What Exactly is Ecstatic Dance..? - Phanganist asks Sandesh

12 Feb 2021

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You may of heard of ‘Ecstatic Dance’ or seen it advertised or mentioned during your time on Koh Phangan and it seems though it is growing and these two words quoted more and more amongst the community...But have you ever wondered ‘what exactly is ecstatic dance?’.

People dancing ecstatically right? Ecstatic meaning ‘feeling or expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement’. Wouldn’t that mean that any kind of dancing, anywhere, is ecstatic dance...not quite, we know there is more to this.

(Photo courtesy of Tal Haim Yoffe)

We spoke to our good friend Sandesh who also goes by ‘Psymbiosis’ as his DJ name in the Trance scene. He has been playing the music at many ecstatic dance events so we use his knowledge to get exactly to the bottom of ‘what is Ecstatic Dance?’...

Hi Sandesh, how did you become involved in djing for ecstatic dance?
I first started to play at ecstatic dance in Bali and began the movement there from the very beginning maybe 8 years ago. A few people started coming then a little more and a little more which was good.

By the time the seed of ecstatic dance was dropped in Bali it then became a thing in Southeast Asia and spread around pretty fast.

I then started ecstatic dance in Koh Phangan in the season of November 2016. Nowadays I don’t organise them but I play the music for whoever asks me to play.

(Photo courtesy of Ely from Pyramid Yoga)

Do you play different music to what you play at Trance parties? If so what…
Yes I play different, I play a lot of different styles and I’m a 360 degree DJ and can play a little of everything and enjoy it. This is why I like to play ecstatic dance as it gives me the freedom to express different styles without block, chains or restrictions.

For those that don't know, explain what is 'Ecstatic Dance'....?
Every session there is an introduction, I used to say that ecstatic dance is a music journey and a dance journey within ourselves. An opportunity to let go, be present and total,l and witness what is going on in ourselves and relive it through dancing, screaming and movements, to use our body to connect with ourselves and others.

There are no restrictions, it is totally letting go. It’s a way to release our emotions and blockages through dance. To be in the present, leave everything behind the door when you get in and be crazy and wild.

People can scream, be silent, laugh and dance in anway; jump, roll over, whatever, let go and a key point is to be present and be playful.

(Photo courtesy of Tal Haim Yoffe)

Is there no alcohol?
No alcohol and no drugs, no smoking, no chit chatting and there should be no taking pictures as  people are sensitive and release a lot during the sessions and it’s not nice to expose this publicly.

How do people feel, during and after?
Well honestly witnessing what is going on during the sessions and ritual, people really go for it, they know they have 2 hours to dance and be free and release whatever they need to and be really total.

If you have ever seen a video of it then you can see how crazy people become, they really go for it and of course after such a release I will say that most people feel refreshed, reborn and filled with new energy.

Normally at the end they feel very loving with lots of smiles and hugs when everything has finished. It is very pleasant especially in the morning sessions, one of best ways to start the day!

(Photo courtesy of Ely from Pyramid Yoga)

What does it bring to the island?
I would say it brings a lot of new energy, new vibes, new people and a lot of consciousness in terms of people who are normally involved are not party people. Most of the time they are not using alcohol or drugs but want to celebrate, get together and have fun.

Of course on a party island like Koh Phangan I have never seen something like this, such a different vibe and it is evolving and spreading so much.

It also brings creativity as I like to invite live musicians to play on my sets and I don’t see this elsewhere and music wise the music is various and different in style that can widen up and open people’s taste and mind in terms of music. There are lots of super talented musicians on the island that are really willing to express themselves and ecstatic dance is an opportunity for me to let them express and join a different vibe and opportunity for us to interact in an amazing creative way!

(Photo courtesy of Tal Haim Yoffe)

Can anyone attend?
Yes for sure there are no limits, anybody from age 0 to whatever age. There is no limit on gender, race etc, the only thing we ask is to respect other people's space and if parents come with kids then to be responsible and take care of them as if it gets wild and crazy on the dancefloor they could be hurt.

During meditative timings not to let them disturb the silence/vibe/mood of the moment. Anybody is welcome!

And leave us with the ecstatic dance philosophy....
I would say to everybody, be free of any judgement, be free of your mind let go of your fears and be total.

Come and enjoy the dance, ritual, ceremony, vibes and what’s going on and see for yourself!

Keep up to date with Ecstatic Dance events on our Conscious Event Listings.

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