Sensual Dance As A Meditative Sanctuary and Spiritual Practice For Bodies Often Marginalized + Forgotten.
Anthony, my first spiritual mentor and one of my first dance teachers, use to make us start rehearsal in gratitude and prayer.
I get it now. He was training us to withstand the tiredness.
Standing meditation to 7-10 worship songs. The music would fill the space and as we meditated he would dance in between the rows of us. I’m disobedient lol, so I would open my eyes to witness and most times I found him crying. I imagine because he often was giving and serving on faith.
We were preparing to minister through dance for Sunday service. I loved and still do love dance deeply. But this type of dance fed my little soul in ways I could not articulate. I was a young girl. I remember telling myself - you betta not ever fix your mouth to say that you’re going to be a preacher one day. Cause hell no you ain’t.
I was adamant. Until I came out - or really until I was outed (let’s be honest) and I learned there wasn’t a place for me in the church at that time and I had to learn how to minister to myself.
I realized how radical it was all those years for Anthony, as a Black Gay Man Living with HIV/AIDS, to not only exist within the walls of a church but to continue to have the audacity to serve.
Despite people telling him God didn't love him as he was.
Despite the people that stole from him.
Despite the people that wouldn't even eat a meal he prepared.
Despite the people who mistreated him. Despite the people that only loved him publicly when they couldn’t catch that sharp tongue and clap back with his own words anymore.
Despite the way, he was pushed out. He drew himself closer to God, closer to his worship and closer to his faith.
Oddly enough my own coming out adventure did the same for me. I left the church to find a God that actually loved me. I drew closer to a personal relationship God (beyond scripture) so I could deepen the roots of my faith. As I left the church I realized that Anthony had been preparing me to withstand this tiredness and this spiritual displacement since I was a young girl, 6 years old at the time. The day when my faith would be stretched so drastically I would have no choice but to seek God on my own. He will forever be my blueprint of living in faith.
That’s what my sensual dance + moving meditation practice became for me. A sacred sanctuary where all of my body, all of my queerness, all of my blackness, all of my weight was loved. A sacred space where my body could actually commune with spirit viscerally - not just from the neck up.
Yes, I can pray, chant, sing and say affirmations but nothing raptures my soul like being thrown into the wave of dance as my sacred meditation. As my own time alone with God.
10 years ago sensual dance as a meditative and spiritual practice did not exist in mainstream media. Particularly because in depth conversations about sexuality and sensuality, among Black Bodies, were still being relegated to our sister circles and The Academy.
The Erotic - and yes the Erotic itself is spiritual.
We don’t have to sub-name it ”sensuality” in order to see its innocence. This act of renaming is inherently white supremacist patriarchal ideology that wants to neatly commodify the raw energy of eroticism for bodies that make love/live and breathe the status quo. Fuck that. Erotic/Sensual/Spiritual are interchangeable terms with nuanced definitions.
It was a subculture of misfits who had been ostracized and traumatized by society and needed a space to find God in the midst of the music because our safe spaces were snatched from us.
We found it in house music.
We found it in vogue.
We found it in street hip hop.
We found it in transcendental dance.
We found it in our juke parties and jiggalo circles.
We found it in the movements of the Pan African Diaspora.
We found it in all the places that we were told to demonize.
Because these spaces, were so far from a proximity to whiteness, that they could not be deemed (by white people and their allies) as pure/sacred/celestial energy.
And we know for some folks the approval stamp of whiteness is so deeply ingrained in the psyche that they will rob/steal/kill/murder/discredit/copy Black bodies- specifically Black bodies that are constantly seen as an endless source of nurturing/support/laughter/compassion for their ignorance in order to find that one leg up.
To get ahead.
To be seen as the expert in something they ain’t got no business touching.
And others who want this same proximity, will cling to their every word, even though they can see the rotting carcass and shells of work that has been ripped from bodies whose names will never be spoken in their space. Whose work will never be acknowledged as inspiration or musing. Whose work will never be seen in the mainstream light.
These type of people are dangerous. They’ve adopted the mentality of whiteness so much so that they’ve become the (whip)Cracker for the very slave owner that would shoot them dead to get ahead in the race when (not if) when it comes down to you vs them.
Sacred space is not a buzz word.
Sacred space is not a commodity.
Sacred space is how we have found the ability to do more than just survive but thrive all these years.
Sacred space is a necessity for bodies that have been marginalized and forgotten continuously in the conversation. For bodies that have had to withstand the tiredness of living in a world that refuses to remember our names.