Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Dancing In The Dark

Starting in Melbourne in 2009, No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) brings people together to dance like no one’s watching.

Rapidly spreading to 74 different countries, the initiative has recently been introduced to Mackay by two women who love to feel the rhythm, move their bodies, and clear their minds.

Anna Kahler first tried NLNL at the Sydney Opera House and recently connected with Lisa Merrett, who was a frequent NLNL participant in Melbourne before recently moving to Mackay, the pair teaming up to start the program just over a month ago.

Originating in Brunswick, NLNL is the product of professional dancers who wanted to reembrace what dancing meant to them.

“They were looking for an opportunity to dance where they didn’t feel like they were being judged and they could just enjoy dancing again,” Ms Kahler said.

It involves an hour of dancing in a safe, non-judgemental, alcohol and drug free environment, low light conditions meaning the people around you are just silhouettes.

“You have freedom to experiment with the sorts of moves you might like to do and really get carried away,” Ms Kahler said.

Ms Merrett first started NLNL for fitness, finding innumerable other benefits along the way.

“I found I carried it into my everyday life, I’d start moving more to music in general,” she said.

“It just brought out that rhythm a bit more.”

Since starting in Mackay, NLNL has amassed a loyal following of dancers, with many describing the experience as a mindful one, with the positive effects of movement and dancing being felt throughout the room.

“It’s the movement, getting embodied again and the mindfulness of the whole thing,” Ms Merrett said.

“You can listen to your body cues and decide what you want to do based on the song in that moment,” Ms Kahler added.

“It’s exercise as a celebration as opposed to a punishment.”

Both women work in the community and mental health spaces and see the need for initiatives like NLNL as a mindful experience.

“Being able to move and be grounded and be in your body is really healthy,” Ms Merrett said.

“People seem to have lost that ability of connecting with their bodies because of technology, so it’s about getting back in to being able to connect with your body.

“When we’re struggling with mental health, we can become disconnected with things, and this is just a super grounding experience.”

The casual dance session happens weekly on Wednesdays from 7-8pm at St Pauls Uniting Church.

More information, FAQs and previous playlists can be found at No Lights No Lycra Mackay on Facebook.

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