So Damn Ecstatic

By Alexander Gilbert


There is a dance move called fear which is that one—you know—where you sit by a wall or avoid any place that might include dancing. Besides from running away my fear moves are pretty stationary. It also includes sitting alone in my apartment on a Sunday morning; although some laziness would be in that picture too. Boring stuff—I got’s to get on up.

Why shouldn’t the public get together and dance on a Sunday morning? Doing a jig called ecstatic dancing. Booze, drugs, and judging boycotted; not even the exchange of words while on the dance floor. It’s not a club scene with libations, and heavy judgement will prevent you from going, and or going again. Emphasis on going again. Wait, did I just judge? Shit.

Look I’m not a show goer or a person who frequents clubs. Whereas I’m a loner with no place to groove, and one that isn’t all that flamboyantly eastern or shamanicly spiritual, and in turn strays from the majority at ecstatic dance. Although Sacred Circle Dance (the leading ecstatic dance of Portland) sticks to the principles of having an open and neutral space for peeps to boogie no matter our definition of them. Furnishing the grounds to dance—mother fucker.

Strutting up to the Tiffany Center for ecstatic dance one overcast autumn morning I felt pretty down. The weight of the clouds were on me. I brushed it aside and payed my dues ($12) to enter the venue. Walking onto the dance floor I noticed a lot of tapestry, a few shrines, and the first person I introduced myself to had a name that meant tree in some language. As I was a bit early I watched people warm up off to the side. Actually on a chair covered in colorful fabric. I noticed I was the only conventional chair sitter. The warm ups going on were tai chi, yoga, and floor rolling put together in ways I have never seen. The place is an aggregate of spiritual practices. To the perfection of holding hands in a circle to sanctify the dance to start things off.

As the chain of people disassemble onto the dance floor, and the music started up, I didn’t find myself taking a step. Hesitation—hesssitation.

Here’s where ecstatic dance welcomes by its own unconventional grace. Lacking an ordinary spectrum there wasn’t any standard or fixed idea of what is dancing so by my own sight I could confirm that whatever reservation I have of my own shimmy—I couldn’t embarrass myself.

My fears were remedied, and I was dancing in the middle of it all. I started to pick up on, after careening around for a bit, the non-verbal communication going on between people. Varying jives relaying back and forth to two or more people fixed in a dance. So damn ecstatic! Additionally yelps, screams, grunts and other vocal noises intermixed.

Without completely discrediting my article, I would have to say: the environment ultimately took me in utterly. Subsequently from closing my eyes, and losing my sense of insecurities, and self-consciousness while in motion—I hypnotically went places with the rhythm and ambiance.

I can appreciate a good slogan, and Sacred Circle Dance’s “practice being unabashedly in your body” is choice. I was all up in my body and mind unabashedly. We certainly could use practice in letting go of self-image and appearance. I mean it’s just an epidemic. What a great resource we have in town.

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