NEFFA finished earlier today; mostly it was a good festival for me. The Black Jokers did their last NEFFA performance and it was the best one in years; the team energy was high and nobody made any serious mistakes. Red Herring's performance was less perfect but still OK. I had fun at the contra medleys, and doing hexagons (thank you for making that happen, Kat!) in the Singing Squares session. I got some nice clothes from Nancy Dresses and Eagle Ray. Lots of friends were there.
And yet something isn't right. I hesitate to gripe because mostly my experiences living as a woman have been so good, but I think there are gender-related problems going on with my recent experiences in the dance community. It's not that anybody is making me feel actively unwelcome; it's just that they don't want to be my dance partner. Except for fellow genderqueer people hardly anybody asks me to dance, if they do it's at the very end of the partner search as if I'm a consolation prize, and the ones that do are mostly women who expect and/or want me to lead. I'm a reasonably experienced dancer at contra and English, so it's not as if I should be in that situation. (Not everybody there knows me, but after seeing me on the floor for a dance or two it should be apparent that I possess some amount of clue.) And if I'm there in a really nice twirly dress as I was on Saturday, it should be obvious that I'm planning to use it to full advantage, which means following rather than leading.
Oddly enough, I think the fact that a number of men choose to dress unconventionally at NEFFA works against me. In normal settings, people see dress, boobs (even if they're fake), and dangly jewelry, and they figure “woman”. But at NEFFA they read “man in a dress” and behave according to those gender expectations. Short of adopting a hyper-gendered presentation (hard to maintain over a day of festival dancing, as it would involve heavy makeup and foundation garments) I can't figure out what I could possibly do to counter that misreading. I suppose I could try F-cup breastforms but I'd have to buy a bunch of new clothes (most of my wardrobe would be too tight on top) and it's not who I want to be anyway.
There are other possible explanations. I might be too old, or insufficiently pretty, or not sufficiently well known in the dance community. Maybe I'm reading too much into nothing. But it will take some time and some more positive experiences to fully convince me.