there are a great many such recognized events on the NDCA All Amateur calendar. The event organized by Brigham Young University is now, by its own choice, no longer sanctioned by NDCA and is not, therefore, subject to the requirements NDCA Rule Book.  It is recognized as an NDCA All-Amateur Event.

Sincerely, 

The Organizers of the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championships

Notes:

  • This was the official press release from Lee Wakefield less than a month after the initial announcement and, one can assume, as a response to  the backlash (“Contrary to mis-information that has been circulated on Social Media…”)

This is a game of power, and I am tired of hearing that we are powerless to affect change against an organization as influential and impressive and immense as the NDCA — or better yet, Brigham Young, or better yet, the American Dance Company. Yes, we know their names, and we will call them as such. We know the names of the people who have decided this: to allow us to dance same sex is so incomprehensible to them that they are willing to give up their NDCA sanction in order to keep us in the dark corners of their fear. Perhaps we have outstayed our welcome as their latest attempt to appeal to a new audience of paying customers. Perhaps our lifestyle truly is revolting to them. I don’t care, because this is not meant for them. A door has been opened that cannot be shut, not now. This is not an open letter. This is a torch song.

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