The most enjoyable workout I’ve ever had only cost $5

No Lights No Lycra is basically a sober exercise rave in a room of sweaty hipsters. It’s 140 strangers dancing wildly in the dark for 60 to 90 minutes on a Tuesday night. And it’s kind of wonderful.

NLNL is a surprisingly good workout. We’ll get into the details in a moment… But first, an important announcement:

DO NOT ATTEND NO LIGHTS NO LYCRA WITHOUT THE LIBERAL APPLICATION OF STRONG DEODERANT TO YOUR ARMPITS AND WHERE APPLICABLE, OTHER POTENTIAL SWEATY AREAS OF YOUR BODY.

This is how it goes down. You join a long queue leading up a staircase to a big, dark room. These ‘classes’ are crazy-popular, so get there early or risk missing the whole damn thing.

Before you enter the big dark room, leave your belongings with a couple of sweet-looking babes in overalls, who run a makeshift cloakroom. They’ll store your handbag and jacket so you can boogie freely, unencumbered by things.

You slip a $5 note to the eerily enthusiastic door girl, she winks and says, “Enjoy your dance,” and you walk into complete darkness. Seriously, you cannot see a thing. If you’re smart, you find a patch of personal space near the door, so you can catch the suggestion of a breeze between the hinges. Otherwise, you’re nudged headfirst into an airless room of white-ass dancers who count The Sprinkler as a legit move.

Then, the music starts and you’re glad it’s pitch black because they’re playing all of your guiltiest pleasure hits, and it’s best that no one can see you dance. Think ‘Getting Jiggy With It’.

For the first five, maybe ten minutes, you may panic. Especially if you are mildly claustrophobic. With this person-to-space ratio, you only get a little groove radius of about 20cm, so prepare to frequently bump into the spinning chick to your right or the amateur hip-hop dancer on your left. You will collide with other sweaty humans and it will not be in the least bit sexually arousing. It’s the hot inevitability of No Lights No Lycra, and you must face it.

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By the 15 minute mark, you’re thinking to yourself, “This is almost definitely some kind of dance cult” because people start moving and swaying as one. And the yelling. People start screaming together – big, whooping yells at the top of their lungs. Sometimes the screaming coincides with an Elton John song, or the chorus to Blister in the Sun. Other times it’s just a roomful of humans emptying the stresses of their day from their larynxes.

Seventeen minutes in and you’re ready to join the cult. No Lights No Lycra is officially the weirdest, best thing you’ve ever done and you don’t even care that someone else’s sweat just made a small puddle on your décolletage. These are your dance people. You’re pretty much making a mental appointment to tattoo the words “dance like no one’s watching” onto the small of your back the next day.

And then zoom. You click your fingers, skip, jump, head-bash, hair-flip, moonwalk, and break out The Shopping Trolley a few times and suddenly the DJ’s calling final song. Your hour, or hour-and-a-half, is up and it’s time to trail out one by one like guilty teenagers leaving your first co-ed school dance. And you realise: You’ve just exercised.

The basics

No Lights No Lycra is a cool $5 for entry plus $2 if you want to check your stuff into a cloakroom, which is attended by responsible hipsters. Water is $3.

You will need: comfortable clothes you don’t mind sweating into, deodorant, spare change.

You will not need: experience, skills, eyesight.

Visit the No Lights No Lycra website to find out where you can join in the fun around Australia.

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