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-by Grace Flanagan

(Photo credit:Jake Pember)

The Money Bin
Friday March 21

On Friday night the Money Bin was commandeered by Lucy Nelson and Lisa Sampson, organisers of the Canberra No Lights No Lycra sessions. To passersby, sliding doors closing on the dark room seemed ominous, but for those inside it was a completely different story. No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) is about dancing in the dark, although with light leaking under the door and the addition of glow-sticks, you’re unlikely to walk into anyone. NLNL provides an inclusive, accessible space for people to shake shake shake shake their bootays, free from alcohol, judgement and inhibitions.

Groovers included adolescents and baby-boomers, with an array of dance styles to suit the spectrum. NLNL patriots could be spotted in sports gear- seemingly incongruent attire for a Saturday night in Civic. However, they were much better equipped than those in layers and heeled shoes, unaware they would soon exert the energy required to flip a truck.

It is not just the concept of NLNL that was widely accessible, but the music selection. Although mostly pop and rock, there were also jazz and alternative tunes mixed in among The Bangles, Pharrell Williams and Beyoncé. A comic surprise came when the audience realised they were thrashing around to a hard-core cover of Piero Umiliani’s Mah Nà Mah Nà, a song best known here for its use at the Banana Boat sunscreen jingle, and of course there was the lascivious classic Oh Yeah by Yello. The NLNL team just played songs that make patrons want to move. As obvious at it sounds, it was a pleasant relief from monotonous club music and bad remixes commonly found at Canberra dance venues.

Dancers were there purely for a good time. Testimonials regard NLNL as an opportunity to escape the ennui of popular dance culture and every day life. This became even more evident when one rabid patron (my sister) grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me, yelling ‘you’d better take me to emergency – ‘cause I’ve got DANCE FEVER’.

Despite the deranged strangers throwing themselves around like lunatics in faint lighting, the event felt especially safe. NLNL is open and appropriate for all ages, so given the demographic you’re unlikely to find the unwanted ‘bump and grinder’ looking for a hook-up.

The night closed with a warm-down session featuring the Piña Colada song. Heart rates slowed and water canisters were emptied. Club goers looked on in horror at the sweat stained shirts and make-up-less faces of the satisfied dancers escaping the Money Bin into cool night air.

No Lights No Lycra is what has been missing my whole life; a glorious facility for those who want to twist and shout without fear of judgment or wandering hands. Encouraging freedom of expression and physical activity, No Lights No Lycra is a fresh awareness of the community’s unknown needs.

NLNL is run weekly: Tuesday nights 7:45pm – 9.15 Corroborree Park, Paterson St, Ainslie


Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 2.43.16 PMGrace Flanagan is an undergraduate student at ANU who traditionally pens short-fiction. She’s been grabbed by an octopus and found $50 in the ocean. Her life’s goal is to perform a handstand unassisted.

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