by Daley Dunham
3:00 a.m., at Boombox, under the open desert sky on the Esplanade, Black Rock City
I sat for a moment on a block of wood situated near the rear of the crowded dance floor, still involuntarily moving my body to the kinetic beat that was reverberating throughout the open desert. Then she walked past me, moving quickly in front of a wall of light and becoming an anonymous silhouette. I never saw her face.
Amid the shadows and light, I could see that she wore her hair in small braids, held in long ponytails on either side of the back of her head, as many dancers in the underground subculture of Burning Man did. The artifacts of light she had chosen for the evening were a thin glowing band on each ankle, as well as a blinking red heart in the middle of her chest. She also carried with her a hula-hoop, with glow-sticks affixed at four points, equally spaced.
Her lithe figure moved slowly across the dance floor refusing to acknowledge the energetic music coursing through all of us. She mechanically chose a spot and stepped into her hoop – and was transformed. She became a part of the music, and the music became a part of her.
Her body moved with impossible grace and skill, effortlessly moving the glowing hoop the full length of her body, above her head, even into the air. I could not escape the feeling that I was watching something beyond the reach of human expression. It was like watching a brilliantly colored hummingbird, dancing furiously and gracefully around a flower – only with innocence and natural beauty replaced by rebellion, freedom, and sexuality. Her wings were the ring of light racing around her silhouetted body.
And she soared.
It was, in that moment, the most human, most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed.
When she eventually left the dance floor, I couldn’t help but tell that what she had just done was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
“It’s not me,” she said as she walked away. “It’s God.”