“We naturally have inhibitions and a fear of what people will think, which is why we love alcohol to suppress these inhibitions. Lacking confidence growing up I used to drink a lot to express myself so it’s been a journey learning how to let go, dance and party sober.”
Jasper Vallance, mental health advocate and founder of Xstatic Sunsets, shares his journey:
Being sober and dancing may sound like they don’t go together, but there is a growing movement offering sober parties and experiences with a focus on dance to boost your mental health.
It wasn’t until I went through real depression when I realised alcohol and drugs were not serving me and I lost my purpose with organising parties. A fateful trip to the Bali Spirit Festival to reconnect with myself changed everything. After dancing for hours on ecstatic dance floors every night I was amazed how ‘high’ I got naturally and was able to let go of a lot of negative feelings and emotions. The natural high I experienced felt so connecting and blissful, without the nasty drop or hangover the next day.
The experience was so transformative for me it sparked a vision for what might be possible for organising epic parties, just without the alcohol and drugs. My experience starting a Burning Seed theme camp in 2014 and organising many parties with friends inspired the vision for what’s become Xstatic Sunsets. Epic themed sober dance parties inspiring costuming to help people let loose, connect and dance.
It’s actually a scientific thing. The combination of music and movement (dancing) can release the happy chemicals like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Just like a runner’s high and when you vibe high on your favourite song in the car. When you’re dancing together in group flow you can release oxytocin.
But there remains the challenge – how do you let loose on a dance floor sober? The natural high also requires staying power to dance for an extended period of time and to really let go before the happy chemicals are released.
We naturally have inhibitions and a fear of what people will think, which is why we love alcohol to suppress these inhibitions. Lacking confidence growing up I used to drink a lot to express myself so it’s been a journey learning how to let go, dance and party sober.
Here are my top 5 tips to dancing sober:
1. Practice self awareness: The first thing is to observe that feeling of inhibition. Even after all the parties I host and dance at I still get it. It’s just an emotion – observe it, call it out, everyone feels the same, it’s normal. This helps you move through it and step into the fear.
2. Close your eyes: This trick works for me every time, especially when I might be stuck in my head worrying what others think. Close your eyes, be present and connect with the music. Let the music move you. Get lost in the music. Before you know it you’re rocking and rolling with the music. Open your eyes, you’re in your groove.
3. Be the instigator everyone is looking for: Now let’s change that mindset. Realise everyone is feeling the same and simply needing permission to let go. You can be that person! I love being the wackiest guy on the dance floor as it helps everyone else let go and together we can build the energy on the dance floor.
4. Take the back seat: if you’re not feeling comfortable hang at the back and let the dance floor energy build before getting involved.
5. Have fun with it: Let your inner child come out to play. Nobody is ever judging you. Like you, they are worried about what others are thinking about them, so let go and be playful. Before you know you have found a playful dancing friend to share some funky moves with.
I created the Xstatic Sunsets themed party concept intentionally to make it easy for people to let go and dance sober. The theme inspires an all senses experience and the costuming helps people let go. We play the best dance music across a variety of genres, with fun dance facilitators to rev up the dance floor. Our parties also start early at sunset and finish in time for a good night sleep.
Dressing up is really powerful. It’s like putting on a mask to lose the mask and breaks down any judgement, rather inviting ice breaking conversations and play. It’s been amazing to see how our dance floors go off in ways I had never seen before. Kid Kenobi, who played at our Circus-themed party, said he had not seen a dance floor like that since the 90’s!
I always like to challenge people to give it a go. It’s just an invitation for a night off the booze and drugs without missing out on the fun! And it really is great for your mental health. No hangovers or come downs. Many people say they feel the natural high for days later.
Check out more about Xstatic Sunsets and find upcoming events here.