Ballroom dance flash mob at Paradise Valley fest to raise awareness on black mental health

At his lowest point, Jay Danzie considered taking his own life.

“I had contemplated suicide in my early 20s,” Danzie tells BLAC. “I just thought the world was going to end.”

It’s not easy for anyone to admit out loud that they were once suicidal. It’s doubly harder for us as black folks to even entertain that conversation. But confronting the stigma of mental illness is something that Danzie passionately believes in.

Danzie is in better spirits now, having found part of his salvation through ballroom dance. He’s the founder of Ballroom Nation, and through fundraisers and other activities, the group of dancers bring awareness to mental health among blacks.

At the Paradise Valley Music Festival this weekend at Hart Plaza, Danzie and Ballroom Nation will stage a “flash mob,” where they’ll storm the Plaza and break out into smooth ballroom steps. At the end of the dance, they’ll discuss the importance of mental health and wellness.

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“I was forced to do something. I couldn’t keep talking about it, and not do anything,” Danzie says. “This is a way to raise people’s consciousness about it. We make references (to mental health) inside the dancing.”

It’s unorthodox, for sure. But Danzie believes in meeting people where they are.

“I would love for this to be an annual event,” he says. “And there’s a whole bunch of things we could talk about – domestic violence, furthering higher education. This is just the beginning.”

The Ballroom Nation flash mob goes down at 4 p.m. on Saturday. For more on the Paradise Valley Music Festival, click here. For more on Ballroom Nation, click here.

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