I attended No Lights, No Lycra with my sister the other day. If you’re not familiar with it, the basic premise is dancing with a group of people in a dark room for an hour and a half. The idea behind it giving you the chance to dance however you wish without being seen.
It was a weird experience.
Dance Like No One Is Watching
I struggled as soon as the lights went out and the music came on.
I often don’t mind dancing while at nightclubs in a group of friends. I’ve usually had a drink or two (or three) and feeling the beat and bouncing off what other people are doing.
It should have been an easy thing for me to dance with no one watching. The problem is I can’t help but feel watched most of the time.
The room wasn’t completely dark. I stood next to a shuttered window where a bit of ambient light came through. I could see my own hands, the print on my shirt, and the shadowy blobs of the people around me. And if I can see them, then I’m sure they can see me.
Not that it really matters. Or that it should matter. But even if I was in total darkness, I continued to watch and appraise myself. It was relentless.
You’re not in time with the beat.
What ARE you arms doing?
Don’t even thinking about raising your arms higher than your shoulders.
For the first 45 minutes, it was torture. It was like experiencing a kind of sensory deprivation.
Yes, I could still hear and see and touch and smell (people sweat…a lot), but not being able to see clearly or much made me turn inwards. It was no longer about dancing. It was all about me.
Stare Long Enough Into The Abyss…
I began to obsess over why I wasn’t dancing like other people, in particular two people who were in front of me and going hell for leather.
I questioned why I wasn’t enjoying myself, why couldn’t I let myself go, why wasn’t I free even here?
I analysed the times when I go out and dance and enjoy myself and focused on the drink in my hand. Was that all that made me dance? Did I have to drink to have a good time?
Absolutely there is a mental amputation that takes place when I have a few drinks. I often, at least in a nightclub setting, feel more comfortable, less anxious and more capable of dancing along with everyone else.
But without a drink, was it even possible for me to dance? Would I be just as uncomfortable and – sorry to say, bored – as I was right then in the dark?
Then I remembered that only the night before I’d been sitting at my computer – sobre – bopping along to Armin van Buuren’s new album, Embrace. My husband had pleaded with me to put headphones on, which only made it better. He videoed me as I quite happily lost myself in the music.
And then I remembered other times when, equally as sober, I’d danced for all my worth to music that struck me right in the chest and nearly broke me apart.
Just then a song that I liked (not loved but it did the trick) came on and I got into it. I danced, stopped caring about the abyss within and without and went along with it.
Unfortunately it was short-lived. The music was, in my opinion, terrible. I’ve been told it’s hit and miss and sadly I’m too keyed into what music gets me going.
Yes, I’m particular, but at least I realised I’m not on the edge of alcoholism. While having a drink helps enhance the mood, it’s the music that makes or breaks the night.
Dancer In The Dark
After 90 minutes, the music stopped, the door opened and we filtered out into the night. People clapped or cheered and I was glad they enjoyed themselves.
I was happy to have had the experience, even if it was a little more psychological than I was expecting.
I also got to spend time with my sister and afterwards we got bubble tea and talked about what we liked and what we didn’t about the whole experience, and also why people go along.
I hypothesised that, with its largely female following and targeted marketing, I would think (in general) women really enjoy it.
They don’t have to worry about unwanted attention (even in a dark room), whether they’re being judged on how they’re moving, their size, their clothes, and they’re able to let go.
Whatever the reason, it’s got something for everyone, just whether or not it’s what you expected.
And now for some music.
Have you been to No Lights, No Lycra? Do you mind dancing in front of people or prefer to do it in the safety and seclusion of your own home? Leave a comment below.