“I did not believe that a cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things. Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world —prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.”
This incident was the source of a statement commonly attributed to Goldman that occurs in several variants:
If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution!
If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution!
If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.
A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
If there won’t be dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming.