A few weeks ago, Craig Constantine interviewed me for the Mover’s Mindset podcast. His first question: What was it like to switch from dancing to parenting?
This is the first time I’ve spoken plainly and publicly about what drove me away from lindy hop (the original swing dance from the 1930s). I’ve been trying to articulate why I left for the past several years. Part of me feels like I owe an explanation to the community and the readers of Dance World Takeover. But mostly, I just wanted to lay it to rest for myself.
The answer is that the gender dynamics in lindy hop became intolerable for me. Delving into parkour, another movement community with a different set of gender dynamics, really clarified the issue.
Parkour and lindy hop are fundamentally different in that partner dancing requires physical touch, while parkour requires none. The framework for this physical touch is men physically directing the movement of women. This constrains women’s choices and creativity from day one, not to mention the pressure it puts on men to be in control.
There’s also the expectation that you say yes to whoever asks (or have a very good reason for saying no), that you dance with total strangers, and complete the full dance whether it’s enjoyable for you or not. Rarely did I dance in a fully collaborative partnership with a man.
Even if you can’t swallow the idea that patriarchy is the cause of this gender dynamic, you can certainly agree that after a decade of dancing this way, it’s reasonable to say, “I’ve had enough. I quit.”
In parkour, that dynamic is absent. There’s no expectation or pressure of interacting with men in a physical way. I have a lot of control over who I train with and exactly how I move my body. Parkour jams are usually very collaborative, even when I’m the only woman/non-binary person present. It’s liberating.
Other things we talked about in the interview:
- Why “I could never do that,” is my least favorite thing to hear, especially coming from women.
- Why children need to experience challenge and failure, and how it teaches them self-confidence.
- Some observations about how men and women train differently, and pressures men face to not show weakness (or to show only it in “appropriate” ways).
- Why women often can’t see themselves doing parkour. Many women who do parkour are gender non-conforming in certain ways; we accept the scrapes and bruises, we embrace the physicality.
- The voice in my head telling me to “get down from there” and how it limits me before I even try. And what happened recently when someone actually told me that while filming this video on a “rooftop” (third in the series).
- The question I wish more people would ask themselves. Here’s the Instagram post I referenced.
- The story of my transition from training parkour in a gym to training outdoors, and how it made me feel more comfortable training with men. I also wrote about it in the second issue of the Once Is Never parkour zine, which you can subscribe to on Patreon.
- Special shout out to Friday Jumps, which I also mention in the podcast.
Listen to the podcast here or on any number of podcast platforms.