Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road and Saying “Half House” Three Times Quickly

by Gayle Nosal

(Gayle’s version of Milk Dud Magic)

Since that afternoon in February 2015 when Lucy grabbed on to the idea I shared to dance with women in prison, magic has prevailed. Plus plenty of, confusion, surprise and grace.  And just last week two wondrous moments of silly, brief disorientation. For me? –suddenly driving on the wrong side of an empty road as we left La Vista Correctional Facility last Sunday, and Lucy politely saying, “Um, Gayle, I think you need to move over.” For Lucy?–saying, ‘half house’ three times quickly, trying each time, through belly-rich laughter, to actually describe the place where one of the women at La Vista would soon be released: a halfway house.

In February 2015, when Dance 2B Free bubbled up in the lobby of Alchemy of Movement, Lucy and I were, in that instant of our conversation, starting a journey of not knowing, an adventure of confusion, a pathway sparkling with some hard-to-describe ‘thing’ we just needed to stumble upon and and tread. We were on a journey of creating something new and wonderful, but not sure how to do it or how it would happen.

Sometimes ‘not knowing’ can look to others like ignorance, or being unprofessional. For some, ‘not knowing’ is untidy. For D2BF, ‘not knowing’ has at times been a necessary catalyst. I’m grateful Lucy can be messy and deliberately open to uncertainty. Her choice to honor disorder and the unknown led her to Milk Duds and from there, to a move eastward for D2BF to expand in Nebraska. I think a good dose of muddle makes us move briefly to the wrong side of the street, makes us change how we say things, and gives us a chance to have compassion for the exacting systems which can exist for women who are in prison.

When Lucy and I were at the La Vista Women’s Correctional Facility in Pueblo last Sunday, the unexpected happened again. Everything was different from what we’d experienced. The guard at the front desk didn’t check to see if our names were in any special book; we got our green-bordered ‘no escort needed’ passes handed to us smoothly. There were no locks on the lobby lockers. The doors to the gym were open. We walked straight into the office, hung our coats on a rack and started talking with inmates. Within minutes, more than 45 women came to dance and some had to be turned away. The microphone Lucy wore squealed with feedback but the women dancing said: It’s cool, we don’t care. And after class, when Lucy invited anyone interested in participating in a D2BF Teacher Training, more than twelve women approached us. Sweaty and grateful, we heard them say they loved the dance, wanted to share it with their family and friends when released, wanted to teach others once outside.

Magic again. Disorder. Unexpected movements. More new and wonderful things continue to happen.