I just attended a One Billion Rising event in Philadelphia. A fellow Indy Hall member named Ahava organized a local dance party which made up part of a global network of these parties to demonstrate against gender-based violence. I oppose violence in general, and of course the statistic that one in three women gets raped or beaten in their lifetime disgusts me, as it should any sane individual. So of course I had no problem getting behind this cause. The fact that I also happen to worship Discordia, the primal Goddess of pure chaos, threw it over the edge for me. Even though I had never gone to a dance party before in my life I would go to this one and check it out. I’ve enjoyed everything Indy Hall has done. This proved no exception.
I arrived at the Independence Hall visitor’s center shortly before 04:00 PM. I hoped I came to the right place. I saw a woman and asked her if she could point me to a desk. In broken english she explained that she didn’t know. “I’m just a tourist.” As a native Philadelphian I sometimes forget that lots of people come here from abroad, especially to this specific place, Independence Hall, the birthplace of our nation. I told her to enjoy Philadelphia and to check out the Liberty Bell across the street.
I still had no idea where to go, but used echolocation to find my way into a main hallway. I tried asking some other people, but didn’t get a response. Then suddenly and fortunately a fellow Haller called my name. I had found the right place. He brought me upstairs to the party.
Imagine my surprise when I walked into a big room hearing Shpongle, one of my favorite bands. Not too many people have heard of them, but if you enjoy my blog I would highly suggest checking them out. At this moment I felt completely overwhelmed with a magical feeling. I had definitely come to the right place. I want to personally compliment whoever played Shpongle, as I heard a few songs throughout the event. I kind of expected to hear the song I Am You, with its Goddess-inspired lyrics. Maybe next time.
I spent some time talking to some friends and just sort of getting a feel for the scene. They started playing some more danceable music and a few people started dancing. Ahava came over and showed me some basics by holding one of my hands and going through some moves, bending and balancing to the beat. Then she explained that we would keep doing this while mingling around the room and having conversations. It felt novel so I gave it a try. I forget what we all talked about, probably computers or something, but we actually all conversed and I kept moving my knees and hips to the music. Another Haller named Rachel and I discussed potential dance moves, such as pumping your fist in the air.
Some people brought some bongos. I found my way to them. Ahava and I played for a few minutes. I really enjoyed this. You can really beat those things! Boomboboomobmoboboombobombobooboboomboom!
The time came for the main event. Ahava got up and made her announcement. She recapped the purpose and extended gratitude to everyone for coming. An organization named Five Rhythms would conduct the event. Discordians consider the number five as sacred, so I felt completely enchanted.
We began by simply walking around the space while music played. Once again I felt so glad I had learned echolocation. It enabled me to move around the space much more freely, since I could easily make out people and walls. I still had my cane, and even though it did hold me back for now I still wanted it. I explored around and found a nice place under a speaker.
Next, we began dancing. Someone commented that dancing feels like getting a massage, and I began to understand that. I began to let go and let my body make its own movements. I had a knot in my shoulder and I began to feel it loosen as my arm moved by itself in a slightly exaggerated stride. It reminded me of the involuntary movements that may happen during a kundalini awakening. I began to understand.
Up until this point I had concentrated on myself and figuring out exactly what I should do and how to do it. I had pretty much ignored everyone else, just trying to dance around them and not get in anyone’s way. Suddenly a woman with an accent came up to me and asked if I would like to know some information about the surroundings. I said sure. She began counting in Russian, I asked. She introduced herself as Yulnika, and estimated the crowd at around fifty people, twenty-eight dancing, with around equal amounts of men and women. I thanked her and continued on my wacky wavy way.
I started having very cosmic thoughts. The woman in charge told us to transfer our awareness from ourselves, to the whole world, and to ending violence against women. “This is a medicine dance.” she proclaimed. This made total sense to me as a daily meditator. “Feel your feet on the ground, breathing in the earth. The energy moves up to your knees, then rises up to your hips, and you know where it goes after that.” Yup, right up to the brain, then transmuted into a higher cause. I don’t know if others got that, but I knew where I stood. My feet felt solidly on the ground, but my head definitely felt in the sky!
I began to feel the shift occurring I had hoped for. The thought clearly and suddenly occurred to me that ending violence against women would serve as a gateway to achieving world peace. I can’t explain how it happened or the exact details of how we would achieve this monumental task, but at the time this made perfect sense and felt so right. I thought of the work of Rupert Sheldrake, talking about morphogenic fields. I also knew the power in the combination of speaking about a cause and playing music to reinforce it from doing political campaigning for Ron Paul. My skeptical left brain wanted to analyze this new thing, but my ecstatic right brain wanted to just let go and experience it. Given the focus on the feminine, I decided to go with the right brain and I just let go. Whatever the reason, it worked.
Suddenly, a girl grabbed me and we began dancing. She put my cane down so I could dance freely. I had no idea who had grabbed me, but just went with it. I reflected on the anonymity of my partner, given the theme of the event. If I knew their identity I would start thinking about them. Perhaps I would like to know more about them. Perhaps I might think about a common interest or a conversation we had. Perhaps I might wonder about her thoughts or feelings about me or the current moment. Perhaps something else. Now I had none of that. I could only let go and appreciate the immediate experience. At the end of the song Yulnika, the Russian girl who gave me some information about our surroundings, thanked me for the dance and gave me back my cane. I thanked her as well and we parted forever.
I had a similar experience with another girl, though I recognized her voice from Indy Hall. The experience left me similarly moved. Women often complain about feeling objectified. Now I had nothing to objectify. I felt illuminated. I understood something about women I did not understand before.
For years I have wondered why so many smart and beautiful women end up going out with stupid dorks. Now I think I get it. A woman goes out with an idiot. He treats her badly and maybe even violates her, Goddess forbid. Afterward she of course fears this and does not want it to happen again.
The law of attraction kicks in and she gets more of the same. Like attracts like. “Men only want one thing.” This then causes the “nice guys” to react by becoming bitter. “Chicks dig jerks.” they say. This perpetuates the problem.
I don’t know if I truly understand, but it makes the most sense of any theory I have heard or come up with so far. Now I feel calmer, with less anger towards women who have hurt me. I also feel less bitter towards women in general. Scumbag men have hurt them and they need to heal. And somehow this relates to bringing about world peace as well. As happens with these sorts of things, my right brain had a transcendental experience, and now my left brain had to backtrack and logically reconstruct everything. This has taken a few days. The event has caused a permanent shift in my thoughts.
As things wound down Ahava embraced me and we danced. She felt happy that I enjoyed it, and said it looked like I really got into it. The woman leading the ceremony told us to thank each other. I thanked Ahava for organizing such an awesome event and giving me the best Valentine’s day of my life. We ended the event as we began it, by walking around the room, like the cool down period after yoga, or a return to simple breath awareness after meditation. We had done it. The Goddess prevails!
Afterward all the Indy Hall members got together for a group shot. I asked if I could get an individual shot. They said sure and asked what I wanted on my sign. I thought about my revelation earlier and said world peace. They put a garland of feathers around my neck. I felt like such a hippy wearing it while holding a sign saying “I Rise for World Peace.” At the last minute I wished that the sign said “I rise because the Goddess Prevails” but they had already made it, so I went with the more accessible sentiment.
I walked with some friends back to Indy Hall where we had a pit stop then continued to the after party at National Mechanics. Dancing really takes it out of you. We had a great time drinking and eating and drinking some more. I did have one beer, but other than that stuck to cider, a recent discovery. I made some new friends, met someone who knew some of my other friends, and had a lot of great conversation. Indy Hall had come through with yet another amazing event. My life has changed yet again. All hail Discordia!