We are One in the Dance!
With this inspiration, a small group of friends began organizing the all-night ecstatic dance celebrations of The Rhythm Society in San Francisco in 1996. Our community has grown into a dance-based church today. We seek to provide space for primary religious experience and to assist in expressing those awakenings in our daily lives.
We mark each solstice and equinox with an all-night dance celebration. Our annual calendar has come to include a community-focused weekend retreat in the spring and a weekend campout in the summer. The RS Choir sings at many of our gatherings. The Rhythm Society has spawned men's groups, women's circles, Burning Man camps, and other dance groups.
As for history, one might trace a lineage back to the electronic dance music (EDM) scene that began in England in the late 1980s and made its way into the exuberant 1990s SF tech scene. Our organizational DNA borrows liberally from the non-creedal, non-hierarchical ways of the Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends). We encourage those so moved to step into increasing levels of participation, from guest to Friend to member to councillor, from sharing water to leading celebrations.
Our community has stayed strong over the years through our careful method of growth. Members may invite guests to our events, and in time may invite guests to become Friends of the RS. Because we rely on personal sponsorship, our celebrations have never been open to the public. This practice started with the circle of friends who created the first RS dance celebration.
We were fortunate at that point in time to be welcomed by an open-minded Episcopal church community, whose neo-Gothic, awe-inspiring structure greatly served our vision. After a wonderful seven year relationship, the two communities parted ways, leaving the RS without a fixed home. We then chose to organize as a legally and theologically independent church. While our quarterly celebrations have continued uninterrupted, many of us still yearn for a home again, one whose architecture inspires transcendence.
Our community spans generations and welcomes people of all faiths, or of no faith at all. Many of us have known each other for many years. We have supported each other through many life transitions. We construe the Rhythm Society as an ongoing experiment, with openness to where it may lead.
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