“Circus Collective? Networking? Okay, I’ll go!”
I told my friend as he said that he’d get me an Eventbrite ticket.
I’d never been to anything like this. It seems like it has been the time to try new things. And, he warned me that I should look up what I’m getting into before I show up. Thank goodness I did.
Grand Opening Celebration for the new art gallery that was just added?
Sounds exactly up my alley! As soon as I did a bit more research, I saw this community space for what it was. Circus Collective is a space to bring people together in authentic community. With the goal of finding that through movement and art, aerial, yoga classes and ecstatic dancing are offered weekly. Unique classes like “Handstands”, “Silk” and “Trapeze” give participants a chance to try aerial silks in an 8 week course or simply hang out with their community a day a week. This event though, brought together many components that I didn’t even know was possible.
Seeing the personality and art as I walked in was something that I didn’t expect. Art exhibits drew me in with its modern art filled with pointillism, sacred geometry and light. I walked around, glancing at the people around me, some in costumes, others with drinks in their hands, and I knew I was in the right place tonight. I was glad I came.
Turning the corner past the middle wall, Joy’s Kitchen who partners with Circus Collective featured plates of food and that’s where the drinks came from! Continuing looking at art, I walked the whole space, finding more people who are passionate like I am.
Music of all styles played in the background, I took in my surroundings, laughing with friends. After a little while, Ariana “Air” Gradow and Peter Holben welcomed us and introduced themselves.
The quirky, lovely Air had a presence about her that illuminated the room. She acknowledged everyone for being there and talked about the upcoming parts of the evening with poise and precision. Explaining her background in aerial, she calmly displayed and recognized the people there, inviting each community member to participate in an opening blessing by Ahva Lenay from Rhythm Sanctuary on the other side of the panel. She thanked everyone again, not too much, but just enough. Entranced, I waited for her to finish speaking and then joined the community in the art space for Ahva’s blessing.
Standing in two circles, we all held hands.
Friends or not, knowing each others’ names or not, we got to see each other for who we were. Community.
The touching movement and moment where we could pass by in silence and look each other in the eye, thanking each person with our eyes, quick bow, or smile for their contribution to our community. Ahva Lenay read from a book and completed the inspiration and blessing of the space.
Taking a deep breath, I felt rejuvenated.
The next parts were fun: ordering shots served from aerial artists, watching the performances that the teachers and students put on, single and double silks productions, music aligning perfectly with their movements. The ooos and ahhhs were magnificent contributions to the mix. Honestly, it was nothing I had ever seen before.
My friend turned to me in the middle of the event, “Have you ever been to anything like this?”
I shook my head, saying, “Never,” and smiled. A circus collective made my eyes open wide. I was happy.
We continued watching until the performances were over and they opened up the floor for dancing. On a Saturday night, the party was still rolling, and almost everyone was on the dance floor.
That’s where I discovered my love. I mean, I already knew it was my love.
But there, I discovered my hippie.
I say the word “hippie” with love and joy. Meaning “peace and love” surrounded me. As a girl from Chicago, I never quite fit in. I dressed differently than others in high school because I varied my style from cutesy to athletic to “I don’t care today” EVERY DAY. I still do that. And yet “hippie” is the best way to describe this moment. The “I don’t care what anyone else thinks- I wish that this could be every day- look at me, but also don’t look at me” moment that brought me to the present as I danced my butt off.
Ecstatic dancing is what they called it. Technically, that means, moving freely to the rhythm of the music without having to follow specific steps. I went for it, and did the thing that I always love to do when I’m out on the dance floor. I connected with people. I loved the way they danced by copying it. And, I enjoyed fully the moves (or lack of moves–depending on who you are!) that each person brought. I watched experienced dancers move in ways I could only imagine. I watched head bobbers and full body stretching and spins (oh the spins!).
And in these moments, I discovered love for people of all kinds. I discovered love for people who look like me and those who don’t. I discovered dancing in a way that made me happy and free for the first time in awhile. That’s where I found my hippie.
So the Circus Collective in Denver is definitely the place to be. People were actually being themselves. People were in community. People were invited to be themselves and try new things! They were and are authentic.
As Air stepped forward once again, thanking people for being there. Leading a birthday song for a friend, she let us know when the party would officially end and then let us be.
Smiling, I knew that this night would be one that I wouldn’t forget.
The Circus Collective gave me reasons to give aerial silks a try.
The Circus Collective gave me reasons to contribute without looking for something in return.