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Dance

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Wild Sirenda AKA Lizz and Guinevere LaRouge
Wild Sirenda AKA Lizz and Guinevere LaRouge

A couple of years ago DLTM met Wild Sirenda at Burning Man. We were members of the same camp and, as often happens at Burning Man, bonded straight away. Though the time we had together was relatively short-lived, we stayed in touch, and kept the bond strong. We eventually learned that married couple Lizz LaRouge and Guinevere had started to operate as a musical duo, with Lizz on the decks and Guinevere singing, freestyle, to channel positive vibes onto the dance floors they perform to. In London they held sacred cacao ceremonies, where music, dance and the heart-opening potion intertwined to create a blissful, yet energised atmosphere of expression and joy. DLTM sat down for a chat with the married couple to find out more about how they got together and what drives the all-conquering emperesses of love they call Wild Sirenda… plus they recorded a wonderful mix for us, which you can listen to below.

NB: This mix is not 100% representative of a Wild Sirenda performance, which involves Guinevere singing and filling their listeners with positivity through spoken word.

Wild Sirenda are shining brightly
Wild Sirenda are shining brightly

“I discovered my own journey of healing through dance. I was living in London and I’d been ill for quite some time, about a year. I had chronic fatigue syndrome and I decided to put myself on a trip to Thailand to be with myself, and to learn yoga.. though I ended up doing very little of that!” Guinevere tells us. In Thailand she discovered cacao ceremonies, and a way to be free of the stresses that had weighed her down in London. The medium of dance, experienced in a sober environment, allowed her to go deep into herself, connect with who she was and enter a zone of deep inner healing. “I got in touch with who I am, who I wanted to be and released a lot of emotional stuff as well,” she explains. Recognising that Guinevere had such a strong connection with dance and music, her cacao teacher took her on as an apprentice. During that time, she also had visions that she would one day be using her voice to heal, before she’d ever met her wife, Lizz.

“I’d been DJing in Australia, pretty full-on – like Thursday through to Sunday. I got to a point where I ended up railroading my life; taking all the wrong sorts of drugs to stay awake and be ‘the DJ’. I ended up in hospital and had kidney infection, appendicitis, a bladder infection, two ovarian cysts half burst, all at the same time,” Lizz explains to DLTM how she ended up in Thailand, and how an unhealthy DJ lifestyle led to an almighty wake up call. “When I was hospital all of the people I thought were my friends from the club scene, even my girlfriend of a year, failed to come and visit me. I was in there for two weeks and had a total awakening, I realised, ‘I am nobody’. The person I thought I’d been all these years, this ‘DJ’ character, was no one. I took myself to New Zealand and came to the realisation that there was so much more out there and that was the start of a three-year journey into self-discovery that led me to the same place in Thailand Guinevere went to”. (The Sanctuary on Koh Phangan).

Guinevere and Lizz rock The Drop at Secret Garden Party
Guinevere and Lizz rock The Drop at Secret Garden Party

Lizz cut herself off from music and DJing during that three-year period, and it wasn’t until she reached Thailand that she rediscovered music and immersed herself in its healing capabilities, inspired by some of the classes she attended while she was there and, later, Guinevere’s improvised singing. “I met Guinevere and she used to sing in my ear. Once she started singing in my ear I was like, ‘Oh my God, we can do this! This can be a platform to help people be conscious and to share our message'” Lizz beams. “We’d be on the dance floor and these poems and songs would come to me from my own healing experience. It was like I was channeling,” Guinevere adds.

What happened next was pivotal to their musical relationship. Some friends who run a micro-festival in Thailand gave the couple a platform to put on their very first performance, “They said they were having an all-girl DJ night, so we said we had this act…” Lizz explains, as Guinevere chips in, “…the act had never rehearsed, never been discussed fully.”

“We landed in Bangkok and we went to a DJ store, I wanted to have the lightest equipment, so our first gig involved me playing on Traktor for the iPad and Guinevere using iRig, a device which allowed her to change the tone of her voice through her iPhone!” Lizz laughs.

