By Mia Blaisdel
Authentic, heart-centered spaces can be challenging to find. As a young adult, I struggled with depression and anxiety and craved deep, meaningful connections. My friends were mostly drinking friends and were fun to party with, yet I didn’t feel safe talking about my emotions and struggles with them. Healthier environments that would nurture growth and interpersonal relationships were something I desired but didn’t know how to find.
After years of searching for spaces for deep, meaningful connections and activities that didn’t revolve around alcohol, I found Ecstatic Dance and other forms of conscious freeform dance in the San Francisco Bay Area. Being in the Ecstatic Dance community was a life changer for me. I went from isolation and severe social anxiety to being connected in a large community where I felt safe to be myself. Ecstatic Dance helped me become more comfortable in my skin, discover new passions, and learn to hold space for others.
Ecstatic Dance has a defined container of consent and confidentiality. There are no substances, phones, shoes, or talking on the dance floor. These agreements helped me feel safe moving around the dance floor with complete freedom and flow without worrying about my appearance, someone spilling a drink on me, or grabbing me without my permission. Getting out of my head and into my body and heart became more accessible and effortless.
Photo of Mia Blaisdel
After each dance, there is a closing circle. Attendees can share their embodied experience of the dance and anything weighing on their hearts and minds. When other dancers shared their joys, fears, and shadows, I saw how similar we all are. Over time, I felt comfortable sharing my own struggles, which was incredibly healing and helped deepen my connection with myself and others on and off the dance floor.
Through the Ecstatic Dance community, I discovered Nonviolent Communication, authentic relating, snuggle parties, Tantra, open relating, nudism, conscious play parties, etc. Rooms full of embodied, open-minded, heart-centered, LGBTQ+ friendly, sex-positive, consent-minded people made my heart happy. I also discovered my love of nudity. Without all the societal masks, it felt so natural to be in my skin. I felt at ease in my body for the first time in a decade.
I have a history of sexual trauma, have struggled to voice my boundaries, and have experienced many consent violations in the default world. I am grateful for spaces where I feel more confident that people won’t touch me without my consent and where I can practice using my voice. It’s incredibly healing and brings me a lot of ease and comfort to be my playful, loving self.
Based on what I had learned and wanted to expand upon, I started creating connection events and workshops of my own. Bringing people together for conscious connection, community, embodiment, growth, and consensual play has become a deep passion of mine.
I do my best to show up as my authentic, imperfect self and share what is real and alive for me. I often hear from people that they feel a warm, welcoming presence around me and appreciate being able to show up exactly as they are. Many have told me they experience trust, safety, and freedom to explore new things at my events.
I’ve been in Las Vegas for four years and am grateful for the amazing heart-centered, sex-positive community here. Some of the events I facilitate in Vegas are Nonviolent Communication practice groups, authentic relating, nudist events, Poly events, platonic and second-base snuggle parties, and all women/non-binary circles and play spaces. I also bring in guest facilitators who lead things like contact improvisation (dance), erotic rope workshops, and Tantra events. All relationship statuses, styles, sexual orientations, gender expressions (unless stated), ethnicities, and body types and sizes are welcome.
My ‘Sensual Snuggle: Intimacy and Communication Workshop’ is my favorite event to facilitate. Imagine a group of strangers gathering in a circle and breaking the ice with connection-building activities like an allies circle, eye gazing, and heart-to-heart hugs. Heart energy fills the room, and tension and anxieties soften. The cozy cuddle fluff comes out, and a sea of nearly-nude bodies can be seen massaging each other, group spooning, kissing, flogging, and enjoying other sensual delights.
Setting a safe, nurturing container is the key to creating sensual connections. All of my events include an opening circle and a closing circle. The sensual events have a closed container, meaning no one can arrive after we start the opening circle to create safety. We share our names and intentions for the evening. We review the agreements and guidelines together. The most important agreement is: you must ask permission and receive a verbal YES before touching anyone. Many have shared with me how grateful they are for the consent and communication practices I teach. These skills have helped them to lean into their edges and desires, ask for what they want, negotiate touch, say no, and hear a no without taking it personally.
My wish is for all people to have spaces that allow for growth, authenticity, vulnerability, and playfulness. We are worthy of experiencing connection NOW, not after first obtaining a perfect body, healing past trauma, gaining some magical confidence, or whatever is holding us back.
Mia Blaisdel is a resident and facilitator in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is bisexual, polyamorous, neurodivergent, and a nudist.
This article was originally published in the second issue of PROUD & Kinky Magazine. You may read it in its original format here.