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I have once enjoyed going to many raves. I would go to not so “acidly” often, though there would always be one rave now and again. I have also heard about people who liked to go to raves, even more often than I, and liked electronic music but they would not take any drugs at all. I did not understand how a person would be able to feel part of such group so frequently and yet not take drugs. Until the day of today.

We went to a yoga centre here in Bali through recommendation where it happens a “different” dance every Sunday. We had already seen a video about it so we already knew what to expect, more or less. Something like “dance the craziest way possible and move your body the way you feel like”. Well, we went to check it out…

Upon arrival, we saw a group of people gathering around. We already knew it was necessary to arrive early as tickets are limited and sell out quickly. It began selling around 10am to start at 11am. Before buying our tickets we met a German girl who had just left her yoga class that morning and didn’t even know about this dance class.

Well, the selling of tickets began (+/- US$10 per person) and so we said good-bye to our newest friend. There in the queue, no more than 5 minutes after, we saw her queuing up too in order to buy the tickets as well, saying that another girl had just told her about it and that made her curious. We all bought it. We sat down for a chat in an open area before it starts. We were talking about nationalities which ended up involving another person into the conversation. She was also born in Germany though lived in many parts of the world. Therefore, we had the group done, all first timers, all looking very much normal for what we were ready to see.

We went up together to the designated space. There was already some people rolling on the ground, some dancing, another preparing themselves and many arriving. We found our space and began moving our bodies like in any other party, from one side to the other, swinging our arms. Then, we started going into a more intrapersonal level. Suddenly, it was like we were alone in an unknown world trying to adapt ourselves into that. At this moment, it lesser the number of people rolling on the ground, some continue. Those continuing, they twisted themselves in pairs, moving their hands in an attempt of making a nod with them but never achieving it – endlessly. Then, your mind starts to have lots of thoughts…

It starts with a “fear” as you think of being judged by everybody – probably because it is exactly what you are doing this very moment. Then, you start wondering why everybody is so comfortable and you are not. “Could it be that they really don’t care about what others think about them?” – Weel, it is the only reasonable answer as to judge from the ones who are not rolling on the floor anymore but stand up, hugging, static, a part from a few sharp and quick movement such as someone who had just being electrocuted, then back to being completely statues until the electric movement interrupt them again.

I avoid eye contact completely – “imagine those ones come to hug me and then not moving anymore, and starts electrocuting us”. Then it comes the thinking of, actually, they are the free ones who are doing whatever they wish. Perhaps, this is the big purpose of my visit here, to start understanding that what others think about me should not intervene at all over my choices. And then your hands relax and swing more freely. The neck muscle is no longer rigid making your head to move according to the rhythm of the music, even if slowly still.

All of a sudden, you realise you are the different one and you will never be able to judge if this moment makes you feel good or bad if you do not feel part of it all. And I began to see that there is an interaction amongst people quite similar to the one in the raves I used to go – save the music, which change its styles each new track. There is one jumping non-stop from one end to the other, all the time, smiling to everybody. Another carrying on his statue-electrocuted mode with another girl. This later one was minutes ago in the same statue-mode with another girl. By the way, those two girls were so in trance that I could read their thoughts at the end of the track as it had subtitles: “Are you a lesbian?” No, I am not”. And each one went different ways and I did not see them together anymore.

There are many who go on smiling and high-fiving everybody. That is when you start making eye contact, a bit – you still avoiding those making the statue-electrocuted dance though. In this pursuit, you are already jumping, your head is moving so accordingly with the music that you can’t even realise what you are doing anymore. Someone passes by. You smile to the person – slightly afraid. The person smiles back. You move more.

Now you are completely free. It is like you have been granted the permission to do what the hell in this world you want to. Nobody will care and you will not care at all if someone is actually caring about you. This “contract”, already signed up, becomes effective right away and you jump and move, following the beat of the music, in such way that you do not even feel the tiredness coming – taking into consideration the Balinese hotness!

ecstatic dance in Ubud

Unexpectedly, you remember you were not alone and one of them is actually your partner. As the (psi)contract has already been signed up, you will not care if your dance is acceptable by your partner or by the others who you have recently met. You will also not care whether they signed up for this (psi)contract or not. Let us all be happy. Let us all dance our bodies off. Let us all jump…

An ever so strong ecstasy seems to take control of you that feels like you are under the effect of ecstasy. But no, it is almost midday and nobody is taking drugs. It is pure happiness.

There are a few “reality” moments which you go back thinking that this can only be an absurd. In one of this moments, I even compared it with a bunch of monkeys in a cage, jumping (ah ah ah ih ih) like little monkeys showing their tooth. And, I thought it was particularly an absurd when looking at the boy and the girl doing the statue-electrocuted dance. The shock was around the waist, something sexual, which it looks like they were searching for this ecstasy through human contact. It kind of bothered me being in that way, totally opened for everyone to see it. Probably, this sexuality hits me strong and I am a bit more old school in this topic. I think this kind of feeling should be more private, more personal. I tried to avoid looking at them and get back to my pure happiness again. And it would come, as the contract says.

It goes that way until the music goes a lot slower. You realise you are tired. You are thirsty and start to move your body really slow, like stretching. You take you head down to your knees, stretch your neck. Some go back to floor-rolling. Another lay down, others meditate. Each one really does whatever one feels like.

Everything stops and the DJ (oh, yes, there was a DJ, like in a rave) takes an acoustic guitar and everyone gathers closely. He, then, sings a music shifting from English to Spanish. Some, who apparently did not know the lyrics, start singing the parts which repeat itself. It was a good energy, however, I am suspect to say as I have always been fond of acoustic guitars. The music ends, everyone form a big circle, give hands and stay silent.

The DJ starts talking in a perfect English for us to think more about the nature, the water, to worship the water. Suddenly, everyone is doing the “Ounnnnn” from meditation. He gets quiet, like showing the show is over, nobody moves, he, then, says that it is over and to come back always.

It is a different experience. It makes you see that happiness is actually inside you and catalysts (yes, drugs) are not essential – though many will think it is necessary. Nevertheless, I think it is all positive but I find myself thinking over its purpose… The entrance fee is 10 dollars, it is about 150 people. Thus, 1500 dollars earned in a 1h30min session. There was just one Balinese who looked like Balinese though interacted with everybody like he was a foreigner. The rest was all foreigners. Up to what point this is beneficent as there is no integration with local people? Oh, but perhaps locals do not like that. Really? So, this is a foreigner thing only? I do not believe so as locals worship nature here and are really spiritual. Maybe the money. It can be. But what for something which indicates spirituality has to charge you for so much (in Bali that is much)? Knowing that it would segregate from locals and it would force to have the presence of foreigners only. I do not know up to what point I would believe 100% in its purpose. However, it was a valid experience nonetheless.