Why I almost cancelled the Dance Experiment But didn't...

Why I almost cancelled the Dance Experiment But didn't...

 Listen to the article voice over here

Dear Kula Diaries,

Today is my 1,144th day of dancing in a row. If I estimate that I (conservatively) dance, on average, for 20 minutes per day… that’s 22,880 minutes of dancing… or 381 hours… or 15.89 days of dancing. One of my friends asked me a few months ago if it was possible that I was the ‘World Record Holder’ in most days of consecutive dancing in human history… and I realized that it had never even occurred to me that this was a notable record of any kind. I did a few Google searches and was only able to find information about the person who danced for the most amount of hours in a row (over 123 hours). It’d be nearly impossible to prove that I had danced for 1,144 days in a row. The only person who knows that I’ve danced everyday, quite honestly… is me. I didn’t film it every single day or track it (except with an app)… because I never expected it to ‘become’ anything. I never started it with any goal at all… other than, ‘to see what happened’.

Here’s a video of my first consecutive year of dancing that I compiled awhile ago:

“The Kula Diaries” is a free newsletter written entirely by me, Anastasia Allison. I’m the founder of an outdoor gear company called Kula Cloth. You can join our monthly events and support this newsletter and my writing by becoming a paid subscriber. I appreciate you so much! Love, A.

About a year into the experiment, something did happen. For some reason, I wondered if other people might want to join me. I had felt my entire life experience transform by dancing everyday… and I was curious if it might have the same effect on other people too. Initially, I decided that I’d ‘test’ a week of dance with others on Zoom… and see how it went. I built a three song playlist — which seemed ambitious at the time — and we scheduled the event. On January 9th, 2022… two hundred and sixty seven people showed up to dance together in Zoom. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was Day 1 of the Kula Dance Experiment. After our first session, I sat on the ground in my tiny dance studio/garage… and I sobbed. I had danced alone for so long… so being able to share this ‘thing’ that I loved with other people felt overwhelming. I initially wanted to host the Dance Experiment with Kula for one week… but at the end of one week, everybody wanted to keep going. In the beginning, I hosted every session myself — and on days when I couldn’t host the sessions in person, I recorded myself dancing for 20 minutes to a playlist and I e-mailed it to everybody. By the end of the month, my feet were unthinkably sore and I had to be placed on antibiotics due to a toe infection (seriously - ha!). But, when we had finished 30 days… I asked the group: Should we keep going? The overwhelming consensus was: Let’s keep going. Let’s see what happens.

In February of 2022, I had a problem: I had a pre-planned vacation, so I wasn’t sure how to keep the Dance Experiment going in my absence. And, if I’m being honest, it was getting pretty exhausting to run entirely by myself. So, I asked for help. Five incredible women stepped up and offered to be our official Joy Facilitators. Their role would be to select the playlist for their morning session… send out the daily e-mail to all participants… and then lead the session for the group. With the Joy Facilitators leading sessions, I was given a unique opportunity: the ability to experience the program from the perspective of a participant. As a facilitator, the focus is usually on making sure that the technical aspects of hosting a virtual dance party run smoothly (easier said than done - ha!)… but as a participant, I was finally able to see what the fuss was all about. During one of those first weeks, I joined the call… settled in for a meditation… and then experienced the blissful and uninhibited joy of dancing to a Sushi-themed playlist. It was, in a word, remarkable. Somehow, I had fallen even more in love with The Dance Experiment.

I took ballet when I was 3 years old… and quit. Ha!

For the year and nine days prior to our first group session, I had danced almost entirely by myself. I had danced in the rain… and in the snow… in the wilderness… in parking lots… in grocery stores… and anywhere that I could find a flat surface. But I had never felt the energy of dancing with so many other humans. It didn’t matter that we were on Zoom, dancing in our own homes… the most important part of us — our energy and our love — was together. During the pandemic, this type of ‘collective effervescence’ (a term coined by Émile Durkheim) was mostly void from our lives… spontaneous moments where groups of people experienced the ‘intangible specialness of life’ seemed to be few and far between. And yet, our group managed to find it — we found it every single day and every single morning… and, I truly believe, it’s why we’ve never stopped.

