33 Degrees: A Tribute to Oakland & the Victims of the Ghost Ship Fire

An old flyer for a party entitled 33 Degrees, a space for community held inside an artist warehouse loft

An old flyer for a party entitled 33 Degrees, a space for community held inside an artist warehouse loft

When I was in my early twenties, I lived in Oakland, where I was lucky enough to be a part of a nurturing artist community. I always say that everything that I am, and the woman I will continue to be, is in large part because of the love, support, and dedication to social justice that I learned from the people in Oakland. 

Back in those days, I had the unique blessing of being able to attend 33 Degrees, an all-night dance party done in the spirit of love, community, and freedom. It was very much like the party that happened at Ghost Ship in Oakland.  I imagine that every person who attended that party was looking for the same thing we once did: a space to release, and to come as they are. As Gabe Meline writes, "these spaces are what kept us alive. In a world that demands its inhabitants to be a certain way, think a certain way, or live a certain way, we gravitate to the spaces that say: Welcome. Be yourself. "

It's devastating to mourn the passing of all the people that left us at Ghost Ship. In loving tribute to them, and all the memories that have given us the courage to be who we are meant to become, I wanted to share something I wrote from the 33 Degrees Era, circa 2007. 

33 Degrees

It is those nights

When the pulse inside us thuds in sync with the 808

Limbs flailing to scoop the rhythm

Caught in the wind behind us

 

Our bodies in full surrender

Spell bound to the synthesizer

Dazed in reverie,

Aligned to the 33rd Degree

 

We’re at your command, DJ

 

So move

Like we’re turning the world on its axis

By our feet

 

Move

Like we’re shaking

The fear out of our skin

 

Move

Like the law will splinter

When we crack the cuffs off these wrists

 

Move

Because freedom

Is in the breaks

 

Catch it when your tongue

Licks the air

The mist from our bodies

Rising like smoke sparked by the beat

 

Contact high, so breathe with me

We go delirious in dance,

Our skins damp with sweet humidity

Because nights like this, sweat is sexy

 

So dance like the funk lived inside your hips

Pop like fireworks detonated at your heels

Our teeth and wrists

Glowing in the dark

 

There’s a movement

In this movement

So move

Like you meant it

 

We’re at your command, Dj

 

Magic flares like fireworks

When West Oakland creates its own sky

A new horizon stretched inside warehouse lofts

The walls exhaling sound

 

My people, radiant

At the crux of the 33rd degree

Finding the sun inside us

While we dance to the dawn

****

In Love, Movement, & Solidarity,

Ruby