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I Need to Dance (05/24/21)

Music is and has always been one of my forms of escape. When I was living in northern California, I purchased a high end sound system for the house, so that I could become 'one' with my music. There was a flaw in that thought process though.

I had dogs, and liked having the dogs in the house with me. I didn't feel it was right for them to be in the house when the music was cranked up loud, so it was a rare occasion when I would chase them outside so that I could turn up my favorite tunes. But when I did, the sound system I purchased brought the music to one's bones. The human would become one with the music. As it should be.

When I moved to southern California, and a condo, I had neighbors, and the space was much smaller, meaning that nice sound system simply sat in a box in the garage.

But I still had to have my music, and be able to get my 'trance' on!

In order to get our music fix, my friends and I started heading to Las Vegas on a regular basis and frequenting places like Hakusan, and the ultimate in music and dance—Omnia! I would often tell my friends who had not experienced Omnia that it would change their world, and their understanding of music and dance. They would shrug it off like it was just another dance club. Until they stepped inside.

Omnia is a place not of this earth. Between their sound and lighting systems, you become enveloped in your own bubble of reality, and can dance the night away without a concern for what was happening in the real world. You became 'one' with the music. Again, as it should be.

Omnia, and Hakusan, were though, a bit expensive, and being in Las Vegas, it was only a half-dozen times a year we could make the pilgrimage to get the music we required.

It was several years of living in southern California before I got my gallery space. At that time, my sound system, still sitting in a box in the garage, would have a new home.

The gallery became and has always been a 'temple of escape'—the place to go to leave the worries, concerns, and problems of life behind. About 45 minutes from where I live, it was a journey to get there, which in reflection, made it even more important as a location to get away to.

The gallery is a place of color, form, texture—and music. Once I moved into the gallery, my sound system came out of the box, and it's 18 speakers were strategically placed, pointing to the center of the space. The acoustics of the space were bad, but in a cavernous concrete and metal structure, the acoustics were near perfect for trance.

I hooked the system up to my laptop, and hit play. I was in heaven once again.

Because the gallery is located in an industrial park, with no businesses in the area open after 6 pm, it became our place to let go and dance. We frequently had 'raves' in the gallery, where friends would gather, and dance the night away to serious trance, and a lighting system that at its minimum, provided some humorous entertainment.

I had spent a fortune on lighting for the gallery itself, but it was true to name, 'gallery lighting,' with an emphasis on providing the best visuals for the art. I had not thought it a wise investment to spend exorbitantly on lighting so we could dance, so I only bought a half-dozen of those dancing color strobes that react to the music. Strangely, that worked for what we needed, and nicely at that.

Then Covid hit! The music and dancing in large gatherings stopped—everywhere. No more trips to Las Vegas, no more trips to the gallery. In the overwhelming misery of Covid, this was the least of my concerns, but the memory of our mini-raves lingered in the back of my brain, and the longing for my nights of trance persisted.

Finally our region of the state re-opened, vaccinations became available to all, and re-opening the gallery became a priority. My friends and I spent many days dusting, cleaning, rearranging art, preparing the space for our first exhibitions and shows.

But before that was going to happen on a regular basis, damn it, we were going to dance.

We moved the rolling walls I had built to increase the wall space off to the sides, giving us 5,000 sq. ft. of uninterrupted dance space, made sure the concrete floor was sparklingly clean, and tested the sound system to ensure it was still working. The first couple of songs I put on to test the sound were the extended mix of Purple Haze, the Hyll, and extended mix of Blame, Cosmic Gate & Diana Miro.

Once again, we were going to be in Heaven on earth!

I knew nearly everybody in my circle of friends had been vaccinated, and decided to throw out an invitation to all of them for a chance to escape into a night of trance. Like many parties, you don't necessarily get everyone you invited to show up, and I understood that my group of friends included 'factions' and 'clans' that didn't always see eye-to-eye.

We set the arrival time for 8 pm, and only set a few simple ground rules: 1) no dress code, other than a pair of socks, 2) byob, though we would provide appetizers and other non-alcoholic drinks, and 3) phones were checked at the door, and keys taken if you were drinking.

My group of friends were neither phone zombies, nor heavy drinkers, and most definitely low maintenance with their apparel when they could get away with it, so we didn't see any problem with the rules.

