You don’t have to be drunk to dance.

There’s a revelation that could have saved many of us a lot of hangovers. And it’s one of the core tenets of a nonprofit Portland group called Ecstatic Dance ME, which has been hosting Sunday-morning dance parties for the past few months.

The idea is for people to show up and dance for the pure joy of it. Not as an excuse to drink in a bar, not to impress anyone, not to learn some fancy moves.

Just to dance and let your body go where the music takes you.

“It’s just a space where people can come and let the dance floor lead them on a journey,” said Lea Moon, 39, a graphic designer and one of the group’s organizers. “I’m one of those people who is not into the club dancing scene. One of the things we realized is you have to teach people it’s OK to dance when you’re not drunk.”

The group’s name is Ecstatic Dance ME, Moon said, because there are other ecstatic dance groups around the country and the world. It’s a movement about the joy of movement.

The group holds its ecstatic dance events every Sunday at 10 a.m. – not the usual time you’d equate with dancing. Dancers meet at the Awake Collective on Forest Avenue in Portland, next door to a couple of other dance venues, Portland School of Ballet and Casco Bay Movers.

Once in a while, the group also hosts a Friday dance, which is a little higher in energy. There’s one of those scheduled for this Friday, followed Sunday by the weekly event.

The group charges admission — people can choose how much they want to pay within a sliding scale — to cover the costs of renting the space and hiring a DJ. The Awake Collective also hosts a variety of wellness-based businesses, including yoga and massage.

The dance events are held in a 1,200-square-foot space with bamboo floors and windows that allow the sun to stream in on Sunday mornings.

The DJs spin a range of danceable tunes, from world music and techno to hard-core club music. At the Sunday events, the music and dancing start off slow but get “fun and frenetic” before a cool-down period, Moon said.

Best of all, no one tries to tell you how to dance.

“The people are sweet and accepting,” said Moon. “We don’t care what you look like while you’re dancing.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: RayRouthier


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