Recess was amazing. I have been dancing for many years, but this was my faorite event to have gone to ever. The people attending were super welcoming, the culture was inviting, open and aware. I felt that no matter how I chose to express myself I would be accepted. This is not to say I’ve never felt this way at any event before, but that I’ve never felt it so strongly.
If you’ve never ridden a hippie bus, it’s an interesting way to travel. You take an old school bus and gut it behind the first row or so of seats. Then you fill it up with whatever you’re taking with you, top that with mattresses/pillows/foam dance mats/whatever soft things you have available. Last, you toss in a bunch of people and go on your merry way! This bus was also painted and had a roof rack installed to carry even more stuff.
From Sacramento to Berkeley I was cuddled up quite comfortably with dancers I’d never met before from all over the northwest. In Berkeley we stopped to dance at Beat the Blues and picked up more people. If you overfill your bus, you get much more comfortable with your new (and old) friends, and sleeping is nigh impossible. We ended up pulling over at the Safeway in Carmel to sleep for a few hours and some people had to get out and set up tents because there wasn’t enough room.
The next morning we headed out to the camp out in Big Sur. Of course, a bus carrying all your stuff is only helpful if it makes it to your destination. Alas, Angel the Recess bus got stuck on it’s way. It didn’t topple, but it was listing pretty heavily. We ended up unloading it from where it was partway down the other side of the mountain and loaded stuff into attendees’ cars as they drove past. One of the rangers had a truck and was really great to make a bunch of trips for us. Eventually we got all the essentials to camp and left the bus to be sorted out later.
Recess is essentially a dance retreat in the woods organized by dancers with everyone volunteering their support throughout the event. During the day, there was mostly hanging out, with groups of people here and there doing different things (relaxing in the sun, playing with poi or hula hoops, sharing snacks and drinks, etc.), coming and going as they pleased. Breakfast and dinner were communal and usually delicious, and they even were great enough to make a special nightshade free version for me and Jeannie when necessary. Every night after dinner there would be dancing until the early hours. Saturday and Sunday were particularly special in that the early hours of the evening dancing took place in various magical reclusive settings in the woods. There’s just something amazing about dancing in the open air with firelight all around to some beautiful music with such uniquely wonderful dancers. That’s the other thing, I’ve never been to an event with so many great dancers. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, but even those less experienced dancers seemed on top of their game.
One of my biggest takeaways from this event was actually something that will stay with me hopefully forever. Saturday morning after breakfast, I started to feel a little left out. I didn’t know where to go or who to hang out with even though there were plenty of people I knew and lots of things going on. I brushed the feeling off and went about my day. Around Sunday afternoon, however, the feelings came back much more strongly. I sat in a huge room full of people feeling like I shouldn’t be there and not knowing why. All I wanted was for someone to just come over and tell me what was going on and that everything would be ok.
Normally when I have these thoughts nothing happens, but Sarah, someone I had made friends with on the bus, came over and asked how I was doing. I don’t think actual sentences came out of my mouth but she got the gist of what I was feeling and reassured me. She told me that this happens to her at every recess. She gets overstimulated by all the people and activities and feels exactly what I was feeling. I was so relieved! She told me the best way she has to deal with it is to go be alone, take care of myself first, reset. I was crying. We danced a song together and then I went and did just as she’d suggested. I spent two beautiful hours alone in my tent reading, napping, cutting my nails; and when I rejoined the group I felt infinitely better!
I tend to approach life as something to be enjoyed to the fullest extent, however, I used to think that meant doing as much as possible all the time. I’ve realized that in order to enjoy the most out of life, sometimes you have to forego some experiences. Yes there are five awesome things happening today and you could physically go to all of them, but what would that mean for your psychological and emotional well-being? Instead, I will try to choose one or two things, even if it means not doing the others, I need alone time to rebuild my energy. Along the same vein, I won´t always make the most optimal choices. Instead of getting down about missing out on a potentially “better” opportunity, I’ve decided to just focus on making the most out of the wonderful choice I did make.
The Bus (again)
Getting the bus loaded turned out to be much more difficult than unloading. It took basically all day Monday to get the camp cleaned up and get all the stuff up the mountain and loaded. For the trip back, at least it wasn’t overcrowded this time. We made it to Shades in SF in time for a half hour of dancing and then continued on through the night. When I woke up in the morning, we were just past Redding and it was snowing! We pulled over at a truck stop for breakfast and to figure out how to deal with the broken windshield wiper. Fortunately it was a simple fix and we got going again pretty quickly. After a drop off in Eugene, we pushed on to Portland and made it in time for Tuesday Blues!
I met many wonderful people at this event, and got to see lots of old friends too. So glad I was able to attend, and can’t wait for the next one!