FUSE Block Party: Q&A with Alice Glenn of No Lights No Lycra

NLNL photo by Abi Varney

Q&A with Alice Glenn of No Lights No Lycra

On Saturday 17 September, we're holding the FUSE Block Party. That's right, we're closing off the street and taking over Newman Reserve to celebrate identity, self-expression and your inalienable right to party. The FUSE Block Party, curated by Lucreccia Quintanilla, is FREE and there'll be live bass music, bric-a-brac stalls, body adornment, a vintage flea market at Retropolis, a costume making workshop, mural making, live music, DJs, and a dress-up parade lead by UKI (a moving, interactive kinetic structure that also happens to house the sound system).

Also on the bill is No Lights No Lycra, a collective that holds dance sessions in the dark. The aim of No Lights No Lycra is to allow people to lose their inhibitions in the joy of dance without having to worry about how they look or how good their dancing is. In their words, "We turn off the lights and crank up the tunes to release our inhibitions, move our moods and work up a wild sweat."
To learn more, we spoke to Alice Glenn, co-founder of No Lights No Lycra and the CEO of the new Not For Profit No Lights No Lycra Education. 

Hi Alice, and welcome to FUSE. No Lights No Lycra has been going for a while now. Please tell us how it all began.

The basic concept of No Lights No Lycra is dancing in the dark for the pure joy of dancing. We run weekly sessions where we turn off the lights and play fun music across all genres. It’s a place for people to lose themselves in the music and enjoy dancing without the pressure of looking good or being watched.
I have always loved dancing. My parents talk about me as a young girl having ants in my pants because I was always skipping and jumping around the house. Like many young girls, I went to weekly dance classes: first ballet and jazz, then contemporary. From there, I went on to study contemporary dance at Deakin University, which is where I met our other co-founder, Heidi Barret.

I spent years standing in front of a mirror and trying to copy the teacher, trying to move my body the way their body moved. I was always comparing myself to the best student in the class and started to become so self critical and uncomfortable in my own body that my love of dance was transformed from a great source of joy into a constant frustration. I loved to dance so much, and when I danced in my own way it felt so good, but when I compared myself to others I felt like I didn’t fit the mold. I became my own worst enemy and my biggest critic.

NLNL photo by Abi Varney.

In 2009, Heidi and I booked out a hall in Fitzroy and invited five of our friends to join us in the dark for a real dance. There would be no lights, no one watching and no mirrors. It was not a rehearsal for a performance. It was a place for us to completely let go of any preconceived ideas about what we thought we should look like when we danced or how anyone else wanted us to look. We just dance because we loved the way it felt and because it is a perfectly human thing to do. We played fun music that made us smile and we covered every inch of the floor.

The following week there were twenty people in the hall dancing with us, and now thirteen years later, we have five nights running across Melbourne plus over sixty NLNL communities around the world.

It is clear from the amazing success of NLNL that people around the world are desperate for a place to dance that is fun and joyous and away from any judgments or criticism. NHNLis a place where they can have fun moving their bodies to the music in whatever way feels right at the time.  

What's next for you?

We've recently launched a new education program, No Lights No Lycra Education, where we train high school kids to run NLNL sessions for their peers at lunchtime. The program is student led and focused on getting young people up and moving for better health and well-being. 

What can we expect from you at the FUSE Block Party?

Family NLNL events are not in the dark. Instead we have disco lighting to ensure parents and carers never lose sight of their little ones.

I started running NLNL family events twelve years ago when my son Otis was born. It was as much about creating a relaxed space for me to move as it was about modeling loose and joyful dancing. 

Right now Covid is still our biggest challenge.  We're finding people are still hesitant to return to public events and its a massive challenge to keep paying our staff, hall hire and business costs without the reliable income. However, the FUSE Block Party will be the first NLNL Family event since Covid and I'm soooo looking forward to seeing all the smiling faces back on the dance floor.  


Register for the FUSE family-friendly NLNL session.

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