The Boss was onto something with his lyrics 'dancing in the dark'; and so were two Melbourne dance students who took this notion literally, creating a space where you can let loose like it's your own lounge room and completely be yourself, with no inhibitions. No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) is the dance child of Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett and the idea is just what it says on the tin: the lights are off and you can wear whatever you please.
Arriving at NLNL's original home in Fitzroy, there are a few first-timer looks on faces as we wait for a cue to head into the dimly-lit hall. Shoes are off, lights are out and the music is already playing as we file in. I can just make out my friend's silhouette and there is some uncertainty as we ask each other 'do we start?' and 'where should we stand?' and 'do you think I can leave my socks on?' Then, as the music gets louder, a little shyness kicks in, but it's not long before something starts to take over your booty and any care you had before evaporates.
Your arms are flailing, your hips are shaking and your whole body is bopping to everything from pop to old rock 'n' roll, hip hop and electro. You're not trying to bust out choreographed moves or compare the shapes you're throwing to those around you. The 60 minutes flies by, we're both dripping with sweat, and we leave with big grins on our faces and a promise to make this a regular activity
The thrill you get from letting loose on the NLNL dance floor is what keeps people turning up each and every week, say Heidi and Alice. "It's an hour where people are free to completely let go, shake it all out and dance like no one is watching. It is joyful, unpretentious, a time to turn off the mind, as well as being a total workout."
With its Melbourne roots, the dance sensation has taken off around the world and is now held in 27 cities across the USA, Canada, China, Europe and New Zealand. NLNL recently celebrated its fourth birthday and its popularity is largely due to word of mouth. According to Heidi and Alice, "We started off with five people four years ago, and those five people told their friends, who told their friends, who must have then told their friends!"
No Lights No Lycra is held each Monday in the city, Tuesday in Fitzroy and Wednesday in Brunswick, and for those south of the river there are NLNL plans in the pipeline. There is no need to book a place, just show up when you're in the mood and lose yourself to dance.
Where: No Lights No Lycra | Various locations across Melbourne
When: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights
Contact: [email protected]
Image Credit: Paul Phillipson Photography