"If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution" - Emma Goldman
In 1998 Amsterdam Gay Games debuted Dancesport as an event. Finally Lesbians and Gays the world over could compete in Ballroom and Latin Dancing at our own Olympics. Since the Gay Games is about inclusion and community, the dance categories ranged from novices to professionals, and a new era in Gay Ballroom was born.
Richard Lamberty and his dance partner Tom Slater danced at the 1998 Gay Games representing the United States, which they did wonderfully. Richard and Tom both had long histories as dancers and teachers with female partners, but then they finally got to dance and compete with a same-sex dance partner. The next games was the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney, Australia where Richard and Tom danced A level as did Alise Halbert and Tianne Frias
2002 Gay Games was Zoe's 1st competition and after winning two silver medals and loving the coming together of dancing queers from all over the world she has been hooked for life.
After Sydney, Richard, Tom and Ava Kaye set up the first Bay Area same-sex dance competition. Richard also started a same-sex dance programme at the Metronome Ballroom in SF teaching standard and latin. Many from that original program are still around and dancing today.
When Richard Lamberty moved to Florida Alise Halbert kindly stepped in and ensured the continuation of the same-sex dance programme. We continued to have yearly competitions with Richard organizing them and flying up from Florida for the event.
Before the Chicago Gay Games in 2006 Alise asked Citabria and Zoe to take over the beginning standard class while she continued to teach the advanced class. Citabria and Zoe organized a six-month intensive and five dance couples completed the course and competed with wonderful results.
Margo Dean filmed the process of the class gearing up for the Gay Games with her documentary "Learning to Fly" which was featured in the Frameline film festival 2007 under the banner of Dancing with the Queers, and we found our name. Now we have beginning, intermediate and advanced same-sex standard classes and a beginning and intermediate latin classes.
Now a local all volunteer non-profit hosts Bay Area same-sex one or more competitions a year. California Dreaming 2008, the latest local competition, was the biggest same-sex competition US has seen with over 300 spectators and 120 competitors, over double the amount of the previous competition. It's awesome how its grown, and Zoe and Citabria want to say a heartfelt thank you to Richard Lamberty for starting it all and inspiring us with his passion, a huge thanks to Alise Halbert for keeping it going, and for all of our students for being part of it. It is exciting this seed has grown and blossomed into something wonderful.