The Return of the Nutcracker Princess

Nutcracker-Princess The impact of Gus Van Sant's biopic, Milk, inspires many viewers to ask, "What Would Harvey Do, Now?"

Proposition 8's rotten victory took the stuffing out of a lot of us.

I know exactly what Harvey would've done this past weekend -- he would have been with me, and hundreds of others, pirouetting our asses off to The Dance-Along Nutcracker, performed each year by the band which was founded in 1978  to celebrate Milk's inauguration:  The Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.

Every December, the band takes over the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, opens the doors to all ages and species -- there were a couple tutu-ed puppies this year -- and plays the Tchaikovsky classic, while the audience leaps, skips, and crawls their way through "Arabian Coffee," "Chinese Tea," and the Russian Trepak. (Bring ibuprofen for the intermission).

Photos to make you squeal: here

I especially like the sequence where a pack of four-year-old girls ambushed me with their Magic Wands.

When I was a little wanna-be ballerina, I could barely remain still at sit-down Nutcracker events; I ached to waltz with the other Flowers. In the 1960s, the kids in my parish would run around with fake swords and wild scarves as we recreated the whole shebang to the scratchy amplification of the nuns' beat-up record player. I think I peed in my pants one time -- please don't tell the Nutcracker Prince!

The Freedom Band's version is far better, with more room to take a flying leap, and an incredibly patient orchestra who play the entire show in costume while scores of little children sit at their feet with mouths hanging open. I am tempted to take up the piccolo again.

Incidentally, in the original edition, the Evil Mouse King is done in when little Clara expertly throws her shoe at the Rodent President, allowing the Good-Nut Prince to finish him off with a sword. 

Hand me my slippers, darling!

(Susie Bright is a guest blogger)

15

  1. Oh, if only straight guys could frolic, dance, and leap about in joy. Well, we can but only when nobody else is at home and with the curtains drawn – and even then you have to deal with the funny looks you get from the cats.

  2. Oh, if only straight guys could frolic, dance, and leap about in joy. Well, we can but only when nobody else is at home and with the curtains drawn – and even then you have to deal with the funny looks you get from the cats.

    Trust me, every year at the Dance-Along Nutcracker, there are tons of straight men at this show, dancing with their wives and/or kids. Some people dance traditional dances like waltzes, some dance silly dances, and some just give their kids piggy-back rides. And when virtually everyone in the room is frolicking, dancing and leaping about in joy, you have far less reason to worry about people giving you “funny looks.” The whole point of the event is the joy, and the funny looks tend to get left with the coats at the coat check.

  3. @ briarpatch – Yeah, but you know what I mean – I’m talking about real life – not some sort of magical, imaginary, happy place that you’ve described.

    There is a time when a straight, stuffy male (like myself), can dance and frolic – when he’s alone, playing with his kids while they are still <5 or so. The world would be a better place if that sort of unfettered happiness could be expressed all the time and everywhere without worrying about being judged by your peers.

  4. cont.

    …while they are still <5 or so. The world would be a better place if that sort of unfettered happiness could be expressed all the time and everywhere without worrying about being judged by your peers.

    - what happened? I don't know - my last post was intact when I clicked "POST."

  5. cont.

    …while they are still less than 5 or so. The world would be a better place if that sort of unfettered happiness could be expressed all the time and everywhere without worrying about being judged by your peers.

    – what happened? I typed the less than symbol – I guess that erased the rest of my post.

  6. These comments recognize HTML tags. The “less than” symbol is an indicator of the beginning of an HTML tag. For example, if you type (less than)i(greater than), that’s an HTML tag to turn on italics. If you type (less than)(slash)i(greater than), that’s an HTML tag to turn italics off again.

  7. @ briarpatch – Thank you – I realized my mistake at the end. I took a look at your web site – I’m impressed.

    This whole topic kind of bothers me. Almost every time I see gay men on TV, a movie, or on the internet, they are depicted as flamboyant and goofy – like Jack on Will and Grace. I’d bet my next paycheck that a lot of gay men are just like myself – quiet, reserved, conservative-ish (not conservative as in politics). I realize that extremes in anything will draw media attention, but seriously, gay men are almost always portrayed the same way – flamboyantly effeminate.

    What’s your opinion on this?

  8. My opinion is difficult to summarize meaningfully in just a few sentences.

    If you want to do some serious reading on this subject, please visit GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Their mission is as follows: “The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”

    http://www.glaad.org/

  9. The world would be a better place if that sort of unfettered happiness could be expressed all the time and everywhere without worrying about being judged by your peers.

    Which matters more to you? Being happy or facing other people’s disapproval? Living your life according to other people’s approval or disapproval is often a losing game, and you just have to figure out a way to make the disapproval have less of an impact on your actions. For that matter, why do you automatically assume that such actions would be met only with disapproval?

    Of course, I live in San Francisco, the land of fruits and nuts. If someone were to start expressing “unfettered happiness” on the sidewalk in the Financial District, it wouldn’t attract much attention (or open disapproval) unless that unfettered happiness threatened to harm someone. If you started dancing spontaneously on the street here, most people would probably (a) think you were some kind of street performance artist, or (b) assume you were a crazy homeless person, or (c) start clapping and egging you on, or (d) start dancing with you, or (e) pull out their iPhone and post photos you on Facebook with captions like “Only in San Francisco,” or (f) some combination of (a) through (e).

    As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago, I turned onto my street and saw a woman in her sixties or seventies standing in the middle of the street with her arms outstretched and her face pointing at the sky, spinning in circles and singing to herself. It was very “Mary Tyler Moore show opening credits,” except that she was doing this on a deserted street and she didn’t throw her hat into the air. She looked completely blissed out. So I just smiled and waved at her as I passed.

  10. Note to Boston area peeps: I just found out that The Slutcracker has been extended another weekend! So if, like me, you missed it the first time around, you’ve got a second shot.

Comments are closed.