In response to the ongoing pandemic, performance writer Fiona Kelly McGregor reflects on the dancefloor and its intimacies with a pair of short essays that celebrate queer party culture.
A year ago, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, dancing in the state of New South Wales was banned. This ban remained in place until April 2021, even after months of zero transmission in the community, while crowds of up to 10,000 were allowed to attend sporting matches. In the midst of this difficult period, Performance Space asked me to write a ‘Dance Party Manifesto’, for the future of dance parties.
Now the Delta variant is circulating and we are back in lockdown. How do we live with a potentially fatal, highly infectious virus that could mutate for decades to come, medical solutions notwithstanding? The authoritarian nature of the State’s response is troubling. The emphasis on police and army patrols in areas most affected; the lack of community outreach and language services; the stalled vaccination.
Coming together to practice culture is a fundamental human impulse, along with eating, sheltering and loving. Artists – especially live artists – are among the most adversely impacted workers in our society; at the same time, the pandemic has only increased our need for art and togetherness. These two short essays are at once elegies, manifestos and celebrations.
‘Dance Party Manifesto’ was delivered as part of Day for Night at Liveworks, October 2020.
‘Eight Scenes from a Dancing Life’ was delivered at the Gala Event of Sydney Writers Festival 2021, Within Reach.