Recent posts: Girth Radio Blog
Girth Radio Presents…
I heard about Ecstatic dance two years ago and I was simply intrigued by the name. I imagined it to be some sort of hyperactive wild dancing activity. Every time I was reminded about the ecstatic dance event at Dovercourt House I had already made other plans.
Only one of my friends was open to going with me, so it was hard to find a time when both of us were free to attend together. When my friend mentioned the Big Love – Full Moon Dance and Cacao Ceremony event happening this past Saturday May 18, 2019, I decided that I had had enough with waiting.
I confirmed with my friend that I was going and plugged the event into my calendar.
I had very little knowledge about what ecstatic dance was. All I knew was that it is family friendly, is done in comfortable clothing, is danced barefoot, and involves no physical touching unless all parties consent.
On the day of the event, I was feeling very stressed out and was concerned that I may be too tense to let go and feel comfortable dancing with strangers. But I had committed to the event, so off I went to the East end’s Beach United Church (a very beautiful and modern church).
Upon paying our admission fees (prices go on sale a couple weeks before the event and increase as the event draws nearer) we were welcomed in with a cleansing sage smudge. We put our jackets and shoes away and headed over to the vendors area. There were all kinds of vegan treats, a masseuse, an energy healer, face painting, vendors selling jewelry and accessories and various other services on offer.
We then walked into the dance space to wait for the event to start.
It’s an open space with high ceilings and large windows letting in the light from the setting sun. People were seated on all sides of the space waiting for the event to start. Some were chatting, and some were meditating, while my friend and I looked all over the room trying to get a sense of what the night had in store.
Once the room filled up, the hosts came out and introduced themselves and the space and directed us to pick up a mug of the cacao elixir that was being poured out on one side of the room. The elixir is made from pure cacao, cayenne pepper, and coconut sugar and various other ingredients. Very different from your standard hot chocolate! After the cacao ceremony (I won’t go into details so you can experience it for yourself!) we were directed to drink the cacao and lay on our backs as the DJ began to play the music for the night.
While laying on my back, I tried to let go, keep an open mind, and make the best of the night and connect with my breath and listen to the sounds of the music. I was opening up to the idea of dancing in a room full of strangers.
As the music began to play, those who felt moved and ready to dance began to sit up and slowly make their way to standing. I waited until I felt a desire to dance and to my surprise it wasn’t long until I too wanted to sway to the beats of DJ Mose.
The thing about ecstatic dance is that there are no “right” dance moves. You just move to the music, whatever that means to you. Some people were moving their arms and swaying their hips and they seemed to be really enjoying it, I let myself be inspired by all the people around looking so comfortable in the space, until I too felt ready to move my hips around a bit. It is surprisingly hard to feel out of place in a room full of people so happy to let go and just dance!
There was plenty of cacao elixir available throughout the night, and dancers could also head to the kitchen to get a drink of water. When I got tired of dancing and couldn’t feel the beat anymore, I listened to my body and headed out into the lobby area to check out the vendors ( I recommend the vegan mango-ginger cheesecake. It was a delicious energizing treat when I took a break from dancing!) only to see people dancing to the music in the main hall and feeling the need to head back in and dance some more!
The event came to a close with a grounding crystal bowl and gong sound bath. I felt amazing all throughout the event, but because everyone else looked just as happy, it seemed like the norm. It wasn’t until I got home an hour later, once in the quiet of my bedroom, that I realized how elated I felt and how lucky I was to have experienced such a wonderful night.
I still felt relaxed and I felt freer, as if while dancing I had shed some of the stress I had been carrying throughout the school year. The Big Love – Full Moon Ecstatic Dance event exceeded my expectations, I can’t wait to invite my friends and family to come out and let go with me at the next one on June 29, 2019.
Check out the links below for the dates and times of upcoming ecstatic dance events:
Girth Radio Presents…
This past Wednesday May 15, 2019, I attended a Mental Health conference organized by the Canadian Club of Toronto.
“Navigating Mental Health Solutions” centered around youth mental health and the resources and supports available.
Panelist Priya Watson, who works as a clinician-scientist at CAMH, in the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression, highlighted the services at CAMH as well as the barriers to access for young people. She spoke of the months long wait-lists simply to receive a diagnosis, only to be placed on another wait list for treatment.
David Willis, director of East Metro Youth Services, an agency that oversees the funding of 30 Children’s Mental Health Agencies across Toronto, spoke about What’s Up Walk-In Clinics and their aim to reduce hospital visits by acting as a “single point of access” for young people and their families in neighbourhoods across Toronto. The What’s up walk-in website explains that the clinics sees youth and families without an appointment, fee or health card required.
Lastly, Eric Windeler, Founder and Executive Director of Jack.org, a youth-led charity that trains youth leaders to deliver mental health talks to schools across the country as well as developing resources such as Be There, which provides guidelines about engaging in conversation with and supporting loved ones struggling with their mental health.
I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the conference, yet I felt that there were some more resources worth mentioning.
Below are some helpful resources:
Stella’s Place: Resource for engaging in conversation with loved ones experiencing mental health struggles.
Lift Up Program: Youth mental health centre offering FREE peer-support, peer-support training, fitness programs and an arts studio.
MetCon (Metabolic Condition) Program: Held at Academy of Lions CrossFit gym for people struggling with mental health and addictions.
Mood Disorders Association of Ontario: Trauma-informed boxing program for self-identified women who have experienced violence.
CMHA Toronto: Peer-support programs as well as a variety of programming such as Laughing Like Crazy, a stand-up comedy training program based on participants’ lived experience.
Gerstein Centre: Support with housing, intensive therapy programs, and wellness programs: an alternative to a stay at the hospital, the Gerstein Centre provides short-term residential services for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
Girth Radio Presents…
Final Day of the 2019 Hot Docs festival. What did you see? What did you unlearn? Today ‘s offering two portraits of mental health and…I dunno maybe the suggestion doggies are good for your mental health? One last time…Here we go!