It’s been 779 days since the first day of the Kula Dance Experiment… and we are still dancing. Every single morning, a group of humans meets together on Zoom for a 30 minute virtual dance party. We meditate for about 10 minutes… and then we dance. We do not dance in any certain way — this is not a Zumba class where you are attempting to ‘follow’ a series of choreographed movements led by an instructor. We listen to a playlist, chosen by the Joy Facilitator of the Day, and we move our bodies in whatever way we are able to … and whatever way feels best to us. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There is no judgement. And, as most participants quickly learn, the harshest critic of your own dancing is usually already in the room with you (hint: it’s you). We’ve had folks participate in The Dance Experiment after surgeries — sitting down and gently moving their hands to the music. We’ve had folks participate in sessions during very difficult times in their lives and during some of the most celebratory moments… and everywhere in between. While not every person attends every session… the group experiment as its own entity has never missed a day… if it’s 6:30 AM Pacific time… there is a group of us dancing together. Every. Single. Day.


On my beloved cell phone tower platform in my crazy creepy cat dance pants.

This past January 9th we celebrated our 730th day — two consecutive years — of dancing. I might be wrong, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that there are no other outdoor gear companies that have hosted a daily dance party. Why? Probably because it’s a huge endeavor to pull off — but, maybe, it’s because it sounds impossible. The Dance Experiment is a unique program, because it’s entirely donation based. The Joy Facilitators are paid, but there is no set fee to join, and participants are free to donate whatever feels good to them. That being said, the Dance Experiment is not free to host… it costs approximately $1500 - $2,000 per month to host the Dance Experiment. Attendance and donations fluctuate over time, and in the last few months of 2023, I was honestly wondering if we would be able to continue with the program. To be completely transparent — the dance experiment (on paper) was costing Kula Cloth much more to host than it was bringing in through donations.

Fearfully, I looked at the program — and wondered if we should cut it. Afterall… what would a responsible business owner do? My mind hurt trying to think about how to handle the situation… and I wondered if maybe people just weren’t interested in it anymore. I sent out a survey to participants, and received a shocking response: One-hundred percent of participants wanted to continue with the program… and 100% of participants said that the program made a huge difference in their lives. As I scrolled through the heartfelt responses, I was astonished at what I saw — clearly the ripple effect of The Dance Experiment had spread far beyond our small group… people described, in detail, how the program had impacted their lives and the lives of others.

And so, instead of making an impulsive decision based on fear, I decided to do what The Dance Experiment had taught me to do: stop trying to figure it out in your mind, and ask your heart the answer: When you feel truly free… what do you know is right? I sat on the ledge above my house (as I often do), and I closed my eyes. I tried to visualize something that felt uncomfortable at first — I tried to visualize leading the last session of the Dance Experiment. I watched myself selecting a playlist and trying to decide what the last songs we’d ever share together would be. The tears started flowing when I added ‘Blinding Lights’ as the last song on my imaginary playlist. I saw myself walking into my little dance studio on what would be the last day ever of the Kula Dance Experiment. I saw myself logging onto Zoom… and I saw the friendly faces of the people that I’ve come to know over the last two years start to arrive. I saw Beth… and Val and her dog… and Chris… and Allison… and Amanda… and Bonnie (and her two kids)… and Courtney… and Molly… and Marie… and my mom… and Kelly… and other Kelly… and the two Jess’s… and Beck… and Elizabeth and her cat and horses… and Kim… and Chizuko… and Christy… and Joan… and Donna… and Heidi… and Stacy… and Regina… and Ruth and Janet and Karen… and all of the other dozens and dozens of people that come and go in our virtual dance hall every single morning of every single day. The Dance Experiment was no longer about me — it had become something much, much more. I wept as I saw each of them appear in my mind’s eye, and I tried to imagine saying goodbye. I tried to imagine pressing, ‘End Meeting for All’. I couldn’t do it.

I started designing couture shower curtains for fun in January of 2023 … and I’ve given one of them away every single month of the Dance Experiment!

Somebody asked me in the Kula Diaries Vault a few weeks ago if I had learned anything unexpected from The Dance Experiment, and the answer is YES. I was simply not prepared for the amount of love that I would feel for not only the program itself — but, most importantly, for the people who are the program. Over the past two years, this group has shared a little slice of our lives with each other… and, even on some of the most difficult days, we’ve lifted each other up in dancing. On the days when we didn’t want to show up — we still did, because we knew other people were there. On days when folks were having a hard time — we mailed them cards and sent them e-mails. We’ve sung countless off-key ‘Happy Birthday’ choirs … and we’ve laughed and cried… watched people’s children learn how to walk… wept for lost and found pets… and genuinely cared for other humans — some of whom we’ve only ever met through Zoom.

And so, you can understand why… when I tried to visualize the very last session of The Dance Experiment… I just couldn’t do it. I imagined seeing the faces of these people that I love so very much — and having to tell them that I was going to stop this program, which has brought so much joy and goodness into our lives. When you create something that becomes bigger than who you are — you sometimes have to let go of old beliefs about what is possible. As Spock says, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one.” When I thought about the last day of the Dance Experiment — I simply couldn’t let myself see it, because I knew in my heart that it wasn’t done yet.

