The global dance community of ‘No Lights No Lycra’ that has been empowering people around the world to dance freely is now in Mumbai.
There will be moments when your feet and fingers are tapping to the music; your arms wanting to sway in the air; your hips wanting to swing side-to-side; and then you emerging out to be the next Shakira that the world will see. Only, you don’t know how to and you are shy. But, believing that everyone can dance for themselves, Yooti Bhansali has brought the global dancing movement No Lights, No Lycra (NLNL) to India with its Mumbai chapter.
NLNL is a global community of dancers who provide an inclusive space for people to experience the joy of self-expression through dancing in a dark room. It was started in 2009 in Melbourne, by two dancers when they realised that the technicalities of choreographing and performing had taken the fun out of dance. The movement began on that one night when they found themselves dancing on Rien de Rien by Edith Piath in a dark church, has reached the world with chapters from Beijing to Brooklyn, and now to the Bay with Yooti. “It started out with a very basic idea, but it is so universal in its appeal, that just people dancing in a dark room grew all across the world”, says Yooti.
The Creative Professional, who is currently the ambassador of the city-chapter, started this in May, and conducted the eighth session yesterday to raise funds for the Kerala Flood Relief. For a music aficionado, she finds a dearth in the dancing culture and new and good music, the latter of which is one of her ‘pet-peeves’. She says, “No matter where you go, clubs, bars, or restaurants, you listen to the same commercial hits over and over again. Moreover, there isn’t much of a dancing culture in Bombay. People just go to bar, get drunk and move to the beats for the sake of partying. It’s not about listening to the music and being with yourself.” Furthermore, social anxiety is something that prevents people from letting loose. Elaborating, she says, “I know a lot of people who like to dance, but not in a social setting like clubs because they get conscious and uncomfortable of people watching them.”
Hence, finding NLNL sessions a solution to these, people along with Yooti have found the setting central to their comfort and liberation. Talking about it, she says, “A lot of people get comfortable because they can move however they want. There have just their bodies, dancing to good music in the darkness.” She adds that not only is this just a dancing routine, but it has also evolved as a free-from fitness workout routine and post-worst stress bursting exercise.
In addition to darkness, according to Yooti, the music is another element that not only facilitates the session, but also helps the participants discover a little bit about themselves. With running a monthly newsletter about music called Short Story Song, her play list is an eclectic mix, comprising of upbeat songs from Bollywood to French Pop, Lebanese Pop, and even Turkish Rock. She says, “People also tell me that when they listen to my play list they don’t know what to expect, because they did not know they were into that type of music. It’s also like a process of self-discovery when it comes to NLNL because when music starts, you don’t know what to expect, but your body has already started moving ahead of you.”
What started out as a session for just close friends, Yooti finds the movement gradually growing. She acknowledges the inhibition in the participants when the first song begins, and the complete reversal in the form of jumping, clapping and the maddening energy in the room by the last song. She recounts an experience of a participant in one of the sessions, “We got one person who was just sitting down and feeling awkward in the first couple of songs, and then I saw him reclaiming the floor for himself doing all these moves, even the contemporary ones. That is exactly what I like to see.”
You can follow the Facebook page of No Lights No Lycra Bombay for updates on the future events.