Four years ago Heidi and myself opened the doors to a quaint little church hall in Fitzroy, Melbourne. It was 7pm on a quiet Tuesday night in June we took off our shoes, put on an indulgent playlist of pop, folk, disco and ballads, and danced in the dark with no one watching.
This was our response to years of dance training, of standing in front of a mirror feeling self-conscious and self-critical. It was our response to hitting the dance floor on a Saturday night and rather than feeling free and uninhibited, there was an unwelcome presence of sleazy eyes and drunken bodies.
These Tuesday nights became a date with ourselves, a place to dance, free of social pressures, free (away from) of judging eyes and critical dance teachers. It was a place to let go of all our preconceived ideas about what a dancer is and should look like and rather enjoy dance just for the blissful feeling it brings. We called it No lights No Lycra.
We started No Lights because it was something we needed in our lives, but over the last four years it’s became clear there are many people around the world who also share this craving for a safe place to dance. Just four years after launching No Lights No Lycra, we have five nights running in Melbourne full with people dancing and forty NLNL communities around the world.
So many people fear the prospect of dancing in public. For these people it becomes something they will only do when they are drunk. This way, when Michael Jackson comes on and their body releases its suppressed fits of dance they have an excuse. Such a shame that an activity, which comes so naturally from such an early age can feel so unnatural.
At No Lights we believe that everyone has their own ‘dance’ and their own way of moving and if you give them a place to play, they will discover true authentic movement stripped of dance training and the expectation of movement we tend to adopt from the media and western pop culture.
People come to No Lights because it is a safe and fun way to exercise while doing something that feels good and brings joy. Gender, age and sexuality become irrelevant and you don’t need an excuse to release your inner wriggle or shake or twist.