Don't You Feel it Too? Dancing for Marriage Equality

Can you believe it's been a year since Minnesota passed Marriage Equality? How does it make you feel? Perhaps you feel like dancing? Well, you're in luck. To mark the occasion Don't You Feel it Too? (DYFIT), a group organized by artist Marcus Young and Grace Minnesota, will be dancing today in celebration in a public act where participants bring their own music to listen to on headphones. 

DYFIT began in 2008, before the Republican National Convention. Young and his collaborators "wanted to be fully present in the midst of a divisive atmosphere," he says. Not wanting to get caught up in the protests that were happening, the group decided instead to listen to the music they loved the most and express their vulnerability in a public space. "It was just an experiment," he says. Because they weren't technically protesters and they weren't carrying signs, they could proceed in the center of action, and at any moment they could "break open" to dance their truth. After four days of this activity, Young says that not only did the participants feel good, but they were able to hold a middle ground where they weren't identified with one particular party. 

Since then, the practice has continued, with actions taking place every year, sometimes in the summer and sometimes in the winter. 

Theresa Madaus of Mad King Thomas has been participating in DYFIT since its beginnings in 2008. She felt it was a great way to protest the RNC without dogmas or boxes around it. In addition, "I also like that it was a really simple practice, but it has a lot of complexity," she says. "I can do the practice and think about anti-capitalism and hegemony, but it also has a space for joyful connection." 

Madaus says that no matter how many times she does the public dancing, "there's always something new to discover." 

The idea for having a DYFIT session specifically geared toward Marriage Equality stems from over a year ago, when Young was listening to public radio. The vote over the referendum was drawing near, and there was a lot of anxiety and excitement in the air. Listening to MPR, Young heard one caller say: "I think we should shoot them all."

"That was a moment where I thought, 'Wow.' We were on the verge of a possibly historic vote, and there was a lot of good feeling and pride, but a lot of entrenchment too," Young says. "It was a good reminder that we were still passionately divided on that issue." 

A year after Marriage Equality has gone into law, Young feels glad and proud for his community, but believes that the work didn't stop with its passing. "We can't sit back and coast," he says. 
Friday's dance will start at Peavey Plaza with an instructional session, much like the beginning of a yoga class. Young (and perhaps one or two others, depending on the size of the group) will lead the practitioners in setting intentions for the dance, and creating a space for each person. Since today's dance has to do with the August 1 anniversary, each person will set their own intention around their feelings about the passage of the law. 

Young says he imagines he'll be thinking about his own search for love, and how same-sex marriage makes that journey more possible. "My heart will go to many places," he says. "Pride, provocation; part of me will open my heart to meeting the love of my life sometime." 

Madaus is excited for the event, in part because she has mixed feelings about the anniversary. On the one hand, "I'm super happy and delighted that we have marriage equality in Minnesota," she says. On the other, it's frustrating that for some people Marriage Equality was "the end all be all of gay liberation." 

For Madaus, she plans to hold as her intention for her practice a simultaneous celebration of monumental rights, "and also protest the assimilation that it signifies," she says. Her intention will be both celebratory and will put thoughts toward trans rights as well as health-care rights for all of the LGBTQ community.  

From the outside, Young says the session will look like every other public-dance session the group has conducted, but it will be a lot bigger. Each person brings their own music on an iPod or Walkman and lets themselves do what they would naturally want do, and feel what they want to feel. In choosing the right music, Young says you have to ask yourself: "What is the music that matters to you so much that it breathes life into you? It's music you would pick if you were trapped on a desert island," he says. He also recommends danceable music, as opposed to "the latest thing." 

After the dancing is complete, participants will do a cool down and discussion. At times, people will join up with the dancers, even if they don't have music. 

A participant for years, Madaus wants others to feel what DYFIT is like. "It's something that is so experiential," she says. "I can talk about it for hours, but it's really understood by doing. I'm excited for people I know to just try it out." 


Dancing in the Streets for the Anniversary of Marriage Equality

5:30-7 p.m. Friday, August 1

Peavey Plaza

Bring headphones and your gayest music (the music that makes you happiest and celebrates queerness).

After tonight, DYFIT sessions will continue through September. Check out Grace Minnesota's website for details. 

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