Except at Christmastime, when we would go to see "The Nutcracker" at Centennial Hall on the Augustana College campus, or at Rock Island High School, or both. One year the Youth Symphony participated, so I got to be in the orchestra pit for eight full performances.
But who pays attention to the plot? No matter what people tell you, they go to ballets for one reason, and one reason only: to celebrate male or female beauty. Dances in form-fitting tights, swaying and twisting, making every curve and muscle visible.
No other art, not even bodybuilding, displays the male physique so openly and extensively. You don't just get a glimpse or a hint -- everything is out there, through the entire performance.
No wonder every gay kid in town, even those who were otherwise obsessed with sports, couldn't wait for Christmas.
I didn't know at the time that he was gay in real life, and dated a number of celebrities, including Raymundo de Larrain and Tab Hunter (left), plus his long-time lover Erik Bruhn. I responded to his passion, his obvious joy at being an object of desire, and his superlative physique.
He was even able to invest The Nutcracker with gay symbolism, transforming the Prince into an outcast, a wooden soldier who longs to be a "real boy."
Good luck. Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950), the first ballet superstar, was gay, and caused a scandal with his erotic movements (the audience rioted at the premiere of The Rites of Spring).
So was Tchaikovsky, who scored The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.
See also: Erik Bruhn, Closeted Ballet Great.; Ten Nutcracker Beefcake Boys