“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.”

 ~ Aldous Huxley

Are you getting enough movement in your day-to-day life? Have the shifts in our society caused a shift in your practice? What kind of adjustments have you made to deal with our evolving reality?

Since our world turned upside down well over a year ago a lot of things have changed. Remember when all the dances started to shut down? “We’re closing down for three weeks out of an abundance of caution.” or “See you next month!” Well, overly optimistic would be an understatement, to say the least.

Here in the East Bay where I was the host and resident DJ at Dance Jam we shut down in a hurry and left it open-ended. We’ll dance again in person when the danger has past and there’s no need for masks indoors. It doesn’t help that our room only opens up on one end so the best we can do is use fans to keep the air moving, there’s no way to have it flowing through.

As the weeks turned into months that have since passed the one-year milestone we began to wonder if we would ever be back on the dance floor again. Earlier this year, in late spring and early summer folks began to call me and ask when we might be starting up again. “Hey, the vaccines are rolling out and people are ready to boogie, when are we dancing again?” After all, here in California the color-coded lockdown tier system was ended in June, so “We must be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, right?”

Well, not so fast, dancers… I have a responsibility to my dance community to hold a safe and healthy space, (after all, conscious dance is all about mental health and physical wellness, right?), and I’m committed to keeping my decision making non-ideological and science-based. So back in early summer I started to watch the local numbers with a glimmer of hope — I really miss playing records to a moving room full of happy people.

The Bay Area is a big place with around eight or nine million people. The two counties where most of our dance community resides are Contra Costa and Alameda. So when people ask, I tell them the benchmark I’ve decided on is that when new cases of Covid in those two counties falls under 100 for each (and stays there or keeps dropping), we will look into opening back up.

A quick Google search for “Contra Costa County Covid” (or any county you choose) brings up a list of links and a small map on the right that lists the number of new cases reported over the past 14 days. When I started checking the stats in early summer the combined total for our two counties was around 400. “Not great, but not too bad” I remember thinking. “I’ll start checking regularly and see how things go.”

So I began checking once or twice a week and realized I must have started at the very bottom of the curve. 800, then 1,200, then 1,800. “Yikes! The numbers are going up!” 2,400, then over 4,000. Ugh. Meanwhile, folks who weren’t paying close attention were like, “The pandemic is over, right? Yay, let’s get back to normal!”

Last week it hit 10,000 new cases just in our two counties, today we’re at 11,391. Needless to say, we won’t be dancing in person yet anytime soon. If California was still using the tiered metric every county in the state would be at the highest level and we would be back on full lockdown. With our governor facing an ill-advised recall (please vote NO!) it’s unlikely strict lockdowns will return, but if he’s ousted all bets are off.

As for our dance? Well, it’s easy to say “Just demand proof of vaccination” but even with that, masks are still needed indoors and the fact remains that a number of our dancers (and crew members) are staunchly refusing to get the vaccine, or are still in denial about covid in general. To me, it seems like trying to let our hair down and groove when there’s still anxiety in the air is a non-starter.

So… On we go, well into the second year of an inconvenient pandemic that was purported to be over in a matter of weeks. At least we humans, ever-so-adaptable species that we are, are finding ways to roll with the changes and even thrive. Right outside our front door there’s a group of dancers showing up every other Sunday to lug a portable speaker up the hill to dance in the wind on the hilltop.

I’m still streaming an eclectic set from my vinyl collection every Friday night and have cultivated a dedicated group of regular listeners, making some great new friends along the way. (You haven’t joined us yet? Start this Friday!)

And above and beyond it all, it’s been a time to be mindful and aware of all of the movement opportunities that are present in day-to-day life. The thought crossed my mind with a wave of gratitude the other day as I was getting down on my knees to crawl under a huge steel structure that I’m building.

There’s some soft grass under the beams and as I was down on all fours with all of my welding gear on I paused for a somatic moment and breathed into a couple of full cat-cow yoga moves. “Ahh… oh yeah! I’m looking forward to in-person yoga classes again!” Well, the luxury of movement is as close as your skin.

You surely have many similar moments of movement opportunity at your fingertips. One day we’ll all be frolicking together on some dance or yoga floor somewhere, in the meantime, make the most of whatever methods of movement come your way!

Much love till next Monday!

M+

M+

Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

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