LA Living: Dance Downtown

Music Center Plaza
*Disclaimer: This picture was taken out of desperation to capture the vibrancy of tonight. You had to be there to know its truth.

Los Angeles is ALIVE!

According to my tightly booked iCal, I was supposed to visit LACMA tonight to enjoy free jazz and art galleries with my family. After a full day of swimming (Happy Birthday, Becca!), LA traffic (I officially hate the 110N), and lots of miscommunication, I ended up at the Music Center Plaza for Dance Downtown’s Bollywood night.

Dance Downtown is a summer series sponsored by the coolest initiative I’ve ever heard of, Arts Active (at The Music Center) They host events ranging from massive sing-along parties to ukele-alongs and National Dance Day.

When we arrived, there was nothing to be seen but a closed, uninviting building and random pedestrians. We circled the block in search of the plaza and as soon as I saw colored lanterns strung across the evening sky, I jumped out of the car.

The music was blasting and the people were grooving. I instantly hopped onto the dance floor and started imitating everyone’s cool-looking moves. There seemed to be a woman dressed in traditional Sari near every dance circle and I began to feel like I had missed out on something. My feelings of exclusion were curbed when a lady announced that the second dance lesson would begin in a minute. YES! I shouted loudly with the crowd at the news and positioned myself as close to the stage as possible.

The blue-haired dance instructor graced the stage in traditional attire. She had us moving within seconds to no music and I couldn’t help but to look around and observe the people I was sharing the dance floor with. Individuals of all ages, nationalities, cultures, and style stood too close for comfort, bumping into each other peacefully with genuine smiles. I quickly pulled out my phone to capture this glorious moment and stored it back in my purse after my third failed attempt, realizing that I couldn’t. You needed to be there!

After the lesson ended, the DJ spun the hottest Bollywood hits I’ve never heard and we danced the night away, literally. I danced my eyeglasses off TWICE, broke into an African dance routine, and started a cha-cha train that took over the entire dance floor. At one point I felt forced to move. I literally couldn’t stop. I found myself jumping up and down every time the beat dropped, shaking uncontrollably and unashamed. (I definitely channeled my energy towards God multiple times throughout the night. I was having a straight-up praise party. Haha)

I am currently in the bed depending on a pillow for back support and my knees have never been so tense, but it was more than worth it. Seeing people from all walks of life release their inner freedom together, outdoors, in the middle of Los Angeles, was just what I needed.

I watched an elderly Black, natural couple dance to the Bollywood beats tastefully mixed with some of the greatest pop hits, including “Billie Jean,” “Boom Boom Pow” and “Return of the Mack.” The husband wore dreadlocks down his back and his beautiful wife was crowned with an afro twice the size of mine. As soon as our eyes met, I saw myself. I thought: This is what I’ll be doing in 50 years with my husband, family, and friends. (God-willing!)

It was surreal. Sweat puddles didn’t spare a back. My feet were trampled on at least 10 times. (Never wear flip flops to a dance party.) But no one cared. We were there as one and there was absolutely no judgment. No judgment of character, dance skills, or appearance. And if there was, I couldn’t smell it. I was too busy shaking my groove thang Bollywood, African, and Cat-daddy style to care about what others thought.

Dance Downtown is an experience, not an event.

Come out in two weeks to participate in what seems like an epic movie scene. We will be learning Cumbia and rocking out to the hottest sounds under LA stars. And by stars I mean multi-colored lanterns. See you there.


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