Before we get started with today's big ‘event’, I just wanted to lay out a few things here. Firstly, this is not going to be a pretty post. Whilst I’m not going to get into all the gruesome details of my past, I am going to try and be as honest as possible. If you want me to remain forever light and airy in your mind, there will be another blog post for you sometime soon, for the rest of you, enjoy the fun stuff.
Secondly, a Gremlin, as defined by Rachel Strickland in The Audacity Project, ‘is what lies underneath’ and ‘prevents you from feeling like you have any power in the situation.’ These are not outside walls like time or money, things that can be dealt with in the real world, these creatures are the walls of my mind, the things that hold me back from being who I am on the inside.
So let’s shine a light on them and see if they shrivel.
Gremlin One: Wears a very plain outfit and is scared to be perceived as other. Probably came from being bullied and abused by teachers. Doesn’t like it when you dress up in colourful clothes and kiss people.
Gremlin Two: Seems very sexually active, high libido. Probably comes from being rejected as a teenager and over-consuming porn. Doesn’t like it when you turn down sex/look for more complicated intimacies and tell people that you care for them.
Gremlin Three: Dresses as a monk, lots of white and probably a necklace with a crystal on it. Doesn’t eat. Probably born from doing the wrong thing and not forgiving myself. Doesn’t like it when you admit your mistakes and your humanity, especially poor at being viewed as unattractive/unknowledgeable.
Gremlin Four: Wears glasses and sweater vests, is the smartest person in the room. Definitely born from being ‘gifted’ as a child. Doesn’t like not knowing things or seeming inexperienced.
Gremlin Five: Is literally a straw man being propped up by insecurities. You can actually see the button eyes and straw pocking out his clothes. Probably born from moving to London and suddenly realising I wasn’t the best dancer in the world. Doesn’t like it when you call yourself talented, hard-working, a good dancer, a great dancer, literally the best version of yourself to have ever lived.
Gremlin Six and Seven: Six has a really big head and is handcuffed to seven, who wears painfully average clothes with a short back and sides approach. Six is only really a Gremlin by association, preferring to be called a ‘Gift From God’. ‘Gift From God’ was born before I went to Rambert and thought I was the bee's knees from the best bee. Seven was born from being a mild-mannered child and has to keep Six in check because adults don’t like it when you shine like that. Don’t like it when you accept your place as part of a grander system that doesn’t centre around you, but that your talents are valuable, and that you are important.
Gremlin Eight: Is a Mormon probably (we don’t really have those here.) Born from the desire to be loved by everybody, stemming from the need for the approval of a depressed mother and a distant father. Doesn’t like it when you embrace your flaws as part of who you are, accept yourself for the misgivings of the past and imagine yourself complexly and with faith. Really doesn’t like it when you forgive your parents for their mistakes and understand that they are also humans.
Gremlin Nine: Wearing the clothes of about 10 different people, not very good at sowing them together, looks like swamp thing made of fabric. Born from seeing other people find acceptance for being who they are but not realising that being them wouldn’t help me, as well as getting complimented by comparison to other, more experienced or more full artists. Doesn’t like it when you understand and honour your heritage without allowing it consume you and your artistic drive, really doesn’t like it when you post videos of your self on Instagram that aren’t flashy.
Gremlin Ten: Has a very cool cap on, probably backwards, and you can tell he listens to Rap music just from the vibe he gives off. Born from a desire to be accepted and rebel against an oppressive heritage focused on Ballet and traditional values. Doesn’t like it when your embrace technique and traditionalism as part of a complex identity of self.
Gremlin Eleven: Literally has a (brown and) black belt on from when he was 8 to legitimise his extended movement practice. Born from the need to prove his understanding of movement beyond his ballet and contemporary training. Doesn’t like it when you admit that you're a talented novice who lacks the kind of knowledge only gained with time.
Gremlin Twelve: Is wearing a black skirt and has long well-groomed hair, looks like they should be somewhere better. Born as a response to the toxically masculine environment, looks to create otherness as a challenge. Dislikes when you acknowledge your manhood as part of who you are and express your queer womanhood with softness.
Gremlin Thirteen: Has short hair and a beautiful girlfriend, tells you how in love they are because of how much sex they have, wears a large number of graphic tees. Born from the need to conform to societal norms after being told that my future was white and straight and pretty. Doesn’t like it when you talk openly about your attraction to male bodies, kiss queer people, educate your self on and embrace complex sexual and romantic desires, grow your hair out, don’t have sex with someone every time they stay over.
