Dancing Federation Steps: A (queer) lesbian reading of Strictly Ballroom

Sophia Davidson Gluyas
In Volume 4, Issue 1
Special Issue: Queer and There

Abstract

This paper outlines the way in which Strictly Ballroom can be read and embraced as a lesbian love story and the reasons it is a valuable text to be read as such. Tamsin Wilton, in her work on Strictly Ballroom; When is a Partner not a Partner? When she’s a Woman! poses the question: ‘How can a dyke enjoy a heterosexual romance like Strictly Ballroom?’ Wilton presents a lesbian feminist reading of the film outlining exactly why, for a lesbian viewer, the film ‘sucks.’ Here I present an alternate lesbian feminist reading of the film that attempts to reclaim the text for queer and lesbian viewers, (and queer lesbian viewers). Wilton’s criticisms are serious ones, and I do not desire to dispute them, I wish only to suggest a way to counter-read the romance. If one watches the closet metaphor that’s being drawn as the story (rather than as a metaphor) then one watches, I argue, Australia’s most euphoric coming-out film. It looks like a heterosexual romance, however, buried (not so deeply) in the subtext are the highs, lows, joys and triumphs of coming out. This paper suggests a queer lesbian viewing position, answers Wilton’s question, and explains how a dyke can enjoy a heterosexual romance like Strictly Ballroom.

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