Ecstatic Dance…..Anyone participating?

I’ve been participating in (dancing, DJing/ facilitating, hosting) ecstatic dance and 5Rhythms events for about 5 years now since I moved to the west coast of Canada.

The events are sober (no booze, drugs), no talking, usually about 2 hours of intentional dancing. There is also a majority of women here who DJ and run the events. Also, weed and mushrooms aren’t really considered drugs in this community, but that doesn’t mean everyone consumes at these events. :wink:

I was sceptical at first, (dancing barefoot with hippies?!? Ewwwww) but was pleasantly surprised by the good vibes and community surrounding the movement.

I’ve been noticing it’s international gain in popularity and was wondering, since as DJ’s our (mainly) principal is to get people moving and set mood etc, if anyone else on here has had any experience with events in your area of the globe?

General thoughts and curiosities welcome :hugs:


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No drugs? No Tricker’s? Sounds immense!

Correct. 100-150 people actually dancing not waving phones around, taking selfies or filming the DJ, chewing their faces off has been refreshing for me. And the vibes can get massive!

Many people find it challenging to actually dance without booze, gack, molly or whatever designer drugs people are taking these days.

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It was Gabrielle Roth (RIP) who kicked off the 5 Rhythms and Ecstatic Dance once upon a time if I have the story right. Lots of albums with her musicians The Mirrors:

We have many of the CDs because back in the ‘90s we were around that scene in the Bay Area - and my wife was really into it. Gabrielle came and did a somewhat loosely organized evening of talk and dance once that we attended. Can’t say I play them much any more - and I never did in a public set - but there’s a lot of competition for listening time around here. Later tonight I’m suspecting she’ll crash the queue.

There’s a vocal sample from her on the Ultramarine album, every man and woman is a star. Sorry, off the top of my head I don’t remember which track - and it’s a short sample. An early track I think. The whole album is a classic, a long time favourite of mine, and, besides Gabrielle Roth, the mighty Kevin Ayers is also sampled more generously to the point where he got writers credit.Track 2, “weird gear” if you just want to jump to that - couldn’t be a more appropriate Kevin Ayers song ever !

There’s been a fairly successful Ecstatic Dance session down here on Sunday mornings, disrupted of course by the bloody pandemic but on again I think. I believe two of our local hand drummers mostly provide the soundtrack. I’ve also heard that it’s very psychologically oriented. You know, dance out your traumas.

When the sessions were getting underway, I was approached to DJ. And the rules were strict! All five rhythms in fifteen minute sets - or maybe half-hour sets looking at the mix times (it was quite a few years ago) - I made a couple of stabs at it.

However, if you knew me over the years you’d know I’m not much for following formats or rules and I got somewhat jacked about by the facilitator-leader - and she is somewhat known for such behaviour around here - so that was that. Too bad ‘cos I’ve known this person a long time but I was hurt by her casual way of dealing with me. Guess I should dance my pain away!

OK, Gabrielle Roth is on T5, “Stella,” pretty much from the beginning and intermittently thru’out.

AND, on careful listening and reading the sleeve credits, embarrassingly, don’t think that’s a sample of Kevin Ayers on T2. An imitator! Although his lyrics.

Thirty years I’ve listening to this under false assumptions! Even wrote something about that track that was published. Learn something new everyday is my modus operandi, but that’s something I didn’t really want to learn.

My excuse is that mostly, over the past 15 years, I’ve heard the album on cassette in my truck. Difficult to keep track as one drifts about. But, haha, I have two CD copies and vinyl as well as the cassette (which is promo thus high quality). Hang my head.

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for those in the UK of a certain age, this sounds like Whirl-Y-Gig to me?

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No drugs at Whirl-Y-gig? Never went, but wasn’t what I heard.

What about a “protect Mr Patel’s shop” roleplay male-bonding exercise at half-time?

Also, might a communal AGA work in cooler climates?

Yes, I remember Whirl Y Gig. My wife was a regular there!

There are, I think, some common strands that link events like these. I haven’t done 5 Rhythms although I know several people who participate. I always assumed that aspects of David Mancuso’s approach to the dancefloor (the ‘3 bardos’, for example) has its roots in the same shamanistic traditions that gave rise to Roth’s 5 Rhythms. I think Mancuso also eschewed footwear, as it happens.

