The Past, Present & Future of Same-Sex Dancing



Pride Month Special:

The Past, Present & Future of Same-Sex Dancing

To celebrate and support Pride Month 2021, we wanted to look at the history of same-sex dancing and discuss how much growth we have seen up until the present day.

Same-sex dancing is not a new phenomenon. In fact - the Tango originated around the 1870’s - with males dancing together. Granted, Argentinian culture at the time was mainly male domination, meaning that a large majority often danced with other males for practice, without relation to their sexuality.

Similarly, in the 1920s, women were often seen dancing together. During this time saw an increase in gay-only nightlife; places in which gays could be comfortable to come together; dancing and socialising. This not only included gays, but also heterosexual individuals whom wanted to join and have fun.

However, this didn’t continue as plain sailing. Sparked in the 1930s – and throughout the 2nd World War & beyond - a heavy portion of society targeted gay men with hate crimes; publicly participating in same-sex dancing would have felt scary and dangerous. Of course, events still took place, but they were predominantly underground for the foreseeable future. 

Many outspoken advocates paved the way for the scene we see today. One being Jacky Logan - whom created the ‘Jacky’s Jukebox’ event on Saturday nights at Rivoli Ballroom in the 1990s - which welcomed all sexualities. She continues to break gender norms by holding classes which help you to decide whether you fit into the ‘leader’ or ‘follower’ Ballroom dancing role, regardless of gender.

Pete Meager launched ‘Equality Dance’ – a Ballroom and Latin dance school based in London – in 2017, which aims to “teach people their role of choice”. From this, generated competition ‘The UK Equality Open’ which holds same sex and open couple categories; participants can join regardless of how they identify or whom they are dancing with.

Not to mention Richard Lamberty, Ava Kaye and Tom Slater’s creation of ‘April Follies’: the largest and longest running queer dance competition in North America.

Same-sex dancing is one of the most popular sports at the ‘Gay Games’, and has longstanding been a source of pride since 1982, when it began in San Francisco.

There are many other competitions which cater to same-sex couples: Arthur Murray has included a same-sex category in competitions for several years, and in 2019 created the first ‘Unique Dance-O-Rama same-sex dancing competition’. ‘Boston Open Dancesport’ have hosted many same-sex dance competitions since 2013 such as: ‘the Boston Open Dancesport Competition’, ‘United States Same-Sex Championships’, ‘North-American Same-Sex Championships’ and ‘2018 New England Open Championships’.

We have seen advances in mainstream TV dancing shows, such as: ‘Strictly Come Dancing’; breaking the internet with same-sex dancers - boxer Nicola Adams and dancer Katya Jones – appearing in the opening of their 2020 show. In Denmark’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ 2019, a same-sex couple made history by winning the whole competition.

The same-sex dancing journey has come leaps and bounds over the years; however, this has not been without the determination of its’ community and its’ great advocates.

There is still a long way to go - with many critics to continually defeat along the way - however we see a bright and positive future blooming for this beautiful and accepting community.

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights ... it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” – Harvey Milk

By Ruby Sullivan

1 comment

  • This is a brilliant article. So proud of you Ruby x


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