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Why morning raves might just be the new pilates

Picture this – you’re on the dancefloor, dancing up a storm. You feel free, uninhibited and wild; your feet slipping seamlessly on refracted lights as smoke hazes past the mesh of heaving bodies of everyone around you.

It might sound like your average Saturday night out, but what if all this happened at 8am on a Tuesday while you were stone-cold sober?

Meet Conscious Clubbing, the dance fitness trend that promises you a natural high and a killer workout, all in one.

Every week, eager dancers of all ages, shapes and backgrounds will pile into venues around the world – some in full-on rave gear, others in theirfavourite P.E Nation – to find their moment of happiness before their day begins. They find their spot on the dancefloor, the lights lower, the music starts, and they let go of their inhibitions.

They dance for a good hour, sometimes longer, to club hits, 90s andnoughties classics and old school jams. And in the micro-moments where you’ll happen to catch a glimpse of a fellow dancer’s face as the neon lights move in harmony, you’ll see them beaming eyes, wide and blissful and radiating total joy. 

The visceral joy continues, radiating off everyone as they leave the venue, glowing with endorphins, ready to get ready for their day at work.

Conscious Clubbing is, in essence, some of the best bits of a nightclub, distilled and transformed from something of wee-hours debauchery into pure, wholesome, wellness inducing goodness – no phones, no talking, no drugs and alcohol and most importantly, no judgement.

And in these sessions, something truly glorious starts to happen – people begin to move with total abandon. Inhibitions are lowered and movements take on a life of their own, morphing from awkward swaying to expressive, larger-than-life shapes that seem to tell the story of each dancer.

Attendees dance like no one is watching and truly, no one is – because everyone is so hyper-focused on their own state of joy and fun that they don’t bother to notice others.

“One of the reasons I believe in the power of music and dance so deeply is because it has this amazing ability to bring all kinds of people together,” explains Tasha Blank, DJ and founder of Brooklyn’s The Get Down Conscious Clubbing events. “It penetrates those imagined boundaries that we put between ourselves and other people. It transcends skin colour, and it transcends class, and it transcends culture, and even disagreements. We come back to this really basic part of ourselves that just loves to move.”

Tasha and fellow advocates of Conscious Clubbing might just be on to something, according to psychologists.

When humans hear music, it lights up the pleasure and reward centres of the brain, as well as the cerebellum – the area that controls motor function and coordination. Evolutionarily speaking, humans are hard-wired to dance. Dance has been a part of our societies in tribal contexts and our brains love to synchronise with rhythm – just watch how impossible it is to stop tapping your foot when a catchy song plays – yet culturally, dance seems to have been relegated to certain contexts only, and too many of us experience dance only in an alcohol and dim-lighting numbed state to truly realise how expressive and beneficial it can be.  

When did we decide that we have to be intoxicated, dressed to the nines and awake for 23 hours straight to enjoy the pleasures of movement?

Perhaps it speaks to a collective self-consciousness. To dance freely is an act of great vulnerability and when society tells us that dance is restricted for flirting, intoxication and unwise benders, it can be hard to shake that perception.

Tasha also speaks to the fact that the “wildness” of dance can be challenging, noting that many people are surprised to note that the participants of Conscious Clubbing are euphoric from the pure joy of movement, rather than illicit substances.

And in a time where more and more people are becoming curious about consciously choosing sobriety; where bragging about the weekend’s binge seems decidedly uncouth, the conscious clubbing trend is finding itself in high demand. 

For Cole Blumstein, producer of NYC’s ‘Ecstatic Dance’ events, participating in a conscious clubbing event is all about silencing the inner monologue and finding something that feels good, regardless of how it looks – a refreshing perspective in our image-obsessed world.

He calls it “dance therapy” and has seen many Conscious Clubbers have a cathartic release of emotions whilst dancing. 

Shedding inhibitions without the social lubricant of alcohol is a challenge for many people at first, but when you consider the benefits of dance – lower blood pressure, reduced stress, working every muscle in your body, boosting your metabolism, flooding your brain with happy endorphins – the motivation is powerful.

And all with no hangover. We’ll drink (our morning SUPER ELIXIR smoothie) to that.