I feel that a ritualistic approach to (in this instance) dance tends to be underpinned by a religious narrative (the pursuit of a ‘pure’ relatively unmediated experience, getting as close as possible to ‘the source’, a return to a ‘state of grace’ or whatever). I also feel that it can feed the idea that there is a ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way of experiencing these things (I’ve had the same experience with other people at Burning Man), but maybe that’s just base human motivations somehow ‘corrupting’ their engagement with approaches or experiences like these.

I don’t really have any issue with any of these things (5 Rhythms, 3 Bardos, etc), if people are able to engage with them and feel fulfilled by them then that’s great. I’m just a little wary about some of the post hoc rationalizing that I have heard from some participants.


A friend went to an event here in the UK in Bristol, outside on hill that sounds similar. You have a certain area to dance in and chatting is discouraged. He said it was absolutely brilliant and by the end you’re absolutely going for it. Sounds like a great idea.

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one of my top albums of all time, i feel like i still learn new things from it to this day.

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And how about Kevin Ayers?!?

I’ve been listening to him this morning. He’s one of my all-time, old-time favourite artists. Very louche. Anyway, I hear why Ultramarine used him, or his lyrics, on “Weird Gear.” He was quintessentially of certain aspects of his age, early ‘70s, in much the same way as Ultramarine may represent the early ‘90s. And while their music is not really similar, he is heavily electronic in his production. Advanced for the time although essentially rock in style. Prog rock!

“Butterfly Dance” is the track borrowed by Ultramarine for “Weird Gear.”

If I remember right, the lyrics were also to be heard on another track but could just be my imagination. Weird gear indeed!

[EDIT: A few minutes later.] Why of course this other Kevin Ayers track using much the same lyrics is “There Is Loving/Among Us/There Is Loving” from the amazing * Whatevershebringswesing*, perhaps his best album.


There are those of us who argue that all dance has its origins in ritualistic and ecstatic practices as Michael Ventura discusses in “Hear That Long Snake Moan.”

I know I’ve posted that before, but what is dance if not repetition?

The question of the ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way of experiencing anything is interesting. Personally, I’m a total iconoclast but people do seem to like their rules - and ritual is generally highly regulated although sometimes I think it’s all being improvised ‘cos they’ve forgotten the old way of doing things. One way or the other, it has been my experience that ritual can have powerful effects.

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One of my oldest friends, never been a clubber or raver recently got into it. He uses it as therapy. And to pull yoga teachers.On both counts, it works for him very well. Not too sure about the musical quality, but good luck to him. Whirly Gig and festival vibes aplenty.


If @GrimsbyRiviera is interested in an exposé I can link you with Bettina Roth (Gabrielle “5 Rhythms” Roth’s daughter) and many Ecstatic Dance facilitators.

TBH I’ve found it to be a divisive movement for some people in traditional club/DJ culture but ecstatic dance has been gaining momentum around the globe over the last few years, especially after the pandy. People are ready to shake it off!

Not that I recommend this DJ ‘cos I haven’t had time to really check him, but here’s an example of the international allure of ecstatic dance:

And, look! Or listen. A festival!

People love their little cliqué-e divisions just about as much as they love their rituals. I’m wondering if Emma Warner addresses this in her Dance Your Way Home book.

There is the trap for ecstatic dance DJs to fall into becoming “cliche” with the wubby dubstep, tropical sounds of the jungle, mantra spewing selections. There is definitely a fine line there. But there are a few old school rave/house converts who’ve found healthy ways to stay relevant in dance culture. DJ T from Get Physical comes to mind with his new Mathemi ecstatic dance production/DJ persona.

I have learned how to find movement in music I don’t necessarily love, or even like, and strive to find that flow state and let the ego take a backseat and see where my body goes.

I obviously have incredible taste in music so no threat of auditory fromage in my ecstatic dance sets :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Glad we got that straight about your taste in music. I absolutely agree - about my own taste in music. I was just a little disappointed to reread that word “fromage” when I’d hoped it was frottage. :wink:

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I can’t give up too much info about myself on here….:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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