The couple inspire love, liberation and self-healing with their performances
The couple inspire love, liberation and self-healing with a performance at the Garden Festival

“The first time we ever went from me singing in Lizz’s ear, to performing as Wild Sirenda, was a total leap of faith where she hadn’t DJ’d in three years, and I had never sung like that before, with a DJ, improvised, in front of anyone. We had this gig at five in the morning until seven, so we’d been up all night partying and dancing,” Guinevere smiles as she reminisces about that first gig. “Having not done it ever before, we ended up with this incredible moment where not knowing what we were going to do was actually one of the fundamental things which has defined us and it was incredible because everything was totally organic, from the heart and in the moment. Everything I sang was a message channeled through me – the people on the dance floor were crying tears of joy.”

“When we finished everyone was like, ‘You guys have really got to keep on doing that’, so that was the birthplace of everything that we’re doing now,” Lizz states.

As Wild Sirenda, Lizz and Guinevere create spaces in which people can release, become empowered through music and dance and set themselves on a pathway to heal. With their performances and cacao ceremonies they encourage self-healing, “I often see it at Guinevere’s cacao ceremonies; people feel almost indebted to her for being the healer in that space. Guinevere always quickly reminds them, ‘No, no, no I just created the space, you used the space to go inside yourself. It’s quite interesting how people will quickly give the accolade to the person holding the space, as if they are the one that did the magic, but actually it’s them,” says Lizz.

Cacao has been used for ceremonial purposes in south America for a long time, going back to ancient civilisations. It’s use today it’s still relatively new to most, but, like so many holistic practices, is becoming more and more popular. “Cacao can be used in many different ways, but I like to use it with dance. I combine it with the five elements dance; earth, water, fire, air and ether. We start by sitting in a circle, ingesting the cacao, going into one’s self and setting your intention as to what you want to achieve that day or night,” Guinevere explains to us. “I think it’s important to focus on these two things; What do you want to let go of? And what do you want to call in? This gives people a really strong connection to their core desires.”

The balance in Guinevere and Lizz's energies helps to attract an equally balanced dance floor
The balance in Guinevere and Lizz’s energies helps to attract an equally balanced dance floor

Beginning by allowing everyone to share their core desires starts the evening off in an empowering manner. From there everybody is guided in a ‘free dance’ by Guinevere, exploring the five elements and using their time to journey inwards in what is often a profound and potent experience for all involved.

“In order to create the space I have to get out of my own way,” Lizz says as she describes performing as Wild Sirenda. “Disassociating with the role of ‘DJ’, I just want to get out of the way and let the music come through, playing the music that feels right. I take people on a journey, either through the chakras, going upwards from the Root Chakra. Or more elemental, in a similar manner to the cacao ceremonies. I keep Wild Sirenda grounded,” she adds.

“Lizz is my connection point to the Earth, so I can do what I do, which is soar. When I open my mouth (during a performance) I never know what’s going to come out. The same way that Lizz allows herself to channel music, I let myself be a vessel for message. My voice is free and somehow, some way, a song comes, fully, with a potent message. My body dances in a way that is an expressive force, it’s a transmission, a vibration,” says Guinevere, full of passion as she describes her role in the partnership.

Wild Sirenda in full flow
Wild Sirenda in full flow

It’s a partnership that is growing in stature, and has led to them being booked for Love International, the new festival in Croatia, run by some of the team who put on the legendary Garden Festival. They are also due back at Secret Garden Party, where they picked up a last-minute stand-in gig on The Drop stage in July 2015, the mighty Glastonbury and were also brought in to kick things off at Morning Gloryville earlier this month, where they helped awaken a dance floor full of bleary-eyed sober ravers.

