Rodeos and sword dances

(Warning: there will be talk of penises and mansex.)

On The Hill site on 5/21, “Tillerson: ‘Not my first sword dance’ in Saudi Arabia”, by Jill Manchester:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that his sword dance the previous night in Saudi Arabia was not his first.

“I hadn’t been practicing, Chris, but it was not my first sword dance,” Tillerson told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.

Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross linked arms during the dance with Saudi performers on Saturday night. [REDACTED] also took part, swaying to the music, and appeared to enjoy the ceremonial dance. The event took place on [REDACTED]’s first day visiting Saudi Arabia, his first stop on his first foreign trip as president.


Ross and Tillerson sword-dancing among Saudis

(Ceremonial sword dances are common in many cultures. You can watch the Saudi sword-dance video here.)

Tillerson was using “not my first sword dance” literally, saying that he had in fact performed other sword dances in the past, but also alluding to the metaphorical idiom not be someone’s first rodeo (or not be someone’s first time at the rodeo), with the negation realized as is not, isn’t, or (most commonly) ain’t. Gloss from NOAD2:

NORTH AMERICAN used to indicate that someone is not naive or inexperienced. “I’m a professional. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo”

The idiom literally denotes naivety, lack of experience, but the rodeo-riding image adds a tinge of sexual allusion, so that This ain’t my first time at the rodeo can serve as an alternative to the metaphorical I ain’t no virgin (at this), a possibility exploited in this Zazzle t-shirt:


— conveying something like ‘I’m no virgin, and I’m available; ride with me, baby’.

The source of the rodeo formula? Either it originated in a line from the 1981 film Mommie Dearest, or the use of the expression in that movie was the vehicle for its spread:


[addressing the men in the Pepsi boardroom] Joan Crawford: Don’t fuck with me fellas. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.

The sexual connotations of the rodeo version spill over onto the sword dance version, where they reinforce the phallic imagery of swords, exploited in the gay sexual slang swordplay / swordfight. From my 9/6/11 posting “Penis-to-penis”:

Probably not everyone knows that one way two men can interact with one another is through their penises — actually two ways, in mock play (referred to metaphorically as swordplay or a swordfight, with the figure of penis as sword) or amiably (in what I’ll call cockversation).

Swordplay/swordfights can be primarily contests (using dicks as if they were weapons) or primarily sexual (rubbing or striking dicks together as a sex act, aimed at ejaculation for both men), though the line between the two types of interactions can easily be crossed.

Illustrations in a 1/17/15 AZBlogX posting.

(An Urban Dictionary entry says that swordplay is also used for three-way het sex, with one man penetrating a woman vaginally, the other anally.)

On ADS-L, poster Shawnee Moon picked up on a possible gay resonance in sword dance:

Not at all meaning to be crude, but “sword dance” immediately made me think it was a reference to gay men dancing, as I have heard “sword fight” used in reference to gay male sexual shenanigans.

I very much doubt that Rex Tillerson is aware of a possible gay angle to sword dances. Sometimes a sword dance is just a sword dance.

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