Freelance writer specialising in serendipity: the art of finding wonderful things by accident or sagacity. Comments and suggestions always welcome!
Published August 18th 2016
A place where you really can dance like no one's watching
Want to get out of your comfort zone? Need an excuse to try something completely different? Of course you can find plenty of unusual ideas by reading Weekend Notes but for a real challenge, try writing those fascinating articles.
My husband stared at my t-shirt, jeans and trainers. "You're going by yourself, dressed like that, to a dance party held in complete darkness? Aren't you getting a bit…old…for this sort of thing?"
Attending one of these events had actually on my bucket list for some time but all I said was, "It's research. For an article". And so I found myself out on a Monday night, along with about 30 other people, at the inaugural session of Guildford's No Lights No Lycra – the Australian dance phenomenon that's spreading around the world.
No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) began in Melbourne in 2009 when "unruly dance students" Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett, spurred on by their belief that everyone can dance, hosted the first event. Under cover of darkness, without competition, judgement or mirrors, the few people who attended danced as freely as they would in their living rooms. News of this unusual night out spread through word of mouth, the crowds grew and now NLNL dance nights are held all over the world.
I don't remember how I first heard of the Perth NLNL dance nights but they sounded intriguing. Apart from a brief disco period which I remember with great fondness, my dancing opportunities have been limited. I'm too old for clubbing yet too young for the senior centre. The problem is compounded by a non-dancing spouse and – I hate to say this – my two left feet. Finally, the NLNL evenings were too far from my suburb. It seemed my dancing days were over. Or maybe not...
Enter Transition Town Guildford. This local group is part of a worldwide movement supporting sustainability and dedicated to "cultivating a strongly connected community and a healthy environment". In support of this goal they host a variety of get-togethers: garden tours, movie nights, walks and more. I'd been to a few of these events so when the NLNL evening popped up on our community Facebook page, I immediately registered for a ticket and invited several friends. One by one they replied, and none could make it. As the night approached I wondered...should I go alone...wait till next month...give the whole thing away? I dithered until about 20 minutes before the start of the dance when I decided I really did want to try this, not just for a Weekend Notes article but for myself.
NLNL was already underway when I arrived at the Guildford Town Hall. There were two friendly fellows in the lobby checking tickets. I paid my $2 entrance fee and they explained that there was water available anytime dancers felt like coming out for a drink. I opened the door and stepped into a world of night and music.
Part of the playlist from NLNL Guildford image from facebook.com/Transition-Town-Guildford
It was very dark. I could sense movement more than see it. Hugging the wall I moved away from the door waiting for my eyes to adjust. Gradually the forms of dancers appeared. There were couples, groups of three or more and a few singles. There was enough light from the streetlights outside to make my way on to the dance floor without bumping into anyone but not enough to recognise anyone. From what I could tell there seemed to be a variety of ages from 20 to 60-somethings, mostly women but some men as well.
I started moving a bit stiffly to a Kate Bush track but when Le Freak by Chic started that was all I needed to get going - I did mention my disco days! For the rest of the hour apart from a short water break I happily danced around the hall, sometimes joining a group, sometimes not. As you can see from the playlist above there's a wide variety of styles and eras. I knew some of the songs, had never heard others but enjoyed most of them. I went home feeling energised and very pleased with myself - and I'm already registered for the September dance.
image from facebook.com/Transition-Town-Guildford
If you want a dance with a difference, or just an hour of joyful exercise, give No Lights No Lycra a try. As the website says "There is no light, no lycra, no teacher, no steps to learn, no technique, just free movement. NLNL is a space where you can completely let go, shake out the stresses of the week, and lose yourself in the music and the physicality of your body. NLNL is a daggy, non-pretentious place to completely be yourself." There are also no phones and no photos so what are you waiting for? Let's dance!
The next Guilford Transition Town NLNL evening is on 19 September at the Guildford Town Hall from 7:30 – 8:40 pm. Please register in advance to help the organisers manage the event. Cost is $2 at the door.
Thanks so much MaggieVP for putting me on to this. I went to the Leederville session tonight and thoroughly enjoyed myself. At 61 years of age I've had my fair share of having fun with the lights out on a winter's night, but this has to be up there with the best of them!