Ecstatic Dance as we know it began in the year 2000 AD, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Little did we know that this would inspire a movement, a culture, and a community, that would spread across the world.
Ecstatic Dance combines the Freedom of a DJ'd Festival Experience with the Awareness of a Conscious Dance Practice.
For many years, it was common for most Conscious Dance Communities to use live and acoustic music, and many of them were not quite yet ready to embrace the electronic wave. At that time, attempting this meant mixing two long/boring songs together, and subwoofers were needed in order to feel the beat. Above all, there was still a lack of willingness of the dancers to accept this new “techno” sound.
But this all changed in 2000, with the help of Max Fathom. Coming from his pre-existing Conscious Dance community in Austin, Texas, Max was on his way to dance in Hawaii when he decided to make a stop-over at Burning Man. Here, he fell in love with this new Electronic Music, and set about to blend the two. When he arrived at Kalani, on the big island of Hawaii, Max found a dance gathering run by Bodhi Tara using mixtapes for their soundtrack. Upon Bodhi’s departure from Hawaii, Max was asked to organize a new dance in it’s place. Little did he know that this decision would change the course of Conscious Dance Culture forever.
Ecstatic Dance was born at Kalani-Honua, just a few miles away from the most active Volcano in the World (Pele), on the cliffside of a wild wave-crashing beach, in the middle of the largest ocean on the planet. The atmosphere of ED’s birthplace was wild, hot, humid, and Ecstatic, and to this day, has carried this essence with it across the globe!
Over the next 8 years, a new kind of “Ecstatic Dance” was brought to the world. And with the help of hundreds of Space Holders, Facilitators, & DJs, (and a special thanks to Elizabeth betwixt), the community has continued to grow and blossom ever since.
In 2008 Max and Elizabeth left Hawaii in order to pursue other dreams, but not before handing the torch of Ecstatic Dance to Tyler Blank & Donna Carrol. Their next step was to ask for permission to begin an Ecstatic Dance in Oakland, California, across the Bay from San Francisco. They proceeded to put in years of hard work and dedication and eventually created not only a website, graphics, and marketing materials – but they formed the largest ongoing Ecstatic Dance community in the world. To this day, you can still find them dancing in Oakland on Sunday Mornings and Wednesday Sweets’ Ballroom.
The Spread of Ecstatic Dance
The first Ecstatic Dance in Oakland started with under 30 Dancers. Over the next decade, it grew to over 300 Dancers, now coming together twice a week, every week for 10+ years. Pretty soon, people started to ask if they too could start an Ecstatic Dance in their own city. Tyler & Donna continued to pass the community torch and actively encouraged them to do so, (just as Max & Elizabeth had done for them). They soon decided to create a nonprofit organization to support new Ecstatic Dances spreading around the world.
Some of the first dances to spring up after Oakland were in Grass Valley, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, & Barcelona. Other dances (who had already been dancing Ecstatic Dance style, but hadn’t called it that) began to take on the name in places like Austin, San Luis Obispo, and others. In Europe, Amsterdam was responsible for having one of biggest influences in Europe, with Shanto at Club Lite leading the way. In Berlin, the dances were spearheaded by Bhavya, Pascal & Yogi.
The wave then made it’s way to Asia, where Ecstatic Dances were created at “The Source” (Banyan Tree) in Arambol, Goa, India, and at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali Indonesia. Over the last decade, this movement continued to spread, and you can now find Ecstatic Dances happening in almost every major city in the world. Empowered by the Love of Dance, the Simple & Pure Guidelines, and the Open Source Dance Technology (No Trademarks or Trainings needed!). at Club Lite leading the way, along with Berlin hosted by Bhavya, Pascal & Yogi. Later on, Ecstatic Dances at “The Source” (Banyan Tree) in Arambol, Goa, India, and Yoga Barn in Ubud helped turn on Dancers from other parts of the world find and Experience the Benefits of Ecstatic Dance.
Here it from the community
Global Dance Impact
Over the last decade, this movement continued to spread, and you can now find Ecstatic Dances happening in almost every major city in the world. Empowered by the Love of Dance, the Simple & Pure Guidelines, and the Open Source Dance Technology (No Trademarks or Trainings needed!). As it continues to increase in both frequency, location, and number of dancers attending, we will continue to discover ways of diving deeper into the practice of Freeform Dance, Ceremony, and Community together.
About Avani Tyler Blank
Avani Tyler Blank is the CoFounder of Ecstatic Dances in Oakland, San Francisco, Fairfax, Ecstatic Dance Retreat (Hawaii), Ecstatic Dance Campout (NorCal), EcstaticDance.org NonProfit, as well as an Ecstatic Dance DJ, teacher of Contact Improv, Doubles Partner Yoga, AcroYoga, Solo Yoga, Chi Gong, and an Ecstatic Dance Ceremony Leader. He grew up terrified of Dancing, until Senior Prom, when he suddenly realized that music can be felt and moved with spontaneously, that he didn’t have to learn choreographed “dance moves” like he saw on Mtv. and on stage. He believes that there should be more places that people can gather and move as they wish. Ecstatic Dance is such a place brings People together in Healing, and Celebratory Ways, both as a Moving Meditation for the Individual, and as a Powerful Collective Tribal Experience.