Saturday, August 29, 2009

How Gay is Jill and Kevin's Wedding?

Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body - Martha Graham

I would believe only in a god who knows how to dance - Nietzsche

Well, since I’m totally hooked I might as well try to figure the thing out. I’ve watched the Jill & Kevin Wedding video way too many times; woke my sweetie the morning I found it on Twitter - where insanities like this blossom - with coffee and the wireless announcing this was the only way I would ever consider marriage. I’ve thrilled to it almost daily now (it's an unfailingly intoxicating wake-up). So how does its addictive enchantment work?

The video is both utterly homemade and a perfectly wrought tiny film. A few opening seconds catch all the mise-en-scรจne of a small traditional wedding: the presider's instructive, sleep-inducing "voice over"; the milling corsaged guys officiating at the back of the church in ill-fitting, desert-hued suits; the eerie green sparkle dust of stain-glass filtered light; the restless hum of midwesternly modest pew dwellers.


The first hint that sedition's in the air comes in the three nasal synthesized blasts (from Chris Brown's Forever) that replace somber organ lines. And for a second the chunky guys who begin throwing programs and prancing could be a tired white-guys-do-hip-hop riff, yet instantly becomes something more interesting and wonderful. The poker-faced John Goodman stiffly hustling down the isle has joyous treason in his awkward limbs, can’t keep the mischief from his slow-swirling body. Cheeky day-glow bridesmaids swing sabers of boldly florescent mums in tight time into glorious vanishing shimmies. Even the earnest minister can't finally keep herself from swaying. And so it goes. Everybody "walks" the isle, each voguing change in their own fashion.

And it becomes instantly clear why dance is so tightly regulated within the church: for the irrepressible carnal joy of it, for its potential pentecostal subversiveness. Even relatively newfangled "Praise Dance" is suspect. Because the body doesn’t lie. It is a helpless conductor of other realities, other possibilities. And this danced wedding exudes pure transformation and joy. The mood is ultra gay, and indeed gayness itself is everywhere in this straight union... who can ignore that thromping beat, those hot pink gerbers, the Bob Fosse arm flourishes, those aviator glasses? The celebration gets its dazzling life (23 million YouTube hits and counting) from rubbing against those church walls, from pushing their boundaries. It wouldn't have nearly the same spark were it simply held on a beach.

And is there just something thrillingly transgressive about movement and music in unlikely places? The Belgium Train Station flash mob video is also compulsively watchable and euphoric. These performances offer different potential visions for previously controlled space; a new choreography for what has always been so tightly choreographed (whether for religious propriety or the sake of timetables). They are all about liberation. Just look at the people watching them. They can't stop grinning, can't keep their jumpy bodies still.

So is it too crazy to imagine, in the early days of a new forward-thinking leader, when states are beginning to fall domino-style to the side of marriage equality, that this one small renegade wedding speaks to the sudden very tangible possibility that what has been convention might in fact be pliant enough to contain all of our wild mysteries, all of our sacred loves?

Or have I, reader, skipped straight into a very deep end here? Do I pile far too many words onto one teensy viral video? I don’t know... my often reticent girlfriend is rocking beside me tear-streaked and hooting, our 8-year-old is squealing that she and her friends want to dance the isle at our wedding. And have you ever witnessed such an exuberant one? To paraphrase Mr. Brown's now infamous song: It’s like we’ve waited our whole lives.


Erin said...

Dammit Dana, now you have me sobbing at 3:00 in the afternoon. I am so happy for you and your family. Hooray for equality!

Dana said...

Tears of joy are a fabulous thing. Thanks for the sweet comment Erin! Hooray indeed.