Screenshot of the Social Disdancing Dance Party via Zoom. Photo by Bear Hebert, 2020.
February 2022 | Marie Lovejoy
March 12th, 2020.
The artist opens her inbox.
Abundance of Caution…
Monitoring the situation…
In accordance with CDC guidelines…
The artist has no work.
She sits at home on a Friday night.
She cannot remember the last time this was the case.
She thinks back to Mardi Gras two weeks prior.
All those bodies. Breathing. Right next to each other.
The artist exhales.
She wants to know what she can do.
In answer, the artist makes green garlic soup and delivers portions to the doorsteps of friends also quarantining alone. They wave at each other from across the street.
In answer, Bear Hebert shares a Zoom link, Hannah Pepper-Cunningham mixes a playlist. When we are to practice Social Distancing, Bear and Hannah invite us to Social Disdancing. The link goes live Wednesday and Saturday evening at 7pm Central. 3…2…1…
We dance alone together.
For the first time in a week
The artist puts on pants
A reason to be seen
And to see
The artist enjoys the sensation of
not having to carry a purse
The artist feels like she has stepped into the spotlight
Everyone is in that spotlight
Rebirth Brass Band on the mix
The artist secondlines alone
It occurs to her that on this dance floor
She can cry without causing a scene.
The internet, it lags
We’re all a little off
Ask us if this matters.
The set ends.
We populate our squares in close up
Thus begins the Afterparty.
The facilitation practices we learn at Alternate ROOTS guide us, because many of the Disdancers are ROOTS members, committed to social justice and the support of artists whose practice is grounded in community.
And so Bear invites each person to say their name, their pronouns, whose land they are currently on, and to share something about their costume and/or relationship to the theme.
When everyone has shared…technically the party is over. But we have no other place to be. So we stay. We stay in what we begin to call the After After Party.
We keep it light; our days are spent reading headlines, navigating rental assistance and unemployment. This dance space is separate; a place to breathe.
But the pandemic keeps going.
Physical isolation ceases to be a novelty.
It is the norm.
Hannah (DJ Thundercake), leads a session on mixing playlists in Reaper. DJs who never before self-identified as such start a Google Sheet, signing up for shifts. DJ Lampshade shows everyone a trick in beat matching. DJ Both/And figures out how to adjust Bass/Treble.
We start to get crafty with the themes.
Bow Tie made from Duct Tape by Nicole Garneau for the Social Disdancing Dance Party theme “Prom.” August 2020. Photo by Nicole Garneau.
Dance is a regular practice.
The artist asks if this is still art if it happens in isolation?
The artist has been on hold with the SBA all day.
She logs into the Disdance and considers changing her name to Betty Clock-Her.
She mops her mucky floors and
Makes sweet potato cabbage soup again out of
The groceries provided at the food distribution site.
The artist considers the state of domesticity during quarantine.
The artist asks if this sequined dress looks good while ironing.
The artist asks
When was the last time someone touched you?
Holding the Space
Most of us didn’t know each other in the before-times.
Brooks Emanuel makes a map of our locations.
Image Caption: Hand Drawn map by Brooks Emanuel featuring locations of folks who have participated in Social Disdancing 2020-2021. Photo by Brooks Emanuel, March 2021.
Someone has a bad day. We are lonely. The After After Party holds this. We start a Signal Group for between dances. We call it the Always Party.
Spring into Summer into Fall into Winter. In anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the Social Disdancing party, Tulane students Charlie and Naomi curate memories into a Zine. At the anniversary party in March 2021, we turn the virtual pages.
We lift up mutual aid and donate to charities of choice. No one is turned away for lack of funds. We fundraise for organizations whose missions align with our values: Southern Organizer’s Academy, Nola Queer + BIPOC Mutual Aid Fund, Southern Solidarity, Spiral Q, Imagine Waterworks, Qlatinx, Teens with a Purpose. We raise over $14,000.
The After After After
The artist asks you what this all means as the world opens back up.
The artist wants to know how you feel, no longer trapped in a Zoom box?
We hold the space.
And we don’t.
At ROOTS “We seek first to understand and assume good intent while also acknowledging impact – if something we say or do causes harm we commit to working through it.”
We are human.
We made a space to be vulnerable. To create art. To move our bodies. To practice.
Sometimes the artist falls. And stands up. And tries again.
If you want to go out dancing
Come dance with us.