As a duo they strike the perfect balance; fire and water, masculine and feminine, which helps to connect with their audience, male or female. “It’s amazing because of the masculine and feminine energy – I’m quite masculine and Guin is super feminine – but we’re both women, it allows people, especially the men, to really connect. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason that balance between allows the most feminine women and the most masculine men to both relate to the two of us,” says Lizz. Guinevere tells us that they often find that the last people standing will be butch men, standing on the dance floor with their hands on their hearts, crying. Their combined enthusiasm for performing and sharing music, song and dance spliced with their duality as people, seems to be a great recipe for giving way to self-liberation through self-expression.

We conclude our conversation with the inspiring twosome by asking them about the importance of music in their lives. For both women it has clearly been fundamental to their growth and to their current way of life. “Music is the most fundamental part of my healing journey. When I’m not feeling good, I go dancing and I feel alive. When I’m feeling amazing, I go dancing and I feel even better,” Lizz says excitedly.

“I’ve realised now that, throughout my whole life, my musical choices have been the vibration I’ve needed in order to reconnect me to myself. When I was a kid, it was some cheesy pop song, but it was what I needed in those moments. Music is the elixir of life for me,” Guinevere adds.

Credits: Main image – Amanda Mattsson, sunset image – Andrei Jewell, Garden Festival image – Sasha Charoensub.

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Crowd going wild at Danceitation
Crowd going wild at Danceitation

Meditation is not simply sitting down, closing your eyes, breathing and allowing the mind to be free of thought… to be quiet. As many practitioners of meditation will attest, whichever technique you have learned can be integrated into your everyday life, making even the most mundane of tacks a meditative one. Likewise, you may not even be aware of it but doing something that allows you to be at one with yourself, singular in action, present, aware, and free of thoughts, can also be a form of meditation. From fishing like our man Causa, to painting, making music and dancing. These are all activities that can allow an individual to get into a meditative state. In light of this, we attended a ‘Danceitation‘ event, hosted by Martine Kirkbride. The idea behind it is to create a space where people are guided into a meditative state of being by music, Martine’s words and the power of dance. We also spoke to Martine herself, and her partner/roadie, Jeff.

In Elephant & Castle, south London at the London College of Printing, an event called ‘Awakening’ took place. A sober rave event which Danceitation was a part of, with Martine playing for a couple of hours. Initially, it felt quite disconcerting to be in a sober environment, surrounded by strangers, with our shoes off attempting to get into the music. For someone who’s used to going to clubs where everyone’s drunk, or high, or both, though probably a lot less uninhibited, it was a difficult situation to adjust to.

What Martine does though is very helpful for anyone feeling uncomfortable in the space she holds. In tandem with playing a selection of music all centred around uplifting melodies, with dips and troughs in the energy levels, she also speaks to the dance floor guiding us with her words and encouraging everybody to be expressive, and free of the shackles of inhibition or shame. You soon find yourself closing your eyes, and letting go of any angst that may be rooting you to your spot. The atmosphere is warm, open and liberating. People of all ages are present, prancing around, allowing their bodies to do whatever they like as the music really takes hold and Martine’s words penetrate deep into your psyche.

“Danceitation came into being, in my head, around 25 years ago,” Martine tells us. “In my early twenties I did a lot of clubbing.” Living in Norwich at the time, her mother owned a nightclub called Hy’s and so, of course, Martine was a regular the club. “I believe it was the first nightclub in the UK that had the Saturday Night Fever illuminated dance floor!” she quips. “Around the time I learned to meditate I also began clubbing. I didn’t drink, because I didn’t like it, but I loved dancing. I’d dance for hours and would be in the same zone I’d be getting into when I was meditating.”

Martine Kirkbride, owner of Danceitation
Martine Kirkbride, owner of Danceitation
The seed was planted back then, but life got in the way and it didn’t actually come to fruition until years later when Martine finally decided that her idea was too good to be slept on any longer. “I developed a way of getting meditation off the cushion that didn’t feel like too much of a ‘hippie fest’. I’m a child of the Flower Power era, but I wanted it to appeal to people from all walks of life. 10 years ago last month I did my first gig and it was absolutely hilarious. I look at the playlist now and I split my sides,” she laughs. Having never DJ’d before, it was a far cry from the finesse of her current set up, where she uses a DJ controller and her laptop to create invigorating, absorbing journeys with a range of music from deep house to euphoric trance and beyond, to really awaken one’s energetic being and unite mind, heart, body and soul.

