Jul 25, 2013

Ecstatic Dance in Portland

Here is one of the SoulCollage cards I created
that represents Rhythm Sanctuary Medicine for me.
I am so blessed to have the Denver Tribe in my life.
I have grown so much from this weekly dance.

Last night I went to an ecstatic dance event in Portland.  This event was going to be an important influx of information for me in my decision process about moving. I had quite a bit of anticipation and curiosity about what the evening would hold.

When I arrived at the location I found it interesting that the ballroom was above a restaurant and the building looked quite small. I was concerned there would only be 10 people there (I am used to about 150 people). I decided I was going to stay for the whole event, regardless of what happened. I wanted the full dose of experience.  

When I arrived, there was no welcome sign, directives where to put my shoes, or instructions not to talk on the dance floor. There wasn't even anybody there to collect the money, just a basket to drop your money in. Entering into the space was not welcoming, however, I knew I could create my own way into the experience, so I dropped my money in the basket and proceeded onto the small dance floor. 

The first thing that struck me when I entered was that there were no altars. I could feel there wasn’t a container for the dance, and that I was going to need to be extremely self-sufficient in creating something sacred. The next thing I noticed is that there was no DJ.  Music was played from a laptop and speakers, and it was not journey music. Wow! This was not going to be what I am used to. 

At Rhythm Sanctuary (my normal weekly Denver dance), the warm up period of the dance is the most powerful for me. I get a download of medicine and set my personal intention for the evening. I was hoping the warm up in Portland would provide me that type of space, however, that was not the case. I found myself agitated at all of the people talking on the dance floor (that is a big no no at RS). People talked throughout the warm up about mundane, ordinary things, and it got to the point that the hum of conversation was louder than the music! 

I started questioning whether I would stay for the dance. I could get this type of energy from a regular dance club. I wanted a medicine journey, a shamanic tribal trance dance. I was starting to realize that was not what I was going to get, however, I was already there, and had nothing else to do, so I recommitted to my intention to stay. 

After the warm-up, the facilitator brought the group into a circle to set intention for the evening. Although the welcome was not as colorful and evocative as what I am used to, I appreciated some form of unification in the group to transport us from the talking casual warm up into what ever was going to be next. 

And then dance began….with a song that had lyrics!  Oh my goodness! Is every twist and turn of this event going to trigger me? I can get pop music at a club, I want my journey music (which has a build up, a release and wind down - and no lyrics!) Once again, I asked myself, am I going to stay? Yes, I can do this. I worked at releasing my ideas, attachments, and preferences and simply strived to be in this moment...in all of the edges and frustrations this opportunity was presenting me. 

I looked around and everybody was dancing solo, there was no partner dancing, no contact improv. This is way outside of my comfort zone and I didn’t think I could make it through the whole dance without any flesh. I moved through the dance floor feeling in to the energetic vibrations of the dancers, feeling is there were any portals into contact. It felt as if everybody had barriers around them.

The music was slow, then fast, then slow, then lyrics, back and forth in a haphazard way. It made it difficult to get into a rhythm, with myself or those around me. I gave up my desire for a journey and simply strived to be in my body as much as I could be and make the best out of it. 

In my haphazard dance, I brushed up against a man, he lingered and that second gave me a moment to initiate something, and that led into partner contact improv, finally contact. It was a sweet soft connection, he lifted me several times and we got a little groove on. More people started partnering, and touching, and sounding and I found some relief. 

All in all, it was a challenging dance for me. The music did not support a deep dive, and the community as a whole was having a hard time diving in. I found myself sitting on the stage watching the 50 or 60 people on the dance floor, and tears started to flow. The thought of moving to Portland had been building up for me, however, I knew this could not be my medicine circle every week. It was simply not enough. Leaving Rhythm Sanctuary will be one of the hardest parts about leaving Denver. What we have there is splendid on so many levels, and this Portland dance is so amateur in comparison. 

The thought occurred to me that where ever I move, I may need to rise up and contribute more to the community and offer what I have as a resource to create the medicine space I am used to, and that so many souls are hungry for. What I have access to in Denver is fabulous, and it's improbable that I will find something of that quality right away where ever I move. I may have to invest time and effort into the foundation of where I move to cultivate it. 

When the dance was done we gathered in circle and some people shared from their dance. I was one of them. I shared commentary about my experience and also honored the beauty of  the ecstatic dance community. That I can travel someplace new and immediately have access to conscious community, and through the soulful language of dance, access something meaningful. Even though I had frustrations and attachments and a lot of stuff show up  for me, I am blessed I had space to land in when I arrived in Portland, to dance and experience my edges in community space. 

I was invited to hang out with several people from the dance afterwards at the restaurant downtown. We hung out for hours, having amazing conversations and connections. They made me feel welcome, and part of the tribe. They shared with me that Sunday morning is the best dance to go to, there are a couple hundred people and more partnering. On my next trip out here, I will schedule my time so I can attend that event and get a wider view of the dance community in Portland. 

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