I spent a week getting the music selection ready and loaded into my laptop, we cleaned the floors again, and tested multiple times with shoes off, socks on. We brought in a supply of water and other basic beverages, and asked Graeme, our resident chef, to whip up a selection of finger food delicacies for the event!

We told everybody invited we would have a social hour between 8 pm and 9 pm, so we could all catch up, say hello, meet people we may have not seen for a year or more, and introduce the newbies. On my invitation list were several friends from San Francisco, and though I thought it was a long shot, it didn't hurt to pass the invitation along their direction.

On the day of the trance, my core group of friends, about 10 of us, finished up the preparations, and made sure the food and drink were ready. Hell, even if nobody else showed up, we were going to have a good time.

Around 7:30 pm a car I didn't recognize parked, and out came our friends from San Francisco. Holy shit. They drove all the way down to SoCal to get their groove on! I was thrilled and humbled as they came in shouting "we need to dance!"

And so it began, car after car, friend after friend arriving.

The emotions were raw. The group represented people from all walks of life, all socio-economic backgrounds, all races, status, and orientation. And everybody who arrived had experienced Covid in their own unique way.

For some, life had barely changed, others experienced a dramatic shift. Some shared tremendous joy, with 3 new children having been born among my friends during lockdown. And others endured the gut wrenching experience of loss—two parents had passed.

And for one of our friends, she had lost her sister. We didn't expect her to show up, but when she arrived with a friend, the tears could not be stopped. Very little words were said, the stream of tears and endless hugs pretty much said it all. At one point she came up to me, gave me a big hug, and as the tears ran down her face, simply said "I need to dance!"

We all did!

As it rolled towards 9 pm, I felt a sense of awe seeing this group of friends assemble to celebrate a few hours of life.

While greeting people coming in, I noticed the dress code rule had been adhered to—some were dressed like they were going to a New Year's party, others were simply in shorts and t-shirts. One of our friends from San Francisco was dressed in a tux, with the coolest tuxedo 'shorts' he could find! It ended up being quite the fashion extravaganza!

I let everybody know that we would start at 9 pm, and that we had 3 hours of non-stop trance lined up, and asked, when the music ended, if we could have a moment of silence before saying 'see ya' and leaving for the night.

At 9 pm on the nose, I lowered the 'house' lights, and hit play—Let's Get Down to Business! by Tiesto.

For three hours straight everybody danced, hugged, sang, and then danced some more. Though three hours can seem like an eternity in some cases, the three hours of cleansing our souls with music and dance passed in an instant.

We did though, have a bit of side entertainment during those three hours—our friend and neighbor named Buddy. He is a 68 year old, thin as a rail, sun-baked and leather-skinned, custom surfboard maker that has the shop next to the gallery, who is often teased for, well, spending too much time with the chemicals.

He had been talking to us about this evening from the moment he got the invite, and as the music played, Buddy danced. That is what he called it, but we were not really sure exactly what it was he was doing. But he was moving, and did not stop till the music ended. Technically, we were unsure whether his gyrations classified as dancing, but he reached the goal and 'danced' the night away.

At midnight, the last song ended, and we all stopped in our place. During the moment of silence all that could be heard was a shower of sweat and tears hitting the concrete floor.

Then the silence broke, everybody tried drying the tears from their eyes, hugged and said 'till we meet again.' The procession of cars pulled out of the parking lot leaving our core group in a now silent gallery. We laughed for a second, because though it was completely silent, those crazy bouncing lights were still sending beams of color throughout the space. It was, actually, quite mesmerizing. They had a mind of their own, even when the music was not on.

We pulled out a few fold-up chairs, and sat down to reflect on the night, and to finish the wonderful food Graeme had prepared. There wasn't much left, but we were going to make sure we finished every last bite!

To our surprise, and delite, everyone invited had shown up, and then some—we had made severa new friends during the evening. Everybody got along, even those who normally had a challenge with that. The evening had been cathartic for all.

As Buddy left to catch a nap in the cot in his surf shop next door, he looked at us and said "we have to do this more often," laughing as he 'danced' his way into his shop and closed the door behind him. He'd had a blast!

We felt that everyone who showed up would always remember this 'first gathering' towards the end of the Covid era. We all knew the pandemic was not over, but we knew we were getting back to enjoying some of those things we had put aside for the last 14 months.

As humans, this group of rag-tag friends had prevailed, we had endured, and would continue to trance!


#gallery #trance #Buddy #catharsis #friends