Over the last couple of years, I’ve been hearing so much about ecstatic dance events that I just had to try it out for myself. Many people said its “too much” for them, but I wanted to see for myself why everyone is so crazy about them.
What exactly is ecstatic dance, are there rules?
For those who aren’t familiar, you just let go of all shame and fear and judgement about yourself and let your body move as it wishes. There are no rules, you just dance as you wish, you can even roll around on the floor and scream at the top of your lungs if you so wish.
The first dance I went to was at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali. It started off with a slow melodic song to get people moving. The teacher/guide told us to just close our eyes and not pay attention to the other people, that its just us and our bodies moving.
What are your patterns of dancing?
I think it is important to notice your patterns and focus on what you are NOT doing at this stage. For example, are you afraid/unwilling to lift your arms up, or maybe bend your knees or swing your hips? Once you notice what you’re not doing, try actually doing it. For me, everyone I’ve ever met has told me I am very grounded, like I have roots growing out of my feet to the ground. I noticed that during the dance as I didn’t like lifting my feet off the ground, I was quite literally “grounded”.
Once I noticed that and began consciously moving my feet, something inside me shifted, kind of like a release mechanism. It felt freeing and easy at the same time. I don’t really know how to explain it, I guess you just need to experience it. It’s like knowing that you don’t have to follow your rules and patterns, it’s ok to get out of your box.
Get out of your comfort zone
These events are also amazing at getting rid of your shame, and lets face it, most of us are shy to a certain extent about dancing in front of other people (if you’re not, then good for you!!). Closing your eyes helps at the beginning, then once you get used to it, you will be fine – your shame will go away once you see that there are people who are crazier than you haha
It is also wonderful to get out of your comfort zone, whatever that may be for you. I only just realised that I don’t like sweating, it makes me uncomfortable and a little embarrassed so I noticed that during the dance, I sub-consciously tried to move less so that I don’t sweat. Now in Bali thats a pretty hard thing to do, and once I realised how silly that was, I just let go of that limitation I was putting on myself. By the end, we all looked like we just came out of the pool, but it was totally fine (thank God that I learnt the lemon deodorant trick before going though, I didn’t smell at all!!).
If you’re stressed, ecstatic dance may be the place for you!
Do you have any stress or problems in your life? Lets face it, who doesn’t worry about things! Dancing is a much healthier alternative to drinking, smoking or comfort eating, which, sadly, many people resort to (oh another great point, there is no alcohol at these events). You often store your stress in your physical bodies, and you can literally release that tension through movement. The fact that you can also shout is an attractive feature for those who like to express themselves orally too.
And last but not least, it is a way to meet new people. I won’t say “great” way because in my experience people just go there to dance and unwind, but you can still dance with others and talk to them after the event – oh did I mention there is no talking during the dance?
Is there a down side to ecstatic dance?
As with many things in life, people will find something they don’t like about ecstatic dance, but that will be different for everyone. For example, I didn’t like all of the songs during my class, but then I just went outside for some water. It was also pretty gross when someone rolled around on the floor and then you stepped into their sweat puddle (though that won’t happen in colder countries I’m sure!). The guy who kept on shouting was bit too much for me too, but again, I’m sure not every class has one of those…
So there you have it guys, the good, the bad and the slightly gross – just try it out for yourself and see if it’s “too much” for you. I certainly won’t say I will be going to these every week, but from that one time, I did experience some interesting emotions, so in the end, I’m glad I went.
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I’m super excited to try this now, sounds like a great experience!
~ Bernard Sleijster