As a graduating senior at Boston University, one of my major goals this year has been to get out of my comfort zone and see more of Boston before I move on to the next chapter of my life. One of my close friends at BU named “Tracy” is a very spiritual and open person; in short, she’s pretty much a hippie. I love her for it. She’s the friend I go to when I want a completely new experience that takes me out of my comfort zone in every way, and one Friday night she delivered. Tracy is a hardcore yogi, which is a term I learned from her meaning that she does an insane amount of yoga and is very involved in the yoga community. I was unaware a yoga community even existed before I met Tracy. She found out through her fellow yogi friends about a yogi dance night that featured a DJ and a space where people just danced barefoot any way they wanted to. She excitedly told me about the experience and invited me to go with her to another event that the same DJ would be hosting.
I’ve never done yoga in my life, nor have I danced barefoot anywhere else besides in my living room. The idea itself didn’t sound too fun, but Tracy insisted that she had such a great time and convinced me to give it a shot. So, on a Friday night Tracy and I made the “long trip” of crossing the Charles River into the Cambridge side, which during a Boston winter is a huge feat, I think. We found this small church that was the address. I didn’t know the event was being held at a church, and I’m far from religious so already I was uncomfortable. My discomfort intensified once I entered.
There were 20 people before me dancing barefoot who I swear must’ve been the original hippies from the ‘70s. They were older than my parents. Tracy and I were the youngest people there by like 30 years. I didn’t know what to say. Tracy and I had already made the effort to come all this way and we each paid $5 to get in so we’d already committed time and money. Although with one look Tracy knew I was extremely uncomfortable. She looked surprised as well, but was determined to make the best of the situation. Seeing my expression she immediately responded with, “C’mon we already paid and we’re here so let’s at least stay for an hour.” An hour never seemed so long to me.
Once we arrived, it seemed the rest of the group was ready to “get the party started” by sitting on the ground and forming a circle. The hostess started the night off by having each person introduce themselves with his or her name and hometown. Everyone else seemed to already know each other. Afterwards, she felt the need to include some rules. She warned, “If someone is dancing too closely to you and makes you feel uncomfortable, please just come and find me and I’ll handle it for you.” Tracy and I couldn’t hold in our laughter from that comment, which got us some dirty looks. Unfortunately, I laugh when I’m uncomfortable in order to try to make the situation less awkward, but it normally has the opposite effect.
With introductions and the rules of the dance church party out of the way, the first dance was done with the whole group staying in a circle formation and holding hands. It was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life; I had never been so out of my element. Luckily, the group dance only lasted for one song, and then everyone separated and started to boogey in his or her own way. The dance church party quickly went from being extremely uncomfortable to really fun! It was such a liberating experience to be able to dance in public the way I only let myself dance in my living room in private. No one cared what the person next to him or her was doing! The environment that they created was completely judgment-free. Tracy and I thought we were only going to stay for an hour and we ended up staying the full four hours just dancing the night away. There was one particular man who was a bit older than the average 50-year-old. He was also a bigger build and dressed a bit more old-fashioned wearing a white buttoned-down shirt, nice black trousers and suspenders. He sat on a small bench in the dancing area just watching as everyone moved, and he seemed to want to join in, but didn’t. When the DJ played a waltz, I walked over to the man and asked him if he would dance with me. He immediately got up, and I could just see the happiness in his eyes as we waltzed around the dance room. He was a natural. We chatted a bit about the event, and he revealed that it was his first time attending as well. Then he said the most adorable thing, “You know, the more I move, the better I feel.” It was true. After our waltz, he stayed dancing, and I realized the beauty of this event.
I entered full of judgments of the people there and the purpose of the event, but I was wrong to do so. These people created this space free of judgment where people could express themselves with their bodies and relax. It was so liberating! I left feeling happy, and I met so many genuinely kind people. A night that I thought was going to be terrible based on first impressions, ended up being one of the best nights I’d had in awhile. The dance party ended with one last dance that was again done in a circle with everyone holding hands, but this time it wasn’t uncomfortable. By the end I felt connected to everyone there, and the communal dance was full of love. Yea, I know I sound like a hippie, but that’s what dance church does to you I guess. It was a new and different experience that I’m glad I tried, because what’s life without some spontaneity?