She learned to DJ, putting on events three or four times a year for six years, before her partner suggested she pursue her dream full-time, giving her the support she needed to grow Danceitation into the entity it has now become. “It’s a good time for it, there’s a lot of consciousness stuff happening right now,” she says. “In the last four years there’s been enough awareness and momentum in society that there’s a lot of freedom around exploring conscious events. Mindfulness is everywhere, there are apps, classes and so on, and a lot of it is free from religion, so people are really giving it a lot more time now.”

Martine brings the notion of feeling grounded, intertwined with euphoria, joy and flow to her dance floors. In her sacred spaces, which she curates herself with bespoke decoration to create an immersive experience, she plays a selection of music, from a myriad genres, which has been painstakingly chosen through a laborious, though hugely important selection process. “I’m looking for melodies, rhythms or lyrics that help you to relax, that give you a sense of belonging, a sense of ‘It’s ok to be me’, I can chill out and I don’t need drugs or drink to help me to do that. This is a safe space’,” she explains. “We are very careful to choose music that helps you look into what’s holding you back, meditation isn’t just about being a bliss bunny, you’re allowed to turn into your stress, to decompress. The tracks are always based on meditation principles.”

Brought up in a ‘very left-wing’ household, Martine grew up in the seventies, where parties would go on through the night and music was always present during her formative years. This of course, has stayed with her up until now and feeds into her DJing. “I never thought, when I was getting the idea of Danceitation together in my head, that I would be DJing in front of a room that’s rocking, in front of people having a conscious, clear, amazing time… It’s wonderful, it’s just love it,” she says, clearly getting a buzz from just talking about it.

One of Martine's beautiful bespoke spaces
One of Martine’s beautiful bespoke spaces

“I think traditional clubbing is dying out a little, so many clubs are closing down, which is a shame as there are a lot of great clubs out there and I do hope they manage to last long into the future. But what’s taking its place, in some sectors, is the demand (from a vast age range) for something different. The whole mindfulness thing, I don’t see all conscious clubbing as being rooted in mindfulness,” she states. “There are very few DJs who take the mindfulness principles, as Danceitation does, with such integrity onto the dance floor. There are a lot of exciting conscious events out there, but the whole emphasis of bringing meditation into that space… there aren’t many of us doing that.”

Nowadays prefers to put on less events, but with a greater sense of purpose and professionalism, creating bespoke spaces where the people on the dance floor are given the very best experience possible. One of the things we discuss is the fact that a lot of sober raves are simply that; raves without drink or drugs, but the mindfulness and positive aspects of meditation are absent. Not to say that those events don’t have their place, anyone putting on an event with positive intentions of course should be commended, but Martine points to the difference between events that encourage people to ‘go without’, and events like hers to aim to facilitate peoples’ ability to ‘go without to go within’. Not a criticism, but an observation that points out the differences between the wide range of events out there nowadays.

As we draw to the end of our time together, Martine considers music and its role in modern-day living. “We live in incredibly exciting times, the way we can access so much music at the click of a button, the fact that people can get their music out there from their attic bedroom to the world, there’s so much music being mixed up together and so many exciting musicians out there, I find it such a fantastic time to be involved with my event,” she enthuses.

After a couple of hours on her dance floor we’ve gone from being rather uptight and stuck in a standard house music two-step, to bounding around the room, dipping high and low, smiling at those around us, starting up conversations with strangers and generally feeling very loose and content with ourselves. A combination of Martine’s music and guidance, plus the uninhibited nature of those around us has created this confident, free-spirited dance floor display and we leave feeling calm and happy. Exactly what Martine had intended…

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