Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Naked writhing people

"Briony, there are people up there doing a lot of writhing around each other... and are those people down by the lake all naked?"

Nicole, my old room mate from Berkeley, has come to pick me up from dance camp in her Dad's car. It has this bumper sticker.

Nicole's not very used to things like dance camp.

It's really hot. We strip off and have a swim in the lake. "This is really fun!!" squeals naked Nicole. We dry off and dress and have a hoola-off.  Nic's quite a pro. I learnt to hoola last night and I'm very excited about it. It's very fun, very sexy, and I finally understand how all those hippy hoola girls get such flat tummies.

I'm writing this in the room in her parent's house I'm sleeping in tonight. It has four guns in it. One is a sawn off shotgun. I've never slept in a room with guns in before.

Ok, enough on guns, here's the scoop on Northern California Dance Collective Summer Camp. 

The best things of all were:

the Yum Session with Philip Novotny

Contact Improvisation with Aaron Jessup

and the summer solstice ritual.

Apart from that there are just a couple of other things to say:

1. Everybody here is beautiful. It's weird and not weird. We have to look each other in the eyes a lot. I find it really challenging. It is like people are scanning your being. Argh you have to feel positive enough about yourself to take it. There is a lot of touch. It's pretty much the friendliest community I think I've ever been in. I think there must be a relationship between that friendliness and the intimacy created in the community by how much people dance together.

2. We did a great thing with the kids in the opening circle. All the children and teenagers went into the middle of big circle of maybe 200 adults, who created a rhythm for them by slapping the floor, clapping our hands, and making vocal noises, leading to a cheer. Moved me moved me moved my little heart it did, how fantastic to show our young people that they are at the centre, they come first, we value them like crazy. Then they were taken off to do cool stuff while we all heard about rattle snakes, bears, mobile phone usage and the nudity policy.

3. The blessings for dinner are ace. All the chefs, helpers and first round of eaters stand hand in hand around the big table. Thanks are given for everyone's imput, followed by the chant of three Yums. Hurrah.

4. This community has totally different norms around touch than my culture and anywhere else I've been. But then again, India has different norms around touch to the UK, as does Morocco, which is different to India, and so on. So norms around touch are culturally specific, and it bends your head a little to adapt to different norms. "What are the rules around touch?" Says the beautiful Taylor in the dinner queue. "For me, all my life it's been, only people who I love can touch me. That's it. Here you have to throw that rule out! You have to create a whole new set of rules and it's confusing!" Too right. It's confusing for me and I periodically have to go and be on my own where No-one Can Touch Me. And then I go and jump back in the pile and I'm starting to like it...

5. Everyone here dances all the time. It's like how we communicate. It's really wonderful and a bit weird all at the same time.

Overall that's my headline for the day. Wonderful and weird. Weird and wonderful. Northern Californian Touch-a-lot-boobs-out-eye-contact-cuddle-me Dance Camp. Goodnight :)

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