Every Sunday morning at 10am at Kalani resort there is an event called the Ecstasy Dance. An eclectic selection of dance music is played for the 100 or so attendees, and the cost is a donation of whatever people can afford – generally $5 or $10. Here’s my first experience with Ecstasy Dance, and learning to dance like no one is watching.
This post was originally published in 2007. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
We had heard about this event, and figured we’d check it out as yet another community event that can connect us with others whilst volunteering at an isolated permaculture property in trade for free accommodation, and to give us a chance to let loose and have some fun dancing too!
Kalani is on a single-lane, paved road right on the ocean. We didn’t get much of a chance to tour the property itself, but the artistic space where the dance is held is a large, airy 20ft high canvas-ceiling structure with lots of character. The floor is beautiful smooth pine, and bare feet or soft shoes are required. Chairs line the walls, and a beautiful view of lush palm trees with ocean just beyond is a sunny Sunday morning sight to behold.
The dance has a few rules: First and foremost – No Talking. It is viewed as a distraction for other dancers who just want to (dance like no one is watching and) experience the music without being disturbed. The other rules are pretty standard – No drugs and alcohol, etc. Interestingly before entering the space you are required to sign a waiver in case a particularly enthusiastic (or uncoordinated) dancer should poke you in the eye or otherwise cause bodily harm!
When we entered the space we were among the first to arrive, and there was a smattering of people stretching and doing yoga poses to the soft chant-like music playing. There was incense burning and an altar with a Buddha statue at the side. We took the opportunity to hydrate with the available water, and do some stretches and yoga ourselves. The space was quite inspiring to do so with the sunshine pouring in and fans circulating air all around keeping the overall temperature perfect.
As more people filed in, the music started to change in nature to some slow Moby-like songs, and people continued to stretch while others started to move to the music as inspiration struck.
One man sat right in front of the sub-woofer for the longest time simply meditating. Another woman weaved around and through the dancers with burning sage and a wide smile. Yet others started dancing, with styles ranging from the standard bopping you would see in a night club to more modern artistic dance – and some of the dancers were quite good!
Initially we felt a little odd about the experience. Here we were on a Sunday morning, surrounded by a strange and different crowd, and the DJ was playing progressively “clubby” dance music – yet it didn’t feel like a dance club at all. We were only used to such dancing events in windowless clubs in the city, late at night, where there is barely enough room to breathe much less dance, fashion is of utmost importance, and pheromones are raging. We saw none of that here.
But once we just decided to let go and enjoy the experience for what it was, it became magical. I didn’t care if I danced like Elaine from Seinfeld – it felt great! There was enough room to literally kick my heels up, use some of the trained dance experience I have, and also to just let my body flow with the music.
The pace of the music built up to a climax over the course of an hour, at which point it subdued and then stopped for a short break. Everybody sat in the middle of the room for the “opening words”, during which time the DJ moderated and a pre-designated attendee led the group through a short exercise in gratitude. Without being too woo-woo, it was inspirational enough to give us all something to think about while dancing through the next hour or so (the section called “the program”).
By this time I had already given a lot of what I had to the dance and was pooped, so the break was welcome. When the music recommenced it was slow and spiritual again, and built up over the next hour. An eclectic mix was played, including some Hindi music, hip-hop, 1980’s retro, and some Latin stuff at the end which gave me a final burst of energy to keep going. I especially enjoyed the Latino version of Hotel California!
The “closing circle” at the end was a 10 minute conclusion which gave anybody who wished a chance to share their feelings about how the morning was for them (intended to be a personal reflection and not a deconstruction of the event itself), and then some time for community announcements.
I even stood up myself inspired at the last minute to share how this was my first time attending, and that I would be writing an article on the event. I didn’t know what my article would look like, but there was one underlying theme that everybody in the room unreservedly agreed with me on: The Sunday morning Ecstatic Dance at Kalani is perfect way to just let loose and enjoy the music. Nobody knows who you are, cares how you dance, or even why you are dancing. Everybody has their own reasons, and they come together in a celebration of music and movement. And the best way to get the most out of the experience is to Dance Like No One Is Watching.