- Candida Scott Piel
Candida Scott Piel
, whom many consider the mother of today's New York tribe, says that in the '70s a group of gay men visiting New York from San Francisco went out to a club called 12 West and witnessed several men - who were actually Broadway chorus boys - dancing with fans.
The visitors returned to San Francisco, where they bought fans in Chinatown and began dancing with them in the popular club The Trocecdero.
The paper fans soon fell apart, which let to the renovation of replacing the paper with fabric.
Other technical improvements followed, including replacing the metal pin holding the fan's spines together with waxed shoe lace or leather, and fan dancing as we know it was born.
adds, is "history as told to me by the late Frank Teramani of San Francisco, who was one of the Trocadero 'Fantasy' fan group.
"So many fan players had kept their cards close to their chests - had not shared their gift, their secrets of fan making and playing, "Piel
explains, "So when they died, they left no legacy.
And there were plenty who lived but who disappeared because the music disappeared and going out ceased to be a pleasant or friendly experience."
The art form was on the verge of extinction until just recently.
Newer generations of partygoers are becoming more receptive to the art, Piel
says, and music styles are once again more conducive to fanning.
That was where he approached Piel
and Stephen DeRose regarding the art.
- Candida Scott Piel
AIDS, Muscles and Marabou
Some fanners claim that fan dancing is connected to an old school of queerness, one that carries associations with effeminacy and with AIDS.
Those who came out in the '80s suffered from an AIDS-driven internalized homophobia, Piel
They felt that "if they didn't associate themselves with vestiges of the '70s/Saint era, that if they didn't fan or play finger cymbals, then they wouldn't get it.
But that's changing.
"There is something ancient and primal about fan playing that is far older than gay dance culture," Piel
My life changed the moment I met Candida
"I have recognized a couple of rag-fan players as having been taught by Stephen DeRose," says Piel
, who learned fanning and flagging in '93 from Jeffrey Reichlin and others.
Revered by flaggers everywhere as the godmother of flagging, Candida Scott Piel
"It bothers me that you can buy a bag of flags at your local rainbow tchotchkes store," she exclaims from New York, where she works as a community liaison for the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
Over the phone, Piel's
voice has a Betty Davis timbre and, like Davis, she
speaks with a resolute authority.
"I've taught it all, fans and flags, and it upsets me when it becomes a performance instead of a ceremony," says Piel
, whose fanning knowledge hails back to the the form's original heyday in New York.