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Vociferations of a Former Coatrack: The Unheard Voice of Female Dancers in Hardcore

Originally Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Written by:  Leah DeCesare  

The Pulse of a Show

The thundering breakdowns, the harsh screams echoing through the amplifiers, random members of this youth tackling the mic, joining the chants of pride. You’ve been there, you’ve felt it. Cleared-out space is forced, and spin kicks are whipped, fists are thrown, two-steppers chime in as the music grows steady, and just as I’m about to join in.

The Gendered Pit: A Woman’s Perspective

“Here, hold these,” a male friend says to me, placing his glasses in my grip.

Too many times do I find myself the lone female as a segment of the circle pit, which seems to have designated me, without my consent, the position of the locker, the coatrack, and quite frankly, I still don’t understand why my gender should separate me from any of the other dancers, or rather, separate me from actually being a dancer.

A Call for Female Empowerment in Hardcore

Now, I’m not placing any blame for this on the ladies, but I’ve gotta ask, where are my female dancers!? In all honesty, I could count the number of chick dancers I’ve seen at hardcore shows on one hand (if any at all), which I suppose is where this expectation brews from, among other common expectations, of course (girl = weak, vulnerable, scared, a bystander.) Once a girl shows interest in what’s going on, it’s “Here, hold these,” or “Can you put this in your bag?” even though it is clear I am not carrying a bag at a show, because, well, you can’t dance with a huge bag at your hip, but I suppose it doesn’t make a difference, for you can’t be given the chance to dance if you’re a girl, either.

Confronting Stereotypes and Embracing Courage

If not dancing, I would be standing with my girlfriends, and many times they had told me they wanted to go for it but were too intimidated. Countless male newcomers to the pit don’t think twice before diving in and swinging fists, so what causes such a variation towards girls who may not even be newcomers, could be regular show-goers and still watch and think “Maybe next time”? Boys. But why boys? While there’s no denying that there is a lot of respect for fearless girls in the pit, there are always a few who alienate girls from the community, which sets the standards – boys throw down, girls hold their Anterrabae hoodies.

Breaking the Mould: Women Claiming the Pit

Problem? Targetted. Solution? Simple: Go for it, slam dancing has been modified so many times (depending on the person) to the point where it’s hardly separated into “good/bad” and more of “their style.” By showing you’re a part of the show, too, you’re saying “Keep your stereotypes off of me and my gender” (while hinting in a big ‘fuck you’ to anyone who looked at you and thought you couldn’t dance based on your female status or let alone, wouldn’t have the courage to.)

A New Era for Female Dancers

Have you ever heard someone say “Boys are terrible dancers?” Doubtful. Have you heard anyone say “Girls are terrible dancers?” Not anymore, we’ll be sure of it.

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