Ecstatic dance has sold out. That’s not to say it’s doing something against its mission to appeal to a larger audience. I mean, they sold all available tickets for the recent event. Perhaps that is because this month we were back at the Union Square Ballroom which is not as big as the church on Washington Square Park. Perhaps it’s because Ecstatic Dance is amazing and magical and not a secret anymore.
Tonight had many first time visitors. Perhaps a majority. There were some regulars I recognized including 50s dress lady, sweaty buff dude, and Sharif the gatekeeper. Aren’t my fake names enough to make you want to come? Two minutes after the Gaga warm-up I see my old friend Saint. We’ve not seen each other in 10-15 years. Recently we spoke on the phone about my party (you’re invited too). He is genuine, kind, and peaceful. We share a deep hug and then he tells me he was at the last two dances! I’m not sure how I missed him but that will not happen again.
So, gaga has nothing to do with the pop singer. I had never heard of it but it was fun. It’s the muscular equivalent of tension and release. Dance silly! Sillier! Now… Float. So fun. Just thought I should mention that to avoid confusion. Here’s a description from a studio:
Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through your body. Gaga provides a framework for discovering and strengthening your body and adding flexibility, stamina, and agility while lightening the senses and imagination. Gaga raises awareness of physical weaknesses, awakens numb areas, exposes physical fixations, and offers ways for their elimination. The work improves instinctive movement and connects conscious and unconscious movement, and it allows for an experience of freedom and pleasure in a simple way, in a pleasant space, in comfortable clothes, accompanied by music, each person with himself and others.
On to the music. The DJ was wearing a fuzzy red kangol and a shirt that said “The Richard Simmons Show” (I guess he’s been listening to the podcast too). He started the set with an intro that involved some scratch samples and classic hip-hop source material. This flowed into an equally unexpected Cut Chemist track. Lyrics in the music at Ecstatic Dance is not the norm per my experience. The few exceptions have been Dead Can Dance and occasional tribal chants. While I’m not against hearing lyrics in my native tongue, I was not expecting to hear them. Queue a visit to the back room!
The elixir lounge has the added benefit of a second DJ. This is one thing missing from the church downtown. There we only have one room and the lounge is on the balcony. Lots of other pluses there so no worries. Downtempo beats flowed over and through everyone. Many were seated, others were at the bar to browse elixirs and snacks. One or two were dancing and I joined in. Green legs (as I’ll call her) must have been formally trained in dance. Her toe points were…on pointe. She was lithe and made great eye contact while sharing an enticing energy. She and I danced the entire night save for slight breaks to talk or recover. These didn’t last long. In two of those down times, I was complimented on my dancing and my outfit. These were very new experiences for me. I was flattered and appreciative. It was certainly not a result of an attempt on my part to garner praise or attention. One thing that it did reinforce was my own habit of telling people that I enjoy dancing with them. Sometimes I’m unsure about this but it has always been received well and now I’m sure that I’ll keep it up.
The next Ecstatic Dance will be 4/27 back in Washington Square Park. If you are unsure about this experience, read my other experiences and here is a video that shows a bit of another group’s experience. Typically, these aren’t filmed so this is a treat. If it seems interesting, buy a ticket soon. If it seems too hippy, buy a ticket sooner, your future self will be grateful!