Dancing in the Dark: No Lights No Lycra

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Forget nightclubs and bars, the best dance party in Melbourne keeps things simple.

We gather with an eager crowd at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Melbourne. There are no signs or posters on the door and no trace of any organisers or instructors. At 19:45 the doors open and the large queue of people pile in to a big, dark room. Within seconds, the music starts. It’s loud and still dark – and it’s going to stay that way.

This is the underground dance party No Lights No Lycra. Started in Melbourne by two self-proclaimed ‘unruly’ dance students in 2009, No Lights No Lycra has since become an institution across Australia and around the globe, with events popping up in London, Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Berlin. Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett wanted to create an unpretentious place where people could completely let go, shake out the stress of the week and lose themselves in the music. We consider it a rousing success.

Reminiscent of a massive high school sleepover, people in daggy clothes jump around to loud music. Shielded by the darkness, grown men and women really get loose. Unlike a traditional nightclub, No Lights No Lycra bans booze, high heels, short skirts, and sleazy guys – this is dancing in its purest, most innocent form.

It’s clear who the regulars are. They’re already dancing recklessly, like no one is watching (because, in the dark, no one is). They’re busting the biggest moves, sweating it out like true After Hours Athletes.

In for a penny, in for a pound, we cast aside our inhibitions and hit the dance floor. It’s weird at first, dancing in the dark. Pretty soon the endorphins begin to flow and we start to move with the music. The DJ keeps things fun with quirky musical choices—everything from the Jackson 5 to deep cuts from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We understand why these have become some of the most popular nights in the city—it’s highly addictive.

Photos courtesy of Shannon Crane