On Labor Day of 2015, torrential downpours caused rivers in Central Texas to rise to record-shattering levels and break from their flood banks. Many homes and businesses were destroyed and countless more were severely damaged, causing an estimated $27 million in infrastructure damage. In addition, the flooding resulted in 23 confirmed deaths.
One Hays County resident affected by the disaster is a particularly well-known figure among Texas State students and faculty. Dillon Scott, better known to San Marcos locals as Sun God, Poseidon, King Triton or Zeus (his favorite), lost his home in the flood and was uprooted from the place he loves most, a city he calls “San Marvel”.
Because of the flood, Scott has been forced to stay with extended family in Connecticut, in what he hopes to be a temporary arrangement. He is deliberate when he speaks over the phone and is quick to laugh about his reputation. He has a self-conscious confidence, as if he understands that he intrigues people, but knows that not pandering to that intrigue is key to sustaining it.
Scott was born in Germany and moved constantly because his dad was in the military. He grew up in Killeen, Texas, for most of his childhood, until moving to Austin to go to the University of Texas. After graduating, Scott moved to Houston to work as a journalist for a few different oil and gas companies, but he got tired of the corporate world and found it increasingly difficult to cope with life in the city.
He struggled with alcohol and drug dependency issues for years before experiencing a Come-To-Jesus Moment and beginning Alcoholics Anonymous. “I call myself a recovered alcoholic,” says Scott. “On December, 7 1996, I cried out to God for help, God brought me to AA, and AA brought me to God. That was my spiritual awakening.”
He packed up and headed to Marble Falls with no career prospects and no plans. On the way, he stopped to visit his mom in San Marcos. The experience of visiting his mother’s house was a sort of homecoming for Scott, as he was instantly enamored with the leisurely pace of the town where he’d spent several childhood summers. “I visited Aquarena Springs as a kid,” says Scott, “and I came back for school briefly. But of all the places in the entire world where I feel like I belong, it’s San Marcos.”
From that fateful visit in 2000 to the Memorial Day floods fifteen years later, Dillon Scott found solace at the headwaters of the San Marcos River. But it wasn’t until a friend introduced him to Bassnectar that he found his passion for electronic dance music. As he listened to EDM on his iPod Shuffle, the river began to take on a new meaning. He became aware of what he calls “synchronicity,” a force that he credits for leading him to San Marcos. It’s also the same force he credits for driving him out.
Scott began experimenting with dubstep, techno and house music, but no other sub-genre gave him the same kind of out-of-body experience that trance music did. The dancing that he’s famous for began unassumingly, just a lighthearted release brought on by the beauty of San Marcos and the rhythm of trance music.
But Scott soon began to feel like something more spiritual was happening, as if some sort of divine force were overtaking him. What started as a pulsing hand motion toward the sun soon evolved into what my ballet instructors would call “working the space,” i.e. uncontrollable twirling. “The dance has actually evolved over time,” says Scott. “It was the hands first, for sure. I’d kind of move them very quickly, like vibration. Then, as I got more comfortable with it, I started jumping up and down, and then I started twirling.”
A spiritual man, Scott believes he’s inspired by a higher power, although he’s reluctant to call that power “God.” He compares himself to the whirling Sufi Dervishes, religious dancers whose trademark spinning routine is considered to be a form of physical meditation. I imagine his white, shoulder-length hair tucked into a lampshade-shaped sikke, and his pooka-shell necklace peeping out from his destegul. It’s a fun thing to imagine.
“Rumi, the poet and mystic, really speaks to me,” says Scott. “He was a Sufi, and his particular religious order had Whirling Dervishes. They experience the same thing I experience: The more I spin, the closer I get to God. Maybe I get dizzy or something.”
Several years ago, Texas State students and park regulars began to notice the whirling river dervish. At first, people approached him tentatively, purely curious, but Scott eventually established a reputation as a pillar of wisdom for the young people who hung out at the park. “The kids,” as Scott calls them, would seek his council on everything from relationships to school. In return, he made friends with the students and started receiving invites to campus parties.
Soon, Scott had become a local celebrity and was ordained the Sun God by students. While he admits to enjoying the attention, he’s still surprised by the amount of interest that his dancing has garnered.
“This whole Sun God thing happened,” explains Scott, “and I went, ‘Okay, if you guys enjoy it, then I’m glad.’ I’m glad I can make them laugh, or be an inspiration, or whatever. But I really just do it, because—um—because I can’t help myself.”
While Scott gradually embraced his newfound fame, there were some who didn’t appreciate the rising Sun God. A highly-publicized beef broke out between Scott and Frisbee Dan, another Sewell Park fixture, when Frisbee Dan insulted Scott in an interview with a Texas State News program. Frisbee Dan blindsided Scott by saying—completely unprovoked—that Scott lives with his mother and has no job (which at the time was true).
The interview caused a rivalry between the Sewell celebs that came to a head in 2012. Allegedly, Frisbee Dan threw a frisbee that landed at Sun God’s feet (the Earth is his footstool). This blatant antagonization forced Sun God to confront Frisbee Dan, which led to a fateful shove. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” Scott told me, moments before saying several not-so-nice things. He claims that he pushed Frisbee in self-defense, and that he was merely fending off a playground bully.
