I’ve been so caught up in reminiscing about my Kripalu yoga teacher training that I haven’t had the time to reflect on the here and now. Sure, there was plenty of joyous dancing and drumming at Kripalu, but those things also exist at home.
I have my sister to thank for incorporating a late night of dancing into my schedule last weekend. She and her boyfriend wanted to do something fun to celebrate their birthdays, so they rented out a former old-tyme theater/now florist shop and turned it into a 1920s dance hall. Guests were encouraged to dress up in their finest flapper/mobster attire and Charleston the night away.
I originally went to a Halloween store hoping to find a ’20s-inspired costume but was unimpressed with the cheap materials and lack of, um, coverage. Then I remembered I had a black dress from college hanging somewhere in the bowels of my closet. I doctored it up with some beads, feathers, gloves, and a shawl, and voila! Switch the camera setting to sepia, and suddenly I’ve stepped out of a time machine.
The location really contributed to the authenticity of the theme. Since we were in a floral shop, the place was mad packed with flowers and plants and smelled amazing. The lighting and wall fixtures reminded me of the lobby in the Tower of Terror, minus the cobwebs. It would be a perfect spot for a murder mystery party!
Since I’m an early riser and not much of a night owl, I was concerned about my ability to stay peppy during a party that didn’t start till 8 (I know–I’m such an old lady!). Amazingly–between the drinks, food spread, great music selection, and crowd–I was on my feet till the party ended at 1. My sister’s boyfriend is a DJ and knew how to pick out the jams, most of which stuck to the ’20s/early ’30s theme. It helped that most of my sister’s friends are theater people (as was I in high school/college), and so the whole night felt like a stage show. Give us costumes and choreography, and we’re set! In fact, they played “All That Jazz” from Chicago twice, and we ended the night belting away and hoofing it like Velma and Roxy.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put together a ’20s-inspired dance class. Who needs Zumba when you can put some feathers in your hair, pearls around your neck, and tap-tap-tap the night away to some brass? That Charleston is a workout! Also, I smell some more period parties for the future…I’m thinking WWII big-band era, Elvis-inspired ’50s rock ‘n’ roll…get on that, sister!
The night before the dance party I practiced my percussion skills during another Healing and Feeling Drum Circle, led by the same women, Jan and Marcy, whose class I took in the spring. The group wasn’t nearly as big, but the energy was still hot. The yoga studio sits on the main street of a quaint little town, and we kept the curtains open so everyone passing by would be curious about all the hooting and hollering. The windows were completely steamed up when we ended!
I went with Old Lady Friend Carrol. We both brought our own djembes, but we also spent some time shaking the shekeres the ladies provided.
I cannot resist the call of the shekere. At the end of the workshop, Marcy approached me shaking that thing in my face, tantalizing me to dance. She was like a snake charmer calling me from my chair, and I spent the final minutes of the class spiraling and shaking my booty in the middle of the circle. As much as I love dancing, I do always try to participate as a percussionist when attending a drum circle, but 9 times out of 10, my body cannot sit still.
Just as they did during their last workshop, Jan and Marcy infused the class with lots of self-respect, self-care talk. Marcy reminds me of a gospel singer and will just bust out singing things like, “Feeeeel the love!” after a vigorous round of drumming. It’s hard not to throw your hands in the air and follow along with her, repeating her affirmations about loving yourself, loving others, and attempting to make peace in the world. I always leave these workshops wanting to attend a gospel concert. (I attended one once during college to cover for the campus newspaper, and it was incredible. I was not in the best of spirits that night, but I left the concert with just a little more warmth in my heart.)
Part of Jan and Marcy’s schtick is to work through the chakras using sound. We all played what looked like cow bells (called agogo bells) for several minutes; the vibrations were strongest in our head and throat. Next we played frame drums; after a round of banging out a three-part pattern, the vibrations were strongest in our hearts. Finally, we made it back to our djembes, during which the connection to our root chakra was most evident.
After class, the man sitting next to me commented that his right hand was tingling at the start of class but by the end felt loose and free. He speculated that all of the drumming was helping release the cramps and tightness of his “computer hand.” I too noticed that my right hand/arm wasn’t as stiff as it usually is. Oh, drumming. What a way to work out not just the emotional blockages but the physical ones too!