Ten years ago, a group of friends got together to boogie in the shadows. No Lights No Lycra is an international sensation and now it’s celebrating its birthday with a series of free parties.
The University of Sydney Research Project
The purpose of this research was to find out who is attending No Lights No Lycra and understand why they attend, who they attend with and what the appeal of dancing in the dark is. No Lights No Lycra uses an innovative approach to get people moving and anecdotally has a positive impact on the physical and mental health of people who participate – but we wanted to do the research to REALLY understand.
This research project was led by SPRINTER, a sport and physical activity research group at the School of Public Health, based in the Charles Perkins Centre, the University of Sydney.
This project has now been completed and the completed study is available to read here
If you have any questions about this research, please read the participant information statement available here or contact Bridget Foley – Bridget.Foley@sydney.edu.au.
No Lights, No Lycra the global dancing-in-the-dark sensation that began in Melbourne in 2009 and is now in 70+ countries, is returning to its roots. In April and May, 2019, NLNL will bring their famous sober and drug-free approach to dance to town halls across regional Victoria.
Mental health in our rural communities, particularly with the drought, is lower than in our cities. Dancing has been shown to have a positive impact on physical and emotional health, and with support from the Heart Foundation, NLNL wants to support locals to support positive health—and reinvigorate local, regional built spaces.
April 29th – Ballarat
April 30th – Donald
May 1st – Ouyen
May 3rd – Mildura
May 6th – Shepparton
May 7th – Wodonga
May 8th – Yakandandah
May 9th – Beechworth
FOLLOW THE TOUR
NLNL Dance Break is a free app that makes you stop and dance once a day.
The app inspires users around the world to break into dance every day by overriding their phone with an energizing track. At the end of each track, a map reveals the location and number of people who danced globally.
NLNL Dance Break is the brainchild of the Melbourne duo behind No Lights, No Lycra. The app is the next evolution in NLNL’s no-judgement dance movement with users encouraged to dance wherever they are – at home, in the office, at school or on the street.
Dancing for even a few minutes a day is a great way for individuals, schools and organisations to improve physical and mental health, and increase productivity. The app has been developed with funding from VicHealth’s Innovation Challenge, which supports creative initiatives that get more Victorians moving more often.
NLNL Dance Break is currently unavailable – we are keen to get the app available once again, if you’re involved with an organisation that could help, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
In 2018 No Lights No Lycra teamed up with Reclink Australia for a series of essential community engagement workshops.
Reclink Australia provides evidence-based sport and art programs to disadvantaged Australians to create socially inclusive, life-changing opportunities.
In partnership with more than 200 community organisations, Reclink Australia’s programs create pathways to improved health and wellbeing, education and employment outcomes for all participants.
The No Lights No Lycra collaboration with Reclink Australia further explores the link between dance and its positive impact on health and well being. Lights out, it’s time to dance.
Head here for further information about Reclink Australia.
In early 2017 No Lights No Lycra had the privilege to close out the All About Women festival held at The Sydney Opera House.
All About Women, running for 6 years now, celebrates International Women’s Day with a full day of discussions and events. Curated by Edwina Throsby, formerly the TEDxSydney Head of Curation and founder and producer of ABC’s Big Ideas. Designed to make you think and push your boundaries, All About Women is a vibrant festival that asks questions about gender, justice and equality.
No Lights No Lycra is proud to partner with Vic Health and This Girl Can to present fun and positive fitness activities for women.
In 2017 No Lights No Lycra teamed up with the Department of Health on their initiative ‘Girls Make Your Move’ to present free dance events all across Australia for girls aged 12-19.
The campaign was initiated in response to the experience of judgement many young women experience from society, parents, peers, media, school, social media (basically everywhere) which can create a mode of self-consciousness that can prevent them from doing the things that they love.
The Girl’s Make Your Move campaign helped push past those barriers to generate positive perceptions of physical activity to inspire, energise, and empower young women.
IN 2016 NLNL AMBASSADORS HELD FUNDRAISING EVENTS TO SUPPORT DRY JULY
“If you want to dance without being in a boozy club setting, there are salsa meet-ups or No Lights No Lycra nights where people can forget about drowning their inhibitions with grog and dance in the dark alcohol-free.”
No Lights No Lycra were one of many sponsors for Minus18 Queer formal 2018.
