Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bring It: Many glittery blessings

This might sound more Grinchy than glittery, but for me, the holidays are more of a ritual of survival than celebration.

Somehow, the sparkle of the season just doesn’t do it for me when the weather outside is frightful, and the constant temptation of sugar cookies and egg nog wreaks havoc on my circuit starvation diet.

Growing up Jewish certainly doesn’t help me appreciate reindeer games, and when winter and darkness arrive, the call of the disco ball is often overpowered by my inclination to be a bear and hibernate.

But this year is different, much to my surprise. When I recently attended “Light in the Grove” at the National AIDS Memorial Grove - a unique, stunning and solemn gala honoring so many who have given so much to the cause - I was reminded that giving is at the heart of the holidays.

I was also reminded that Christmas (I prefer to think of it as Xmas) is about appreciating our loved ones and counting our blessings, and for this I have Miss Donna Sachet to thank. While her Songs of the Season show benefits my favorite charity, the AIDS Emergency Fund, and while I was so honored to be invited by the empress herself (my personal hero), I really didn’t know how I’d respond to an evening packed with Christmas songs, which generally irritate me no end.

Not surprisingly, Donna stole the show, irreverently adapting the songs to fit her bubbly yet biting wit, and also her personal holiday narrative. Her tales from 18 years (!) of  raising funds for AEF had me all choked up, and helped me get in the spirit, in spite of myself.

Typically, I reserve my holiday spirit for two of my favorite dance parties of the year, and this year I’m no less excited to attend both Black XXXmas on December 18 and Mass on January 2 (both at 1015 Folsom). It’s no secret that I’m a ho ho ho for DJs Abel and Jamie J Sanchez, and that I love nothing more than a leathery overlay to any kind of “traditional” holigay.

Which brings me to another surprise of the season, my very first Xmas tree! Normally I get all agro-environmentalist over the fallen trees that litter Christmastime, but I couldn’t help smiling like a kid on Christmas morning when a tree festooned with leather flags, rainbow tulle and enough disco balls to kill any queen showed up in the living room of my apartment, also known as The Home for Wayward Castro Boys. Thanks to Graig Cooper and Tod Epperson for bringing it!

As this year comes to a close, I’ll actually have some sappy sentiments moving my spirit on the dancefloor, and I’ll be sure to count my many glittery blessings. Getting to be the Original Fag Hag of San Francisco is a gift I never take for granted, and something I live to celebrate all year long.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bring It: Finding religion on the mat and on the dancefloor

I’m not a religious person, but with seasonal change and holiday rituals, I can’t help but reflect on where and how I find religion in this crazy life.

For me, the circle of life goes from reckless release under the discoball to reprieve and reflection on the yoga mat. When there’s balance between both, bliss is mine. When one or the other is neglected, even glitter can’t make me right.

On the dancefloor, divinity comes from the DJ. On the mat at Gold’s Gym Castro, it comes in the form of a goddess named Maria Stanford. Every Sunday morning she preaches to our gayborhood “church,” encouraging us to set an intention about whatever it is that we hold sacred.

I’m a true believer in what Maria describes as “prana,” or “life force.” It’s exactly what I’m seeking, whether I’m moving my body to the beat or getting grounded in downward dog.

Breathing hard, sweating hard, and manclimbing hard (like I do on the dancefloor) are what remind me that I’m alive and that life is damn good when you live over the rainbow in Oz. The music that moves my spirit is what some would call church music - anthems with a classic gay sound, upbeat and soulful, rooted in disco with vocals almost certainly derived from gospel choirs. My spiritual songs have themes about redemption and salvation.

In yoga, we learn about “energy work,” and everyone in the room can feel the vibe as we soak up the sense of communal connection that Maria inspires. On the dancefloor we refer to a tribal sensibility, with the beat moving us collectively as one, and lately it’s our local DJs – Craig Gaibler and Russ Rich, to be specific – that leave me feeling blessed by their beats.

When the connection is there - when the prana is flowing - it’s magical. A simple smile from the shirtless man on the yoga mat next to yours, or from the shirtless boy at the club who accidentally bumps butts with you, can turn what might otherwise be a mindless workout into a mystical revelation.

I live for these moments, for what DJs call “the nod.” A mutual recognition of the life force we share is the best kind of high, and I’m lucky enough to experience it regularly, with friends and San Framily that inspire me to keep bringing it as hard as I can.

Can I get an amen?