A couple weeks ago, I joined my sister and some friends at the nightclub.
Getting out of the house to dance – whether it be salsa, techno house or contact improvisation– is a part of my well-being rhythm. A key part of the self care routine. Well, and it’s more than that. I think it’s why I am alive. But I’ll let this deep declaration simmer for a bit.
I love going with friends, though many a times I have brought my lone booty to the club. It takes a little convincing at times. A self pep-talk usually gets me there. I’ll feel better afterwards, just go. Like how I imagine it takes one to convince themselves to go to the gym. Just get there, just do it.
There’s a lot of energy that wants to move in this body. I am beginning to see and feel this and encourage it to move around. Sometimes like an 8 year old on a trampoline, sometimes like a salt shaker, sometimes like a tantrum. It’s the workout I actually enjoy. It’s an outlet for inner chaos. I am no longer putting a lid on it, or tempering it to make others comfortable.
This most recent night out, I went not knowing what the music was going to be. Having been to this club before and going with people I love, I trusted the vibe would be good.
I’m terrible with music genres, but I think you’d call this garage rock - a little punky, really loud, ear plugs are very needed. Lots of head bopping, swaying, casual concert dance moves. People enjoying themselves but also kinda shy with their bodies, ya know?
Just ahead of me, I sensed a shift. Body sways grew larger, shuffling, popcorn heads steadily increasing, chaos bubbling.
Ooo, a moshpit. Yes.
Now, this was a baby moshpit. The venue was small, but there was enough space for a dozen or so bodies to throw themselves around. And I couldn’t help myself but to join in. Jumping my way towards the center, like an atom, positively charged, drawn towards bodies, bumping and bouncing off others. Surrendering to chaos. It feels like social anarchy and/or a practice of wild togetherness.
I dip in and out of the swirl of bodies. Smiles all around. Those who don’t want to participate inch away from the chaotic soup in the center. I get it.
I remember a time when I did not like the mosh pit. Years ago with my sister at a different venue. We show up to a punky show, naively standing in the front and center, full glasses of beer in hand. I recall sensing a shift, but before I could decipher what was going on, a body crashes into me and half my beer spills onto my sister. We quickly exit the pit, taking it personally (at least I did). I didn’t get the appeal at the time. It felt rude and dangerous, and I was just not feeling it.
Now, as I spend at least two days a week in a Contact Improvisation practice, my tolerance for touch and chaos has wildly shifted. My body craves connection. My spirit requires a sense of expansion and togetherness.
In the context of global pandemic, years of isolation, loss, and a collective mantra of stay-six-feet-apart, phew, I think we’re terrified of getting close and simultaneously craving it desperately.
Another night, another club, a year ago or so, witnessing mostly men flailing and pulsing their bodies around to the hard core electronic music, I had the thought: Ohhh, this is therapy. This is what healing/processing/transforming emotion looks like for many of us. For a $10 cover, you can really get your money’s worth of somatic release.
Qs from the club ~
What are the tools needed to navigate and ride chaos? (versus try to tame it)
How do we support each in our rage? Can rage be joyful?
How can we risk new shapes?together and apart?
What does it feel like to have boundaries while allowing the self to feel porous and connected?
Right now, somewhere, bodies are gyrating and jumping in a dance club. Full body prayers, emanating from dark loud corners. Whether intended as prayer or healing or not, I see it as such. What a blessing.
P.s. thanks for yo-yo-ing with me from the conventto the dance club :)
There is mosh pit etiquette https://www.dancemusicnw.com/headbanger-101-mosh-pit-etiquette/
I feel nourished reading words that feel akin to my own experiences and yet from your own place and body and connections. I feel the personal and collective hesitancy and deep desire to return and reclaim touch on the dance floor.
So well said Emily—from convent to dance club.