The reluctant wedding dancer

Cross posted from

I dance at Jewish Orthodox weddings. I  put on my flats, I  kick up my heels,  I shake my hips. I dance from the first dance to the last.  I dance with joy – in the women’s section of the dance floor. I dance, celebrating patriarchal marriage, the silent veiled bride in a long-sleeved white gown.

I dance because this is the first kind of dancing I ever did: on Saturday nights at NCSY (an orthodox youth group) I danced my heart out.  Ividoo at-hashem-besimcha-Ividoo-at-hashem-besimach. Worship God with joy Worship God with joy, sings the band. I dance because in the first shul I ever went to I sat in the women’s section and I was one joyful seven-year-old. On the women’s dance floor I met organized religion.

I dance because at my Bar Mitvah, at a Chabad house in New Jersey, I did not read from the torah, I did not have an aliyah for another decade, instead I danced.  At my own wedding, I was the veiled and the silent one in a three-quarter sleeve dress and I danced on the women’s side of the dance floor and I was happy, worrying about the rain and not the patriarchy.

There is joy for women followers of patriarchal religions, so much joy that it wears down theirs dancing shoes and so I dance at their weddings a little ashamed and a little uncertain, finding a bit of comfort in the homoeroticism of it all.


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