WHY DANCING IS THE ULTIMATE WITCHY WORKOUT

In his latest column, resident fitness witch Russ Marshalek shares how to make your next dance party a witchy workout—whether you’re dancing solo or with friends …

Photo: George Bohunicky

Last weekend, the Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic threw a rave for hurricane relief with her activist group W.A.F.T (Witches Against Fascist Totalitarianism).

What are a bunch of witches doing throwing parties and DJing? While using the adjective “spiritual” to describe a dance party might seem cliche, sweaty, unconscious movement to raw primal beats IS a magical thing.

Dancing raises our energy, loosens inhibitions, connects the physical body with the earth, and creates a feeling of “in-between” where anything can happen and creation is limitless. And a great DJ commands a crowd and uses song selection to cast a spell.

As Alkistis Dimech of Sabbatic Dance told me in an interview on the New Jack Witch blog, “For me, [dance] is to do with crisis and transformation. I hurl myself into the unknown, I encounter the ‘other’ in my body. In this way I remember and invoke the witches, demoniacs, ecstatics, hysterics, whores, the mothers who came before me.”

Ultimately, it’s the alchemy of all of this—joy, pleasure, connection to body and spirit—that makes dancing the ultimate witchy workout. An act of spiritual rebellion. Particularly in these times when legislation on and regulation of the body, particularly the female body, is at an all-time dangerous high.

This is reflected in the “radical softness” movement that empowers sensitivity and the body, and in media like Brit Marling’s stunning reflection on dance as resistance on Netflix’s “The OA,” and in the canonical “body as a tool of magic” essay Forging The Body Of The Witch.

So if your dancing body can be a weapon of resistance—be it against that jealous witch in the corner or the modern fascist regime—how can you put it to work? Read on for the Numinous rules of rave …

Ana Matronic and friend at the W.A.F.T Witches Howl hurricane relief rave

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DANCING AT A PARTY

So you’re out dancing. This is the physical work, congrats! There are a few ways you can subtly alter your reality or tweak your consciousness to bring a ritualistic element to your night out.

1) When you first enter the venue, set your eyes on the dance floor/dance area. Imagine it being circled in a ring of white light, ideally one white candle at a time encircling the dance floor. Guess what? You’ve just done a moonshine version of casting a circle! Expect to feel more protected and in control of your dancing body from just from this simple act. (If you can, on your way out, imagine the lights going out one at a time, or fading away.)

2) At the start of the night/party, set an intention, however major or minor, for something you’d like to achieve relatively soon. This could be as simple as finding your favorite flavor of seltzer at the store tomorrow, or more complex, like getting a new job. As you dance, imagine all your movements infusing  that goal with positive energy, grounding it in the here and now.

3) Close your eyes. No, really, close your eyes. Allow yourself to merge with the beat of the music and become one with it. This is harder than you think, and a rapture that seasoned ravers have come to treasure as a way to touch the ekstatik (which, coincidentally, is also the name of the next New Jack Witch dance party!)

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DANCING ON YOUR OWN

1) If you live by yourself, great. If not, kick everyone out for the night, or shut yourself in your room. Take off your clothes. Turn off the lights. Sit with yourself for a moment. Think of something you need release: a care, a concern, a shitty thing your boss said, a voice inside your head saying heinous shit about yourself. Meditate on this for a moment, and recall how it made you feel. With this in your mind, say aloud “Do. Not. Need”. Believe it and feel it in your core.

2) Now, feel your feet touching the floor, whatever that surface is for you. Let yourself feel your feet, the ground, your spine, your body. Take one or two slow forward folds. Then, with your intention firmly set to rid your body of whatever needs to get the fuck out, crank up some music and let your body move. To paraphrase Twin Peaks’ Agent Cooper, don’t plan it, don’t overthink it, just do it, allowing the music to flow through you and your body in whatever ways feel right in the moment. Allow any emotions that surface to pass, acknowledging them but not dwelling on any feeling overlong.

