Dance Location: A room in a Central London Holiday Inn
This is a dance that... was the beginning of finding a common language with my husband.
I'm finding it hard to pick one dance. Do I choose something important from growing up, like when I was given the role of the Gamekeeper in Giselle, or something more salient, like my first dance with John, who is now my husband? I think it has to be the dance with John...
It happened on the evening between 1993 and 1994. I'd come from Italy to London to attend an event in celebration of the Brothers and Sisters Club for deaf LGBTQ people. I remember what I was wearing because I found it recently on a trip back to my Mum's in Italy. It was a velvety, chenille top, embroidered all over with crowns. I was very fashionable in those days.
As it moved towards midnight, everyone started to pair off and I ended up on my own. And I remember it was like the crowd parted and this guy came towards me. We didn’t have a common language: he was English and deaf, and I was Italian and hearing, and at the time didn’t have a great grasp of English or BSL, but we started having this dialogue and he invited me to dance to get away from the crowd.
Nothing Compares by Sinead O’Connor came on and we started to dance a slow dance, our hands on each other’s shoulders, swaying from side to side. At the same time, I was trying to sign the words for him, not in BSL, just my rendition of trying to show what the song was about. We were alternating between creating distance to talk, because when you’re signing you need space to communicate, and trying to find plausible positions to dance in. Alternating between distance and closeness. We did kiss at the end of the song. We're celebrating 25 years this coming New Year's Eve.