Elaine Gale

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We Were Together: I Forget The Rest

Now the dark windowless room where we dance seems perfect—it’s like a sensory deprivation tank.

At first, I couldn’t get used to it.

I moved here after living and dancing in Sacramento for years in a big room with butter oak floors, big leaded-glass windows, the light streaming in from all sides.

It felt funny to me that in Santa Barbara, the most beautiful town I’d ever seen—beauty wafting off the people and the place—and we all danced together in a dark cave. But the dark cave included incredible music, mats for stretching, hula hoops, altars, colored dots of light bouncing around, two floor floodlights--one green, one red--and ducts and wires off an exposed ceiling, exposed like all of us.

Living here with blinding beauty and consistent sunshine, it seems somehow perfect to dance without any of that distraction, to dance in a dark box of sweaty humans.

Lucky for me, I found Dance Tribe right away when I moved here a few years ago. I live in the same neighborhood as the Gail Towbes Center for Dance.

Sometimes I dance with others.

Mostly I dance by myself.

Usually it’s a mix of the two.

When I go, I have no idea what will happen there or what I’ll excavate in myself.

Last week when I danced, I hit an unexpected pocket of sadness in my body—not attached to any story—that left me broken open and weeping. 

And I’ve gone to Dance Tribe and been like an Easter Island statue, barely making any expressions at all.

And I’ve just swayed in the corner with my eyes closed, my hands over my heart.

This dance practice is some of the most potent medicine I've ever swallowed.


I'm grateful to everyone involved, to the founders, all the teachers, all the ministers of music, all the dance floor companions, all the people who handle admission, create stunning altars, mop the floors.

For me, it’s a place to be joyful, to be sad, to be playful, to be serious, to be reverent, to be irreverent, to be pretty, to be ugly, for connection, for solitude, for wild abandon, for micro-movements and for silently stretching on a mat in a corner. 

It all feels like a prayer.

For me, it’s a place to interrogate the dark—the darkness of my own shadow. It’s a place where I can track my grief, investigate my sadness, quiet my mind, celebrate my growth and show up in community. Dance Tribe a place where I leave for my car in a sweet, sweaty, salty surrender and walk out into the light.

There are times when the veil rips off and it’s just an unadorned medicine field—a place where a cosmic consciousness is almost visible to the naked eye, where everyone’s ancestors are  practically lined up in the parking lot to cheer them on.

What would they say? “This movement is the medicine” or “Move through your fear, your sadness, your pain” or “Don't worry--you'll move through it."

 Maybe they'd just quote Walt Whitman: “We were together. I forget the rest.”

Dance Tribe