A Legendary Dance
The story of Sundance goes back 25 years; the story of dance is ancient, and goes back to the first men and women who walked the face of the earth.
In my own life, my first memory of dance was in elementary school. I have no idea how old I was, I just remember being completely enthralled by dances like The Twist, the Pony, and the Jerk. As I grew older, disco ruled, and “the dance” eventually led us to the pre-circuit party phenomenon called The Saint in New York City. The Saint was magic, and it shaped my life in ways that still make me marvel. In 1988, connections to the Saint even helped supply lighting and DJs for the Strand dance club here in Rehoboth Beach. The Strand, of course, was the first home of Sundance—and there we have it: my dance history in a nutshell.
We dance for many reasons: to tell a story, to express emotions, for art, for theater, for ceremony, for exercise, and just for the pure fun of it. Dance is liberating; it makes us feel good; it connects us to one another.
For gay people, the dance has long been a part of the ritual of life, and our roots as “two-spirit” people extend far back into ancient cultures all around the world. (The term “two-spirit,” by the way, was chosen at the third intertribal Native American LGBT conference in Winnipeg to express gender identity and variance.)
Watching the dancers at Sundance, especially when there are a lot of fan dancers in the house, it’s easy to feel the spirit in the room. Two-spirit people have a way of dancing beyond the cultural barriers of the world around us. I believe we have a great need to dance, that we have a great need to come together in order to let go of the stress and tension that seem to be an ever present part of our modern lives. Dance is good for us—our bodies and our souls!
On Labor Day weekend we will dance the Sundance for the 25th time. That’s an amazing number, if you ask me! Over those 25 years, Sundance has become a part of the fabric of our lives, and it is for that reason that we have themed Sundance 2012, the “Legend of the Silver Rainow.”
Remember the tagline for Blackgama and other brands from the American Legend Cooperative: “What becomes a legend most?” It was also the title of a 1989 album by Jermaine Stewart. In regards to Sundance, the answer to that question is simply that when we come together to support one another and our community, good things happen—and that makes them worthy of legend.
I’ve written more than usual about Sundance this year because it is the 25th Anniversary and because that anniversary is important to Steve and me. Most likely, as I speculated in the previous issue of Letters, we’ve said all we need to say about Sundance. We’ve been writing about it for a least 22 of those 25 years. What have I left unsaid, I wondered?
The answer still comes back to “the dance,” and by that I don’t just mean the physical activity we do on the dance floor. The dance of life is a precarious one at best, and each year I count myself blessed to still be here and to still be able to celebrate the passage of another year with friends and family and a community unlike any other.
Falling as it does at the end of summer and the beginning of the fall—the harvest—season, Sundance celebrates the fruits of our labors. It reminds me that to live up to our full creative potential we must honor our two-spirit nature, and take the time to be thankful for who we are and the amazing people who dance beside us.
Each one of us, I’m sure, has a unique perspective on Sundance. Whatever it is, I hope it leads you to the dance floor on Sunday, September 2 as we celebrate Sundance 2012: Legend of the Silver Rainbow.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.