Ageing and new intimacies

Gender, sexuality and temporality in an English salsa scene

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Sarah Milton
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The ‘baby boom’ generation, born between the 1940s and the 1960s, is often credited with pioneering new and creative ways of relating, doing intimacy and making families. With this cohort of men and women in Britain now entering mid and later life, they are also said to be revolutionising the experience of ageing. Are the romantic practices of this ‘revolutionary cohort’ breaking with tradition and allowing new ways of understanding and doing ageing and relating to emerge? Based on an innovative combination of ethnographic fieldwork in salsa classes and life history interviews, this book documents the meanings of desire and romance, and ‘new’ – or renewed – intimacies, among women in mid and later life. Beginning with women at a transition point, when they were newly single or newly dating in midlife, the chapters look back over life histories at prior relationship experiences in different life stages, engage with the fine grain of navigating the terrain of dating and repartnering in midlife, and look forward to hopes for future intimacies. Fieldwork in salsa classes demonstrates the sensory, sensual and affective nature of heteronormativity whilst biographical interviews show how femininity is informed by memories of the past, of the generations that came before and class-based desires. Making important contributions to our understanding of ageing, intimacy and gender, this book illuminates the intersections of age, class and white normativity in romance and desire. We see how rather than being revolutionary, a pervasive concern with being respectable throughout the lifecourse endured.

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