Tag Archives: dance like no one is watching

Trance Dance


Lou told me about trance dance not long after I pulled into  Austin.

It was held at a dance studio. The participants were blindfolded. There were a few people not blindfolded who made sure the dancers didn’t careen into the walls or each other. Music played. Dancing occurred.

Lou had never attended a trance dance, so she didn’t know if people actually achieved a trance state, but she thought I should go. I wanted us to go together, but the event only happened once while I was in town, and Lou already had plans that night. I’d either have to go alone or not go at all.

The $10 price of admission discouraged me. I’d rolled into Austin with maybe $10 in my pocket (and found a $10 bill in a letter from my friend Tea in New Mexico waiting for me at Lou’s house). By the night of trance dance, I’d picked up a few odd jobs (dog siting, house cleaning, a couple of psychology studies involving MRIs), so I had some money, but $10 was a significant amount for me at the time. I sent an email to the organizers asking for a discounted rate, but received no response.

This better be worth it, I thought on the appointed night.


I took this photo of my purple Grateful Dead bandana. I traded a hemp bracelet I’d made for this bandana on Furthur lot.

It was dark when I drove to the studio and almost missed the driveway. Once inside, I removed my shoes and readied my purple Grateful Dead bandana to use as a blindfold.

All of the participants (eight? a dozen? my memory is faulty, but surely no more than twenty) went into the large open room lined with mirrors.

Ugh, mirrors. Let’s just say I don not enjoy viewing myself in mirrors. I probably would have left had being blindfolded not been a main component of the evening.

We all covered our eyes, the music started, and we were off.

Dance as if no one’s watching, indeed.

(I tried to forget that at least a few people were watching, told myself they were only watching to make sure no one got hurt.)

I was wearing a long, loose, flowing, flowered skirt. I took great delight in feeling the fabric swirl around me as I twirled. I also enjoyed grabbing handfuls of the skirt in each hand and flipping it around my knees as I kicked my legs and stomped my feet.

The music was fine, but not what I would have picked. I would have picked the Grateful Dead, had I been dancing alone. If I were picking music for a group, I would have chosen music heavier on drums, faster rhythms, a bit more upbeat. But really, the music was fine. It wasn’t the type of dance music that makes me want to rush out and do speed (The Crystal Method, anyone?), and I suppose the tempo was plenty fast enough.

I don’t know how long we danced. An hour? An hour and a half? Certainly no more than two. While I’m not sure I was ever in a trance, it became difficult to stay aware of time. The music was continuous, no break to say, This song is over; now a new one will begin.

I did pretty much stop thinking about the other people there, stopped thinking about what they might be doing, what they might be thinking of what I was doing. The world shrank down to me, my body, the music, my movement. It’s unusual for me to be in the the moment and in my body, but during trance dance, I was in both.

When the music stopped, I felt both So soon? and Finally!

The whole group then sat in a circle on the floor and had a check-in so we could talk about our feelings and any issues that had come up. I can’t remember what I said, although I think I may have mentioned that I’d enjoyed dancing with my skirt.

Would I do trance dance again? Hell yes, even for $10. But I hope the next time, Lou can be there too.

According to http://www.gerrystarnes.com/trancedance.html,

Through a combination of focused intention, breathing, use of the bandanna and movement to rhythmic music, participants can experience a trance state and be transported into an alternate modality of awareness.

The first 30 minutes includes a discussion and orientation to Trance Dance, followed by an extended dance behind the bandanna. Following the dance, the group gathers in the circle for optional sharing and to get “plugged back in” before leaving.