From the Archives - Terry Marshall on Dance Court

A few Saturdays ago I was invited to the 2nd Dance Court.  The Dance Court is a project by the Design Studio for Social Justice that asks the question “what if Dance courts were a part of the ubiquitous landscape?” I figured “outdoor party? Great!” but after having visited it, I realized that it was much more. As someone of Caribbean background I know something about public life. It’s Called Carnival. But that is a once a year big event. What if the mobile euphoric living experience that is carnival was to be had everyday? What if it was a part of everyday life in the same way that one can choose to play basketball or soccer with friends? How would life be different? This is the question that Dance Court poses.

As I arrived to the area of the tennis/dance court where the sound system and people were it didn't seem like much. There were very few people early on. The basketball courts next to us were alive with many bodies (majority males) and there was a heavy police presence. But that didn't deter the dance court dancers. DJ Keith Donaldson starting playing old soul and House music and feet began to move. As more DC participants showed up and filled up the dance floor the music became more intense. The energy from the dancers feeds the DJ who in turns feeds that into the music which feeds back the dancers. This creates a circular cycle of energy that moves forward the progression of the dance. Henceforth the term “the party kept it moving”. The is one of the effects of outdoor dancing. That energy casted a net that eventually caught up some of the regulars around the park. Many of the folk who hang around the park in the daytime can be seen drinking their days away. They are usually the ones who society cast off as hopeless. But on this day they were dancing their days away. They bought some of the most intense dancing. Dance court seemed to become this safe space in the park. The social aspect of the music and dancing seem to create a different environment.

Many people bought of there families with small children being included in the activities. A mother took out some chalk for her children and they soon entertained us to an impromptu art show. As they designed many pictures and shapes on the courts floor adults began to flock around them and take pictures. By the end of the day the Dance Court seems to grow from its original purpose to something larger. It creates space, it shapes a new environment and it becomes a laboratory of Life alchemy.