Courtesy of Electronic Awakening Film
Buy the ticket, take the ride. -- Hunter S. Thompson
In humanity's prehistoric time long before we invented money or an alphabet, we lived in harmony with Mother Nature, connected to the land and comfortable in our primordial selves. We hunted and gathered food for our own survival, shared stories and above all, danced to the flickering glow of the communal bonfire, illuminating the night. We danced like the 'wildchild' within us: feral, free, rhythmic, pure and absolutely unadulterated. We danced with our hearts and souls and unified as one in a merging of transcendental experiences.
Since then, we have lost our feral ways, became domesticated, rigid, and lost the connection with that inner transcendental joy. Groups and cultures who danced to attain trance-like states found themselves tucked away into the fringes of society brought out only as sources of entertainment at cultural expos and events. The whirling dervishes, the Masai, Tibetan tribes and other indigenous groups who understood the innate power of the inner sage were no longer heralded and respected in a 'civilized society'.
HowWeird Electronic Music Street Fair - San Francisco 2014
The ability to dance in a free state was almost lost to us until the summer of love of the 60's and the disco of the 70's finally woke us up. We were dancing under the stars again, and with disco starting to gather in music shrines in cities. The 80's brought a radical new sound that hailed from the seed of the new electronic instruments which started making an appearance towards the center of the 20th century. The electronic beatscape propelled by the emergence in the late 80's and early 90's of something new and freshly synched. The spawn of computerized 'techno' music created perfect electronic hives as people gathered in old warehouses, dark clubs or in fields to dance. Music gatherings became the new centers of worship as electronic music filled a spiritual void. Temporary autonomous zones (TAZ) became the temple and the DJ the preacher/shaman/healer.
Trance signaled the rise of a new ritual where according to Julian Reyes, Executive Producer of Electronic Awakening - a documentary film which investigates the spirituality of the electronic dance music culture, the "DJs and producers have become our digital shamans."
Electronic music brought the entire music experience full circle. The new urban beat represented the drums; the lights and lasers represented the fire; and the DJ guided the entire orchestral ritual with her/his sound mixer. The response was cataclysmic and people who hadn't heard of electronica flocked to a newly-minted shrine and paid homage to the 'divine'.
Shrine - Symbiosis Gathering 2012
Personally, I found my spiritual path on the dance floors, entranced, dancing till sunrise in the late 90's. That was the first true awakening I had.
Trance, both the progressive and psychedelic brands became my music of choice.
Unlike classical, pop or rock, this music took over my senses, cleared my mind and took over my body. Most psychedelic trance tracks embedded within them sampled sounds of funny, enlightening or thought-provoking quotes. The imagery usually used for the artists were sacred geometry, galactic otherworldly scenes provoking a sense of listening and dancing to alien music.
I succumbed to trance's demand to let go of my mind and my duality and for a few blessed hours to become one with both the music and the sea of people experiencing this awakened state together.
In my view the experience of going to certain clubs, parties or participating in 3-7 day events such as Burning Man, Symbiosis or Full Moon Gatherings resembles the ancient pilgrimage one would take to a sacred space. A lot of the events I've been going to for years build shrines next to the DJ and around the dancefloor with deities and symbols from all religions and ethnicities - a unity of all narratives sealed in dance. Dancing in the streets en masse at other events such as the Berlin Love Parade promotes the same kind of intrinsic joy that connects us to our humanity. It's no wonder that street fairs, music festivals and other numerous community-driven events have adopted this form of expression. Dancing in the streets is an age old tradition that has resurfaced to help us find a sense of humanity and community in our growing metropolis.
With EDM ("Electronic Dance Music", a relatively new term for the entire genre of electronic music) and mega parties such as @tomorrowland happening in the USA --which I must confess, are far more commercial and less engaging to me as the old-school raves and outdoor renegade events where-- we've seen the scene change and grow to huge dimensions.
Bliss Dance statue on Treasure Island, San Francisco
I still believe that something profound happens to you, when you are entranced, dancing to electronic music, the vibrations of the bass bouncing through the dance floor, soundscape enveloping your whole self, LED and laser lights beaming all around you, with a sea of people dancing all around and all on the same wavelength and sharing an experience. Whether you are on a beach somewhere, on the playa at Burning Man, in a huge festival dancing with thousands of people, in the forest dancing on the earth or in a dark club, the electronic drum beating aligns with your own heart rhythm and opens you up to an altered experience of entrancement. I also believe it brings us back to that precious moment in time, when we were a new young new race, dancing with our tribe around the campfire, before we started our journey towards the stars.