One Quarter Journal


A new movement


Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett


Providing people with an inclusive and non-judgmental dance community

When I was a kid, one of my favourite past-times was putting on my Janet Jackson CD and busting out some moves in my pyjamas before bed. Admittedly, Janet Jackson was interchangeable with Paula Abdul, TLC and Mariah Carey - and regrettably, I lost this as a regular activity as I aged beyond 10 years old.

Thankfully, this liberation IS BACK - but this version is better facilitated, with a far wider range of music, and Discman earphones falling out mid-dance are no longer a problem.

NO LIGHTS NO LYCRA (NLNL) is a free-form, casual dance class held in multiple (low-lit) venues, where participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes and dance the week's stresses away in the company of others, all while in a alcohol and drug-free environment. We had a chat to Melbourne based Alice Glenn about why and how her and Heidi Barrett started the now-global dance community. From Brooklyn to Brunswick, everyone's dancing like no-one's watching.

What motivated you to start NLNL?

We love to dance. As former dance students we were sick of trying to mould our bodies into that of our teachers and the people around us. We were sick of an environment where mirrors and lights and performance were at the heart of the experience. We really just wanted somewhere to dance freely and without the pressure of being watched.

How has the project developed through the years?

NLNL started in Fitzroy in 2009 with five people dancing in a room and there are now 42 different dance nights in Australia and around the world. It has been incredible to watch it grow, and so wonderful that there are so many people around the world that share our passion for dancing with nobody watching.

Who chooses the music? What are some classic go-to songs or artists that'll always get people excited?

Anything goes at NLNL – as long as there's a bit of everything. Favourite track is always a hard question to answer, but at the moment I am loving Whitney Houston's 'Step By Step' and also Soweto Entsha 'Lord'.

What's been some great feedback you've heard from participants of NLNL? What impact do you think it's making?

The joyful faces as they walk out the door at the end of a session say it all really. It’s an experience that’s suited to any body type, any fitness level and anyone who loves music. It’s a place to experience movement and yourself without the pressure of being watched. Your body will thank you. In our experience most people become addicted.

Is coordinating NLNL a full-time job or do you balance other work as well?

Heidi is a creative dance teacher for children and young adults as well as being a choreographer. As well as running NLNL I run a not for profit organisation called Schoolhouse Studios providing affordable studios to artists and creative business.

What's next in store for you, and for NLNL?

We have big plans for NLNL in the future and we hope that it will continue to grow and spread around the world. In 2014 we are working on getting an NLNL program running in schools and also in aged care facilities.

Find one near you

Interviewed by
Vinisha Mulani

Photography by
Paul Philipson