Durham Dance Wave provides a place for free expression

By Brianna Rolfe
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

The music starts off slow, and then begins to pick up a beat, encouraging people to express themselves through the natural movements of their bodies at the weekly Durham Dance Wave.

Crystal Mays fluidly moves her body through the hula-hoop. Mays is a regular of the Durham Dance Wave.

Every Monday night beginning at 7:30 p.m. a group of about 20 to 30 people gather in a judgment-free space where they have the freedom to move and dance as they wish. It provides an outlet for some to dance away their bad days or supplement a good one, according to Sabine Mead, co-founder of the Durham Dance Wave. “It brings so much pleasure into your being.”

The Durham Dance Wave idea originated when  Mead was involved with women in Carrboro. She then brought it to Durham where it is held in The Cotton Room at the Golden Belt Building on East Main Street.

“Durham has a better space,” said Mead. “Finding space was hard, but we lucked out with The Cotton Room.”

The intention is for the Durham Dance Wave to grow into a community, according to Mead.

“It is getting more diverse,” said Coco Rosenblatt-Farrell, co-founder of Durham Dance Wave. Mead said, “But I would like to get more diversity in the door.”

According to both Mead and Farrell, they are starting to see a larger group attend. There are typically 30 people who come on Mondays.

“We just started it in February and are hoping that by next year we will have 50 people attending,” said Mead.

Some of the attendees have been regular supporters of the Durham Dance Wave. “I have been coming here since it started,” said Crystal Mays, one of the dancers in attendance. Mays comes with a hula-hoop in hand to supplement her dancing.

“We want to create a community,” said Mead. “We want to create an environment with no preconceived notion about what dance should be.”

The Dance Wave is “distinguished from going to a nightclub,” according to Mead. The music has very few words and is less defined and more instrumental to allow people to focus on movement. There is “no class and no teacher,” said Jess Kemp, one of the event organizers.

The night begins with an opening circle where everyone introduces himself or herself. The music then begins to play. It starts off slowly, rises to a faster beat, and then slows back down. At then end of the night everyone circles back up and is encouraged to talk about their experience dancing that night and provide and feedback.

People are able to move authentically without the pressure of being confined to a certain dance movement. “We spend so much time in our heads being analytical,” said Kemp. “I might get inspired by a certain song.” The inspiration allows her to clear her head and focus on communication through movement rather than words.

“[People can] experiment how it is to be with others and try different version of dance,” said Farrell.

Jess Kemp (left) dances with Coco Rosenblatt-Farrell and husband Noah (center; right) and Bella, daughter of Sabine Mead. Each person had his or her own style of dance. They let themselves move freely and naturally to the music.

People of all ages attend the weekly gatherings. There will be people from the age of 70 years old down to middle school aged kids. Mead’s daughter, Bella, who is 11 years old, is in attendance every week. There is no “typical” person who comes to dance, according to Mead.

Every week a new set of music is played. There are four disc jockeys, including Mead and Farrell, who are cycled through each week. Each person has a slightly different taste in music. Farrell’s playlists have more words than usual and is “very fun” according to her.

The music is pushed to a high energy beat and then transitions to a more lyrical sound then to stillness and quiet toward the end of the night.

Both Mead and Farrell said that dance and movement has played a large part in their lives.

“I have a background in dance,” Mead said. It has been a part of my life and language.” Farrell says she loves to dance and helps people at all stages of their spiritual journeys. She is also the founder of Women Awake, Reclaiming Your Body, Shake Your Beauty: Ecstatic Dance and The Kindness Method.

Anyone is welcome to attend the weekly Durham Dance Wave located in The Cotton Room in Durham. It begins at 7:30 p.m. and runs for an hour and a half. A $7 donation is encouraged but no one will be turned away because of monetary reasons, according to Mead.

Mead says the Durham Dance Wave offers a “wonderful journey to go on for 90 minutes.”