Twice a month, I lace up my sneakers, tighten my ponytail, and, with the focus of a samurai warrior, smear glitter across the contours of my face.
My top is cropped, sweatpants sagged.
Where pavement meets cobblestone, I pick up my pace. I'm entering enemy territory: The Meatpacking District. Ahead lies safety in an unexpected place, a club like any other, roped off and guarded; the crowd funneling into this one, however, has traded in their flashy threads for a more athletic ensemble.
I can feel it. The ground pulses, thump thump BA-dump.
My ID slices through the air—gate opens – nimble as a cat, I slink past coat check, jacketless and unburdened—almost there—thump thump BA-dump—cheers—cheers!—wait for me!!—my last name satisfies the password, I'm branded, I'm—
A gyrating mass of sweating bodies writhes and sways in time to the beat. Fog curls around my waist, the warm arm of a friend. The smile on my face won't leave until I do, spent, dripping in sweat, hair plastered to my neck.
Tasha Blank and The Get Down crew have the dance club scene spinning on its head, and finally I have a place to let LOOSE. The music is bone rattling, foot stomping, rump shakin'. The vibe is pure, sober, raunchy, intoxicating. The crowd is familiar and irresistibly sexy. As its website boasts, “The Get Down is about music, it's about movement, and it's about love . . . it’s about shaking off the workday, sweating your ass off with 300 of your new best friends, discovering moves you didn't know you had in you, and remembering how awesome life is.”
I don't have the patience for lines. High heels hurt. I refuse to be preyed upon by men. And I fling my hips dangerously when I dance, back, forth, backforthbackforth here there, back again! Needless to say, I'm not a fan of the club scene, and even if I was, I don't think I'd jive so well. So I thank the stars above and all things sparkly for The Get Down, a monthly post-work dance party in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Wrapping up at 10 pm, it gets you home at a decent hour to wake up refreshed and ready to take on your Friday morning. Says Refinery29, "[The] party’s known for its diverse crowd, welcoming people of all shapes, sizes, and ages who come to dance their hearts out. Producer and resident DJ Tasha Blank teams up with guest DJs to spin a high-energy, house-heavy mix of blissful beats that will leave you drenched in sweat and smiling ear-to-ear.”
And drenched you will be.
I’ve learned a lot since becoming a part of TGD family: from attending Tasha’s wedding where I learned that love and commitment and marriage isn’t scary, to discovering the goldmine that is The Lesson at Arlene’s Grocery, to figuring out how to drop it just low enough so I can still pick it back up, TGD has become my university. Tasha is my professor, and together, all of us are students learning to embrace our greatest adaptation: sweating.
Human beings aren’t all that strong. We’re not very fast, our bodies are soft, and let’s face it: when we roar, no one’s scared. But our ability to sweat trumps all, and it’s what enabled our ancestors to run long distances, staying cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. It enabled us to wear down our prey until it collapsed in exhaustion, creating protein-rich diets that led to a surge in brain development.
With upwards of four million sweat glands, we’ve got more than just an incredible cooling system. Sweat contains antibiotic agents that ward off viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and studies show that our glands “host an important reservoir of adult stem cells which aid in the process of wound closures.” What’s more, sweating purges our body of internal toxins, clearing pores and cleansing our skin.
So when we come together every month and sweat drips down our faces, we embrace it. We don’t slow it up, we don’t tone it down—we dance harder. And faster. We get up close with one another, real close, and when our bodies meet, as they do when you’re lost in the beat, we don’t recoil as if in pain, as if each other’s sweat is fire. We smile—we’re doing our bodies some good! We’re thanking our ancestors for moving and running and dancing and evolving. We're here together experiencing something true and honest and real; the beat we move to today transcends time and place, and echoes yesterday’s footsteps across the arid plains.
We all have a beat inside us. We come together in a place where we listen to that beat, we bow to it and feel its touch, and we stomp it out, grind it out, shout it out reealll loud.
We honor each other through movement, and with our sashaying hips and smiling lips we acknowledge that we're all made of the same stardust.
Inhale, exhale, dive in.
And keep an eye out for the pineapple.