The first Dancing in the Cave event on Groundhog Day was so popular, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at The University of New Mexico is going to do it again.
Everyone is invited bright and early to the Maxwell on Friday, March 3, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. for the second cave rave. The event is free but attendees are asked to register online so the museum staff can plan to have plenty of juice and iced coffee on hand.
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology • The University of New Mexico
Dancing in the Cave • Friday, March 3, 8 - 9:30 a.m.
Admission is free • Register online
The cave rave is the brainchild of Julián Antonio Carrillo, Curator of Education and Public Programs at the Maxwell who came up with the idea of a fun, healthy, and energetic way to start the day dancing as our human ancestors once did.
“As curator of Public Programs, I’m always brainstorming about events that can bring UNM students into our spaces… Remember, we’re still coming out of a crushing pandemic where social isolation and disembodied Zoom calls were the norm. I think a dance party for those early birds that like to exercise in social ways and appreciate music, humanity, and community, is attractive,” Carrillo explained.
Carrillo took his cue from Uruguayan musician Jorge Drexler’s song Bailar en la Cueva (To Dance in the Cave), “a musical tribute to humanity's long-lasting love affair with bodily movement. In it, he reminds us that we likely learned to begin to express ourselves by dancing with our own shadows on the walls of caves, while spinning around a fire. He also manifests that music ‘teaches, dreams, hurts, and heals’ and correctly states that humans ‘were already making music way before we knew agriculture.’ This last thought was the spark that lit the cave fire to start our museum dance events.”
The Ancestors exhibit is unique as it offers as part of the permanent exhibit a replica of the Niaux cave in France where the walls are covered with prehistoric art between 17,000 and 11,000 years old depicting bison, goats, and other animals that gives visitors the chance to contemplate the importance of art in human evolution.
“It also gives us a chance to learn the basics of human evolution and contemplate the extraordinary aspects that make us unique, such as thinking and walking upright. Moreover, it is the only one in New Mexico and one of a handful of exhibits nationwide dedicated to this theme,” he added.
Most of us don’t walk around campus going from one class to the other, or heading to lunch, in creative steps and waiving our arms in sporadic ways, Carrillo noted, adding, “If we did, we would be a more joyful campus, for sure. Dance is so liberating, yet so constrained in our dominant culture. We have special places and times for dancing and most of us don’t dare do it outside of the norm. But dancing is central to our humanity and has been with us for millenia as a belief system, as a form of cultural heritage, and as a kind of game. I think it is the spontaneous, playful element that attracts certain kind of people to the event.”
The first event was quite popular. One woman told Carrillo that she gets the museum newsletter regularly but has never seen a more interesting public event than the cave rave. She danced from the beginning to the end of the event.
The next day Carrillo’s supervisor and Maxwell’s Curator of Exhibits Devorah Romanek emailed to tell him, “Good morning. I am having a morning dance party at my house, me and my cats. Yesterday was such an inspiration.”
Jack Dugan, an Engineering student who also runs the UNM Mountaineering Club on campus, wrote the Maxwell the next day to say, “I've already been telling folks how great a time it was and building up some excitement for the next one… I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for setting an awesome tone for the day and having this wonderful idea!”
After hearing this kind of response from Dugan, Carrillo and the Maxwell team invited him and students Lila Goleman and Ben Erickson, who participated with equal enthusiasm as Dugan, to form part of the first-ever Student Museum Advisory Board.
“This group will help not only spread the word and bring in more students into the cave but also propose ways that we can grow and evolve the event,” Carrillo remarked, noting that Erickson has already proposed future cave raves focusing on particular types of music and dance, such as west African drum music.
So far, the playlist is eclectic, and attendees can submit their favorite dance jams for the event’s growing public Spotify list, including hip hop, EDM, cumbia, “and some good ol’ rock and roll. But as the event grows, I am sure the diversity of music will too,” Carrillo said.