The various gender bending devices that have been described sound like a
lot of fun! However, I think that when dancing with people you know very
well, they are not effective unless they significantly alter the appearance
of the of the wearer, and must unambibuously indicate the desired gender
(such as the fake mustache). In times past, we have tried using tartan ties
to wear around the neck to convert women to men, but they didn't help much
because the dancers just tuned them out.
Perhaps you, like I, have had a friend or acquaintance with an uncommon
local discoloration of the skin or other unusual physical feature. When you
first meet them, it is difficult to see anything but that feature, but
after a few times of talking with or otherwise interacting with the person,
you don't see it anymore--you just see the person. My son's friend, Rob,
has a large, irregular purple pigmetation across part of his face and neck.
When I first met him it was quite striking and distracting. Now he is just
In a weekly dance class we get to know the people on a first name basis and
we think of them as themselves, regardless of the clothes they are wearing.
For me, part of what the person is, is male or female. So if a person is
dancing the part of the opposite gender, I still see them as themselves, so
I must mentally note that fact of the role switch. For me, it has nothing
to do with being an experienced dancer--it is the only reliable method I
have for keeping the dance sorted out.
Do not misunderstand me, however. I think the gender benders are a great
way of bringing more fun into the dancing, whether or not they are
effective at gender bending!