rock art expedition Figure 1. Rock Art Expedition - night time at our camp.
gamelan dancers Figure 2. Gamelan Sekar Jaya 1980 performance - dancers.
traditional greek dance Figure 3. A traditional Greek dance circle, complete with costumes, musicians in center.
informal greek dance Figure 4. Greek dance as it is often practiced in America.
afro cuban dance class Figure 5. Dance students learn by imitating the motions of their teacher.
afro cuban couple dance Figure 6. A couple dancing in the traditional Afro-Cuban style.



There were several attempts made during my early years to familiarize me with the basics of dancing. We had folk dance lessons in elementary school, as I recall. Then there was Donna, the daughter of my parents' best friends, who tried to get me to learn dancing at summer family camp. Another attempt was made in Junior High when the phys ed teacher decided it would be fun to teach us the basics of contemporary soul dancing.

Those attempts are not illustrated here.

I did not enjoy attention from crowds of adults, for some reason. So this problem did not begin to resolve until I myself became an adult.

The story begins in June of 1979, when I took a summer vacation the likes of which I had never taken before. I signed up with the University Research Expeditions Program to partipate in the Chumash Rock Art Project. I had to camp out for 2 weeks with a bunch of strangers in the lonely hills of the Sierra Madre range of sounthern California, and help them document some rock art sites there.

The reality of my social immaturity hit me like a ton of bricks. I was so obsessed with the previous loss of a girl friend (at the tender age of 9) and my subsequent inability to replace her that I had convinced myself that there was something wrong with me.

When I got back home, I arranged to start seeing a psychologist, thinking she might be able to clue me in on what was going on. She told me to read I'm OK, You're OK and to try changing my approach to the problem. Rather than going for seeking a girl friend in particular, she suggested doing it on more of a gradient. Try just getting into some social situations, she suggested, and see how things go. How about going on some Sierra Singles outings? Or taking some classes?

The Gamelan

But before all that got really rolling, I got a call from Pat Powers. He had been my neighbor in Ann Arbor. He was out here working as a computer programmer. He was into music, and he'd seen a poster for something called a "gamelan." Would I like to go check it out with him?

We went. I thought it was cool, so I joined. He didn't and ended up moving to Palo Alto, and we lost track of each other. Until a couple years ago when I somehow ran across his email address and we got back into correspondence. He had gotten into one of the meditation practices and moved to Bali.

To Bali! That's where the gamelan we were playing was from!

In the gamelan I got re-acquainted with the experience of ensemble performance, which I hadn't really done since singing in various choral groups in Ann Arbor when I was about 11 years old. I enjoyed ensemble preformance. And I enjoyed being in the Gamelan.

Gamelan Sekar Jaya still exists today. It was a big hit in the Bay Area, and it has continued to play to enthusiastic audiences using volunteer musicians, mostly non-Indonesian. The money made at concerts helps pay the teachers, guest performers and operating expenses.

Greek Dance

I was on a roll! My first attempt to get re-involved in music had been successful, and I wanted more. I became interested in a long-time Berkeley establishment known as Ashkenaz. It was basically a dance studio. It had a barre and mirrors along one wall. And dance teachers gave classes there during the day or early evenings. Most nights the classes would be followed by live entertainment.

After going through what seemed like total agony at the time, I made myself go over and start taking dance classes. I started with Greek folk dancing, because that's what was available at the time. And with the help of a good teacher, I began to learn it. I was then invited to attend Greek dance parties on Friday nights, and I attended several. They were held just a few blocks from my apartment.

Afro-Cuban Dance

The next classes were given by a tiny Puerto Rican woman from New York. She taught us various popular Afro-Cuban dances (salsa), plus a little reggae, calypso, and samba.

Some of these dances could only be properly performed by a couple. First this little woman would teach me how to lead by leading me. Then she would have me try to lead her.

This was therapy, man! You want to take some sting out of anxiety about the opposite sex? Take a class like that and experience being led by a woman, leading a woman, back and forth. After a while it doesn't matter that much any more.

These experiences pushed me up the tone scale. And before long, I'd found some real girl friends (to pull me back down the tone scale). I had accomplished my purpose for going into therapy, so I said good bye to my psychologist, and joined the Sea Org.


I realized recently that learning to dance as an adult had been one of my most important experiences, along with ensemble performing in the Gamelan. Yet I had never written about dancing on the internet. This page is my first attempt to rectify that situation.

Many years ago I was prompted to think about what would be my ideal group. One idea I had was a group that would promote dancing as a form of physical exercise and spiritual therapy. There is no reason, I thought, why anyone should not be a proficient dancer, and comfortable performing in public. I salute all beings who keep the spirit of dance alive, and who see dance as an ethical activity that all should be encouraged to engage in.

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