Alexis Garcia, 22, of Downey breaks plates in L.A. on Jan. 12 . Women Breaking Plates is a “women’s healing and empowerment movement.” Participants throw dishes against a brick wall as a cathartic way of shattering their inner demons, breaking free of self-doubt and breaking through the limitations and expectations that society places on women. There is also drumming, dancing, punching and, hopefully, healing throughout the evening.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Guests listen to drumming as part of the Women Breaking Plates movement Jan. 12 in Los Angeles.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Andrea Lowell of Long Beach reacts to smashing plates Jan. 12 in Los Angeles.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Diana Merino drums as part of Women Breaking Plates in L.A.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Portrait of Mikeyla Sainz, 25, of Pasadena holding the plate she is preparing to smash.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Cate Garwen, middle, of West Hollywood doing a energy healing practice during Women Breaking Plates.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
The cabal of all-female reiki and shamanic healers, intuitive readers, life coaches and essential-oil gurus were conjuring positive affirmations and letting out a healthy dose of pent-up rage inside a Fashion District loft.
About 70 other women — mostly friends, Instagram followers and friends of friends — joined them for healings and tarot readings, sipped on herbal elixirs and took out their inner frustrations on a punching bag inscribed with phrases like “I wasn’t enough,” “failure” and “judgment.”
Then, every three to five minutes, against the backdrop of “socially conscious DJ” Rosalie McIntire’s pulsing beats and the chatter of the crowd, a recurring sound punctuated the room: the sudden, high-pitched, percussive shatter of a ceramic plate hitting a concrete wall followed by a chorus of whoops and cheers.
Welcome to Women Breaking Plates, an “empowerment party” put on by Colorado-based duo Aria Tru and Danielle Kort. The second iteration of this concept and the first in Los Angeles, the event last Saturday night was fueled by a DIY vibe (hand-written signs, grocery-store salsa and chips served on folding tables) and seemingly impenetrable positivity.
The inspiration for Women Breaking Plates came from a medical problem. A couple of years ago Tru, a “transformational coach” and women’s empowerment consultant, began experiencing seizures. Before the onset of each one, she had a recurring vision.
“My body would start imagining me throwing ceramics,” Tru said. “This happened for months. It was something that came to me on a daily basis. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, but now I think it was my body’s way of trying to break the tension that the seizure was building up in me. Soon I realized, wow, that would actually be a good way to get tension out.”
She mentioned her vision to a friend, who suggested that more women might be interested in this sort of physical release. So last February Tru and Kort threw their first Women Breaking Plates event in Denver.
Sixty-six women showed up and broke 400 plates, Tru said.
Kort, a women’s leadership coach, said she loves the event because it allows women to express anger.
“We’ve been told to stuff our anger down, so we don’t know how to set powerful boundaries for ourselves,” she said. “We don’t know how to say ‘no more.’ We let people walk all over us. So I think this is a response to the #MeToo movement, because that movement is about speaking up and saying ‘no more!’”
There’s something cathartic about breaking a dish on purpose.
Kort invoked what some might consider a dated stereotype for why she and Tru chose Los Angeles for their second event.
“L.A. is very zipped up, very into looks, very into putting on a show,” she said. “Sometimes you need to let go of the perfectionism and just break some plates, get messy.”
To organize the event long-distance, Kort and Tru reached out to L.A.-based healers and shamanic drummers as well as the producers of She TV Media and leaders of the Global Women’s Empowerment Network. Local partners were encouraged to share, share, share on social media.
The event began with a drumming session led by healer Diana Merino, a receptionist who lives in Paramount. She said her goal as she played her animal skin drums was to coax participants to “connect with their bodies and dance, be guided by the spirit and let go of fear.”
After that opening meditation, attendees perused stations set up for tarot readings, punching bag sessions and affirmation writing.
Standing under a sign that read “Light It Up,” Andrea Lowell, a fitness trainer and raw food nutritionist with more than 27,000 Instagram followers, guided participants to infuse tiny slips of paper with their “limitations” and light them on fire.
“Any limiting belief you may have, whether it is about the world, relationships, finances or self-worth, get it out of your head and out of your heart,” the former VH1 reality TV star and Playboy model instructed. “Put it into that paper energetically, get it out and then burn it!”
As personal limitations went up in little puffs of smoke on one side of the room, energy healers nearby waved their hands over the bodies of attendees lying on massage tables with eyes closed. Across the room, a queue formed at a table surrounded by wobbly stacks of plates.
One by one, women chose a plate and used a Magic Marker to inscribe it with an intention or personal message such as “Breaking free from self-doubt” and “I don’t need anyone else’s approval.” Before hurling their plate at a wall with a sign that said “The Story Ends Here,” they posed for a photo in front of a silver sequin backdrop and listened to a few encouraging words from empowerment coach Manjit Khalsa.
Jamie Jones, a 54-year-old drummer from Orange County, held her plate close before releasing it toward the wall like a Frisbee.
“Fabulous! Absolutely fabulous,” Jones said of the experience. “Sink down, let it be in your bones, then let it go! And that noise! Because I’m a drummer, I can get loud. But breaking a plate is so different. It almost makes me jump every time. Women in our patriarchal society don’t always get to be loud, but here we are letting it out and making noise.”
Sundeep Morrison, 36, agreed. At first, she said, the sound of plates breaking was startling. “As a mom, it’s not a sound you want to hear, so your immediate reaction is negative.”
Women in movies may regularly reach for china and chuck it with a satisfying clash, but most women here reported that they had never intentionally broken a dish before. A busted plate just means another mess to clean up, Morrison said.
Tru and Kort — who haven’t yet posted any future Women Breaking Plates dates on their website — cleaned up the mess with a team of volunteers, and the ceramic shards went to the Global Women’s Empowerment Network for use in art classes.
With nothing to worry about, Morrison could fling plate after plate with abandon.
“There’s something cathartic about breaking a dish on purpose,” she said. “It just felt so powerful, like a huge release of feelings.”
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