Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SCC and Feet Retreat

I promised a recap of story links from past posts at Transgender Adventures in History:

My Dream Dress

A Place to be a Southern Belle

A Place to be a Southern Belle Pt. 2

A New Adventure Realized

A Step Forward into the Past


This past weekend was tremendous attending both Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta and Feet Retreat in Danbury, NC. As I mentioned earlier, my SCC trip was shortened due to scheduling and finances. I once again had a wonderful time with the http://vanityclub.com/ ladies Thursday night at the lovely Maggiano’s in Perimeter Mall. I enjoy every chance to dress up and breaking bread with friends I haven’t seen in so long. I finally went with one of my prom dresses with a black velvet short sleeve bodice and taffeta wine red skirt. Everyone looked lovely which you would expect from our group. I do have some pictures forthcoming.

Friday morning, I had the pleasure of presenting Transgender Adventures in History for the second year. It was nice to see some faces from the previous year and some new ones too. One topic that we discussed was how restrictive the women’s clothing was in the 19th century and how it mirrored the overall lives of women. While I can say I very much enjoy wearing the dress, corset, and hoop skirt, I’m not sure how I would view the clothes if they were my only choice. Even as a transgender woman, I have many more options today. I also enjoyed sharing the stories of women soldiers in the Civil War as detailed in They Fought Like Demons. Please feel free to email me at nc_southernbelle “at” windstream.net with any suggestions for future presentations. I’d love to have more attendance, but I also want the seminar to continue to be useful and informative.

I caught up with many friends by lunch on Friday. SCC has become quite the family reunion. There were plenty of hugs, laughter, and catching up. There are even a couple of people who knew me only as a name on a chat board before I ever went out. Now that’s going back a ways. Even with the economy, the registration numbers were encouraging. It’s a credit to the SCC board and volunteers that each conference builds on itself with compelling and useful programming. It’s what moved me to get involved a few years back. I was saddened to leave in the middle of Friday lunch.

Who knew that Saturday held in store an equally compelling experience? Many recent posts have detailed my contra dance visits. You probably get the idea that I like it quite a bit. In short, it has been a huge blessing for me this year. I feel I have another group I can safely call family. It’s been that good.

Saturday night was part of a weekend dance event called Feet Retreat. I was only able to attend the Saturday night dance. I made the hour and a half drive in a downpour which wasn’t a big deal until the final five miles. Road construction had a road with no pavement markings, and there were no street lights. Imagine the beginning of any horror movie with a young girl lost in the rainstorm happening upon a haunted house. I pulled in the gravel driveway of Camp Sertoma and saw signs of life. In the distance, I viewed a large wooden cabin with lights and a beautiful noise pouring out. The noise was laughter, applause, foot stomping, and music. I parked my car and ran through the rain towards it. Inside I put on a wristband and waited for the next dance to begin. About 250 dancers filled that large cabin, and the music came from Notorious. Talk about a perfect evening.

Much like SCC, I greeted friends at every turn. The only difference was I didn’t know any of these people six months ago. If you had told me at 2008 SCC I’d be a dancing fool, well you know the rest. I danced every contra except the first that night. The running joke about Feet Retreat was that no one’s feet got any retreat! So many asked if this was my first dance weekend like they knew that it was a special experience for me. A few even encouraged me to attend a full weekend even knowing my logistical hazards. It shows that I am accepted and welcomed for who I am. When the volunteers were acknowledged for Feet Retreat, I gave a knowing nod to my dance partner. Any event of this magnitude doesn’t just happen. Like SCC, it requires a huge commitment and much planning.

Two events, two wonderful communities, and one very grateful dancing southern belle. I am thankful to be involved and welcomed by both. They add so much that is good to this world, and they don’t keep those good things to themselves. The world could learn a thing or two from these communities. I’m happy I already have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. I was interested in your comments regarding how the clothing of 19th century women mirrored the restrictions on their lives. This is a common misconception. Clothing has little or nothing to do with the social roles of men and women. This can be very easily proven by looking at the clothing of past and present tribal cultures, particularly those in tropical climates where neither men nor women wear any clothes at all, yet the women are excluded from leadership and are limited to gender based roles just like in 19th century western cultures, despite not wearing any clothing at all.

Because the organized feminist movement began in the western nations in the 19th century at a time when womens clothing was "restrictive" this has led to a belief that there was a relation between restricted clothing and restricted social status. However if you look at the clothing of women in other parts of the world at the same time period, Africa, Asia, Middle East, the South Pacific, they wore no such restrictive clothing as western women, yet their lives were even more restricted.

Also the lives of many men in 19th century America were severely restricted. Black men, Jewish men, Irish men, Hispanic, Italian, immigrants, Catholics, etc. Poor men, uneducated men, etc. All these men wore the exact same identical clothes as the dominant white men, yet they did not have the same freedom. Restrictions are not the result of, or a reflection of clothing. However if you believe they are, isn't it contradictory to enjoy wearing the clothing that you claim is reflective of a negative social arrangement? Thankyou