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CHOOSING YOUR MUSIC AND YOUR MOVES

Depending what you need and how you’re feeling, one song might be perfect, or nowhere near enough. I’ve chosen 4 songs, one for each element, as a guide …

For instance, for Earth, try rolling around on the ground. For air, make wispy moves. Fire can be big, bold leaps, suited to the drum beats of the track chosen here, and water should be fluid, rolling your shoulders and limbs like a stream (but not necessarily gentle).

Air: Sky H1, “Huit”—think wispy moves and swirling shapes.

Water: Apollo 440, “Liquid Cool” —get fluid, rolling your shoulders and limbs like a stream.

Fire: A place both wonderful and strange, “Hex and the City”—go for some big, bold leaps.

Earth: Corbin, ICE BOY—try rolling around on the ground.

Again, these are just suggestions. Ultimately, this is about you and your body, and what it needs and wants to express. When you’re done moving, sit quietly with yourself for a moment, and offer up a silent thank you to the Gods, Goddesses, and spirits guides that have been your silent dance partners.

UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA: INSIDE THE MIND OF THAT SPIRITUAL DUDE

Because we never feature enough Numi dudes! Gabriela Herstik gets Unknown Mortal Orchestra front man Ruban Neilson’s take on love, the Universe, and everything. Image: Dusdin Condren

Best known for being the third eye of psychedelic pop rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Ruban Nielson has more to offer the world than just some groovy tunes. Ruban’s experience grounding his soulful nature in day-to-day life has shaped many things, including his relationships – UMO’s latest full length, “Multi-Love,” is a synthy trip about his experiments with polyamory. We talked to the man himself about his constant commitment to channelling something beyond himself – and how it helps make some good dancin’ music.

On Spirituality
“I don’t really worry about whether I’m spiritual or not because it’s a mysterious part of life and categories mess it up for me. Music is my concrete connection to forces outside myself, whether this means community, history, spirit, the subconscious, or some concept of God – that isn’t my place to define. But through music I know there’s more than my ‘self’ because I get gifts from that place in the form of songs, or the ability to perform beyond what I thought I could.”

On Astrology
“I’m a Pisces, but the first day so I’m a cusper with Aquarius. I’m also a Cancer Moon. I feel like a pretty typical Pisces. Astrology is fun. I like talking about it with people and trying to find patterns. But I take it with a grain of salt like most things.”

On Love
“Being in love is so important to me. I spend most of my time thinking about love, although I’ll never know anything about it. I’m always just drowning and I prefer it that way.”

On Culture
“I have my own personal ideas about being Hawaiian. Most people don’t know what a Polynesian is and that’s both frustrating and useful. I think my genetics shape my music quite a bit. I think my music puts my heart on display, and Hawaiians are known to be very hot-headed and deeply emotional.”

On Yurts
“The shape of a yurt is beautiful and living in a yurt was cool. It was a certain time in my life. I miss it sometimes but my life doesn’t fit in a yurt any more, haha.”

On The Unknown
“Aliens of all kinds definitely exist. You can ask any mathematician. Magick is real too. It’s all around us in the form of branding; symbols and suggestions used to manipulate reality. It’s a pity it’s come to that. As for spirit guides and ghosts, I’m not going to try to categorize things that no-one really understands. There are a lot of levels to reality though, I’m certain of that.”

On Wearing Mala Beads
“I guess I do.”

Rockin’ some Mala beads 12 weeks ago on Instagram

On Mantras
“I do work with mantras. They change a lot.”

On Inner Peace and Zen
“I play music. I’m always looking to be possessed by this very happy and invincible version of myself.”

On Living Your Truth

“I’m really lucky. These days I’m really able to pursue my music and live the way I want to live. I don’t sleep much but I get to be the person I dreamed I could be and I get to be moving and creating all the time. That’s the way I want to be.”

