This weekend I attended Knoxville dance weekend. If you had been there, you might have seen something you typically don't see: men in skirts. Now, I do not mean men in kilts (although there was some of that, too). I also do not mean men in drag (although if they were particularly skillful at it, perhaps there were some of those, too). I mean men in skirts. Not all of the men were in skirts; not even MOST of the men were in skirts, but there were many men in skirts.
As I tried to explain to my flat mate, several of the men who come to dance weekend wear skirts for a couple of reasons. When you get 500 people on a dance floor, it is hot. What all women know and I suspect very few men do is that there are few articles of clothing cooler than a big, lightweight, full skirt. It doesn't bind any part of your body except the waist band, and you can generate your own breeze. Often the joy of skirts for women is ruined with the hell of pantyhose, but I didn't see any men in pantyhose.
The men also wear skirts because if you are going to engage in certain types of dance, like Contra, there is a lot of spinning. When you twirl in a skirt, it looks awesome. When you twirl in pants, not so much. One of the most manly dances there is (in my humble opinion) is a Scottish county dance called The Reel of the 51st. It was devised by a group of WWII soldiers being held in a German prison camp. The Reel of the 51st is specifically devised to make your kilt fly up and out. So, even Scottish fighting men in the forties understood the beauty of the twirly skirt. (Don't take my word for it: www.youtube.com/watch?v=
I noticed this year that some of the most experienced male dancers wore some very brave skirts, indeed. A typical dance weekend skirt on a man is usually dark colored, lightweight, somewhat full, and ankle-length. But this was not always the case this weekend. Skirts with flowered prints were not uncommon. Skirts with ruffles on the bottom were more rare, but not unheard of. In one case, one of the men wore a bright pink handkerchief skirt so short it barely covered his goolies. OK, he got some stares, but a woman who wore a skirt that short would have gotten them, too. But he was an amazing dancer. He said that the skirt was a nice change from his usual jeans and t-shirt that he wears working construction. I bet it was.
I have to admit that after the initial shock of seeing men (many of whom I know pretty well) in skirts at my first dance weekend, I haven't given the skirt-wearing much thought over the years. After being on SP, however, I started to reflect that much could be learned from these fashion-forward men in their little ruffly skirts. These men and going out and doing what they love (dancing) in clothing that is utterly appropriate for the activity. They are not worried that it's not manly (or, in the case of Mr. Pink Skirt they are not worried that their outfit might be a little too evidently manly). They are not worried about what people will say. They just dance because it's fun. So should you.