Sunday, October 21, 2018

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

by JW Norton (writer), Los Angeles, December 27, 2006

I arrive late. No matter, things are already well under way on the dance floor. I stand off to the side, waiting to feel moved by the music. I warm up slowly. My body shifts and turns. I observe the sea of faces before me, some familiar. I am greeted by a mixture of smiles, looks of ecstasy, detachment, joy, kindness, even pain. I move faster: skipping, dancing, twirling, gyrating. The beat changes from a snappy latin number to a rap version of “Santa Baby.” I realize a broad smile has taken over my face.

Here at Jo Cobbett’s “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy,” there are no wrong moves. People come for self-expression. There are no ages or genders here. Just people looking for creative freedom, to let go of their inhibitions and allow the music to move them. As Jo says on her website,, “It is a journey into the body through movement, a meditative practice.”

I exchange glances with an older man in a bright turquoise-blue sweatshirt; he has the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. I smile warmly before I’m swept away by the music, now an acid house number filling the room.

I’ve been coming to Jo’s Sunday morning gatherings on the Westside over the last 2 years. Each time is a unique experience and each time I am left with an endorphin high for the rest of the day. The opportunity to let go and forget myself for 2 hours without the worry of judgement or cheesy pick-up lines is a gift in itself. Not to mention the cardiovascular benefits!

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy was created by Jo Cobbett and Michael Molin-Skelton in 1995 and incorporates Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms™: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. The rhythms take you on a journey within yourself combined with outward expression. Poems are also spoken at times throughout the class. Creative expression is encouraged.

What began with 5 people in the first Sunday morning class has grown to hundreds of regular participants from diverse backgrounds. The group diversity is refreshing. At times Jo calls out to “pick a partner” which allows you to connect and exchange sweat with a fellow dancer.

As Jo encourages us to take a partner, I am approached by a man who later I find calls himself “Persistant Turtle”. His hands follow mine and suddenly we are enmeshed in each other’s energy. I close my eyes and allow myself to use my other senses to experience the dance. The feeling is palpable. Suddenly the song switches to something more tribal and Moroccan in nature and I am swept away by the beat.

As the class comes to a close and the music slows down, Jo plays Eva Cassidy’s cover of “Imagine” by John Lennon, leaving me feeling tender and raw. I realize that we are all so connected, especially by music. I am grateful for the opportunity to express and connect in such an intimate way. I also realize that even though it may feel as if I’m stumbling through life, I can always make a choice on Sundays to fumble towards ecstasy.

About the Writer

JW Norton is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

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By Kay C on March 11, 2007 at 03:28 am
Thanks for the cool info.!!
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By Annonymous on June 13, 2007 at 01:40 pm
Well-written, informative of the experience, but it sounds a bit too much like a cuddle-party to me. I suppose the obvious response is that you have to experience it, and I concede. Still, I'm a bit too old-fashioned I suppose.
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