As you may or may not know from my posts on Facebook, this past weekend I was a part of a flash mob call Dance Suit Nation that performed during the New York City Women’s March.
I have to say it was one of the most beautiful and inspiring experiences of my life. I can honestly say that I am still high from not only being a part of this one project, but being part of a bigger vision that does in fact move, inspire, and change people.
I’d like to share my story as it is a perfect metaphor for anything in life that you are passionate about. If you stand for something with every fiber of your being, it should never be silenced by the naysayers around you. You may have disagreements with your friends – even your family – and may need to work out ways to exist together in unity to live harmoniously. But, your authentic voice, who you are, and your right to be free is always important to fight for…no matter what side of the seeming fence you exist on.
I found it serendipitous when I received a email from Heather Eisenlord asking me to be a part of this Dance Suite Nation project. I have done makeup for Heather and her dance troupe called the Sexcamaids almost every mermaid parade for the past eight years. I secretly always wanted to rehearse with them and dance together in Coney Island.
I haven’t formally danced since I was a little girl but have always wanted to be a part of something synchronized that involves movement. I’ll admit that my first thoughts were: “Am I a good enough dancer? Will I have time to practice? Will I make a fool out of myself?” But then I remembered what this was for and saw the opportunity I was being given to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I have been wanting to express myself artistically, without adding to the negativity that had been infiltrating every political conversation, and this was a literal answer to my soul’s request.
I learned the dance through online videos and a few group rehearsals over 2 weeks. Every rehearsal left me feeling more excited and empowered about what I was doing, not just because of what we were standing for personally but because of all the women I had met and have been energized by at every meetup. I really started to get how much we really are not alone, and that there is a part deep inside all of us that awakens and pushes you to show up for what you believe in…you just need to listen and follow it. It made me practice my ass off over and over again.
On the morning of the march I was walking from the subway to our last rehearsal in the park, listening to our mashup of songs to get in the mood. It was a combination of six songs: I am woman by Helen Reddy, Nasty by Janet Jackson, Queen by Janelle Monáe, Girls We Run the World by Beyonce, I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan, and Sisters by the Eurythmics. For the first time I just listened to the lyrics of each song without worrying which movement went to which part of the song. From the moment Helen Reddy said “I am woman hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore…and I know too much to go back and pretend” I started to well up in tears. It really hit me in that moment what we were doing, what I was blessed to be a part of, and what we were giving of ourselves to serve a higher purpose…Our literal personal and united freedom.
As for the march and the dance itself, most of you know what a bottleneck cluster fuck it started out to be. We were actually considered “performance talent” for the march and supposed to be in front. (YEAH! That was a nice “plan”!) There was definitely a point where we as a group worried if we’d ever get to Michele who was holding our speaker in front of Trump Tower. There were just so many people…close to 75,000 if I am correct. The anxiety of the situation was definitely challenging but after a while I calmed down and just took it all in…the beauty of it. The old ladies, the young children, the men, all there in peaceful excitement. People of every race and color. The energy was electric. We as a group, most of whom didn’t really know each other held each other’s hands and waists and jackets to stay together, and made sure to look out for each other. I felt like we were on this mission to get there together. We kept worrying how the HELL were we going to move all of these these people enough to dance?! But we just said “it’s going to work out!”
When we finally got there, we were starved, pooped, and waaaaaay behind schedule. Miraculously, as soon as the music started and we gently opened the space and began to move, people graciously made room for us and watched. There was something so amazing about dancing in front of 1000s of people with the other “dance suits” by my side. I could feel the energy move through us. Hearing the crowd roar when we finished sent chills up my spine. A few people yelled out “THANK YOU!” “That was AMAZING!”. Some who couldn’t see us shouted “Will you please do it again?!” I remember Gyda saying “why the hell not?” So we did. 4 times! For 4 different waves of people. At one point an older lady in her mid 70s grabbed my arm and looked me in the eyes and said “Thank you so much for that, it means everything, more than you know.” and squeezed me. Again the tears! And I got that this woman could have marched in the 60s and was probably here because that’s what she stood for all her life, and finally people are really starting to get why this is so important and why you cannot be complacent.
After it was over I was floored by how many people were angry about the march. People accused us of being whiny sore losers or white privileged women who were doing something trendy.
So when people asked why I marched…
I marched for that woman and all the women who paved the way before us and fought for our privileges.
I marched because a woman should never have to explain the choices let alone the actions she makes for herself and her own personal being to anyone.
I march because a woman should have a safe, non judgmental, affordable place to check in with her health.
I march because Mother Earth who holds and takes care of us all should be respected and taken care of in return so that we can have sustainability for our children.
I march for the immigrant women who are law abiding citizens that make up our diverse melting pot of a country, that they may live without fear to enjoy our freedoms.
And I march because why the fuck not?! This high should be something everyone experiences.
So whether it’s our political climate, the voice you have at work, or just in your own home, do you feel like you are being quiet in order to not ruffle feathers or rock the boat? Do you feel there is a voice inside you that is the authentic you and has something to say and stand for? What is it, albeit scary that you might anger someone, that you have to say? Have you truly felt freedom, an uninhibited roar that gets to be let out? What do you march for?