Gremlin Fourteen: Looks very gay. Like loudly gay. Could be mistaken for a lesbian from behind. Born from the need to conform to LGBT+ norms after rejecting heteronormative ideals, wants to be poly and pan and super-duper queer! Dislikes embracing the desires for a long term romantic partner, probably a female-identifying one, admitting that their ‘queer’ relationships are few and far between, understanding that queerness exists on a spectrum and that there is no barrier to entry for official ‘queerness’, reminding yourself that you would never deny someone else their queerdom for the things you deny yourself it for.
Gremlin Fifteen: Has a veil on, rubbing an old necklace between two fingers almost anxiously. Is crying, or at least about too. Born from the distance between ideals: ‘having long term friends from childhood, stable living in a single place, dedicated community’, and the reality: ‘having no consistent friend groups, travelling and changing location frequently, a lack of community to return too'. Doesn’t like it when you accept that relationships end and that meaning is derived from what you gained from them and not from the amount of time given to them.
Gremlin Sixteen: Is soooooo willing to offer you love, dressed to impress, has already written a poem about you, hear you go enjoy! Born from a lack of long term relationships and the idea that meaning is solidified by time, created as a way to ‘shortcut’ to a more important and meaningful relationship because there is the expectation that nothing will last. Doesn’t like it when you accept that each relationships have their own lifespan and that depth can be enjoyed fleetingly, that is okay to be in flux and that constancy is a social desire and has not always been mine.
Gremlin Seventeen: Trying their best not to do anything wrong, unable to do things right in the process. Has a grey hoodie on, it’s kinda old but someone said they liked it once. Born from the belief that inconsistent relationships are inconsistent because I am inherently unlikeable and that over time people just learn these negative qualities about me and stop wanting to be my friend. Doesn’t like it when you accept that it is hard to maintain long-distance relationships and many people are working to be focused and present in their lives which is difficult to couple with communicating long distance. Really doesn’t like it when you embrace the fact that people love you and sometimes falling apart is not about your acts or ‘badness’ but about their lives and priorities.
Gremlin Eighteen: Wearing super contemporary clothing, baggy trousers and jackets, talks a lot of faf about contemporary art and its relevance in the greater society space. Born from the desire to validate a contemporary movement style/dance life by justifying it as intellectual and non-commercial and therefore acceptable within the remits of other intellectualised gremlins. Doesn’t like it when you enjoy commercial media, encourage people to do whatever they love, and work to remove your elitist brain from the joy of movement. Really doesn’t like it when you admit that you just dance because its fun and it feels good to do it. Really really doesn’t like it when you do aerial to pop songs (which is the best fun.)
Gremlin Nineteen and Twenty: Gremlin Nineteen walks on all fours and is seemingly made of red, holds a constant snarl, is held on a leash by Gremlin Twenty who is extremely tense and incredibly watchful. Born from the inability to control and understand situations, especially as a young child, Gremlin Nineteen is a violent creature who wants deeply to hurt the people who hurt it and the people who it cares about. Gremlin Twenty is the gatekeeper to this experience, holding a large amount of tension in his left arm, born from the moments in which Gremlin Nineteen has driven my motions and caused moments of violence within my life. Don’t like it when you look at the root of your anger, embrace your inability to control everything, and accept the past happened and cannot be undone. Really don’t like it when see your expression of anger as understandable responses to difficult situations and forgive yourself for those acts of violence or pain, and understand that if you allow your aggression to be a part and use it as a tool to fight injustice when it happens instead fo bottling it up it cannot become the ugly creature that explodes itself upon the people you care most about, or anyone.
Thank you for attending the first and probably not last Gremlin Parade. I hope you loved all the creatures that slumped across the stage for you today, and you’ll look forward to the next showcase where I have no doubt even more of these wonderfully limiting beings will show themselves!
P.s. Gremlins are survival instincts, so the next time you feel overwhelmed by them remember, these were designed to keep you alive some 2-4 million years ago when being on the outside of a small social group meant certain death. You aren’t fighting little worries, you’re fighting for life, at least that’s what your brain thinks. Fortunately, you know better!