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abgayle

abgayle

Dancing Dirty

Dancing Dirty - Ryan Field This is a difficult book to review because the setup, Summer Camp, is so alien to me. Apart from the film "A Walk on the Moon" I've had zero exposure to the scene. The summer break in Australia only goes for about five weeks and the closest I've ever experienced to this would be families having regular bookings at one of the coastal caravan parks.There would be no organised entertainment for starters.To Junior, a gay young man going there in the late seventies, this experience must have been just as alien.These couple of sentences late in the book helped me understand the book and put it into context:"All those frustrating years of being alone and watching his straight friends have fun didn't matter anymore. All the bitterness of missing so much disappeared."For a gay man, nothing would have reinforced that separateness, that sense of not belonging more than summer camp.This helped me understand the catty (not allowed to say bitchy) portrayal of the characters. All the characters. Even, at times, his sister and men both, gay and straight. But the depiction of some of the women made me wince.Then I thought to myself. Put yourself into the shoes of a gay guy in that age. You're good looking, some women think they have the right to invade your personal space. If you're not attracted to them or any other women aren't you going to be very aware of every flaw, every character defect?I also have to admit I have never seen the film this is based on. So, that aspect of the plot and even the sex scenes although hot didn't fascinate me as much as Ryan's portrayal of the surrounding characters and their environment.I find it kind of ironic that it's OK to have male characters in books being described as fat, hairy, slobs but say the same about a woman (or even the opposite - too good, too beautiful etc) and you have to duck the flying handbags.I didn't enjoy the book as much as some others of Ryans, possibly because it was depicting something that must have been excrutiatingly awful, but like all his books, it did help paint a picture of gay men and helped me see the world through their eyes.As said at the beginning, in that time, in that setting, it must have been difficult being gay. There would have been a lot of bitterness or even resentment at missing out on being able to enjoy growing up. Taken in that context, I can understand the occasional outburst of derogatory comments a lot better.I like to read mm "romances" written by gay males simply because it gives me the opportunity to catch a glimpse of their world through their eyes. Even if the craft or plotting is not as good I like to gain insights into who they are and why they are like they are.Ryan may have just set out to write a gay romance based on the film "Dirty Dancing" but in doing so he has helped me understand another type of gay man. If I was casting the film, I would have seen Junior as an adolescent Carson Kressley who had to grow up and live in an era where he had to hide the fact he was gay. Think about it.