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Social 'dis-dance' party replaces nightlife in the pandemic


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Hari Sreenivasan: Quarantine means the end of so many normal social rituals, they're almost too numerous to count. But as NewsHour Weekend's Ivette Feliciano reports, some people still just want to get together and dance... and they aren't going to let being miles apart get in the way.

Ivette Feliciano: Each Tuesday and Friday night for the last month, dozens of people from across the U.S. and around the world have gotten together for a dance party. As you can see, it's quarantine-friendly. It's called the Social Disdance Party.

Ani Taj: We started out with 10 people and it felt really good and it was good to see each other and get a chance to laugh and move our bodies and sweat a little bit.

Ivette Feliciano: Ani Taj conceived of the Social Disdance Party last month with some friends and colleagues from The Dance Cartel, a performance group she directs in New York City. Normally, the troupe tours internationally, and combines live DJ sets and audience participation as part of its shows.

Ani Taj: It was starting to dawn on us watching what's been happening in other countries that, oh, we might be inside for a while. And there was a kind of gloomy feeling in the air. And I had this moment where I was like, oh, we're not gonna be able to dance for a while. Like the thing that I treat as very ordinary and part of healing and laughing and socializing and like really key to my thriving is not going to be available. And when that dawned on me, I just like I put on social media. Does anybody want to do a dance party on Zoom?

Ivette Feliciano: The process for partygoers is simple. Log-into the zoom meeting where the party is held. Set up your camera shot using your computer or phone. Finally, log onto another website called mixlr. A DJ set there, created especially for the event, is broadcast live. And then...get to dancing!

The event is free, but participants can choose to donate to the hosts and djs, or they can give money to the various causes the organizers call attention to at each party. The events are advertised on Instagram, and people have joined from around the globe.

Kristen Adele Calhoun-Ghana: I was just filled with such a joy when a new friend would pop onto the screen it was literally like they walked into the room that I was in. I would be like, oh, you're here, too. You know, it's like when you're a big house party and another friend walks through the door, it had that same feeling.

Tadeu Amaral-Brazil: You can be on your own dancing and then look to somebody, connect with the moves, I miss this, going to the nightclub and meeting somebody extremely new. And the Social Disdance is like going to my nightclub. Just staying in my house. I think that's the most precious thing.

Kristen Adele: For me, when I'm moving in, when I'm dancing, I'm actually able to process my feelings and thoughts about this moment in history a lot better than when I'm sitting still. So to be able to share that in community feels vital.

Ivette Feliciano: Ani Taj says with every week the Social Disdance party is proving to fill a gap for folks who need connection and relief during this difficult time.

Ani Taj: It's freeing, I think, for people to express themselves in a physical way where they don't have to explain what they're thinking and feeling. And you can kind of like get the fears out physiologically, because we all have a lot of anxiety and kind of pent up feeling right now. And I know for me that dance is really good for channeling that. So I hope it can be for other people, too.

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