As I moved my hand with his, I was in a complete state of flow, ever present and connected to the music. Then, suddenly, he lifted me up and I was free-falling over his shoulder, but somehow I landed gently back on the wooden floor and was able to continue moving flawlessly to the sound of the music. I looked around at hundreds of beautiful faces dancing without hindrance, while allowing the music to take them through a movement journey of pure bliss. We were in the middle of Historic Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland during a weekly Ecstatic Dance, and this week, DJ Sharu was guiding everyone through their own personal dance meditations.
Ecstatic Dance Oakland is a bi-weekly conscious dance “ritual” every Wednesday and Sunday where people dance ecstatically and completely free of judgment. Creating sacred space for all participants, Ecstatic Dance is an alcohol and drug free space. The only guidelines are move however you wish, no talking on the dance floor and respect yourself and each other.
Ecstatic Dance began in 2000 at the Kalani Retreat Center on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Oakland chapter was founded in 2008 by Donna Carroll and Tyler Blank. Inspired by the what they discovered on the Big Island, they both loved how this form of dance combined conscious dance with DJ culture. Since its humble beginnings, the Oakland chapter has not changed much, except for the sheer number of people that have found it, which has grown from about 30 people to over 300 people per dance.
Oakland ED Founders, Donna Carroll & Tyler Blank
“Ecstatic Dance allows people to process certain emotions that they might have not even known existed. The space and community allows people a safe space to move, grow and process those emotions and dance with them, however that may look,” says Tyler Blank. “That was our intention behind starting it; to provide people with a safe space to move, grow and heal.”
Because it’s held every week, twice a week, it has become a gathering place for people from all sorts of backgrounds that have formed a unique bond through dance. The community has really become one of the central factors behind the growing movement. According to Daniel Loboguino, DJ [Clever Alias] and founder of Ecstatic Dance NYC, “the Oakland Ecstatic Dance Community has been a gold mine of like minded people; fellow dance nerds, music geeks, transformation junkies, wellness warriors, magical creatures, creative conjurers, visionaries, luminaries and conscious communicators. It has been a source of creative inspiration, a lifestyle of yes, and a family of Amazingness. That temple changed my life for the better, adopted me in 2009, and helped me have channels for my creativity, magic and personal growth.”
Historic Sweet’s Ballroom During a Dance
I personally found Ecstatic Dance in 2011 and fell in love with the community and support network. So it was such a blessing when I was encouraged to go to DJ Sharu’s Ecstatic Dance session, but it was even more of a blessing when DJ Sharu invited me to catch a ride to the dance with him. Being as Sharu is a Vedic Astrologer, Yoga teacher and healing practitioner, I couldn’t help but wonder how he incorporated his teachings into his sets at Ecstatic Dance. His response inspired this whole article. “There is a healing modality based on utilizing our transcendent awareness alone which comes from the Kundalini Yoga tradition that is called ‘Sat Nam Rasayan,’ Sharu began, ‘Sat Nam Rasayan’ in Sanskrit means ‘rejuvenation in the essence of True identity.’ It is like Vipassana Meditation but with the added intention to heal other people. When I guide people into this space during a Sat Nam Rasayan class, I begin with focusing on the ‘meridian point’ of the class. The ‘meridian point’ is a tendency or vibration that everyone in the class shares and I guide the session based on what is needed to ‘heal’ the group as a whole. When I am DJ’ing, I tune into the same central vibration to read what the crowd needs. It becomes an intuitive dance with hundreds of songs to choose from and the ‘meridian point’ of the crowd informing what I play next.” Sharu continued: “People just want to dance and let go, moving their bodies in new ways. If I can play just what they need to get them out of their heads then they truly can let go and be taken over, under, up and down and all around reaching the “Ecstatic” blissful state feeling complete peace and embodiment in the full spectrum of who they truly are.”
Sharu’s words pierced my mind, but it wasn’t until I was actually dancing to his set, that they pierced my soul and I understood. When I was able to fully let go and allow the music and my body to move feely without fear of judgement, I felt completely blissed out. When the music ended, we sealed up the meditative dance journey with a heartfelt closure and new energetic bond was solidified between me, my fellow dancers and our leader Sharu.
Come join the community: http://ecstaticdance.org/sunday/