So, we kept on dancing. Despite any advice that anybody else might give me about what I should or shouldn’t do as a business owner — I decided that I needed to follow my own advice for a change. Since the very beginning of Kula, I’ve done things in a very non-traditional way. Namely, I decided to follow my heart… instead of my brain. I focus on doing things that feel good and fun. I prioritize things like gratitude and appreciation… and I don’t ever start a day without dancing. In a world that tells us that we need to be focused on ‘Customer Optimization’ and ‘Return on Investment’ and ‘Acquisition’… prioritizing dance and appreciation might seem counterintuitive… and some might say, it’s foolish. But, when I think about the legacy that I want to leave behind — do I really want it to be, “Her website had great analytics?”. To be honest, I think it can be both. I think you can be wildly successful and also prioritize the things that matter. I think that you can lead with your heart… and trust that the way forward will reveal itself. I think that you can do something that might not make ‘sense’ in an Excel Spreadsheet — but you know that it feels right, and you can trust it’ll work out. I believe… and I must continue to believe… that how we feel and the good that we do is far more important than anything else. A wise movie once said, ‘If you build it… they will come”… and I’d like to rewrite that a little bit and say, instead, ‘If you build it… the whole world will dance with you.’


Here we are — going into our 26th month of existence!!!

I spent most of my life focused on where I wasn’t. I pushed off my happiness to a distance place… once things were different. My life was a smorgasbord of things that needed to be ‘fixed’. Happiness was a place that I’d find one day when I was successful… when I had a gear company… when I had sold a bajillion pee cloths… or when the Dance Experiment had 500 members. But, do you know what? I was wrong. I’m proud of Kula and of The Dance Experiment… but no amount of ‘achieving’ has ever brought me happiness… because that temporary sense of accomplishment is immediately replaced by ‘needing’ the next thing. Nothing is ever ‘enough’ — until we realize that we are the ones that are enough. No amount of anything else will ever make us more.

I don’t know what the future holds for The Dance Experiment, and I do understand that sometimes hard decisions are necessary, but I don’t need to know the answer right now. This morning, I woke up and I danced with my friends. We jumped and swayed and spun and hopped — and we left feeling energized. We will go about our respective days as humans who have entered the day with dancing. And tomorrow, we will meet together and we will dance again - with no ending in sight. As it turns out, happiness is the feeling that I get when I sign onto a virtual dance party at 6:30 AM and see the familiar faces of my friends… it’s the feeling I get when I know that we are all sitting together in silence, even though we are separated by states and continents. It’s the feeling that I get when I fling my arms around at sunrise and kick my legs to the beat and catch a glimpse of all of us dancing in our little Zoom boxes for no reason other than today is a day of life on this planet that includes all of us.

Here’s a short clip of me dancing at the cell tower platform (tiny in the upper right corner!) and Joy Facilitator Bonnie leading the call — this is just a screen grab, so it doesn’t show all the other people who were dancing that day (and this isn’t the song we were dancing to). I love the honest, no-frills, joyous simplicity of being apart, yet together, for dancing. There’s no fancy studio… no ‘celebrity’ instructors or expectations — it’s just humans, dancing together… and I think there is so much joy and beauty in that:

Friends — thank you so much for being here and for reading The Kula Diaries… and thank you to anybody and everybody who has danced with me over the past 2 years — the ripple effect of our collective energy has changed the the world, I am absolutely sure of that. The effect you’ve had on my life is profound: I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve made (both in person and on Zoom), and not a day goes by when I’m not deeply appreciative for you. Even on days when I don’t attend our lives sessions — there is a comfort in knowing that, somewhere out there… at 6:30 AM… there is a group of humans dancing because … every day deserves it. You are all such bright beams of light in the world, and I really hope that The Dance Experiment has brought some joy into your hearts — as much as it has to mine.

I’ll end with a poem I wrote a few years ago for the Dance Experiment… I hope you enjoy it.


Have a beautiful day — and if you haven’t already yet … dance a little bit… and just see what happens.

P.S. If you want to join The Dance Experiment — you still can! Yes, it’s still going on… because I genuinely did not cancel it. It’s donation based… all are welcome… and you don’t need to have your camera on for any portion of the session. No dancing experience is required. You don’t even need to come every day. The only thing I tell people is: come… and see what happens. I hope you get to know the answer to that question like I did. It’s really beautiful.

Join the Dance Experiment!


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.