Drop it low. Shake it hard and fast.
These are not words you normally see on a website supposedly focused on discussions of a spiritual nature.
And that’s precisely the problem.
I grew up in the Caribbean, where the pelvis is at the center of most dance moves. Pretty much any time music starts to play, the rolling and bouncing of hips and ass follows suit. We call it whining (pronounced wine-ing).
For the first half of my life, my relationship to whining (and the often sexually charged lyrics that inspire it) roller coasted between two extremes.
Sometimes, it felt like pure freedom. Even as a teenager, I could sense that this style of dancing was a powerful expression of my feminine body.
And the big bonus? Pumping to the beat was major rebellion against my religious upbringing. See these hips, churchfolk? Just watch what they’re gonna do next…
But that was only how I related to my dance moves about 50% of the time. The rest of the time, all I saw was the reduction of the female body to its ability to tantalize and generate pleasure (usually, male).
I felt ashamed, believing that I was objectifying myself — especially when I noticed men watching me dance. I worried that those same men would assume I was easy, which would dirty my reputation. I harshly criticized myself for so publicly projecting sexual ideals by dancing the way I did, but not so publicly sharing my spiritual beliefs.
And I was a young teenager when this started up. That’s some heavy stuff for a teen.
After a while of this dancing-shame-fest, the weight of it would become too much to bear, and I’d go back to fuck-it-I-wanna-dance and just let my hips rotate to their heart’s content.
Until another wave of shame would rise up again, convincing me that “good girls” didn’t move this way. Good girls didn’t go to parties or clubs. And if they did, they spent the evening two-stepping and refilling the chips + salsa.
Particularly when my faith began to deepen, this extreme judgement of whining or any kind of sexualized dance moves only intensified. Because how can you be spiritual and drop it low, right?
I grew up seeing two primary expressions of faith:
You either BELIEVED and backed that belief up with visible religious conservatism, or you believed (yes, lowercase this time) but you weren’t making many obvious lifestyle choices that reflected your belief.
I didn’t know anyone who had crafted a relationship with God outside of a religion.
And I most definitely didn’t know any devout spiritual chicks who enjoyed the company of red wine and Beyonce choreography.
So I made the mistake of assuming that you can’t have both.
You can’t be both spiritual and raucous.
You can’t meditate in the morning and twerk in the afternoon.
You can’t sing in the choir on Sunday after closing down the bar the night before.
Nowadays, most people who meet me in “party” contexts where alcohol and my hips are grooving together, are often baffled when they find out that I host a podcast and write here about spirituality.
They can’t connect the two dots. In most people’s eyes, the two things are totally disparate lifestyles and worldviews.
So, my friends, this is where I ask you to please join me in a collective chant of the only appropriate word at this moment:
B U L L S H I T.
My Divinity has a vagina.
Maybe yours has one, too. Or a penis, perhaps?
If you dance in a way that celebrates the power of your sensual parts, if your INTENTION (it is all about intention) is to let your dance moves be an act of rejoicing for all the joy in your life, or an anthem to declare that your power will summit the obstacles you’re currently facing, how is any of that NOT an act of spiritual invocation?
Any form of dancing, no matter how sexually suggestive, can be (for the doer of the deed) a celebration of the craft of the music, of the feelings it generates in her, of the visions and wishes swirling in her head and heart as she gyrates.
If that is your experience as you bump and grind, that’s some holy bumping right there.
Your body can function as an extension of your spoken voice. It can be a way to express the totality of your womanness, which is to say: the totality of your spiritual being’s manifestation in this particular human form.
What if instead of toning it down, you used your body to say Whut up, Mama! to the cosmos, to the Divine Feminine, to your soul?
What if shaking your ass at your birthday party was about claiming the prize of your body for yourself?
For years, I thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a classy, intelligent woman if I danced a certain way. I also thought I wouldn’t be permitted into spiritual communities if I popped it too hard.
And this was all because I picked up the message that I needed to be ashamed of, and detach from my female body. I thought that to be respected for my intellect and elegance, I needed to avoid doing much of anything with my pelvis – because that pelvis is a naughty, naughty girl.
I don’t know quite where or when it happened, but at some point (thankfully), I realized this one simple truth:
God doesn’t give a shit.
You are not loved less (or more) if you prefer to knit a sweater on a Friday night, or if you choose to sip on a pint (or three) at your local pub.
You are not unworthy of the Divine if you’re a wallflower type, or a braggadocious center-of-attention kinda gal.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a floor length kimono or a mini skirt.
ALL that matters is the intention of your heart.
I know that right now there is a woman on a dance floor somewhere, shaking her thang like her life depends on it, and her primary intention is to get the attention of some guy across the room. In this moment, her body is purely a beacon for someone else’s interest and lust.
Cool. That’s what she’s up to.
But let’s not make the mistake of assuming that all women who like to shake it on the dance floor are moving for the sole purpose of entertaining or attracting a sexual partner.
The next time you see a woman dancing, consider whether her movements could be a lived expression of her joy.
Could her dancing be about liberation and the shaking off of pessimism and small thinking?
Could she be musing about her husband? Or the husband she wants to meet?
Could she be praying? Could her body, and every move it makes, be a conversation with her Holy?
You just don’t know. You can’t know the intention of anyone’s heart.
That woman on the dance floor might not be a slut. Maybe she’s actually quite hard to get, exceptionally intelligent, deeply spiritual and a gifted whiner, all rolled into one.
And that’s divine.