No Lights No Lycra

The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. However, for No Lights, No Lycra it’s word of mouth that has set forth this new craze from Melbourne to a global tour de force.

The rules for No Lights, No Lycra, (NLNL) are obvious, making it less of a workout session and rather an uninhibited, no-holds-barred dance session. Nobody can see you and you can’t see them. Your fantastical moves and sheer awkward shimmies will not be seen by anyone, so go nuts! And that there is the secret to the growing phenomena of NLNL nights.

“Totally,” stresses Sam. “I think the fact there there are no lights means people can kinda let go. The concept is dancing like no-one’s watching and it just means that you can really lose yourself in the music kinda shakes off the stress of the work week or the uni week.”

NLNL hoists up the flags of many nations, jumping and jiving across New Zealand, the US, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France and Finland but the kernel of this gem began in Melbourne in 2009 with two unruly dance students Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett who started a culture beholden to no teacher, no specific moves or technique. This craze is, as the global website suggests, ‘a daggy, non-pretentious place to completely be yourself’. Sam, with McKayla Couacaud have been running the Brisbane chapter together since 2012.


“So, we’ve been at West End, South Brisbane at a few different venues starting with 10 people a night now we get almost 200 a night; so it’s huge,” she explains. But as to how this catching craze has been so successful, Sam is certain of its word-of-mouth strength. “I totally think it’s word of mouth because we get a lot of people coming with friends or having been told by friends of friends.”

With little to no marketing done outside of social media, much like fight club it’s an underground movement swelling in numbers with each session. “As an underground thing it works more with what we’ve got going on. And also, I guess the global movement has a lot of cred.”

Walking into the darkness one is illuminated with the spirit of thumping music and free-wheeling dance-offs with all-out abandon. The music is both fresh and nostalgic with the occasional trip of world music diversity to entice the atmosphere for something completely unhinged.

“Anything that makes you feel good and wanna dance,” says Sam regarding each night’s playlist. “The idea is that they’re mostly recognisable songs, and people should know 80 per cent of them. But, we do like to put a bit of diversity in there which is why I had that African choir track which was cool.”

One regular dance-goer, after the night’s session, showed an appreciation for the therapeutic value one can attain from this underground sensation.

“I find it a good, cheap option for people who want something social to do that has no judgement attached to it where you feel like a kid again,” she explained. “It’s great for people who struggle with creativity, self expression, self love and communication.”

No Lights, No Lycra is held every Tuesday night at West End’s Colossus reception lounge from 7pm.

Words by Kirk W. Wallace


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