Making Stone Soup in a time of Covid Pandemic

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IN 2019 IT STARTED RAINING & THE WORLD DANCING ARMY MADE STONE SOUP! & LEARNED TO DANCE IN A RAINSTORM CAUGHT COVID-19

The underground dance community has always been a core piece of the LA landscape since the early 1900’s. For the last 20 30 years it has predominantly been centered in and around DTLA and the surrounding communities. This community exists mostly at night, in publics spaces hidden out of site. The sound of the bass drum is how to find us.

We are a hugely diverse community and offer space to many who can’t find a home anywhere else. We live outside the mainstream economy and exist between two worlds. We have carved out a space to earn a living, have community, all the while tapping into the healing power of music & dance. We make fun a right for all & not a privilege of the elites. We hold public space for all. We resist & thrive by dancing, partying, & living life to its fullest. We always dance like everyone is watching!

We are individuals from every walk of life. We are misfits who couldn’t make it in a 9-5 world. So we created communities centered in our love of music, where we can thrive & not just survive.

Some of the world’s greatest DJ’s and artists got started on our dancefloors. LA has shaped the house and techno music scenes across the globe.

Formed in 2017 to offer a path to creating a world based on love. We found those who would commit to one act of loving kindness every day until billion members who could change the world with loving kindness. We hold space for all, and offer community to include everyone so no one has to exist in isolation. Music and dance are the great unifiers that unite us as one people in One Love World! Dancing Army

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The Pandemic began in early Nov 2019 in China and was first seen in Los Angeles in Late Nov 2019

Needless to say, it was not easy to convince anyone until Mar 15th 2020 ,the day the Lock Down started, & the world went into panic.

. It was clear it would become a global crisis and we had to act. The sooner we could begin to prepare the better off we would be.

Yet no one believed that a pandemic would ever happen in the US. Everyone acted like it would be fine.

“We can prepare”

Echoes of pandemic from a distan t land

On Feb 15 2020 we met with 3 VietRISE organizers to decide how to prepare for pandemic. VietRISE was one of the first groups in the US to begin to build a mutual-aid network with Vietnamese and Latinx community in Orange County rooted in solidarity.

One Mar 12, 2020. (3 days before the 1st Lockdown). We held one last face to face meeting where we discussed the pandemic and how we would continue to serve the community. We knew we could not just walk away and hide, only to wait to die. We know fun is a human right & preserving it, in times of great darkness, is even more essential to our survival & maintaining our human connection. We also knew the importance of mental wellness, & that for us, dance therapy was essential to our ability to stay alive.

Dancing Army rises to serve

Outbreak & Lockdown! Mar 15th 2020

Gimme Shelter

We can’t take this anymore. The isolation, the fear, and the hopelessness are setting in. We have to do something, anything, for our community, for ourselves. We started dancing on street corners, hosting online dance parties, and we promote messages of encouragement, love and support.

As the months dragged on we realized it’s time to get wet! We had to go outside & dance together in this Covid rainstorm! The Dancing army is a light In the Covid dark of Los Angeles. We hold space for those who need dance therapy and community to survive the pandemic. Too many people in our community are losing their lives to drugs, suicide, poverty, lack of healthcare, and violence. Dancing in one’s room or on a street corner alone is not enough. Dancing is mental wellness, healing, community, and dance therapy.

Living online aint no life line

Sept 2020 we were at an event with 400 people, 10 LAPD officers walked thru the venue then left. This happened many times during the pandemic. The police knew that providing these spaces was making life easier for them. In public we were villains, in private we were allowed to exist as long as we did not bring negative attention to the city. Since we only had public space we were easy targets since we couldn’t hide behind walls and we couldn’t protect ourselves with power and money. L.A., becomes the city to face the world’s longest Covid restrictions.

In Aug 2020 the Mayor comes on TV and says “the villains are spreading dis-ease by refusing to lockdown, All good citizens lockdown (unless wealthy or government officials)”

In Dec 2020 the mayor created a Sheriffs task force to hunt down and punish “illegal” parties. For 3 weeks we were hunted down like Incriminals.

We are vilified

The city and state begin to vilify anyone who they can blame for the governments’ lack of preparation for the pandemic. After literally a thousand peaceful events in the dance community, 2 shootings happen in Beverly Hills Mansions in Aug 2020. The mayor takes unprecedented powers to turn off power and water to properties that host events, as well as issuing hefty fines to punish the poor who cannot hide their rule breaking behind 20 foot walls.

