A short list of things that don't usually go together:
a large room of people
a DJ spinning electronic music
sobriety (bears repeating, since it's so unlikely)
I list these as justification for my anxiety about attending Rhythm Sanctuary last week. My brother has attended this weekly ecstatic dance gathering for about a year, and has been inviting me for nearly that long. Which is to say I have resisted going for almost a year but finally, last week, I could think of no good reason not to go.
While I'm on lists, here are some fears I had:
I will look stupid
I will feel stupid
I am not a good dancer
I am not one of those people
I will hate the music
The dance was already underway when I got there so I nervously kicked off my shoes and took note of the guidelines posted outside of the dance floor. My favorite: no talking on the dance floor. I relaxed a little bit, knowing that I wouldn't be expected to try to socialize, sober, while dancing.
Here is who I saw when I walked in:
a guy in a Burning Man t-shirt
a white-beared man, probably in his 80s, sitting in a chair with a cane
families with children (an infant with a glow stick around his ankle)
a guy in a wheelchair
a guy with an oxygen tank in a backpack
Most everyone was dancing, a lot alone, some in pairs or groups. Some sat around the edges watching. Some sat in meditation or prayer at some pillowed, futoned areas. The music was loud and rhythmic, which meant there was no reason not to at least try to dance. So I did.
Here is what happened:
I got my heart rate up
I noticed my judgements rising up, and noticed they were mostly about myself and my fear of being ridiculous
I noticed that everyone else seemed to be dancing without fear of looking ridiculous and let my self-judgment fall away (though in the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that the judgment came and went in waves)
I started to move according to what my body seemed to want to do - oh my ankles really want to stretch. oh I kind of feel like jumping. oh that bass line makes me feel like doing this - instead of moving according to what might look cool
I didn't talk to anyone
I didn't dance with anyone
I stopped thinking
The combination of blood pumping, ankles stretching, and suspended thought helps me understand why my brother calls this gathering a medicine.