Introducing Las Chingonas: ATL dancers explore sacred movement in club spaces

PHOTO: Josephine Figueroa

PHOTO: Josephine Figueroa

Two bxtches exploring, expanding, and embodying the divine, the female, the glitz and glitter of the cosmos, and the charred, blackened, pulsing chambers of the heart. Despair and desire, ecstasy and anguish. This Duo of Divinity, Bella Dorado and Amanda Bonilla create worlds of elevated absurdity and subtle truth through movement and immersive performance. Enter the sacred space where Gods and Goddess stalk the hazy, smoke-filled club, demons and devils death dance and penitents are blessed in bass and reborn in celestial sound.

I have always had a penchant for the dark, the dramatic, and the divine. My Catholic upbringing is largely responsible for my obsession with sacred spaces soaked in stained glass, hazy with the fragrant smoke of frankincense and myrrh, filled with the soft echoes of whispered pleas for absolution, guidance, and assurance that there is in fact magic, miracles, and Someone with a capital S that loves unconditionally. I was never very convinced by the dogma though. I was in it for the mystery and the rituals that felt so much like the casting of spells and the calling of spirits.

As a child I devoured books. I still do. Stories were and are my favorite escape, and I quickly began creating my own. I realized that the power is in the mind of the conceiver, and this excited me and freed my imagination. I could believe in faeries if I wanted to. Witches could be real if I so willed it, the bad kind or the good. Why not? All these creatures; angels, demons, nymphs, cat-headed goddesses, God, Pachamama, Yemayá, they were all suspiciously similar concepts to me and I resented that there were people who dared to declare some as make believe, dismissed as pure fancy. The downfall of a limited imagination.

As I have reflected over the years, I see clearly how greatly influenced my work as an artist has been by my childhood fascinations. I suppose I can’t really call them childhood fascinations though as I am still deeply enamored with what lies just beyond the veil.

So here we are in the club.

The pumping bass of reggaeton fades away as tolling bells fill the silence. The crowd settles as the rhythm changes, eyes search the semi darkness for what’s to come. The smell of incense cuts through the cigarette smoke and the room is flooded with half remembered confessions, the distant taste of communion, and the weight of kneeling. Two small figures move sinuously through the mass of bodies, their curves undulating to the patient rhythm of the call to mass. Their faces obscured by glittering beads that drip from the crowns of their heads. Because who they are doesn’t matter, but what they are does. And what are they? These lithesome creatures at the same time near enough to feel the heat of their blood yet so far away; as unreachable as the constellations. They glide single-mindedly onto the stage, the altar, if you will.

Penitents rise.

Whispers echo through the low ceilinged room. Snatches of prayers, incantations in the forest. One or a hundred voices. It doesn’t really matter.

Bow your heads in this sacred space. Confess your desires to Las Santas. Eat of their fruit and be reborn.

PHOTO: Josephine Figueroa

PHOTO: Josephine Figueroa

Their hips rock from side to side, deliberately as though moving through thick honey, sweet and slow. In perfect unison the two figures cloaked in haze and dripping in stars set the rhythm for everyone’s hearts to pound to. There is a buzzing stillness, a vibrating tension in the air. As the music picks up in pace so does their movement. They are more wild now and the cages of their ribs strain against their skin and perhaps for just a moment you glimpse their red and raw insides. The energy is whipped into a frenzy and like rain bursting from thunderous clouds, the revelers cheer and the room swells and glides as one undulating beast.

And like that the club is sacred. The dance floor is consecrated and the living, breathing, sweating mass of bodies is holy. There is power in dance, in the physical exertion of ecstatic movement. Focus the intention and it becomes ritual, a prayer.

We are all seeking the divine. Whether we acknowledge it or not, each one of us desires the primordial womb from which we came. We search for it in food, in drugs, in alcohol, in sex, in indulgence. The ecstasy of unity and the clarity of transcendence.

Las Chingonas are those ethereal babes stalking the club awash in sparkle, dispensing redemption, absolving your transgressions, skewing your reality so that you may see the chingona reflected in your neighbor, in yourself. Even if only for a moment.

Bless me for I have sinned and will sin again; The taste of which is sweet upon the tongue. Wash me of shame and flood me with strength.

The magic is real. The prayers are heard. By whom, you ask?

Divine Virgin Celestial Whore Sacred Cunt Giver of Life
Mistress of Death Maiden, Mother, Crone.

PHOTO: Josephine Figueroa

PHOTO: Josephine Figueroa

So let us create a space in which every jiggling ass, every quaking thigh is an offering to Her, to our higher selves. In a time and place where it is up to us and only us to love and nurture our unconformable, uncontainable selves we can imagine a space where the veil is thin, holiness is in the air, and we worship one another in the press of writhing bodies.

The Church of Chingona begins now.

Bella Dorado is a performance artist and writer of faery stories, tragic poetry, and ludicrous limericks. She is a woman of whimsy with an absurd amount of opinions and you may stalk her on Instagram @bella_landia and on her website