Dancing is usually considered an evening pastime. Bonfires and dance halls, night clubs and parties. Dancing in the dark is more mysterious. Inhibitions loosened by low light and exhibition fueled by alcohol. Boundaries are hazier. People less self conscious if they can’t be seen so easily as in the stark light of an early Sunday morning!
This is one of my main times to dance on either Saturday or Sunday mornings at the local Open Floor in Marin County situated just north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge.
“The Sweat” (as we locals call it) is an energetic event with 50—200 people attending weekly. It takes me awhile to want to look at the other dancers—the bright morning light adds ten years to most faces. All those lines and crags can be scary. It is intimidating to see folks in the harsh light of day waving their arms around in skimpy costumes and pogo sticking about to fast beats. Even the younger folk (under 30) look a bit shadowy at first. My mind makes horribly critical comments. A commentary that makes me chuckle internally but will not score me any good karma points. “There goes Jesus” or “Does anybody in this room have ANY sense of rhythm?” On and on the dialog unravels in my mind.
But before I scare you away from sweating your prayers in the morning with a bunch of other dance addicts, let it be known IT IS MY FAVORITE TIME TO DANCE! Despite what the exterior looks like.
I’ve got lots of energy and because it is not a club scene, I can stretch and do whatever my body feels like without a partner. We are all just there to dance. With eyes open, with eyes shut. Stretched out like a crawling crocodile on the floor or leaping about like Nureyev.
And the dance takes hold of me and eventually my mind gives up its need to control and isolate me from other humans. If the room isn’t too crowded, my creative edge really has a place to play as there are no steps to follow, just the inspiration of the moment. It is my time to explore my dance and feel the music wind through my tendons.
And there is nothing better than being soaking wet from dancing before 10 am!
To find out more about the origins of this freeform dance movement read Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth. Back in the 1980’s, this book led me to the Five Rhythms dance community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thanks to Gabrielle’s message that ecstatic dance is available, and beneficial, to everyone—you can find communities all around the world that hold weekly events open to the public.
Open Floor in Sausalito & San Rafael, CA.
Ecstatic Dance Oakland, Fairfax, San Francisco, Hawaii, Berlin, Amsterdam—even Texas!
Photos by Lisa Alpine