The “Ecstatic Dance” Explained
Let’s take a trip back to your middle school dance, visually speaking. Can you see the gym and the basketball hoops? How about the red punch in the bowl, as well as DJ wicka-wicka playing some tunes?
Now we will picture the chaperons gathering on the dance floor to take it over. More than 100 mothers, fathers and grandparents are all on the floor, dancing and not caring what the kids think of it.
This does happen in real life, and at many schools’ gyms. For example, it does happen at the Martin Luther King School’s gym over in Sausalito, and it happens every single Sunday morning. For the last 20 years, adults have made their way to the school and they get together for a meditation, which is called “ecstatic dance.”
Some of the rules include no talking, no wearing shoes and no wearing socks. People should always be mindful of one another, which means no bumping into others. Also, there’s no teacher, nor are there specific steps that needs to be followed. It is just dancing to your own beat for two hours.
Here is an interesting fact about ecstatic dance: it is actually a spiritual practice that is practiced all around the world. Gabrielle Roth pioneered it back in the 70s. Roth pioneered it at the Esalen spiritual center over in Big Sur, and it was called 5Rhythms. It was designed to help put the body in motion to still one’s mind. It may look like a bunch of random dancing, but a DJ will carefully orchestrate some tunes, and dancers will move through five dance sequences. These sequences include, glowing and staccato. It also includes chaos, lyrical, as well as stillness.
Lori Saltzman, who is the co-founder of the Moving Center School, said that when people move, things that have been frozen and/or fixed start to release and change.
Some people cannot sit still and stay put on a meditation cushion, and this type of dance is perfect for them. I am one of those type of people. I actually have a difficult time sitting in traffic, and I often will pretend to play the drums by tapping my fingers on the steering wheel.
Those who have demons, sort of speaking, that need to be exercised, should find this type of dancing to provide them with some relief. Here is what you can expect when you attend the dance.
You can expect the DJ to probably start playing some spa music, such as some soothing warm-up tunes. You will also notice some people find their own rhythm while the music is playing.
Feel free to move along with the music though, even if you feel a little silly at first. Just do it and go with it.
When the tempo picks up some pace, you will probably get over the initial anxiety. By this point, everyone will be dancing with themselves. and you can expect the others in attendance to be very nice to you.
Just pretend it is your room and you are dancing in front of the mirror. Close your eyes if you have to, but the chances are nobody is going to be paying you any attention.
As previously mentioned, just dance. Find your own rhythm and just go with it and have fun. You will find it to be quite liberating not caring about anything else at that moment while you dance.
When the two hours are almost up, the DJ will likely slow the pace of the music down, and everyone in attendance will start to unwind. You can expect yourself to be sweaty and worn out, but at the same time you will feel free and relieved of stress.
You can find places that does this type of dance anywhere in the world, including New York City. There are many nightclubs in NYC, and the chances are you will visit that one New York club that you’ll love to boogie. If you do visit, there is also a good amount of nightclubs in Long Island, and there is a great variety (hip hop lounges, latin clubs NYC, gay club NYC, rock bars, etc..) of venues which Long Island hosts. After you spend Saturday night dancing away, make sure to take an “ecstatic dance” class the following day because you will love it.