We Outlaws now

With curfews and lockdowns the streets are eerily quite. Only the unhoused walk the streets. They have been left to die and no one cares. The police have disappeared to avoid getting covid. So many nights there is not a single cop car to be seen in the city. We are pushed into condemned buildings, unsafe warehouses, as the only places where we can be in public. We put our lives at risk, we put our health at risk, and we put our freedom at risk, all so we won’t die from isolation, depression, and hopelessness. We had to care for our community by giving a safe space for all who cannot locked down.

In Dec 2020 LA County locked us down again, after opening up for 6 months. In the end LA would be the most locked down, mask mandated, vaccine required county in the whole world. Yet our numbers were no different than Texas or Orange County which ended all mandates in June 2020. We continued holding public space for our healing & community building. We held 25 weeks of above ground events outside on the train tracks by the LA river, on federal land. A place where the city had allowed on a daily bases, hundreds of local youth to hang out, show off their cars, and make beautiful and amazing pieces of street art, not to mention to have one hell of a good time during a pandemic. We knew everyone needed free access to water at our events. By having free water at all our events, we eventually helped many places to agree to have free water. Now most places give free water & bottled as a direct result of our efforts.

We also had to support everyone, who had & would continue to fall between the cracks, & ending up on the streets. We held fundraisers & used the money to buy supplies and food to give to the unhoused people at community celebrations.

As the underground began to open up there were predators who returned as well. They sought to use us and take advantage. We created Shark Patrol to have the community share responsibility for our safety and to watch out for the predators. This community was safety for healing, self expression, & connection. We held a space for all who could not lock down.

Dancing to defend Lives!

In early June 2020 one of the greatest movements for racial justice and police accountability pushed back against the white supremacist system. The LA underground dance community had to do its part and show our support and or commitment to address white supremacy and police abuse. For 6 weeks we danced in Pershing Square. We would dance for 3 hours to show our support for racial justice and to end police abuse in all forms.

As the Nov 2020 presidential election quickly approached it became clearer and clearer that a peaceful change of power was not going to be allowed to happen.

Once again, the dance community had to join with our larger society to defend our most basic rights. We recognized that under Trump and since Obama the white supremacist threat had only grown and been encouraged. If we didn’t stand up & dance when needed most we were not fulfilling our purpose.

Dance to Defend Democracy

In the end the Dancing Army is a standing volunteer army. Once we finished serving our community during the Covid rainstorm it was time for us to stand down and return to our underground home and community.

We are most happy that the Dancing Army was given the gift of Stone Soup Organic Organizing and the tools of culture jamming to disrupt the status quo with courageous love and Wehope.have taken these gifts above ground and will give them to the children so they will lead us to a better tomorrow. These are the Rainbow Warriors who lead us across the bridge to a tomorrow that can only exist if we make it so. More to share soon!!!! (8/22/22)

HEALING, ACTION, SERVICE all wrapped in a heaping helping of Fun!!!!

In the end the DA was a key contributor along, with a small group of other courageous individual outlaws who stood strong for the community, who didn’t lie down and hide, who risked it all to provide dance therapy and community to keep us alive. We successfully established herd immunity within the underground community. We never had a single super spreader event, when infections happened it was usually under 10 folks, and when Delta and Omicron came through we had far fewer outbreaks because of our mass immunity. In the end the amount of deaths related to Covid in our community were relatively small and much lower than comparable larger population. We had far more deaths caused by suicide, mental illness, drug overdoses, and violence. No one cares about these pandemics and no one cares if we die. So we did care and this is our story of why and how.

Flow is the way to go- When iit’s syour passion its’s in flow

Fun must be protected in these ever more difficult times!

Fun is our highest form of human expression & liberation.

This story is true nothing has been changed. Names have been removed to protect innocent from persecution. CV 19 gave us all PHDs in pandemics, Yet we all went to different universities.

We provide the Pot you bring the ingredients.

Culture ii the way to the heart, body, spirit, & mind, & where we have to start

WHAT WE LEARNED MAKING ORGANIC STONE SOUP!

Every soup is unique Some soup is better than no soup

We want to give special thanks to the courageous DJ’s, the warehouse owners, the sanitation services, and all who supported and made this amazing Stone Soup possible! We want to give thanks for these awesome drawings to the amazing artists & all the hands that made this zine possible.

What you got is what you got (so make best of it)

Every ingredient counts- the smallest ingredients can have the biggest impact

Sometimes with very little u can do a lot

Loving Kindness is the first ingredient

Culture Jamming: What is it?

It’s nothing new, people been doing it since the beginning of time. We are reclaiming our cultures to create with meaning and values rooted in loving kindness, that shape hearts, and minds. We take our culture back and use it to free ourselves.

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