It’s Wednesday night and even though it’s kind of late, I’m feeling great. Wednesday’s are dancing nights. For months now, my girls, me, two of my best friends and their teenage daughters all turn up at 7.30pm on Wednesday night in a local church hall to dance in the dark with a bunch of other people we’ve never met. And we have a blast! I haven’t been able to go for about six weeks as first I was in the US and then once I got home, I came down with flu. But tonight, there was no stopping me… I just had this feeling…
It’s No Lights, No Lycra and it’s become a phenomenon in cities around the world. A safe, alcohol-free, drug-free, JUDGEMENT free place where you can dance in the dark, wearing whatever you want and dancing however you want.
It’s brilliant! Not only is it great exercise, when was the last time you moved your body to music, completely un-selfconsciously?? Hmmm…for me? Probably back in primary school. Once junior high kicked in and I was 6ft tall with curvy bits, dancing was not something I did for pleasure in front of anyone!
That’s the beauty of No Lights, No Lycra. Free form dance for your own pleasure in the dark where no one can see what you are doing, what you are wearing or what you look like. There are men and women of all ages who attend each week. In the body-image obsessed world we live in today, it’s a refreshing change to find somewhere to express one’s self without judgement.
And it’s a safe environment. As I watch friend after friend post ‘Me Too’ on their Facebook posts, this week has been a stark reminder that there are few places anymore where women of any age can go without being harassed or abused. At NLNL, everyone is too busy getting their own groove on to worry about hassling anyone else.
When we started going months ago I thought I’d never get my teenagers to join me, as I couldn’t have imagined anything more embarrassing than dancing with my mother when I was either 13 or 16. Maybe it helps that it’s dark.
The music covers a huge range. Tonight’s playlist started out with Dolly Parton’s classic 9 to 5 and moved on to disco favourite, Le Freak. The hour and a quarter was filled with a bit of techno, a bit of hard rock, quite a few songs I had never heard of and then ended with Sister Sledge ‘We are Family’ and Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop this Feeling’. One night we had Elvis’ ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ followed by RuPaul’s ‘Sissy that Walk’. That was a bit surreal, I have to admit.
Over the past few months of dancing I’ve learned a few things:
- Dancing in the dark is more fun with your eyes shut. Don’t ask me why. It just feels more natural. Strange, isn’t it? And dancing barefoot is so much better than dancing with shoes.
- Even though there are people dancing all around you in the dark, no one runs into each other. Our bodies can sense when someone is near so crashes on the dance floor are few and far between.
- Everyone can dance. We might not all move like Beyoncé but everyone can move to music. Music moves everyone.
- Sometimes the songs I don’t know and would never listen to at home are actually the most fun to dance to. They are the ones that I most let myself go and just let the music lead. At my first NLNL session, I did have a ‘Truman Show’ moment of panic and wondered if I am really just a pawn in a television series of my life and everyone else could see me dancing. Then I got over myself fairly quickly and just enjoyed myself.
- Having an activity like this to do with my daughters is important. We laugh, we sing, we dance, and we giggle at each other’s funny stories all the way home in the car. The weeks they are with their dad, we still dance and I drive them to and from the hall. Sometimes it’s the only time I get to be with them all week. I hear their news and get to spend some time together doing something fun that we all love.
- There is no way for me to think or worry about things while I am dancing in the dark. I can’t worry about my bank balance or whether the car needs servicing or whether the US President has declared war on North Korea. It’s an hour and a quarter of pure fun and enjoyment without thinking and worrying.
- Late 1990s step aerobic moves work great to dance to techno music. Who knew that knowing how to grapevine and upright row could come in handy all these years later?
I love dancing. I used to love dancing when I was a kid but then I grew up and worried about what other people would think. I don’t care anymore. In fact, I’m now known for dancing in the kitchen whilst cooking dinner and have been known to start dancing in the grocery store or at the mall if I hear a song that particularly moves me.
I have a playlist created of all my favourite songs that always lift me out of a bad mood and gets me dancing. I have to say (embarrassingly), Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop This Feeling’ is top of my list. I just can’t be sad or worried when I hear it. So I loved that tonight’s session ended with that song and I danced all the way home.
What’s your ‘go to’ song that helps you get your groove on?
I remember in one of my temporary jobs declaring ” Doesn’t Everybody dance and sing whilst they vacuum?” The ensuing silence and looks confirmed their answers… “ummm No” ( insert subliminal “you weirdo ” messages from all colleagues). But now ha! I knew you were a kindred spirit , I love that you have embraced dance. I come from a long line of family dancers.. all of us medal winners in “I don’t give a fuck that I move like an electrified donkey” category . We regularly have to replace our dented saucepans down the coast because nearly every family get together results in saucepans on heads whilst we dance around the house drumming each others noggins. I just never realised how often as a family we actually do this and how normal it is for us until I read your blog. Such fun. Thank you for making me smile. ❤️S.
I must try adding saucepans to my noggin while carousing around the kitchen! Thanks for sharing the idea! And I love that we are kindred spirits too! Xx
Love this post, especially your insights about dancing in the dark with eyes wide shut. Wish there were something like this in Baltimore.
Bjork’s Big Time Sensuality is one of my favorites and I’m thinking I should request it for NLNL. Funnily enough, I often shut my eyes there too – although, weirdly, it gives me the sensation that I’m more visible. But I also come from a family background of dancing around the kitchen and I’m not too worried about making a fool of myself. In fact, I’m well on the way to being an eccentric old lady in many, many ways. I think you’re right about all the great things that NLNL gives us – a chance to take time out to just move (it, move it) and a chance to hang out with our daughters, and a chance to reconnect with that childhood ‘you’ that you were before you got self conscious. Great.
I dance to the music on TV for NCIS – especially NCIS New Orleans. It’s great! and I don’t care if my husband looks at me crooked. I won’t let him fast forward through it. Now he just waits for me to start dancing. I took dance lessons several years ago when I was single. It was great, also. I was much better than I thought but I loved the exercise. This kind of environment would be hopefully inviting to my husband…who once was picked on for dancing poorly and now won’t do it again. I so want to come visit and have you take us too.