One Dance, the Last Dance

They lock eyes as the instrumental track of Kaoma's “Lambada” and the vocal track for the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” overlay: “We’re sorry but it’s time to go . . . Sgt. Pepper’s lonely Hears Club Band.” She raises her arms and sways her hips, an invitation to dance and a proposition that they touch—embrace. She smiles and nods in acceptance. She places her arms under hers. She lowers hers onto her shoulders. With her left hand, she caresses her arm until she finds her right hand. She lowers her arms to touch her waist and then her hips. She puts her right arm around her neck and grabs her face with her left hand. They kiss. 

The house lights had just come on, and the last song was playing, negromoreno’s mash-up “Sargento Kaoma.” DJ Guagüis also known as Ali Gua Gua, of Ultrasónicas and Kumbia Queers fame, was closing out the night’s festivities with a DJ set. We were at Fiesta Marrana (Sow Party) that June 2015 night celebrating Muestra Marrana (Sow Show), the seventh installment of an annual postporn festival taking place for the first time in Mexico City. 

A night of musical performances, Fiesta Marrana heralded trans/feminist and queer politics. This was a party concerned not with the respectability politics surfacing alongside state-sanctioned homonormativity and homonationalism (Puar 2007) but dedicated to what Deborah Vargas refers to as “lo socio”: “a Latino vernacular for dirty, nasty, and filty” and a “queer analytic . . . in relation to contemporary neoliberal projects that disappear the most vulnerable and disenfranchised by cleaning up spaces and population deemed dirty and wasteful” (2014:715). This was a party by and for those of us often deemed to be disposable and expendable in terms of the nuclear family, the global city, the nation-state.

This was the last dance and perhaps one last opportunity for such a trans/feminist and queer space to transpire. Venues that cater to or welcome non-normatively gendered and sexually orientated groups are precarious institutions. Processes and municipal policies of gentrification threaten their existence; rent hikes push out clubs and the social life they engender (Bell and Binnie 2004). For women-identified venues the situation is particularly dire. Gentrification efforts coincide with and exacerbate discriminatory pay gaps, which delimit the amount of discretionary income available for nightlife.

The shooting at Pulse reminded us that even at the trans/feminist, queer nightclub our collective experiences with forms of pain, exclusion, and violence accompany and bolster us (Love 2007). Despite the specters of everyday forms of gendered and sexual violence that not only inform but also haunt us, we thrive and flourish on the dance floor. It is there where, through music, sound, and dance, some of us activate and learn trans/feminist, queer forms of being—ephemera and gestures (Muñoz 1996; 2009; Rodríguez 2014)—that we take beyond the club as a means to generate social life for individual and collective survival.

That night in Mexico City we danced to live another day. To nod at her that yes, before the music ends and we are once again pushed out into a heteronormative and an increasingly homonormative, misogynist world, I will dance with you; because to dance with you is to embrace and express a commitment to work at “ways of being for another, or, indeed, by virtue of another” (Butler 2004:19).

 

References

Bell, David and Jon Binnie. 2004. “Authenticating Queer Space: Citizenship, Urbanism and Governance.” Urban Studies 41(9):1807–1820.

Butler, Judith. 2004. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge.

Love, Heather. 2007. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Muñoz, José E. 1996. “Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer Acts.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 8(2):5–16.

_______. 2009. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press.

Puar, Jasbir K. 2007. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Rodríguez, Juana M. 2014. Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings. New York: New York University Press.

Vargas, Deborah R. 2014. “Ruminations on Lo Sucio as a Latino Queer Analytic.” American Quarterly 66(3):715–726.

 

Biography

Gabriela Jiménez is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation considers the ways in which non-normatively gendered and sexually orientated people, individuals and groups, version Mexico City, Mexico through musical performances.

 

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