UPDATE: It's maybe not so straightforward. See the comments for this post, especially from "Alpha Master Pimp." (I think that's the first time I've written that in a blog post.) I've also heard from several friends who've seen the dancer before; one said "it's more of a crazy Ru Paul affectation than dancing" and another said he often dances at Metro stops.
Here's a potentially disturbing and homophobic story from this Sunday's Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park drum circle. Local resident Andrew Bossi tweeted that a man was dancing when a drummer told him to stop, that what he was doing was "erotica not African" (presumably because the dancer was homosexual) and told the dancer that dancing was no longer allowed. Some folks there protested and the man kept dancing, but the drummer stood next to him and followed his dancing to get him to stop, then said something quietly to him. Soon thereafter the dancer left. A woman later started to dance and the drummer didn't stop her.
Here's the full story, from Bossi's Flickr feed. You can see his photos in this post, above and below.
A gay man* (with large hair and a green shirt) took to dancing to the rhythms of the weekly drum circle in Meridian Hill Park / Malcolm X Park.
(* I'm making an assumption about sexual orientation here, but I feel pretty confident in my guess. I apologise for repeatedly singling this element out, but it is integral to concisely describing what followed)
As the beats wore down to a pause, another man with long dreads and a visor walked among the drummers collecting signatures, loudly announcing that such dancing would now be prohibited, I quote: "it is not African; it is erotica."
This drew a mixture of support & opposition from drummers as well as audiencemembers. Swearing, insults, and anger soon followed, primarily sourced from the dreadlock man & a seated drummer wearing a white DC flag shirt and a number of colored arm bands -- these two leading the move against the dancing. The gay man protested peacefully, not raising his voice as he declared his right to dance.I don't have the drummer's point of view, or the dancer, but this seems absurd to me. The entire point of the drum circle is to let people express themselves.
I heard some protests, with several calling out "This park is for everyone". The man in the white shirt eventually gave up on asserting his position & began pounding away on the drums, sparking the next round of the drum circle and drowning out the issue.
The gay man once again took to the center, resuming his dancing. The dreadlock man immediately positioned himself directly beside the dancer, attempting to limit the movements. (Ed: seen above) Eventually the dancer gyrated toward the edge, at which point the dreadlock man moved around and stood directly beside as to block any easy movement back into the center. The dancer wasn't literally trapped in, he could walk out -- but he could not continue dancing without bumping into the dreadlock man.
The two had quietly exchanged words throughout this encounter, ultimately ending in the dancer stepping out of the center and to the side, visibly upset. The dreadlock man subsequently allowed a woman clad in traditional dress take the center & begin dancing, her moves just as provocative as the man's... but my takeaway was that in conforming with gender roles it was deemed "traditional" and therefore acceptable.
It was at this point I walked off, having other things to do in the day and wanting to have no more part of this vitriol other than reporting and documenting the incident.
This man was dancing, like many others do at the drum circle. The drummer had no right to make him stop, especially if he did so only because of what he presumed the dancer's sexual preference to be. I'm surprised more people didn't stick up for him.
Below is Bossi's tweeting of the incident and a responses, plus two more photos.
I hope this sort of thing doesn't happen again, and that folks who come next Sunday won't allow it. Everybody should be able to dance.