“Diversity Is Being Invited to the Party; Inclusion Is Being Asked to Dance.” ~Vernã Myers
Music is universal. Dance is universal. Music and dance have the power to heal, and to unify communities. It’s important to me, as a socially conscious DJ, to create safe, inclusive, and fun spaces where people can get their groove on and build community on the dance floor. In order to do that, the music needs to respect and reflect all of the people in the room. Song choice is a key part of creating welcoming, inclusive, safer spaces for people to dance, and choosing songs that contribute to the environment you’re trying to create.
Oppressive songs are not only uncomfortable and often painful to hear, they contribute to a culture of violence and oppression. Music that contains racist, misogynistic, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist lyrics and messages contains a hidden message: “You’re not welcome here.” I don’t know how many times I’ve been in the dance zone, a song with an oppressive line hits, and the mood is gone. Total buzzkill. Songs choice also means playing music from across the globe, and for every movement. It’s about being intentional about the space I want to create and the experience I want people to have.
To dance is to feel free, fully alive, present in your body and with others. Dance is a natural way to build community, as dance is part of most cultures. In order to build community, beat by beat, there must be a level of trust, connection, and common values.
There is something powerful in watching a sea of people dancing, immersed in the music, feeling free, and seeing strangers become friends on the dance floor, all without saying a word. Dance doesn’t need words. The energy in the room is nothing short of magical.
If you were designing a dance space (or any type of space), what would it look like? How would you make sure that everyone is not only invited, but feels welcome?
- One Day Matisyahu 3:28
- Love Me Now John Legend 3:30
- Vivir Mi Vida Marc Anthony 4:12
- Talkin' Bout A Revolution Tracy Chapman 2:41
- Love Train The O'Jays 2:58