Cheap Thrills: No Lights No Lycra


The best things in life are free…Love don’t cost a thing…Mo money, mo problems…Can’t buy me love…I’m sharing my favourite budget-friendly-under-$10 discoveries each week. Cheap thrills.

Lily Aldridge Rag & Bone

No Lights No Lycra. The idea is incredibly simple: the organisers hire a space, turn down the lights and play music; people come, pay $5 and they dance. There’s no instructor, no set moves, and it’s nothing like a nightclub. Talking is discouraged. To use a very hackneyed expression, it’s just dancing like no one’s watching. Established in Melbourne in 2009 by Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett, the movement now boasts communities around the world.

The first time I heard the concept, I instantly knew I would love it. And this was confirmed after mere minutes of my first No Lights experience in Melbourne mid last year. I found it to be an almost spiritual experience to just lose myself in an activity that was so individual, so energetic and so unbelievably fun. Like a true convert to a new religion, I just can’t stop myself from spreading the word to non-believers.

The timing of my move back to Sydney from Melbourne was perfect, with NLNL Sydney having launched in late January. It’s my first Sydney NLNL tonight at Redfern Town Hall, and it’s clear the Sydney organisers have gone to great lengths to make it a success here too. I love that they have a cloak room and they went to the effort of taping the edges of the blinds to the window frames to ensure maximum darkness. A crowd gathers outside the upstairs room talking excitedly in small groups as they wait for the doors to open at 7.30 on this humid Sydney evening. When they eventually do, everyone rushes to hand over their $5 and get into the very dark room where the music is already playing very loudly. It doesn’t take long for the room to fill up and for the crowd to start moving.

The room is poorly ventilated and I am soon covered in sweat and so is the floor. I don’t think about my discomfort for too long as I’m having such a good time. My fellow dancers must feel the same way, as there’s an excited cheer at the end of every song – or is it for the beginning of the next one? At the end of the hour, we pour out of the hall drenched with sweat and outside into the cool of the evening. As it starts to rain, small groups of friends are excitedly gathering together and talking again, making plans to come again next week. I know I will be too.

Details of all NLNL locations around the globe are available here.

(pic: rag & bone)


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