What’s It Like to Trance Dance?

Cultures throughout time who had drums or droning instruments, like the didgeridoo, have utilized trance for a variety of spiritual purposes like:

appeasing the “evil spirits” withinhealingto find what is in shadowconnect to the inner selfhave a better huntfind answers to pressing questionsto get help from the spirit worldcelebrationrite of passageto connect with the ancestorsreleasing trapped emotionsto reconnect with the Divine

What’s It Like to Trance Dance?

I like to dance for the joy of it. I wasn’t particularly intending to go into trance one day. I just put the music on and began to move. 

The music immediately took me to a time and place where I was very happy. I surrendered to it – laughing, spinning, and completely free. 

Then, suddenly, I collapsed on the floor sobbing. My body shook and spasmed with some long ago, trapped emotion that I couldn’t identify.

I often have no idea what is being released, but much later, I realized that it was related to a relationship that ended. It was a happy relationship, so there was no trauma related to our parting. I just moved away. 

When it happened, I was very reasonable about it. I looked forward to my new life, and didn’t look back, but clearly there was a part of me that was devastated. And that part didn’t have a chance to express itself until the dance created a hole.

The emotional release only lasted a few minutes. I was mostly composed after that, but felt a little “out of it” for the next few days as my body integrated into a new equilibrium.

What To Expect

I don’t recommend going into trance dance with expectations. The point is to let go of expectations. 

However, I realize that some people won’t try it if they don’t first know what to expect. So here goes!

First, realize that every trance experience is different. It depends a lot upon the environment, the people, the music, and whether the facilitator has created a safe container.

The people tend to be a blend of really conservative to very uninhibited. Some are on time. Some are late. Dancers come and think about their “line.” Some people don’t know the first thing about dancing and don’t care. There are people who take up a lot of space and some that move very little. 

In short, there is a lot of variety. Anything can happen.

trance dance

How to Trance Dance

Trance dancing is quite a lot like making love.

Awakening  –  the first stage is awakening. It’s getting acquainted with the space, yourself, everyone else, the music, and anything else that is in the space. If you don’t feel safe here, nothing magical will happen, so take your time feeling things out.

Finding Your Groove  –  Once you feel safe in the space, you can turn your attention inward and find your groove. Ride the rhythm. Follow where it leads. Let your body take you where your spirit wants to go.

The Quickening  –  Once you’re connected to the beat, it will begin to quicken. You may begin to have visions. What’s inside may begin to spill out. You and the drum are one. There is no separation. You can’t control it. It’s going to do what it’s going to do.

The Release  –  Once the energy peaks, it begins to subside and you begin to come back into your body and then back into the room. Allow yourself to slowly reintegrate to the present time for a gentle return.

Tips For Having a Good Time

Again, trance dancing is a lot like making love.

If you are not comfortable with the space, or the people in the space, say no. Sometimes it pays to push your limits. Trance can help you get rid of prejudices and pain, but I always say “safety first.” If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.Pace yourself. The goal is not to get to the end, but to enjoy the ride. Linger. Play. Delight in the process. In tribal cultures, the dance would last all night, or even go for days. Give yourself space to be.Mind your boundaries. This is a shared experience. If you want to play with others, offer, then wait for acceptance. If there is no agreement, leave them alone. If you aren’t in the mood for company, decline. It’s okay to be solo. Don’t start and stop. If you need water or think you might have to use the bathroom, plan ahead. Breaking the stride probably means you have to start from the beginning again.Get out of your head. If you are thinking about how you look, what other people are doing, or anything else, you’re not in the present moment. Be embodied. Let yourself experience all that is on offer. That’s what you’re here for.Surrender. Don’t inhibit yourself. Give yourself permission to receive, to express, and to release. If you want to share at the end, share. If you don’t, don’t.  This is for you.

If you are in the Richmond, Virginia area and would like to trance dance with us, check out my private online community so you can get notifications when the next one will be.