I’m a few weeks into an experiment to find out if exercise can be fun and something odd is happening. Not only do I feel a little more level headed and find I’m falling asleep a little better at night, I’m actually consistently sticking with the Xtend Barre classes I wrote about last week, and actually relish the dull ache in my thighs that still lingers three days later.
This week, I’ve decided to take the focus away from formal exercise. Since my thighs are still aching, I’m looking for an activity that’s a little less intensive and maybe a little bit more fun the whole way through.
One of my great career regrets is that I never made it as a back up dancer. Or more specifically that I never made it as a back up dancer for Kylie Minogue. In the hope of achieving this, I’ve tried all manner of dance classes in the hope that one of those would be my “thing” — tap, jazz, hip hop, been there, got the bruises to prove it. As it turns out, none of those classes have been my “thing”. But nonetheless I still have my heart set on a life as a dancer, even if I have to start a little later.
So, still in the dance-themed zone this week I’ve decided to try out No Lights No Lycra. It’s the dance community phenomenon that’s taking over church halls across Australia, where there’s no lights, no dance teacher and no formal technique involved – just one hour of pure, shameless movement where you’re encouraged to dance like no one’s watching — because no one can see you in the dark. The sessions are $5 – which is probably the cheapest exercise I’ve ever paid for and, come to think of it, the cheapest I’ve ever paid to be put into a dark room full of sweaty strangers who can barely see where they’re going, treading on each others toes and bumping around.
And while the part about ‘no lights’ definitely rings true, as most of these sessions are held in large halls with blackout sheets and zero light, when I turn up on a rainy Thursday night, it seems that the no lycra bit isn’t. I spot countless numbers of lycra clad legs in the very long line outside the hall before we’re all ushered en masse into a very dark, and poorly ventilated room. It seems that those who have shunned the no lycra rule had the right idea though. Despite the freezing cold outside it doesn’t take long for the temperature to rise in the room and for me to realise that wearing a pair of jeans in an effort to shun all aspects of ‘traditional exercise’ was definitely poor judgement on my part.
It’s initially an awkward feeling to be thrust into a dark room full of strangers with loud music and an expectation that you’re just there to dance. But after a few moments, or about as long as it takes for my eyes to adjust to the dark, my inhibitions are down and I’m pretty comfortable busting out my long array of dance moves. Fifteen minutes into the session — about the same time that Mmm Bop by Hanson comes on and a room full of 150 sweaty bodies are shouting along and fist pumping to the music, I feel like I’ve entered a twilight zone where I don’t have a single stress in the world.
And thirty minutes into the session I realise it’s an awfully strange feeling to still be dancing away without the threat of alcohol spilling down my top or unrequited male attention on the dance floor, and I think I like it better this way. One hour later, when Irene Cara’s What a Feeling finally comes on the speakers, I know that I will never look at exercise the same way again.
Of course, this kind of activity won’t suit everyone, especially those who enjoy a more structured workout or simply hate dancing. But after one hour of sweaty, unadulterated dance fun it’s hard not to leave the class feeling refreshed and kind of happy. Or euphoric even. Like Gloria Estefan once said, the rhythm is gonna get you.
No Lights No Lycra is hitting capital cities across Australia. For class locations and times check the website.
All classes are $5. Make sure you get there early because this is one of those activities that fill up quickly
You can wear leggings. Or Jeans. Anything goes. Just make sure it’s sweat resistant.