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‘Dressing up to go dancing’: Older people forming a community identity for themselves through special dance clothes

Abstract

There has been recent interest in the critical gerontological literature in clothes,
especially fashionable clothes for older people. Ballroom dancers have been found to value the opportunity to ‘dress up’ for dancing so this study has explored how some older people ‘dress up’ when participating in other dance forms. Using qualitative data collected during an ethnographic and narrative style interview study of older people who participated in Circle dancing or Scottish Country dancing, this paper acknowledges most older individuals dressed casually for dance classes or social dances, but focuses on those older individuals who derived a lot of pleasure from ‘dressing up’ in special dance clothes. Their individual choice of special dance clothes enabled them to identify more fully with the particular ‘culture of dance’ in psychological, social and physical terms. Such choices could go against the grain of contemporary fashion, but the data shows that both older women and older men used personal agency with regard to clothes in order to experience lived embodiment as ‘looking good’ and ‘feeling good’ when on the dance-floor.

Article:Dressing Up to Go Dancing.pdf
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