Get tour dates and more for Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Unknownmortalorchestra.com

MORNING GLORY: I went to a rave at 7am…and I liked it

A new booze-free club morning in London is all about creating a high-vibe start to your day. Louise Androlia dons her dancing shoes with her PJs…

Was it coincidence that as my Tarot reader was suggesting I start my mornings off dancing, I received a text from my friend Nico inviting me to his new ‘pre work’ rave, Morning Glory? I don’t think so. Fast-forward a couple of weeks to a 6.30am start to go raving.

Morning Glory is the new clubbing experience from events producer Samantha Moyo and bodywork therapist Nico Thoemmes. The event is held slap bang in the middle of Shoreditch, London, at The Village Underground and currently runs once a month on a Wednesday, from 6.30 until 10.30am. The idea is that you ‘rave your way into the day’ in a positive way, so that, fuelled by a good dance and maybe a pre-work massage you can head to work energised and uplifted.

The idea of going raving is usually my worst nightmare. I rarely drink and let’s just I’m more of a kale than a ketamine kind of girl. So although I loved the premise of the event, as I walked into the Village Underground and heard music, loud loud music, I was a little nervous.

But within moments it was very obvious this would be different. The room was alive, but in totally the right way. There’s a cloakroom so you can arrive in whatever clothing you like (pyjamas encouraged) and then get ready for the office before you leave. By 7.30am I was clearly a late comer, the club was completely full. I was immediately in my people-watching element, as all around me people danced in business suits, gym clothes and nightwear, as well as plenty of festival gear – fancy dress, wigs and sequins.

No alcohol is served, this is a Wednesday morning after all, and it’s definitely not about staying up all night and ending up here. But there is a coffee cart, if you need your morning fix, as well as a detox enhancing smoothie bar and four massage therapists on hand to stretch you out before work. There’s also a space at the back of the room with yoga mats for you to practise your own morning routine. I lay down for a perfect ten-minute back massage with Gulie Ismail…and then I went and danced.

The atmosphere on the dance floor was welcoming, with no chance of anyone describing this scene as pretentious. I can’t help thinking that of course it’s going to become a dating hot spot, and it’s certainly a healthy place to meet someone. I came alone and so many people made conversation with me. Instead of a very often awkward sober social scene, people were chatting freely.

As I write this I still think…but I hate ‘clubbing’. The thing is though, it was so, well, nice.  Everyone was smiling, EVERYONE was smiling. The club was fully lit, so as I looked around I could see all the familiar sights, the wallflowers dancing in the corner, the extroverts on the stage, the couples in their own world, the socialites skipping round the venue. But there was no one crying, no fights, no one puking in the bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom, there was even a ‘Refresh Station’ table with Tea Tree body wipes, rose water and shea butter samples. No stinky clubbing toilets at this rave.

It felt like being at a really great house party when someone puts on Dancing in the Dark and it’s the best moment of your life, except with no hangover ahead. Pretty damn high vibe.

I caught up with Nico to hear more about his idea:

I have to dive in with this, because my first thought was WOW this is so a new dating scene. Have their been any ‘Morning Glory’ romances yet?
“Possibly! Probably! MG would be the perfect place to find a mate. One sober person resonating with another. Too often people meet in clubs when they are inebriated in one form or another. At morning glory you are ‘you’, not you + booze/drugs.”

Currently this is a monthly event, what are your plans for the future?
“Well we’re going to experiment with bi monthly events in London and then over the next six months expand into Brighton and Bristol, as well as taking Morning Glory into business conferences and seminars. Next year we want to fill Trafalgar Square or Battersea Power Station. We’re thinking big!”

I really felt a positive energy at the event (I can say that as an Energy Healer right!) Tell me some of your favourite moments so far?
“Morning Glory’s success is built on the unbelievable positive energy that manifests in the room. It’s so electric and has to be experienced to be believed. Our best moment was listening to a guest who told she had jaw ache from grinning so much.”

The next Morning Glory event will be held on September 25th. Tickets cost £10 and are available here. You can find out more about the event at their website, on twitter and on Facebook.

www.louiseandrolia.com
@louniverse