(c) Francis Gideon
It’s the symmetry of dancing that Louis loves – nothing else. He enjoys the quiet precision that comes from following steps, from knowing what happens next, in order to subvert it in some way. When he knows and understands the rules, Louis can move silently between those restrictions and understand the system from the inside out. This covert way of being is how Louis has managed to not out himself as gay to anyone in particular. Everyone at his law practice believes he is merely well-dressed and an aesthete. Metrosexual, he’s heard them say in hushed voices, or something along those lines. He becomes whatever they are calling men who do not fit into the carefully patrolled borders of masculinity. Louis knows that his proclivity for dance can sometimes give away his other proclivities, especially when he picks a dance partner. This is why he and Ryan, the person he’s allowed under his strict outside appearance, are taking their dancing lessons inside tonight. Louis has pushed back all the furniture of his living room until it forms a nice border at the walls. An invisible audience stares back at the men as they regard one another from opposite sides of the room. While he prefers leading when he dances, Louis has played all the roles in order to understand the act as a whole.
Tonight, their lesson is for the Foxtrot. And Ryan is playing hard to get. After Louis has put on the exact music he needs for this event, he grabs Ryan’s hands and pulls him away from the shadows and into the center of the room. He slides his hand along his waist, moving him to the exact beat. Measured and calculated, with pauses and breaks, the music is perhaps the other thing Louis likes about dancing. Without music, it is just a vertical game of sex with clothing on.
Ryan, in Louis’s hands, feels the way he looks, rough and tired. His shirt’s fabric has worn thin in some places, with loose threads trailing at the seams. He has not shaved in days, either, and Louis feels the bristles of his face against his as he pulls him closer. Ryan does not know how to dance, other than the small side-steps he learned through overheated high school gyms that he never forgets the awkwardness of. His day job as a police officer also leaves him in an invisible gray area, like Louis. As a cop, he is strong and tough, wearing a dark blue uniform and carrying a gun. He is rigid, though he loves Louis for the exact things that he worries could out him to his squad. But in Louis’s strong hands, he is learning to let himself go. Ryan becomes pliant, moveable. He stares into Louis’s eyes as he tries to learn the steps mutely.
“I refuse to actually tell you the steps,” Louis mentions. His voice is thick, languid. It reminds Ryan of the first time he heard him speak, defending a client that Ryan had arrested in court. There is didacticism to Louis’s words and movements, but it does not make Ryan feel as if he is being talked down to. “The brain does not understand instructions until it has gone through them. Then, it’s merely a matter of forcing the prior actions into a form and pattern. For the meantime, I want you to follow me, Ryan. Follow your body.”
Ryan swallows hard before he nods. He goes with Louis. He lets his palms burn into his back and waist and he tries to make his body open. He shuts down his thoughts and tries to freeze time like he does at crime scenes, except he stays in this moment. He repeats that moment again. Until, soon enough, Ryan realizes he is finding a way. Like the first time they had sex, all Ryan needed to do was let his body speak for him. Talking is fine, but only after the fact. Anything else is legalese and unnecessary. It never makes any sense. Not like bodies and movements do.
There comes a point where Louis changes the rhythm. Ryan picks it up, only a second lag between them. The speed increases, the music changes, and then Louis’s hand is on the small of Ryan’s back. He kisses him as he bends him down, the floor creaking under their combined weight. Coming up, the wood on their feet gives again. Like a body, the house also knows what it wants and allows the men all the room they need as they pass through its frame, dance over the floor, and then retreat upstairs.
Teaching Ryan how to do it all, that is probably another reason why Louis likes dance. But that is it.
Francis Gideon is sometimes a journalist, editor, and writer. He has appeared in Absynthe Magazine and has forthcoming publications on JMS Books.