Gender Bender- aka the night that rocked my socks off

Last Friday my campus pub hosted its annual Gender Bender. Sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Academic Students and Staff (GLASS) the night began with a few minor tech glitches (the c.d. player and, later, the mike seemed a bit sketch), but recovered admirably and was soon rocking the gathered crowd; A smaller crowd than usual for the arena,no doubt, but if anything this improved the overall experience; That feeling of being a sardine in a can had disappeared, and you could actually *gasp* move and complete full dance moves beyond a shuffle!

I had come this close *holds fingers apart* to backing out at the last minute (I’m a hermit, and DO NOT generally enjoy the partaying), however, after a quick Guinness and a chat with Gender Ambiguous and Queerly Gendered, I was on my way. Now let me start right off by saying that bars are not my thing. I hate the atmosphere, the pressure to be social beyond your circle, the feeling that you’re only there to meet someone and by extension the expectation that you should allow advances from relative strangers. Bars tend to intimidate me, and if I can avoid them, I do. This event was different.

To begin with, it centered around a cabaret which automatically gave it a purpose other than “you’re hot, lets have vertical sex with our clothes on”. There was dancing afterward (and during if you wanted) however it didn’t seem to be expected that you leave your group, or try and approach strangers. It was fun, and easy, and not at all scary.

Afterwards, walking back to my house, I was trying peg what exactly that x-factor was, that unknown quality that allowed this night to be so relaxed and free from expectation and pressure. The one thing I’ve come up with, is the people.

This gathering was populated by people who were feeling free. People who were breaking free of mainstream societal norms. What mainstream society would have seen as too big, or too small, or too different, suddenly became beautiful, intriguing, and really really sexy. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the crowd seemed to come into its own and relax with the first burlesque dancer. One cheeky striptease to the song Sherry by a voluptuous woman, and suddenly it seemed as though everyone had let out a breath, and the night truly began. I felt myself losing my self-consciousness. It was as if Sherry’s baring all— her obvious comfort in her own body and her joy of expression— had extended to me. I no longer cared whether I fit in, or looked right. If Sherry could strip down to nipple tassels onstage, than surely I could let go and enjoy myself in a group of people? The night rolled on and people settled in, becoming free themselves.

Oddly enough I found that the crowd was more accepting than the MC for the night. While the MC would make the occasional joke about heterosexuals that made me feel somewhat uncomfortable, the performers and the people in attendance seemed set  to go beyond mere sexuality. Heterosexual and homosexual no longer seemed to matter. They were destroyed along with any other societal preconceptions precisely because this was a Gender Bender. Gender, for this night, was being played with, broken apart, and it allowed anyone and everyone to feel accepted.

I wish any old night at the pub could be this way, this free. This honest expression of self seems to lend confidence to all who are there. And really, any social gathering that is able to improve the confidence of all who attend, can only be a good one.

~ by definitelygendered on April 15, 2010.

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