I’ve experienced ecstatic dance a few times – in London for Morning Gloryville (it’s like a festival vibe in a club in the morning with no alcohol, but there’s coffee and juice), and in Ubud during the hoop retreat – which was a more primal version (which i really enjoyed). They placed flowers and leaves on the floor, and we began by squishing and stomping all over it to feel connected to nature and the earth, before really getting into the flow.
Ecstatic dance is a session which gives you permission to move your body in whichever way you want and feel comes naturally to you, to let all that energy out and express yourselves in ways we seem to be stopped from doing these days. I think i’m a pretty committed dancer. I dance in my kitchen to de-stress, and at a time when i was happier, dancing was part of my morning ritual as i got ready for work. I seem to have forgotten/stopped doing that.
I remembered that all tonight.
Yoga Barn in Ubud has ecstatic dance sessions every Friday night, and despite feeling tired from work today (yes, i’m still working from here!) i knew i had to go dance it all out, plus it’s the only Friday night i’m gonna be here and i wasn’t gonna waste it! I love dancing so much. I used to fantasize being a dancer but decided i wasn’t emotionally committed enough to take it on as a career, and just dance for fun. This might be why i loved going to clubs and raves in the past, but now the music and space and energy doesn’t do it for me, tho i still love dancing like crazy at festivals.
Tonight’s session started at 7pm, and the institution is so organized they have a barcode system for the number of classes i’ve bought to zap me into each sess i decide to enter. Everyone has to register 1-2 hours before it starts by taking a number, to ensure there is enough space every time.
I went in and found a nice little corner on the side to start at. I’m actually embracing my past role of being an introvert and a loner. In truth, i’m actually kinda shy. But people don’t really believe that cos of my ‘reputation’ in KL for being such a party girl in the past and outgoing. I have my moods. As do you and everyone! Sometimes you feel shy, and sometimes you don’t. Introvert and extrovert are all just human-made labels to categorize people so we feel more comfortable deciphering the types of people we are, when really, we play all sorts of roles at various points in our lives.
Ok so anyway, found a nice spot at the corner, near the speakers (guess i never grew out of that). We all stood to meditate a little and were told some guidelines before starting, like no talking during the entire duration, and definitely no photos or videos.
The DJ played all sorts of music – reggae, house, jungle, electro, breakbeats, techno, folk with beats (what’s the genre for that?!), etc. Knowing i was in a space with beings who are more in tune with letting go then i was, i felt no inhibitions, and just let go. I danced and moved and swayed and spinned and just… really… did whatever crazy thing my limbs felt like doing to the beat. I probably used up all my dance moves while blocking out thoughts + close my eyes and not think if someone was watching and just release my movements with complete abandon.
It was so liberating!
It’s different from dancing in my apartment alone, cos in a room filled with 150 people, you’re feeding off each other’s energy. When i was out of breath, i would sit down strategically in front of the fan and watch people for the first time (cos most of the time i danced, i had my eyes closed) and they were so fascinating to observe!
There were all types of people from all over the world – of all skin tones, hair styles (long, frizzy, short, mohawks, buns, bald; of all shades, i was the only one with light pink and purple), of all ages, and dance styles. I broke out into laughter from pure glee (all those endorphins) watching them.
Let me describe some to you – there was this girl with long black hair whom was near me from the beginning wearing a simple black top and long black skirt. She seemed a bit more loony than me cos she was smiling constantly to herself and i was like wow, she’s super happy and definitely totes comfortable in her own skin. She was a bit fairy-like in her movements and mostly swayed and twirled lots, and i wondered if this is why she was near me cos birds of a feather… Tho my dance style is nothing like hers – i move like a crazy person. Yishyene will attest to the fact (cos we’re both open dancers with each other) that, in her words, i look like i came out of a mental asylum -_-
So many girls danced beautifully and were so in tune with their bodies and rhythm, as were the guys. They were beautiful to watch. There was a lot of contact dance – where they flow with each other. There were people rolling on the floor but i didn’t go as far as that cos it was raining today and the ground was filthy. The OCD in me was strong enough to restrain myself from rubbing all that dirt on my clothes and hair :p (I only do that when on shrooms haha). The guys doing capoeira interspersed with their personal flow were beautiful to observe. I feel that in clubs, there is shame in admiring someone outwardly because one might think you fancy them. But in this space, it’s taken as giving love to their art form for all that it is. Some dudes were jumping off the speakers and beams gracefully, and it made me consider taking capoeira up so i can learn how to implement new types of moves into my own dance style.
Everyone’s movements… oh their movements were gorgeous to watch, so much flow and new styles i haven’t seen for a long time. It was very inspiring, to the fact that i felt i should practice my own movement a lot more. It opened my eyes to various ways i could move my body further. Some even dance in extremely slow precise progression which looked to me like they were meditating deeply.
From the sidelines during my rest, the entire room of people were a marvel to watch as they flowed to the beat in their individual ways. Like a wave. Dropping. Rising. Increasing in speed. Flowing freely.
The session lasted 2 hours (time flew!) and ended with a melody that graduated to sounds of nature in the jungle. Everyone very slowly decreased their pace till we all ended up seated or lying on the floor (guess who did not lie on the floor?? XD) and some deep breaths and omms.
I couldn’t help thinking that i need to work on my omm man. My omm is super short. Must be all the smoking *looks up in sky*. I tried breathing in as deeply as i could, but i feel that something is BLOCKING me, even though i can feel my stomach and chest expand.
Left feeling incredibly high from all that dancing!!
You know that line “dance like nobody’s watching” ?
Do that okay.
Do that for yourself. Do that alone, do it at home, do it because noone is, and you should be dancing for yourself.
Practice enjoying and marvelling in your own body and its movement. Be thankful you have all your limbs, be thankful for all it does for you. Go crazy, let it loose, let all that shit go. Start off with thinking about how you’re gonna be releasing all the things that do not serve you. Then dance.
Play your favourite songs, play it loud.
Do it for half an hour, and i dare you to tell me you do not feel a whole lot better after.