Finally, after 4 and a half years of wanting to go and not-going, I made it to Barefoot Ecstatic Dance on Saturday. It’s a monthly ecstatic dance event in Halifax, and it was fabulous. Here’s what I wrote the day after the dance:
The room was in twilight, half-lit by strings of multicoloured fairy lights.
We gathered in a circle, 20 or 30 of us. The organizers reminded us of the “rules” (no talking, let your inner dance out). We chanted OM, a continuous loop of sound reverberating through the space.
We spread out in the space, and the music began—slow, soft, pulsing. Some people immediately sank into trance and moved with that special quality of someone letting their body dance them (and not the other way around). Some sat or lay still at the edges of the room. Others, like me, began to move tentatively, warming up to the dance, sinking slowly into it.
I kept my eyes down. To look up was to become distracted by the dance of another, to activate that inner judging voice comparing myself to them. I didn’t want to do that. Some dancers moved through the room, interacting with other people. I didn’t want to do that either. I feared them. I wanted to disappear, to dance invisibly in my own bubble.
The music grew. It pulsed and throbbed. I stayed more or less in the same area of the dace floor, focusing on the floor and my body. I kept my focus and consciously brought my training into play, grounding my feet and gently moving my joints as I would at the start of my classes. Gradually, my muscles warmed up, my feet found their rhythms. I felt more comfortable. I let go of my control. The music picked up.
And then…I don’t know if it happened gradually or all at once…things changed. Where I had consciously stayed on the edges before, an outsider, I found myself moving deeper into the room. Where I had felt threatened or crowded by the moving bodies around me, I no longer recognized them as “other.”
As the music pounded through every cell of my body, and coloured lights began to flash through the room, the final vestige of my inhibitions, the last legacy of those years in the ballet studio…released. I was no longer the dancer and the observing inner critic. I was just me. My body felt clearer and more solid than it ever had, my mind was clear and open—still thinking, but with a stream of thoughts flowing through my mind like water.
I was one with the music and the dancers around me. My feet instinctively found the empty spaces in the room, and my hands stretched wide as my hand chakras opened and I sensed the energy that swirled through the space. I’d felt that before, when I first learned Reiki, but it had been a long, long time since then.
My eyes no longer sought the floor. They lifted—now to the play of coloured lights on the high patterned ceiling, now to the face of a nearby dancer, sharing a grin of connection and joy. I beamed…glowed. I shone.
It was deep in this trance that the message came. It came in my own voice, ringing through my mind as I danced in the half-dark. It said,
“What if you could be like this, always. Just you. Not afraid, not hesitating. What if you could leap joyously into experience, saying YES when the Universe asks you to dance, instead of freezing in terror. You can move past the fear you’ve been stuck in. It’s so simple. You just have to let go and be brave and be the person you are RIGHT NOW.”
A giant smile stretched across my face, and I lifted my gaze to the ceiling in gratitude and amazement. As the music shifted and I lowered my gaze, my eyes fell on the small altar at the side of the room. I went over to investigate what was on it, and I saw a crocheted bag with a note next to it: Reach into the bag and receive a message from nature.
Without thought, my right hand reached into the bag. It knew what to do. It pulled out a smooth, small piece of driftwood with one word on it:
It took my breath away. I sat for a moment, imagining the essence of the word infusing my body through the hand that held it. Then I put it gently down. I got up and bowed to the altar. I stepped away and sank back into the dance—hair flying, sweat glistening. Aches and pains that would normally have me seizing up in fear came and went away again as I surrendered to the holy trinity of body, breath, and beat.
On and on I danced, one cell of a single living, dancing organism. The music grew sultry, then softer and lyrical, then quiet. One by one, the dancers moved to the floor and lay still. I kept moving until the very end…I wasn’t ready to stop.
When the music ended, I stood still for a minute in the dark, quiet room. I felt my bigness, the extent of my space in the Universe. I knew that this was only the first of many dances, that I was on the dancing path. And I knew that miracles and magic awaited me, so long as I remembered the message that this night had brought: