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Dancing

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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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