What is ecstatic dance

Ecstatic Dance: Finding oneself in self-experiment

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Going dancing on Friday evening: this is a fixed point for many after a long week. Sober, in a comfortable yoga outfit, barefoot and equipped with sleeping glasses, only very few do that. Ecstatic Dance is about getting into a meditative state through movement. The trend comes from Hawaii, now there are offers from New York to Berlin. Also in Vienna: In Yogaloft in the 4th district, an Ecstatic Dance unit was recently offered.

Around 30 men and women will be there on one evening at the beginning of May in Vienna's Yogaloft. Sonja - dark, long curly hair, leggings and a tank top - is here for the first time today. She likes to dance, but she is not interested in the "whole drunk" in the clubs, "and I feel too old for discos". Now she wants to try Ecstatic Dance.

A young man from the waiting list moves up shortly before the start of the session. He has tried Ecstatic Dance several times. Why? "Life is boring enough," replies another man who pushes past us into the yoga room. The room is dark, colored lights dance on the walls, and a DJ set has been set up at one end of the room. It starts at 8 p.m.

Dancing with sleep mask

We sit down cross-legged. "Why is it so hot here?" Asks the man on the waiting list. Because otherwise hot yoga is practiced here at 40 degrees. "And that's how you feel like you're in Bali," says the owner of the yoga studio, Sabine Utz.

The evening begins with a meditation. For this we put on the sleeping masks. The music begins. My feet go to sleep. Then we finally get up. We should also keep our sleeping masks on while dancing. The music is now getting louder and faster. Everyone should move how he or she wants. There are no steps and no instructions. At first I stand there perplexed. It's not that easy to move when you can't orientate yourself to the others on the dance floor. And am I the only one who's so clueless? Is anyone watching me and laughing at me?

At least I can catch a glimpse of the feet of the bystanders at the bottom of my sleep mask. At first you just bob up and down. I do that too. As in sport, we are slowly warming up: the music is getting faster, we are moving more now, and now our arms are also used. I know that because I collide with bystanders several times.

Don't talk to each other

That always happens totally suddenly, it is harmless - but it scares you for a short time. I take a few steps in the other direction - and hope that I won't run into who again.

What is important in Ecstatic Dance: You are not allowed to talk to each other while dancing. Cell phones are also forbidden. We shouldn't evaluate thoughts that arise, we were impressed. I think about this article, about work, about my dinner - but try to let go of the thoughts quickly and move on. I'm losing track of time. How long have we been dancing like this? But I don't feel any ecstasy, on the contrary: Isolated among many strangers, I not only feel lonely, but also completely disoriented.

At some point the music suddenly becomes noticeably quieter. We lie down on the floor where we stand. Now comes a relaxation session. And then we can finally take off the sleeping mask. I am surprised where in the room I am. I would have guessed myself to be on the other end.

Experience ecstasy

"The energy is different every time," reports Yogaloft owner Utz later. "Today, a lot has shifted to a single corner of the room," she says. She was bothered by the fact that some of them took off their sleeping glasses and sat on the edge of the dance floor.

But most of them seem to have liked it. "We have been attending events like this for a year now," says a young couple, both with flushed faces. "A lot came up for me today," says the woman. "But then I kept falling into it." They probably think that dancing ecstasy has to be learned first. Sonja, who was there for the first time today, definitely enjoyed it. Her glasses are still fogged up when she leaves the yoga room, she was sweating so much.

Conclusion: I didn't experience the ecstasy on the dance floor, but it was an extraordinary experience on a normal Friday evening. (Franziska Zoidl, May 26, 2019)