The Power of Groove

Finding our common connection through the medium of movement

With the fresh breeze of summertime comes the season of festivals and open-air events in Europe. From the moment the weather gets warm and sunny enough, one can find people in parks and fields all over the city dancing with their makeshift sound system set-ups. Summer is the time of watching our worries fall as we let down our hair, move our bodies, and acquiesce to the power of groove under the setting sun and into the night.

Given the constant flux of nightlife over the last two years, summer may be the only time that people in some European cities can dance together in crowds. But even good weather and strong safety concepts are no guarantee, posing an important concern about the future of nightlife for all of us—what do we lose when we can’t go out dancing, whether in the summer or any other time of the year? How can we get our groove on instead?

For many of us, dancefloors are a special place that allow us to discover the powers of our inner groove and indulge in all of its pleasures. Found through a strong beat that has us up on our feet, swaying our hips and moving our bodies, groove helps us realize the abundance within ourselves and our environments. With its ability to get inside and shake things out, groove creates the room for us to imagine different possibilities and new realities, within and outside of ourselves. Groove is about feeling good without guilt, seeing and being seen. Groove is about healing ourselves and connecting with one another; and against the backdrop of the pandemic, characterized by loss and isolation, groove is an energy-like source that can nurture life after destruction.

When we dance in crowds, the invigorating powers of groove are emphasized by the energy we exchange and feed off of from one another, one that is difficult to replicate in other settings—especially alone and virtually. When dancing in groups becomes unsafe or illegal, how can we tap into the power of groove—not only for what it does for ourselves, but also for the sake of our culture?

Here we showcase three Berlin-based artists and collectives that are creating safe, meaningful spaces for us to dance in. Drawing inspiration from the city’s surrounding club culture, the meditative traditions of ecstatic dance, and the contemporary dance language Gaga, the primary purpose of these events, broadly defined as dance meditations, is to guide participants to move—and tap into their inner groove—more intentionally than on a night out. While no substitute for a full night at the clubs or deep in the grounds of a festival, dance meditations allow us to become present and honest with our movement, leading us to a different kind of freedom than we may find on a cramped dance floor.

If you don’t find yourself in Berlin anytime soon, there are other ways to tap into the powers and pleasures of your own inner groove. While some of the examples emerged recently in response to the pandemic, they can be traced back to the long-established practices of ecstatic and Gaga dance, broadening the amount of possibilities we have with getting our groove on, with or without the clubs closed.

BERLIN

In Berlin, one can observe the influences of club culture in just about anything—from streetwear to high-end fashion, literature to politics, billboards, music in cafés, and the local daily news on the TV in the underground train. For those of us that relish in the city’s globally renowned nightlife culture, Berlin is a special city where there will always be one way or another to get our groove on

Dose of Pleasure

Emerging from the first Covid-19 lockdown in Berlin, Dose of Pleasure is a dance meditation event produced by artist and educator Alvin Collantes. What began as an online live-streaming platform to connect with people in isolation has transformed into a global community of “Dosers” discovering the abundance of their inner groove. Whether you join Collantes in Berlin, online, or in one of the many other cities he visits, expect to be challenged but still inspired. For the one-hour Dose, Collantes guides participants through a dynamic journey that expands how we experience movement, inviting us to find the energy and sensual-like pleasure in our body’s burning efforts. The meditation is accompanied by techno, house, disco, soul, and funk music, taking us back to late nights at Berghain’s Panorama Bar. To close the session, Collantes invites participants to “Overdose” on the learnings from the previous hour and move freely to a live DJ for the rest of the evening. While physically enduring, the event is open to all backgrounds.

Alvin is currently based in Tel Aviv. He regularly travels to teach and host Dose of Pleasure events. Learn more about upcoming in-person and virtual events on his Instagram pages @dose.of.pleasure and @alvincollantesdance.

Cocococreated

Tucked away inside a small church in Berlin’s legendary Neukölln district, Cocococreated is a dance research event organized by professional dancer Tanja Saban and music events promoter Eitan Nir. Similar to Dose of Pleasure, Cocococreated draws inspiration from the surrounding city’s club culture and the embodying practice of Gaga, creating a “dance floor research club” open for all ages, bodies, and dance backgrounds. Led by a dance meditation guide, participants engage in a series of game-like movement exercises, creating a playful overall environment that pleases our inner dancer—and raver. A live DJ accompanies the groove session, playing anything from experimental ambient to classic house tracks.

If you find yourself in Berlin, visit the collective’s Instagram page @cocococreated to learn more about their upcoming events. Space is limited for this event, so be sure to register fast.

Tanzen 3000

Tanzen 3000 is an ecstatic dance event in Berlin that is more “hip-hop than hippie.” Produced by organizers from Berlin’s experimental free open-air and self-organizing music scenes, Tanzen 3000 is groovy, unexpected, and raw. They begin their events with a guided dance meditation which, similar to those run by Dose of Pleasure and Cocococreated, gets participants all warmed up. After the guided session, they open up the dancefloor—inside a circus tent—to a 2-hour groove session, where anything from classical music to dirty Chicago house is fair game. Tanzen 3000’s explicit stance on no substances or distractions of any kind on the dance floor is a refreshing reminder that there is so much pleasure to gain from just dancing.

In true Berlin fashion, the best way to find out about the collectives’ whereabouts, both in the city and around Europe, is through their Telegram handle @TANZEN-3000-BLN.

BEYOND

Finding our groove around the world

For those of us not in Berlin, one way to tap into our inner groove is to go straight to the source and find local Gaga and ecstatic dance events, either online or in-person. These events offer new perspectives on the powers and pleasure of groove, satisfying our need to dance when other options are limited or we are curious to try something different

Gaga

Gaga is a dance language and movement pedagogy created by Israeli choreographer and dancer Ohad Naharin. Following a back injury, Naharin derived Gaga, characterized by its figurative use of language and embodied practices, as a mechanism to reconnect with his body and relearn movement. With its powerful use of language and emphasis on movement as care, Gaga provides many valuable principles and tools for dancers and non-dancers alike. 

Gaga classes are offered in two categories: Gaga/Dancers, which is intended for trained dancers, and Gaga/People, which is open for all backgrounds. To join a virtual or in-person class, check out gagapeople.com for the full list of over 100-trained instructors offering events in 21 countries.

Ecstatic dance

Ecstatic dance refers to events where dancers lose themselves to the rhythm of music, entering a state of trance and ecstasy. The list of different ecstatic dance events one can join are as long and varied as its history, but with a curious mind and a little bit of digging on the Internet, you can find something happening near you. Typically hosted during the day and under the category of class or meditation events, ecstatic dances can be safe alternatives to clubbing when pandemic restrictions tighten. Although more controlled than the clubs, get ready to let loose and find your groove like you never thought possible.

Playlist

To get you started on what we hope is a summer full of dancing, enjoy this one-and-half-hour groove sesh curated by our friends at the Stockholm-based record label House Music With Love (HMWL). Featuring Nordic talents from around the region, this playlist is bound to get you up on your feet and feeling the music. Let’s dance to the Nordic groove, baby!

For an endless supply of quality house and chill beats, you can find HWML on Beatport, Soundcloud, and Spotify.

housemusicwithlove.com/

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