Ecstatic Dance Saved My Life

Ecstatic Dance saved my life. 

If you know me, you know I struggle with depression and addiction. These diseases have had me contemplating suicide. Sometimes every day.

It has been this way for me for as long as I can remember. It is most prominent when I feel misunderstood or alone. Unfortunately, this is common for me, and I believe it’s common for many of us.

Sky Makai DJing an early Ecstatic Dance event.

Before I moved to the Big Island, I had just come through some of the hardest years of my life. I had fallen madly in love and at the same time met my guru. My heart was split between the two. Then, I had a child with the person I had fallen in love with and wanted nothing more than to live together raising a family. But she didn’t see the same path. We went our separate ways.

I came to the island in 2003 looking for something. I found sustainable agricultural work. I also found myself utterly alone in a strange place. I struggled every day to wake up and continue with the vision that one day I would create a utopia for my child, and we would be together again.

If you’ve spent much time on the Big Island you will understand when I say that Pele “tests” those who come to her. She chews them up and spits them out and sees if they can still stand up straight afterwards. She kills some people, but most who fail her test return to the mainland with a harsh warning: This is not your home.

I was determined, as a dedicated farmer, to make Hawaii my home. I spent nearly every daylight hour with my hands in the soil. Each day, I did my best to hold the vision. But, alone, I feared I would fail. Despite my youth and strength, I knew I alone was not strong enough.

One day hitchhiking, I was picked up by a woman named Red Feather. She had a new age electronica song on her stereo and I told her I liked it. Unknowingly in that moment, she was about to change my life. She recognized my pain and empathized. She saw my desperate situation and gave me $20. Then, she took me to Ex-static Dance. (It was called Ex-static Dance back then and it was only 10-15 people at the time.)

Opening ceremony in the Rainbow Room.

Previously, I had found tribe in the raves of the 90’s, and found solace in the familiar sounds Max and Eldon played those Sunday mornings in the Rainbow Room of Kalanihonua. But, it wasn’t just the electronica that made the experience. They blended songs from totally different genres and created energies that went from completely slow and soothing, to heart pumping, and back in just a single set.

Once I found the Ecstatic Dance experience and community, I found something that gave me a sense of hope, peace, and enthusiasm for life. Every time I went, I felt powerfully renewed. For days afterwards, I’d revel in the amazing energy and beauty of the experience.

But, even after some time, I would again find myself asking if I could bear another day alive. A couple of years later, I asked to play music at Ex-static Dance, and Max approved. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know if I would still be here today.

Once I started playing music, I had something more to look forward to. The miracle of the interaction between my artistic choices with music, the interplay with the movement energy in the room, and the intimate human connections were powerful. It has since been driving me onward.

Because of finding community in the ritual of Ecstatic Dances’ movement journeys, I continue to find a renewed sense of strength.  This sense of community is what is at the heart of Ecstatic Dance.  The feeling of isolation is exactly for what Ecstatic Dance is meant to be the cure.  I’m so glad that Max, Eldon, Elizabeth, and so many others held space to bring Ecstatic Dance into reality… and, for the miracle of the community members to literally pick me up and show me where I was meant to be.

Countless others experience powerful transformations, reflections, epiphanies, and find community through this practice.  

So, I started recording the Ecstatic Dance music with the idea: If it did so much for me, maybe it might help others, even if only a fraction as much as it’s helped me.  

If nothing else, no matter how long I survive, I hope I will leave behind something beautiful.

Sky Makai

Sky Makai

  • I believe holding space through the Ecstatic Dance Guidelines catalyzes the unification of communities, so that those communities can support each other’s mutual healing and joy.
  • I facilitate Ecstatic Dance Journeys by creating custom impromptu DJ sets which ignore the limitations of genres, focused on encouraging movement… mental, emotional and physical.
  • I teach what I know, so others may facilitate and host Ecstatic Dance around the world.

One of the primary DJ’s of Ecstatic Dance at Kalanihonua, Honoka’a People’s Theater, Puna, HI and Williams, OR. After nearly 10 years since the last time playing music for Ecstatic Dance at Kalanihonua, Sky will be facilitating again, starting January 21, 2018. RSVP on Facebook.

Titled ‘Never Give Up’ (Part 1, Part 2), one of Sky’s many Ecstatic Dance recordings, is available to download and listen for free.

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Posted by Kalani Honua