Dancing is and always has been a tribal ritual, an act of abandon, a form of active meditation. From Navajo tom-tom beating to flamenco foot-stomping and whirling dervishes, the group tradition of moving to music and finding transcendence through gesture and rhythm have long held societies together. It has served a number of communal functions, from mating and marriage to various forms of initiation and, of course, religious ecstasy. Is it any great surprise, therefore, that the institution of dance music today--specifically the driving house brand suggested by rock and soul and consolidated by disco--has grown exponentially during our spiritually hungry times? The music we dance to is, accordingly, becoming more spiritual. The icons of pop, from Madonna wielding a peculiar brand of yoga-twisted kabbalah to Boy George blasting through smack addiction into Hinduism, are leading club dancing away from its self-consciously hedonistic roots toward a more healing, soul-nourishing groove. Listen to Sting, once a bad-boy Police-man, rhapsodizing on his new, rhythm-inspired album, "Brand New Day," and you'll be seeing visions in no time. In Spain, the groundbreaking, thoughtful dance mixes of DJ Jose Padilla have become megahits in a series called "Spiritually Ibiza."

While the advent of the millennium seemed to belong to the apocalyptic howl of grunge and heavy metal, many club music fans have turned away from the siren of too much sex (and too much of it unsafe and drug-fueled) to a more enlightened approach. The club kids have found that ecstasy need not come in a pill. Instead, they get high on spirits touching through synchronously moving bodies and raising consciousness through thumping vibrations, pumping unity into the air as hundreds dance to the same beat. This is love. After all, the beating of the heart and the pounding rhythm of a dance track are cosmically related.

The following is an eclectic sampling of dance tracks sure to raise your spirit and help you along the road to your particular address in paradise.

"Wake Up" by Dawn Tallman, Nervous Records 2000
This gospel-flavored dance track from a full-fledged, full-voice diva will lift you out of your seat and have you clapping your hands to heaven, especially the inspired refrain of "Wake up, this is a brand new day..." The universal message here: Open your eyes and be alive.click here to listen.

"Sky Fits Heaven" by Madonna, Warner 1998
This vocal techno-trance track asks the big question: "Isn't everyone just travelling down their own road watching the signs as they go?" When the reigning, shapeshifting guru-ette of pop music instructs her fans to find a path and stick to it, we know we're in a whole new age.

"Don't Give Up" by Chicane, featuring Bryan Adams, Xtravaganza 2000
This uplifting high-energy pop tune points us to the god within with a luring subtext: Keep the faith, believe in yourself and never ever give up hope. "Dont give up, you know it's true, gotta do what you want to do." "Love Is the Groove" by Cher, Warner 1999
Another shapeshifting pop goddess, only with a much bigger hairdo, Cher comes off her success with a song called "Believe" with a new mantra: a smooth-but-bouncy cover of Betsey Cook's 1991 dance classic with the unforgettable lyric, "Love is the groove in which we move."

"He Lives in You" by Diana Ross, Motown 1999
The once and always supreme Miss Ross takes the classic Christian Jesus theme (note the third-person masculine pronoun) to the limit in this tribal cover of the show tune from "The Lion King." "He lives in you/ he lives in me/ he watches over every thing we see." Not great poetry, we know, but true as a harvest moon over Detroit.

"Breeze" by Dubtribe Sound System, Imperial Dub/Jive Electro 1998
This husband and wife, hippy-gone-house music San Francisco duet disguise their worldy-wise lyrics in sexy, deep house clothing, but their message is nonetheless righteous and true: "No more hate/ no more fear/ no more anger/ no more jealousy/ love is like a cool breeze blowing through my soul."click here to listen.

"He Is the Joy" by Donna Allan, Soul-Furic Records 1999
This underground gospel house diva gives us an all-out, praise-God, he-is-my-savior lovefest of sound. Her church-raising lyrics are sure to clear the pews in a heartbeat. "He is the joy the morning, in the evening, every day and every night."click here to listen.

"Let the Joy Rise" by Abigail, Interhit 1999
When this white girl with a throaty rich sound belts out the title lyric, all hands are in the air.

"Heaven" by Glen Scott, Giant Step 1999
This solo American act gives us a conga-driven, mid-tempo house track with an island influence that begs the eternal question: "Are we going to heaven or are we losing our way?"

"Love Is the Healer" by Donna Summer, Sony 1999
Though her name is synonymous with disco, this great singer (and true believer) has turned her songs about fallen women and bad, bad love toward the light with this terrific tune (which Sony would be wise to release stateside). "Love is the healer/ coming to heal and set me free." Amen.

"Unspeakable Joy" by Kim English, Nervous Records, 1999
The reigning queen of underground house, English invokes the essence of buddha-nature, that is, the perennial goodness of the human spirit, with this dramatic, hard-edged number, full of soaring peaks and valleys. "Joy, unspeakable joy, they did not give it, they cannot take it away." Thus spake the sage of faux-fur and rhinestones.

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