Letters for August 1, 2002

Dance the night away

 Only if you're a professional: Reading Ashley Fantz's July 25 article, "Caged Swelter," I confirmed once again why the public has such a misconception of "dancers." I belong to one of the top ten dance companies in the United States, New Century Dance Company, which is here in Miami; we are a company of 33 professionals who are multiethnic and employed all year long. We have been dancing as a professional company for more than ten years and have done shows, performances, music videos, television events, and so forth all over the United States and abroad, and I am appalled that an article is written about cage, go-go, and bar entertainers. These people are not dancers, although they would like to think they are. We, the real dancers, have to be witnesses of the mentality that a dancer is a title you give people who do not and never have trained to be one.

We have dedicated a great part of our lives and still do perfecting dancing techniques and styles, instructing ourselves religiously every day; in our world, Pamela Canellas is a joke; she underpays the supposed "dancers" she hires while making a commission off their pay -- more like a pimp, I will say. These are the people that have prostituted our profession and in doing so have hurt our image and reputation. That is why any Jane/John Doe from the street, half drunk with a good body, will go up on a box in a club and decide she or he is a dancer -- and will then make her living off that. It takes more than a few hours at your local gym and a plastic surgeon's visit to be able to dance or call yourself a dancer.

I resent the article, which is totally bogus. For crying out loud, any grandmother can go out in a boa and say she is a dancer. Dancers are trained professionals, just like athletes, with a very hard schedule. If you need an operation, you go to a surgeon. You don't go to the butcher at Winn-Dixie.

Ophelia Kawko

via the Internet

Plumbers didn't make it in Watergate... and they won't make it here: Mike Clary has written a great report on the situation surrounding the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and Everglades restoration ("For the Birds," July 18). Those federal agencies and private groups comprising the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force should be asked to include in their Coordinating Success document a plan for how they will relocate this bird to its original habitat.

If they cannot do this, then we cannot restore the Everglades. Any layman can see this by looking at the topographic maps and the water depths the Department of the Interior wants for the Everglades, including the water-conservation areas. It will not work.

L.J. Moller

Pembroke Pines

Unstraighten up, Ms. Mason: Sounds like business as usual in Fort Lauderdale. How can anyone suggest that the omission of women in a travel guide could be accidental ("Lesbians Be Damned," Rebekah Gleaves, July 18). Say that out loud, and listen to your own voice -- can anything sound more stupid and false?

Fort Lauderdale may, in fact, get more gay male travelers than lesbians. But how would anybody here know? Certainly, it has already been decided that lesbians aren't interested in vacationing here because we're all bunched up in the desert and New England lugging around backpacks. Anything else you can tell me about myself while you have my attention? Ask Richard Gray, the lone gay liaison whom the bureau consulted to draw the picture of all gay travelers. Is it any wonder?

For Gray to express the belief that lesbian activist Naomi Parker's concerns are unfounded sheds light on just how removed some white gay men are from the reality that surrounds them. But, you see... it's a reality that rests in their periphery. The reason: women, people of color, and families with children don't (1) count, (2) matter, or (3) hold interest in their world.

Try being a woman and stepping up to a bar with gay male bartenders and getting a drink. Look at the glazed expression that forms in the eyes of a gay man who has glanced at a lesbian and dismissed her from his brain in seconds, like she doesn't exist. Myth number one: Gay people, because they suffer discrimination, are more sensitive and aware -- and therefore don't discriminate against others. False. Some of the ugliest, most derogatory statements I've ever overheard against women, black people, and other people of color have been out of the mouths of white gay men.

So does it surprise me that a travel brochure that is supposed to be gay-friendly has been distributed with such glaring "accidental omissions"? No. It's business as usual in Fort Lauderdale. Meanwhile, my dollars are supporting this insulting garbage while I wait for Francine Mason, the [Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention &] Visitors Bureau's communications vice president, to perhaps "make the guide better next year." But then she says, "we haven't heard any complaints here about it." Yes, but exactly where are you listening, Ms. Mason?

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