All The Dancefloor Is A Stage.

16 Apr

The following references are from:

by Erving Goffman ».

This book is about the way people act, and why we act. Perfomers, audience, outsiders. Published in 1959.

Chapter I: Performances, Page 39:
“… American college girls did, and no doubt do, play down their intelligence, skills, and determinativeness when in the presence of datable boys, thereby manifesting a profound psychic discipline in spite of their international reputation for flightiness.[5] These performers are reported to allow their boy friends to explain things to them tediously that they already know … Through all of this the natural superiority of the male is demonstrated, and the weaker role of the female affirmed …”

Chapter I: Performances, Page 39

I often reflect that a salsa gigolo’s journey of learning salsa, is a journey of learning to become a man, from tentative first steps, to more assertive, purposeful ones. Novice salsa gigolos see alpha male salsa gigolos on the dancefloor, and see how salseras submit to them. Novice salseras find themselves submitting to alpha male salsa gigolos, “Aah, this is what a salsa gigolo should feel like. This is what a man should feel like.”

When a salsa gigolo is still in his early days, he somehow feels that he is not quite yet a man. Not fully formed, undeveloped, not in character. Salseras recognize that the novice salsa gigolo is not yet fully developed, not in character, yet they may still submit to him, and to soothe his male ego, a salsera may play down her intelligence, skills, and determinativeness when in the presence of a danceable salsa gigolo.

Chapter III: Regions and Region Behavior, Pages 112-113:
“… Simone de Beauvoir provides a rather vivid picture of this backstage activity in describing situations from which the male audience is absent.
‘What gives value to such relations among women is the truthfulness they imply. Confronting man woman is always play-acting; she lies when she makes believe that she accepts her status as the inessential other, she lies when she presents to him an imaginary personage through mimicry, costumery, studied phrases. These histrionics require a constant tension: when with her husband, or with her lover, every woman is more or less conscious of the thought: “I am not being myself:” the male world is harsh, sharp edged, its voices are too resounding, the lights are too crude, the contacts rough. With other women, a woman is behind the scenes; she is polishing her equipment, but not in battle; she is getting her costume together, preparing her make-up, laying out her tactics; she is lingering in dressing-gown and slippers in the wings before making her entrance on the stage; she likes this warm, easy, relaxed atmosphere … For some women this warm and frivolous intimacy is dearer than the serious pomp of relations with men.[8]’ …”

Chapter III: Regions and Region Behavior, Pages 112-113

On the dancefloor, I often feel truer to myself, more expressive than off the dancefloor. A salsera, far from being inessential in the partnership, may lack this opportunity for self expression, less opportunity to just be herself. Along with lead-follow, the extent to which a salsera is not being herself also depends on the extent to which she must soothe a salsa gigolo’s ego.

Chapter IV: Discrepant Roles, Page 161:
“… A good statement of some other aspects of collegial solidarity is given by Simone de Beauvoir; her intention is to describe the peculiar situation of women, her effect is to tell us about all collegial groups:
‘The female friendships that she succeeds in keeping or forming are precious to a woman, but they are very different in kind from relations between men. The latter communicate as individuals through ideas and projects of personal interest, while women are confined within their general feminine lot and bound together by a kind of immanent complicity. And what they look for first of all among themselves is the affirmation of the universe they have in common. They do not discuss opinions and general ideas, but exchange confidences and recipes; they are in league to create a kind of counter-universe, the values of which will outweigh masculine values. Collectively they find strength to shake off their chains; they negate the sexual domination of the males by admitting their frigidity to one another, while deriding the men’s desires or their clumsiness; and they question ironically the moral and intellectual superiority of their husbands, and of men in general.
They compare experiences: pregnancies, births, their own and their children’s illnesses, and household cares become the essential events of the human story. Their work is not a technique; by passing on recipes for cooking and the like, they endow it with the dignity of a secret science founded on oral tradition.[22]’ …”

Chapter IV: Discrepant Roles, Page 161

When I’m dancing with a salsera in a room, by ourselves, I feel that almost all moves are superfluous, and I revert to a simple intimate basic step. This leads me to suspect that one of the main pleasures of social salsa is the performance aspect. It’s more fun to dance like no one is watching », when you have an audience.

Even though I say I don’t perform, I do slip into character when I’m on the dancefloor. When salsa and non-salsa worlds collide, I often feel a dissonance in the kind of character I feel I ought to play. On the dancefloor, it’s ok to be a salsa gigolo. Off the dancefloor, salseras expect to be appreciated for more than just their claveage.

My wish: All the world is a dancefloor.


One Response to “All The Dancefloor Is A Stage.”


  1. Tweets that mention All The Dancefloor Is A Stage. « Salsa Gigolo in TO -- - April 18, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Social Psych. Social Psych said: news All The Dancefloor Is A Stage.: The following references are from: by Erving Goffman ». This … […]

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