Dance until the world goes round and round: on Ecstasy

Week 9 of PBP first week of E.

The Dionysian tradition is an ecstatic tradition, and I also have an ecstatic practice. This used to freak my ex out. I think this is unnerving to many people, the idea of losing control, being a little mad, a little drunk on god is scary for people. There are ecstatic traditions found in most major religions: you have ecstatic traditions in Hinduism, Islam (Sufis), Buddhism, and Christianity just to name some of the big ones. In fact, yoga is even sometimes considered an ecstatic tradition. So, if you haven’t already got here, this is not a post about drugs. I will not deny that some people do indeed use drugs to alter consciousness and I do not think this makes their experiences any more or less valid. Ecstatic traditions do not require the use of any kind of drugs. That being said, I’m talking about religious ecstasy which is an altered state of consciousness with spiritual aspects. Ecstatic traditions are demanding and ecstatic experiences are very emotional and are traditionally sometimes accompanied with visions. However, I do not necessarily find all after a blissful ecstatic experience I am drained or emotionally harmed in any way. In fact, after one of these moments I feel energized and renewed. Not all ecstatic experiences are good, some are deep, dark, depressions; I however have never reached one of these experiences intentionally. I am putting it out there they exist, and for anyone considering an ecstatic path, take this into consideration.

“All the people on the floor / they shake their bodies, cry for more / never let this feeling go / and let the music take control / forget your problems and be free / enjoy this moment and come with me…”1

In some traditions ecstasy is magically granted upon those special enough to receive it but in my ecstatic tradition something is done to invoke the trance, or ecstasy. All I need to reach a state of ecstasy apparently is a thumping baseline, and I’m not alone. I admit it, I was a raver. I still am a raver because I believe there’s more to raving than just parties – for me at least it’s a spiritual practice that without a youth spent dancing for hours straight I might not have been open to experience. So, I feel lucky to have had these experiences and find dancing into ecstasy given the right music and the correct attitude, an almost easy process. Simon Reynolds, Rolling Stone music critic, would say this is because the music I choose to dance to all those years is engineered for ecstasy, or trance inducement (Reynolds, 1999). In Generation Ecstasy  Reynolds (1999) claims that once you’ve reached a minimum BMP (beats per minute) you have enough of a baseline to induce trance like states in humans. Most “techno” today but especially the hardcore/hardstyle I prefer have a BPM of at least 120. Additionally, in happy hardcore extra high synth cords are added which actually have the effect of trigger serotonin dumps in the brain (Reynolds, 1999). I’m not a psychologist or anything this just matches my own intuitive sense and experience. I certainly have been “drugged” by music at a good rave. More traditional methods to induce trance through dancing would be by tribal drumming. I’ve also gone this method, especially when spinning fire-poi. I find this works equally well, but this requires a group of people – specifically drummers. Most of the time, I’m on my own.

I think dancing is so spiritual because it puts us in complete contact with ourselves; it FORCES us to be in our bodies. Today I think we live too much in our heads most of the time and this concept as an embodied being gets a little lost. Through dancing, we can be fully present in ourselves and sometimes, even when you didn’t know it, that’s all you were looking for. For me the preferred music (most of the time) to dance to ecstasy would be techno, specifically happy hardcore. If you want to try it go for what works for you. If you just didn’t know how to dance, or can’t dance to techno but want to give it a try,  the kandi kid shuffle is pretty basic. I hear shuffling is quite hot now… I digress. Once you’re in a safe place (like move tables out of the way and maybe lock the doors if you’re self-conscious) where you won’t be disturbed just feel the music and dance. Once you’ve forgotten about everything else, once all you can feel is the music, then you know you’re getting somewhere. I can’t really explain how to do it any better than that: just get lost in it. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, and that’s okay too. That happens to everyone I think. Sometimes it happens when all I really wanted was to have fun with my friends and next thing I know I’ve spent four hours on the dance floor. Dionysos is like that for me though, your experiences will be entirely your own. It’s a difficult experience to describe, but once you get “there” you’ll know it. One thing I will say that ecstasy is not is painful. Obviously, if you feel pain stop. This is not like possession or where you are unable to control yourself and not aware. You’re aware of things, in fact for me it feels like I’m “more” myself – and very aware of how I am connected to everything and everyone. Overall, be careful. I hope everyone can find their own road to bliss.

Shuffle video not featuring girls who don’t wear pants. (Why don’t we wear pants now ladies? really?) Also, the track made me smile. He is quite good and you can actually see what he’s doing due to the emo pants.

I didn’t make this track list but I think it’s a decent sample of happy hardcore. For more techno explore Digitally Imported.

Sources Cited:
Lyrics 1 from “Come with Me” Special D.
Reynolds, Simon. (1999) Generation Ecstasy: into the world of techno and rave culture. Rutledge Press, NY.
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About Pixie

I'm just your average 20-something trying to figure it out. I am also a theologian, yogi, witch, pagan, dirty hippie, activist (progressive politics), feminist, knitter, environmentalist, and friend. I've also been accused of being a hipster - I am not sure about that. I am sometimes happy to be Gen Y (go Harry Potter) and most of the time confused (seriously guys... ) by everyone else. My hobbies including knitting (and maybe crochet), quilting, recycling, cooking, writing, reading, and biking. I'm finishing up a masters in public policy and when I worked worked in political nonprofits as an activist.
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7 Responses to Dance until the world goes round and round: on Ecstasy

  1. Kelly B. says:

    Nice post, reminds me of Paulo Coelho’s book The Witch of Portobello. If you haven’t read it, it’s pretty good. Not of my favorites from him, but reading his work will literally change your life.

  2. harzgeist says:

    Nice post! I usually get “lost,” so to speak, during hard rock concerts, but I’ve never linked it to my spirituality in any way; you’ve given me food for thought!

  3. I just got washed over with the best sense-memories ever when I clicked on that HHC mix.
    As a former Kandy Kid, Turn Up The Music by Scott Brown was pretty much my anthem.
    It’s funny, because I used to rave without any kind of spiritual connotations, and now that I am exploring Dionysus I catch myself thinking “What would ecstasy even really feel like?” but having read this post I realized that I’ve felt it before; I’ve literally lost control to full body shivers during a HHC/Trance remix of a 4Strings track on the dance floor, and I’ve felt the world contract around me while I blasted Lasgo in my dark basement bedroom. I’ve felt ecstasy so many more times than I ever would have given myself credit for.

    It seems so obvious to me now that this is such an adaptable exercise, but it breaks my heart a bit because I now live in a cramped 2nd floor apartment, and so blasting music to the point of magical ecstasy is a bit unlikely.

    Wait…I just re-found Eye Opener…screw my cramped apartment; I’m gonna find a way to make this work.

    • Pixie says:

      Glad you like it. Sometimes any HHC gives me the full body tingles. Any of my Hulla recordings though will make me cry. I miss those parties like crazy bad.

      Um… I’m not gonna lie Eye Opener makes me cry these days. I find headphones and an iPod work.
      And I feel so cheated that I don’t rave anymore now that shuffling is cool.

  4. chinacat27 says:

    Love your post! I think we could be really good friends 🙂 I relate really well to what you have to say, and I have very similar experiences. You even fire dance!

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