Minus 18 Glow Up under age dance party in collaboration with Thursgay and No Lights No Lycra.
NLNL is a proud supporter and fundraising partner of the Collingwood Toy Library.
In 2019 NLNL collaborated with the Rainbow Families Network and the Inner North Rainbow Playgroup to celebrate IDAHOBIT Day at the North Fitzroy Library.
Dancing has never been something I’ve understood outside intoxication. I remember being at school discos as a gawky teenager sprouting breasts and putting my best efforts into boot scootin’ baby. But my coordination had never shown up when I tried to play sport, so I’m not sure why I thought it might come to the party in line dancing.
Now as a 29-year-old with ever increasing social anxieties, the thought of even tapping my foot without a drink in my hand makes me uncomfortable. And that’s why I was devastated to hear that No Lights No Lycra, a “casual free-form dance class in the dark, for the pure joy of dancing”, was an event that existed at a church hall near me. Because when I hear about something horrendously awkward that makes me want to kill myself, it’s a pretty good indication that next minute I’ll find myself engaging in it.
Annie Blatchford has just finished dancing with 50 strangers in the darkness of a hired church hall.
With the windows covered over to keep out the daylight, she could barely see her fellow dancers as they all got lost in the music at the alcohol-free gathering, in Melbourne, Australia.
Some of the most purely joyful moments I’ve had in the past couple years have come while dancing. Sometimes at contra dances, which are nerdy and sweaty and call for you to surrender to the pleasure of forming patterns in a group. Also at No Lights No Lycra, a weekly dance party (held in cities around the world) where you can’t see anyone besides their vague outline, and you dance as hard as you can, however you want, without worrying what anyone thinks of you. (At one No Lights No Lyrca event, a Ke$ha song came on and by the end of it I felt like my mind and body had melded and that my soul was a candle. It was wild.)
Jemaine Clement was early for the dance in the church basement. The gap-toothed actor and mainstay of the tongue-in-cheek band Flight of the Conchords had put on a loose shirt and shorts and grown a broody, two-day beard in preparation for the unlit “No Lights, No Lycra” jam at a Lutheran church in Greenpoint. But the door—posted with rules that included “No watching,” “No breakdancing,” “No cell phones,” and “Sh-h-h!”—wouldn’t open till 8:15 p.m.
The “No Lights, No Lycra” craze originated in Australia, in 2009, and soon migrated to Clement’s native New Zealand, where he heard about it from two friends.
Ten years ago, doctors told me that I had locally advanced breast cancer. They also told me that if I went through surgery and chemotherapy and took quite a few years (at least five, maybe more) of recurrence-prevention drugs, I’d have a reasonable shot at survival.
A good chance of not dying! In the movies, doesn’t the heroine rejoice at this news? Doesn’t she embrace her life anew, flooded with gratitude at how lucky she is?
In 2015 No Lights No Lycra is partnering with Earth Hour to produce a global dance event – Switch off and Dance. Join the movement and switch off and dance in the dark, to the same playlist, with thousands of others across the world. Gather your friends and host your own No Lights No Lycra Earth Hour event, or find one near you.
Throughout 2017 and 2018 No Lights No Lycra have collaborated with the Logan City Council of Brisbane on their Girls, Get Active! program.
The Girls, Get Active! program offers a range of affordable, accessible and enjoyable physical activities for girls and women in the City of Logan. No Lights No Lycra were proud to team up with the Council to bring our judgement-free dance zone to the City of Logan.
No Lights No Lycra invites writers, illustrators, poets and other creative thinkers to contribute their responses to a series on dance: why we need it, why we struggle with it, and why we can’t stop doing it!
Through the series we hope to revisit what is at the core of the No Lights No Lycra philosophy, and to find new ways of appreciating and understanding the power of movement, music and dance.
We launched this series with a short essay by Melissa Howard. Pregnant with her second, the Melbourne writer discovered that dance could alleviate her anxiety and connect her with her inner Pussycat Doll. You can add your submission via the form at the bottom of this page.
Loosen up my buttons, baby.
Spring, 2013. I am pregnant with our second. The hormones make
me feel sad and unhinged. My partner closes off tightly from me,
like a fist.
While there are joys—does anything possess more
anticipatory sweetness than a newborn-sized bonnet?—a taut
balloon of anxiety swells underneath my chest-bones.
