Letting Go of Sweet's Ballroom

Seven months after COVID started, I arrived at Sweet’s Ballroom, the birthplace of ecstatic dance Oakland. I was there on a devastating mission—to clear out the storage unit of nearly 15 years of stuff, all housed in a little cubby under the stairs. I pulled up, parked out front and read the sign on the door. “Ecstatic dance has been canceled today. We’ll see you next week!” I half laughed, half cried. I unlocked and opened the heavy glass door, like I had done thousands of times before. As I walked up the stairs, it was eerily quiet. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. The tables and chairs were exactly how we’d left them. I walked to the middle of the floor, raised my hands and did a dance to say goodbye. Then I went back down the stairs to the closet and packed up. As I drove away, I cried and cried.

Over the next two years, I kept a tiny sliver of hope alive that one day we might be able to dance together again. I kept looking for a new space. One day, someone sent me a facebook message about a venue I hadn’t noticed, only a few blocks from the old one. When I visited, I sat in the middle of the room and imagined it filled with dancers. I surrendered my will and asked spirit to guide me and let me know if this was the best next place for dance. Immediately, a huge surge of energy filled my body. A quiet but definite yes sounded in my head. 

This vision has become reality. 

I had the great fortune to be able to say goodbye to the old space. I did my own private ritual and let go. Many, many dancers did not have the chance to say goodbye to the space that held so much for us. There’s a thread left dangling. Untended. 

In order to make space for something new, when we’re ready we need to say goodbye to the old. Rituals help make sense of loss and care for the dangling threads so we can move on. If you've lost something of value during the pandemic, dance is a powerful way to release. Create your own ritual and do a dance of letting go, when you’re ready.