… and Ryan Swain’s parents will hopefully step in and have her committed.
The Church of Public Ecstatic Dance
I was walking on the beach near my house one beautiful Sunday, noticing the diversity of expressions of happiness; everywhere I looked, people had chosen disparate forms of play, from fetch with their dogs to kite surfing to laughing with their friends over a beer. Everywhere I looked, I saw a new form of joyous expression.
Except for one.
I didn’t see ANYONE – not a SINGLE HUMAN – dancing.
That seemed to me … Crazy. What kind of world do we live in that on a beautiful sunny Sunday at the beach no one is … dancing??
I was once asked the question “What do you want to make ridiculous?” At the time it was asked (five years ago), I didn’t know how to answer. Now I do. I could regale you with hours of what I want to make ridiculous … but in that moment on the beach I realized one of my missions here on this planet is to make it RIDICULOUS to be ashamed to dance in public.
Thus, my personal crusade to spark Public Ecstatic Dancing.
What is Public Ecstatic Dancing?
It’s something that began for me at Burning Man (of course, haha), where every permutation of self-expression is accepted and admired. Burning Man is literally the bastion of dancing to the beat of a different drummer.
But if we really want to live in a more beautiful world, what begins at Burning Man should be taken home.
So now, almost every single day, I dance in places no one else is dancing. I dance when I’m the ONLY one dancing. I dance with no music (that others can hear, at least – usually I have my iPod). I dance un-self consciously. I dance as if I’m in my living room … in public.
I dance to open my heart. I dance to work through emotions that are stuck in me. I dance to worship God. I dance to express gratitude for my healthy physical body. I dance because the music doesn’t let me stand still.
I dance because I am free, and I dance to BECOME free.
“But I’m not a dancer! I can’t dance.”
There’s no such thing.
One does not have to “be a dancer” – we simply ARE dancers. Are you alive? You can dance. In the last weeks of my grandmother’s life, she danced while in her hospital bed – with her hands.
Ecstatic dancing is simply moving one’s body in whatever way you choose – THERE ARE NO RULES. There are no steps. YOU CANNOT GET IT WRONG.
Do you feel the power in that? You. cannot. get. it. wrong.
Feel that in your body.
We live in a world that tells us we are getting it wrong all the f–king time. I’m telling you that you cannot possibly get this wrong.
And when you feel that in her heart, in your soma, you’ll feel true freedom. THAT is freedom.
Ecstatic dance is communing with your animal, your body, this vessel that holds your soul for the brief window on this planet … in a joyous way.
And making it public is a gift to EVERYONE who witnesses you. What you are communicating with them – without using words – is that you value radical, joyous free self expression. Your example GIVES THEM PERMISSION to go further with their own expression. Your freedom gives them permission to be free.
So today – or tomorrow – or next week – I encourage you … try it out. Try out Public Ecstatic Dance. Do a little sashay as you’re walking down the street. Raise your hands and move them as you listen to beats that move you. Grin and wiggle your hips. Shake that ass.
Tell me how you felt after. Did you feel scared? Did you feel nervous? Did you feel liberated?
Did your heart beat faster?
DID YOU FEEL MORE ALIVE??
What, officer? Oh, I’m just doing a little sashay in front of this federal building because Julia Allison told me if I grinned like an idiot and shook my ass in public, my life would magically transform and I’d reach the next level of ecstasy! Won’t you join me for a little MGM musical comedy? Just like real life!