I haven’t discovered the gym or meditation yet. This comes
later, during the divorce. (“It turns out that all those perky assholes
were right,” I text my best friend, “Exercise makes you feel great.”
“Ugh, what bourgeois habit is next?” she replies. “Yoga?
I’d kill for a drink, to get tipsy and dance this anxiety off. I’d kill
anything, that is, except my son’s developing brain.
The house is empty, except for Apple, my old mutt, tonguing
her paw in the corner. An idea appears, born of desperation: I
guess I could try just the dancing part—sans booze?
The winding intro of the song I choose—Buttons, by the
Pussycat Dolls—starts: a sensual wail like a charmer beguiling a
snake from a basket. I slowly roll my hips, then snigger self-
consciously. Jesus. I must look ridiculous.
I check again that the blinds are down—they are—and start to
move my prenatal heft. Awkwardly at first, my teeth gritted with
determination, and then, slowly, with bemused enthusiasm.
Loosen up my buttons, baby, the Pussycat Dolls sing.
I play it again. Man, I love this song! I’m getting puffed and
warm, and a thread of something vital is unfurling in me.
There’s something inherently sexual about dancing, isn’t
there? To pretend otherwise is to affect a pearl-clutching
chasteness. I’m not talking about the performative
element—although that has a power, also. I’m talking about that
primal part from where unselfconscious sexuality and dance
originate. That egoless place where—and when—our noisy, bossy,
self-critical heads shut the hell up, and we stop seeing ourselves
from the outside in—how do I look doing this?—and it becomes,
instead: how do I feel doing this?
It feels hilariously lewd to be gyrating with my bump (or, more
accurately: bumps. My pregnant boobs are like two obese pugs
scrapping for space on a sofa) and, as I move, the mischievous
raunch of the song—and, quite frankly, the lack of an
audience—makes me feel brave, silly and kinda sexy. I’m a sexy
mama, blares the song. Who knows just how to get what I wanna!
How does it feel if I do a star jump? What if I pretend that I am
in an 80’s aerobics class and do lunges? What about trying to
twerk, my huge belly pushing against the top of my thighs, or to
attempt a clumsy booty-drop?
I play it again, and again, dancing—and falling over—until I am
puffed-out, giggling, and the balloon of anxiety under my chest has
deflated, and I can breathe again.
When the doorbell chimes, suddenly, the spell is abruptly
broken. I stand up, fix my dress. But I’ve gotten a glimpse of my
inner sober Pussycat Doll. Lucky, too, because she comes in handy
In the basement of the Rhino Room, led by the friendly people of No Lights No Lycra Adelaide, participants are free to dance or move however they wished for an hour – in the dark. As the name suggests, there are no lights allowed – including mobile phones or smart watches. NLNLis a judgement-free zone, after a few minutes of self-consciousness, I realised that no one was judging me – they couldn’t even see me! I could do all my best ‘80s dance moves, totally out of time with the music!
How does “going to a nightclub for Yoga classes” sound? Pretty neat, right? This is the upcoming New York City party scene trend.
When a friend asks me: “Do you want to go out tonight to nightclub?” or “Let’s go for Happy Hour after work?”, they clearly mean some cool party or a great place in town for drinks.
In New York, a “trendsetter” type-of-city, these questions can exceed the obvious understanding.
Now, you can go to nightclubs that offer yoga classes in the middle of huge dance floors, paired with amazing DJs, shinning disco balls or even a rave party before going to work!
Here, we list some of the best places to visit. Plus, we tell you how to hit the gym in style or start your day at an “alcohol and drugs free” rave party!
Some of the most purely joyful moments I’ve had in the past couple years have come while dancing. Sometimes at contra dances, which are nerdy and sweaty and call for you to surrender to the pleasure of forming patterns in a group. Also at No Lights No Lycra, a weekly dance party (held in cities around the world) where you can’t see anyone besides their vague outline, and you dance as hard as you can, however you want, without worrying what anyone thinks of you.
On Thursday night, I did something seriously out of character.
I, er, bopped side to side because I’m an incredibly awkward human. And then I danced like I was 18 again in the clubs. And like I was headbanging at a rock concert.
And I did all of this in a room full of strangers and it probably definitely wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t matter because I did it in pitch black darkness.
It was weird. And awesome.
It’s mental health week across Mount Alexander and there’s no better time to put on your dancing shoes and lose yourself to dance!