Gold Glitter, Hot Coffee, Disco and "The Guy": My Morning With Pantheon Presents
We entered the train wearing our bright kimonos, colorful hairpieces, lipstick making our mouths into neat little jewels. It was 6 AM and it was very clear that we were the only ones on the train who were on our way to a party. "I guess everyone else is on their way to work," my friend said, looking around at the commuters with their thermoses of coffee and their conservative outfits. I knew we were getting closer when I saw an explosion of gold glitter on a Manhattan sidewalk. The sun was just barely rising as we entered Judson Memorial Church for an early-morning dance party, cheerfully titled "Shine On". At the door we were handed a bag of chocolates and offered a hug by a woman in spandex. Already there was a crowd dancing passionately out on the floor. Others were snacking and chatting by one of the many stations offering refreshments and food. We no longer stood out as the most colorful—not by a long shot. All around us were pink tutus, big paper fans, purple fur bras, silver jumpsuits, tall wigs, venetian masks and so much more. One man covered in gold glitter from head to toe flung himself about—a blinding, fabulous blur.
The atmosphere had the fresh feeling of a sort of early-morning workout routine for people who would rather go to a dance club than a gym. There wasn't any alcohol served, but rather we were offered cups of coffee, raw chocolate, smoothies, granola bars, juice and fruity energy drinks. As I sipped my coffee I watched someone balancing another person in the air, partner-yoga style. I wandered upstairs and found more people doing yoga in their leopard-print leotards and bouffant hairstyles. As I moved through the crowd I found even more: a woman writing love poems for passerby, a photo booth offering hugs and showers of confetti and a massage station.
The group responsible for this event, Pantheon Presents, consists of the female-identifying power trio Nessa Norich, Julia Hill and Emily Sause. The trio claims they each gained inspiration from the overall positivity and collaborative community of Morning Gloryville NYC, an early morning party which occurs about once a month that Nessa helped produce and Julia and Emily volunteered for. Although this was the first early-morning event they had thrown as Pantheon Presents, the group unanimously agreed that it was a huge success. "The whole place was pulsing with positive energy. Everywhere you looked people were genuinely happy and expressing themselves," Julia responded when asked what she thought of the event. Emily said after the event she felt "…elated. Totally and utterly floored." Nessa shared this story from her experience at Shine On: "An Italian tourist walked in off the street and told my friend it was the most amazing, beautiful party he'd ever witnessed. Soon after, I saw him making out with someone. I'd say it couldn't have been later than 7:30am at that point! To me, that was a beautiful moment: here we were, everyone completely sober, it's not yet 8 am, and a complete stranger feels so comfortable within our community that he finds himself in someone's arms!"
And the group has no intentions of stopping at early morning dance parties. They say they are open to all kinds of events and are confident and excited about what they have to bring to the table. Shine On is the second NYC event Pantheon Presents has produced, the first being No Wrong Turn, a soul/funk night at Black Flamingo with DJ Greg Poole, and the group plans to keep the momentum going. "It all comes down to holding space. Coming together to create the space for people to step out of their head and into their bodies; we aim to facilitate a co-created, collaborative and communally-driven source of transformation," Emily said of the group, "For me, it's all about that curious space where psychological abandonment meets physiological engagement, where emotional release is supported by somatic movement." "We are multi-dimensional and unique individuals all pulled together by one thing: love," Nessa said, "Our parties are constructed around concepts of unconditional acceptance, radical expression, all-inclusive community building and sound embodiment."
For this party, the group called on the assistance of the man covered in gold, Shelton Richard Nixon Lindsay, for decorative and administrative help. I caught up with him to get his perspective on the event and his role assisting Pantheon Presents. "The idea behind this event was to try and create a new early morning dance party that embraces elements of the spiritual and performance," he said, "We were able to bring in artists like Jelena Aleksich with her confetti project, Jonathan Hoard who sang, and Tania Az who offered her poems. It's amazing to bring together so much creative power."
While dancing among the ecstatic crowd at Judson Memorial Church, I couldn't help but notice the camera crew wandering around. I tried to ignore them the way all good New Yorkers are trained to do, but then…could it be? Was that The Guy? The late-night-television-watching stoner in me got butterflies: I saw the main actor from High Maintenance wandering about directing the film crew, looking very chill in a sweatshirt covered in pictures of magic mushrooms. Someone standing near me mentioned that the show was going to use shots of this party for their HBO season premier. I guess Pantheon Presents are not the only ones who are excited about their events. Apparently, some big names in entertainment are taking note. I left the church a few hours later feeling both refreshed and accomplished. It was only 11 AM and I had already danced for several hours, possibly gotten a background shot in one of my favorite TV shows and made some new friends who invited me out to brunch as we were making our exit.
Having entered the sphere of Judson Memorial Church that morning and speaking to some of the core people who made it happen, I would advise anyone to keep an eye out for Pantheon Presents, and bubbling with excitement and good feeling, it seems they feel the same. "We've got a few projects coming down the pipeline that we are thrilled to introduce to the community," Julia Hill said. "We're ready to share our magic and our purpose and our passion with the world!" Emily proclaimed, "Meet you on the dance floor!" Meet you on the dance floor, indeed.