Dancing with Hippies – Ecstatic Contact Dance
Jason! You’ve got the hair, you’ve got the look, when are you going to do some hippy shit, or play in a band? Well, today is your lucky day. This post is about how I joined the hippy community and did some weird hippy shit.
It all started when I did a free life coaching session (I was the client). I got the word from the life coach that there was an Ecstatic Contact dance class at Paradiso, the local community space, and she was going. With very little information I decided to give it a go.
Let me tell you it’s exactly what you think it is. A bunch of hippies in a room dancing like fools, moving their body in the most “interpretive” way, whilst having full contact. If you walked in on us you would have thought we were crazy. Some people writhing on the floor, others jumping up and down and one guy in the corner doing weird, fast, foot moves. It ended up with most of us on the floor and others coupling-up.
Going deeper, when I entered Paradiso, I couldn’t find my contact who had told me about the place. I went upstairs to join the class. I met one girl from China but before I could get to know her the class was starting. I went to the instructor and informed her that it was my first time to which she seemed super pleased about and said, “Welcome!”
The life coach walks through the door as we are instructed to pick a partner. I quickly pick her and await further instructions. We were told that for the next two hours we won’t be allowed to speak to anyone. I was then directed to “warm my partner up” by moving the different parts of her body, waking up and relaxing the muscles and joints. Think of it as the lightest stretch you can attempt to give to someone.
Then it was my turn. As I lay dead, I tried to relax the parts that were being manipulated. It was an interesting way to get centred but it wasn’t effective as a warm up.
Afterwards, we were told to walk around the space and find someone and give them a large hug, after all, these were the people we were going to be dancing with. The music starts and we were told to hug five more people and after the embrace, we needed to show them an appreciation of the gift in a non-verbal way. Most chose the pray-bow manoeuvre, similar to what you’d see in Thailand.
Then it was on, the music got louder and we were told to enjoy ourselves.
I started dancing to the music but before I could get fully into it I started to contact another body and we started dancing in the most ridiculous way. As a beginner, I opted for touching of forearms as opposed to the professionals who were lifting people on their backs as they made a bridge.
And so it continued, me dancing with some people, mostly ladies and only about 2 men, and then going off to drink some funky-tasting water and then to dance by myself in the corner before gaining the courage to dance with some of the others.
Midway through the session, the instructor came up to me and started mimicking my awesome finger/forearm dance moves and then we started some full contact dancing. The pressure was on. Here was this professional dancer from San Francisco and here I was, a full-time bedroom dancer. It was by far the best dance I had in the session and even though I ended our dance early, I gained a real feeling of acceptance. I started to feel like I belonged with these people. These weird, organic-vegan-eating, hippy people.
This feeling was confirmed when the Chinese girl motioned with her hand for me to join her in a pile of Stacks-On. In I went, into the scrum, into the can of human sardines and started writhing around. A cacophony of laughter spread through the group and I spent the next half hour on the floor connecting with one woman in particular.
The session ended by us joining hands and sitting in a circle. We were asked to give our name and one word to describe the experience. I chose, acceptance.
Once the session ended, we were allowed to talk again and I met the people I was dancing with. The one I connected with her name was Janine and she was from Sydney but now lives in Ubud and is a healer. What’s a healer I asked and she said it’s got something to do with Theta brain waves and I filled in the blanks. If it works for her then who am I to judge?
As we all moved to Soma a Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant I met some more healers and the red flags were starting to be raised. Were all of these hippies healers, Reiki specialists and life coaches?
At this restaurant, there were musical instruments and we all started to play and sing. I got hustled onto the bongo drums and I started to sing along too.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable night even though I had a few qualms about what I had witnessed. Why had most of the dance partners been with the opposite sex? I mean if it was truly an accepting environment shouldn’t there have been more of a more balanced dance couples/groups? Males with males, females with females and everyone in-between? Why had most of the people I had met been healers or Reiki specialists, a pseudoscience that has been debunked many times? How do I reconcile the fact that I got on so well with people whose job is to prey on the vulnerable often resorting to alternative medicine to cure them of their illnesses?
Despite these moral questions, I ended up ending the night with an appreciation of Ubud and Bali.
What about you? Have you ever been friends with people whose views you disagree with? Do you start to question your existing views when there is a misalignment with how you think you’ll react to how you actually react? Have you, yourself, been to an Ecstatic Dance or Contact Dance class? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook or on Instagram.