No Lights and No Lycra Mean No Inhibitions

No Lights No Lycra is a dance community that was started in Melbourne in 2009 by unruly dance students Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett. On a cold wintry Tuesday night in 2009, five people walked through the doors of St Marks Church Hall in Fitzroy, Melbourne. In the winter darkness, with the orange glow of the heaters and a portrait of Amma the Hugging Saint looking down upon them, No Lights No Lycra was launched to the song Rien de Rien by Edith Piath. Since June 2009 NLNL has grown predominantly through word of mouth into the global community that it is today.

There are no lights, no lycra, no teachers, no steps to learn, no technique, just free movement. NLNL is a space where you can completely let go, shake out the stresses of the week, and lose yourself in the music and the physicality of your body.

NLNL launched on the Gold Coast late 2013 and has been really gaining momentum in its new venue at Burleigh Heads State School with up to 40 people each week. NLNL Gold Coast is organised by dance and cultural enthusiasts Karleen Harrington who is the Queensland Relationship Manager for Soldier On Australia which works with physically and psychologically wounded contemporary veterans; and Anna Crommelin, a mental health social worker in private practice.

Both Karleen and Anna understand that there needs to be more emphasis on creative outlets to promote mental wellbeing.

“The concept is simple but unique: people meet in a dimly-lit hall at Burleigh heads and dance,” says Anna.

NLNL is drug and alcohol free and open to everyone, and allows people to dance without inhibitions or judgment. It gives people the opportunity to keep healthy through exercise and indulge in something increasingly rare for adults these days – genuine play. As one of the participants describes: “You stop worrying about what anyone thinks, it’s the most fun in the world. No one is looking at you, no one is judging you.”

Karleen describes a typical class. “NLNL is the most unique and exhilarating experience, and a joyful way of just losing yourself in the music and forgetting the world outside for an hour. Each week we get an interesting variety of people from Baby Boomers to Gen Y. It’s awkward and weird at first, but by the end of the session there is a room of mostly complete strangers laughing, clapping and cheering with enthusiasm. It’s a sweat fest of fun and everyone is there for their own reasons”.

“We’ve had people challenging and increasing their fitness levels and recording 12000 steps in a session, that’s dancing for approximately 7.5 kilometers!”

NLNL Gold Coast takes place every Monday evening in the Main Hall of Burleigh Heads State School from 7-8pm. For more information contact or message via facebook page


Natalie O’Driscoll

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