Frisbee Dan has this “Roaul Duke if Roaul Duke were your dorky dad” vibe, so it’s difficult to imagine him as some blustery park tyrant. But according to Scott, Frisbee terrorizes fellow frisbee enthusiasts by correcting their technique and chastising their throws.
Unfortunately, Frisbee Dan filed a complaint against Scott for shoving him, and soon after, Sun God’s time in the Sewell sun was up. Scott was banned from the park for a year. He moved farther down the San Marcos River to city-owned Rio Vista Park, but Sewell regulars missed his jovial rituals.
A few Texas State students started a petition to allow Sun God back into the park, but their attempts failed. Despite not being allowed into Sewell, he continued his daily routine. “I would wake up,” says Scott, “do my prayer and meditation—always—go to the gym, and then head over to the river. I basically call it ‘play all day.’” And play he did. Scott took to ambling up and down the streets of San Marcos, headphones blaring the peaks and drops of his music du jour as he danced. “I later came to find out that the Hays county judge would see me dancing and would laugh and shake his head. Sometimes they would call the cops on me and say, ‘You can’t dance here.’ Stuff like that.”
Then, just after his one-year ban from Sewell ended, Scott had another scuffle with Texas State authorities. He and a friend had ventured into a part of the river owned by the university, an area near Spring Lake. When Scott returned to the quad, he found police waiting. They told him that he was banned from Sewell and all university property for an additional two years for trespassing. “I’d been there a million times, and as far as I knew, the area was semi off-limits,” explains Scott. “But they got me on their spy cams, and when I got back to campus, there was what looked like an entire SWAT team. Then they told me I was banned.”
Scott thinks that Texas State authorities may have been looking for an excuse to keep him out. He believes that the backlash of his one-year banishment from the park may have garnered enough media attention that the powers at Texas State decided to cut ties with him completely.
“I spoke out [against the initial ban] in a few magazines, so I think the administration somewhat resented what had happened there. I don’t know what was going on, but they seemed to have had it out for me.”
However, Sergeant Daniel Benitez of the Texas State University Police Department denies that University administration and police harbored any animosity toward Scott. “We really don’t go out and pick on somebody.” Sergeant Benitez explains. “This is no different than anyone else we’ve come across. He was in a prohibited area, and we saw him on the surveillance cameras. We actually gave him a break, because he could’ve been arrested. But we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
He pleaded with the administration to be allowed back into his old stomping grounds, but ultimately, they decided against overturning the ban. “I started crying,” says Scott. “Spring Lake is the oldest continually-inhabited area in North America [Editor’s Note: this is actually true], and to be prohibited from going there was really hard.”
To make matters worse, Texas State police found Scott trespassing in another prohibited area of the river, and this time he was arrested. The officers pushed Scott into the police car before he was able to grab his shoes, his shirt or his iPod shuffle.
Scott claims that the area was commercial property, but he was forced to spend a night in jail for criminal trespassing nonetheless. Despite his run-ins with administration and police, all Scott wants is to be able to access Texas State and its amenities. Despite the misunderstandings, Scott has nothing but respect for the Texas State University system. “Most of my close friends are college students, and every year I get what I call ‘Fresh People.’ Some of them have moved on, but I love Texas State. I’ve been to their museum, their ‘art place.’ I love being a part of Texas State, but it seems like Texas State doesn’t want me to be a part of them.”
But while the university pushed him out, another place pulled him in. After his mother’s house—his home of fifteen years—was nearly destroyed when the Blanco River flooded last Memorial Day weekend, Scott felt like he knew where he was supposed to go.
“It happened rather quickly, and the flood hit unexpectedly. People died. Homes were destroyed. I had to find somewhere to go, and Connecticut seemed to be the logical place, because I have family up here.”
As a result, Sun God found himself displaced from San Marcos and struggling to find a way to return. “I’m not quite sure what to do with the property there in San Marcos,” he says, “because it’s along the Blanco [river]. Do I invest the money and get it fixed or what? I don’t know.”
Scott is quick to point out that the Blanco River, not the San Marcos River, destroyed his home. He can’t imagine the river he feels so spiritually connected to would ever betray him. “I just have the greatest love and respect for the San Marcos river: The river of the ancients. The river keeps calling me back. It’s not Texas State and it’s not San Marcos; it’s the river.”
Scott has lived in Connecticut since the flood, where he goes about his usual routine, but since there’s no river, he’s forced to dance to trance music in the backyard garden. “I still dance,” says Scott. “I do a little more gardening up here: planting, gardening, working outside. I tend to do the same thing here as in San Marcos, just doing it in a different place. I haven’t made any friends here.”
He mentions synchronicity, the force he believes brought him to San Marcos. He’s confident that it will bring him back. And even though Scott doesn’t feel quite at home in Connecticut, he feels he was placed there for a reason. “I’m doing some relationship healing, like when I went to San Marcos and did some relationship healing with my mother. Now I’m here, doing some with other members of my family. That’s what I’m here for, and when that’s over, God will let me know.”