As people trickled onto the dance floor at WOW Hall, they were welcomed by a couple sweatily practicing “touch improv.” The couple looked like two playful puppies nudging and touching each other, but they were two full-grown adults rolling on the ground. Beside them, a large, burly man with long, curly hair that bounced like a slinky swayed and jumped to the trance-inducing music.
Coalessence Dance is a group that meets twice weekly on Sundays at Wow Hall and Tuesdays at the Vet’s Club. It’s an all-welcoming group of dancers whose mission is to “inspire dynamic dance journeys — celebrate and explore movement, connection, and true expression, guided by a rich, diverse soundscape.” In short, it’s a bunch of people who gather to dance to trance music in a spiritual way.
On Sunday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the event began with slow-paced sounds similar to what it might feel like to float through space while unable to breathe. The tempo increased as participants grew more comfortable with the quicker rhythms and vibrations. The group formed a large circle while the music transitioned and dancers warmed up.
Paul Deering, a calm man wearing thick, fuzzy pants and an embroidered tank top, was the facilitator of the event. He set the ground rules before the dancers broke off: no talking on the dance floor, all touching must be consensual and be mindful of your surroundings. The group held hands for a moment and then slowly disintegrated and spread out across the floor.
Victoria Lawton-Díez, a regular Coalessence Dance attendee and sophomore at the University of Oregon, said she participates every Sunday. “I do ecstatic dance because to me, it’s a form of therapy — both physical, and mental. It’s a form of self-expression through movement, and it helps me understand what’s going on internally with my emotions by allowing me to release them externally.”
Throughout the entire two-hour session, Lawton-Díez could be found all across the dance floor. She fluttered around elegantly, occasionally breaking her focus with bouts of laughter and shouts of happiness.
As the session came to an end, the amoeba of movement slowly formed a circle. Tiny kids skipped and stumbled toward their parents as adults held each other in exhaustion and the elderly slipped out of their meditational dance moves with ease.
“Young, old, abled, disabled — everyone manages to find some sort of joy in dancing, which is what I truly love about it,” Lawton-Díez said.