Dance like nobody's watching

Sunday, 2 March 2014


When I hear about something three times I take it as a sign to act, so after 5Rhythms dancing is mentioned by a couple of different people my curiosity is piqued.

But when the topic comes up in conversation once again on a mutual friend's birthday night out, I really start to think destiny is in play. Tara, who I'm sat next to at dinner, has like me recently split from her husband and has two daughters - it's clearly fate. After a good chat, she invites me along to an open house dance event in Queen's Park.

As the night approaches I'm feeling more than a tad of trepidation. The dance is designed to put the psyche in motion to allow healing and creative expression. But is the world ready to see the ongoings of my psyche?

Being terribly British about it all, I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to let go in the required fashion. Visions of myself swaying awkwardly at the edge of the dance floor while the others prance around in uninhibited abandonment flash through my mind.

I look to the website for reassurance. It tells me the five rhythms are flowing, staccato, chaos and stillness which come together to form 'the wave' - a movement meditation practice. Each rhythm is an energy field in which you find your own expression, meeting 'different and sometimes unknown aspects of yourself'.

It goes on to say there may be sexual energy between dancers in which you can 'express a fleeting attraction without committing to marriage'.  Blimey.


Apparently some dancers are 'broken-hearted to find that someone they had an amazing dance with goes on to dance just as closely with someone else.'  It recommends putting your feelings of disgust, jealousy and rejection into a dance. I picture my pitiful rejection dance. Trepidation is turning to terror.

On Saturday afternoon my onesie, the sofa and a mug of hot chocolate are starting to look like good options. But curiosity has the better of me - I need to find out what this is all about.

Arriving at the hall, I decide to throw myself in at the deep end. As the room fills with people, DJ Christian De Sousa is playing some uplifting house music. I was expecting weird whale noises and tinkling bells but this is basically a rave without the mind-altering chemicals. Always being the sort of person to be first on the dance floor I head into the crowd and get involved.

Everyone is doing their own thing whether that be crawling along the floor, spinning in circles, or running around the room. Anything goes and I start to make moves usually reserved for singing into a hairbrush in my bedroom. It's been a long time since I've got down like this on a Saturday night and certainly never in such a sober state of mind.

As the waves build up to chaos the energy in the room is high with people clapping and whooping. Some people are coupled up doing intricate movements which remind me of capoeira, others something more akin to Dirty Dancing. The hall has the appearance of a dance tent at a festival at around 4am. I'd always assumed it was alcohol and other substances which brought this kind of high but now I'm seeing it generated purely through the shared experience of dance.

At some points Christian invites us to take a partner. It's at these times I feel my insecurities coming out - what if no one wants to dance with me, what if they do and they want more from me than I can give? I'm too shy to approach anyone yet I don't want to be alone. Time for that rejection dance...

Gradually the music slows down to the final wave, stillness (I knew those tinkling bells and whale sounds would feature somewhere). Many people are in pairs - some simply hugging or holding hands, others writhe on the floor in strangely intimate dances. Some people lie still and I eventually join them on the floor feeling emotionally raw.

At the end of the class I'm completely drained and barely able to speak on the journey home. I'm not sure whether it's the three hours of energetic dancing which has exhausted me or the expression of my psyche but either way I sleep like a baby that night.

5Rhythms wasn't nearly as scary as I'd feared. In fact it was a bit like the 90s again, but less intoxicated. This is definitely the sort of meditation practice I can see myself getting into...even with those whale noises.
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