Divine Costumes. That was the name of my first naked solo dancing onstage. I was in college. My parents, grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncle were in the audience. I had credited Mom and Dad as the costume designers.
I remember the stage manager asking if I wanted to put clothes on for the bow. I remember thinking he missed my intention… to honor the body. I remember how moved I was that night to hear people’s responses. My female housemate came up after the show and said my dance made her feel like a Goddess that night. I remember my male housemate saying he wanted to sexualize it, but he couldn’t, it was so much more. I remember grandma’s cousin sat behind some young children and she thought they would laugh. But when I started dancing they were silent and mesmerized.
I remember the email grandma’s cousin sent me 10 years later, “Beautiful Cousin, twice removed, you are out of this world! You have created a field of exploration that is all of you. I am sorry to be such an old lady, about to be 80, or I would be participating in all your events.”
I remember the dancer who was going to perform the duet with me before she developed a back injury. I remember her surprise that I encouraged her to rest and take care of her body. Our professional training had taught us to be martyrs more than sacred bodies. I remember the moment I chose to do the show anyway and to improvise a solo based on the duet we had started to create.
I remember rehearsing in the dance studio naked and covering the windows with pink foam boards. I remember my friend who sat filming me, baring her breasts in solidarity. I remember the security guard who walked in and asked us what we were doing. I remember thinking he felt more like an insecurity guard. I remember the badge I made the next day as I experimented with being a soul security guard.
I remember the awkward moment of disrobing in the “dressing room” while everyone else put clothes on. I remember feeling the most comfortable on stage. I could get away with things in the spotlight that caused discomfort off stage. Maybe it was because the performance gave people permission to look… there’s some magic about performance that gives us permission to show and to see more intimately. Or maybe people like to look out from the dark.
I remember performing naked again years later at the Sacred Sex Round Up with my friends, a djembe player and an opera singer. I remember a couple came up to me after the solo crying. They said it was the first time they could share the experience of being turned on while watching a naked woman perform. They said they felt I let them see all of me. I remember the woman of the couple chosing to transform that night. She began to study with my sexual shaman teacher.
I remember hiking naked in the red rocks of Sedona with my soul sister and best friend from kindergarden. I remember laying with our legs open, sunning our yonis. I remember how delicious the fire of the sun felt on my clit. I remember thinking, “how have I never spread my legs to the sun before?” And then thinking, where else could I? I remember the couple who came along the trail and the split second of wondering if we should move. I remember the man tripped as he came upon us. I remember inviting him into our comfort rather than joining him in his awkwardness. I remember as he passed the blessing I called out to him, and really to myself, “enjoy your life!”