In 2018, I made a trip back to Atlanta to attend the investiture of a new President for my alma mater, Agnes Scott College (ASC). ASC is a small, private, liberal arts women’s college, and its alumnae are known as “Scotties” and also the “black ring Mafia” due to the distinctive look of its rectangular onyx class rings. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, if I see one of those rings, I know I am in the presence of a sister.
I met up with a number of those sisters for this event. Women who I met my freshman year (1976!) and are still the dearest of all my friends more than four decades later. We call ourselves The Crones, and some of our other classmates think we are a tad barmy. But we know what the word really means and how much power lies in Cronehood. We claim it happily.
The party after the investiture was a blowout. College workers had set up a huge big-top type tent in one of the quads, complete with a long stage and a dance floor capable of easily handling a couple hundred dancers. And dancing was in full swing by the time we got there after an off-campus dinner. Tossed off shoes littered the grass. Punch, beer, and wine stations did a brisk business as did the huge dessert tables. The DJ played a great mix of dance and sing-along oldies and new classics.
The Crones took to the dance floor with abandon. ASC is a proud women’s college. The group under this collegiate big top was probably ninety-seven percent female-identifying. The few husbands, brothers, boyfriends, and other male-presenting attendees attempted the floor, but soon it was pretty evident that for this event, they were outnumbered, and while not unwelcome, it was just not their turn. I noticed a few puzzled looks from man to man and had to laugh. Perhaps they were seeing a different side to the women in their lives; one that wasn’t often revealed. Men who marry Agnes Scott women best be prepared for them to take center stage frequently.
We danced with the new President and the outgoing one. We danced with each other and with women we had never met before. Dancers ranged from new freshmen to alums well into their seventies and beyond. We were white, Black, Asian, from many countries and continents, yet all of us had this place, this energy, this sacred space of education in common, and we danced to proclaim our sisterhood. At one point, quite a few of us were on the stage with the DJ and the stage, the dance floor, the very air itself pulsed with the joy and power of women celebrating themselves in all their myriad forms. I had to stop and get a drink of water and there, outside of the dancing as an observer, I could literally feel the ground shaking under my feet.
This was absolutely pure joy-ism.
In one flashing moment, I saw the solution to all of our worldly woes and troubles. If we could harness this energy, if we could all approach our lives with even a tiny bit of the joy and exuberance and sheer abandon that was flowing out into the universe that night, everything that was wrong with our societies could be fixed in a week. This was the ultimate in anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-terrorism. This was absolutely pure joy-ism. I saw it. I felt it. I knew it. I ran back into the seething mass of creation and flung my energy out to connect with the rest. I danced till I cried, tears mingling with the sweat running down my face, the beat of the music pounding like blood through my veins. I wanted to grab my friends and tell them what I was experiencing, but they too were lost in line dancing and two-stepping, twerking and Gangnam styling. Everyone was truly dancing as if no one was watching and It. Was. Glorious.
Five years later, I still remember that moment and catch my breath. There’s a saying; “Hard times require furious dancing.” We were fucking furious that night and oh, how the power came on! The times are still hard, so stay furious, keep dancing, and bring the power.
Linda McInnis is a traveler on the blue highways of life. After a half-century of working at various jobs ranging from circus cook to managing the complaints department for a national HMO, she is happily unemployed, a great-grandmother, writer, quilter, poet and solitary witch.
You can find her on Instagram @grumpygrannymc, on Twitter (still) @thegratefulgran and occasionally on her blog www.gratefulgranny.wordpress.com. She welcomes all contact with fellow back roads travelers.