C/O @bedroom_dancing

Sous Bas is offering an online dance party in partnership with DJ Donna Lovejoy and WEFT Projects

Nightclubs are about escapism. As you abandon your body to the loud music, your senses become overwhelmed by the flashing lights and the thumping rhythm of the heavy bass. Your brain shuts down, but you feel completely present and alive in the moment. Although it may be difficult to experience this nightlife in the near future, Main Street East bar Sous Bas has come up with a solution to bring the dance party to your home. 

Bedroom Dancing is a freestyle dance and movement series co-hosted by Sous Bas owner Erika McMeekin, Rachael Mae, also known as DJ Donna Lovejoy and WEFT Projects founder Jen Anisef. The three have been friends for a long time and collaborated in the past. The six free dance sessions occur bi-weekly from Sept. 21 to Nov. 30 over Zoom.. In place of a fee, the co-hosts are requesting a donation of $10 per session to one of the local and national initiatives listed on Sous Bas’ website.

The dance series initially launched last year featuring Dallas Walzak, professionally known as DJ Gelled Hare, at the physical location of Sous Bas. Unlike most club events, it was held on early Monday evenings. McMeekin, Mae and Anisef created the series to provide a stage for dance lovers who are unable to go out at late hours or who are uncomfortable being in the crowded club scene. Anisef is among them.

“I’ve loved dancing since I was a little kid. Sometimes I’m happy to go out [and] stay up until 2 a.m. for that perfect dance moment, but sometimes I just want to dance outside of a club setting, and I don’t always find [the places to do] that,” said Anisef. 

Last year the event was a hit and attracted a wide age range of folks between 20 and 60 years old who came to dance their heart out. 

Following its successful inception, the series was brought back online this fall to recreate the therapeutic and cathartic experience of ecstatic dancing, a neo-hippy form of dance in which you free your body and mind and let the music guide your movement. The event was also created  to remind people of what it’s like to be at Sous Bas. 

“[Sous Bas] is about just being yourself, dancing, [without] judgement . . . It’s truly about creating a community and an environment for people to feel good and safe, make friends and have good experiences that make them happy,” said McMeekin.

“[Sous Bas] is about just being yourself, dancing, [without] judgement . . . It’s truly about creating a community and an environment for people to feel good and safe, make friends and have good experiences that make them happy,” said McMeekin.

Ontario’s stage three of reopening allowed bars and nightclubs to reopen, however only for the purposes of serving food or drinks. Dancing remains banned both indoors and outdoors at these venues. 

To simulate the club experience as closely as possible online, McMeekin, Mae and Anisef have provided tips on Bedroom Dancing’s social media showing how to improve the lighting, sound and vibe of your home for the dance party. Many of these tips are insights they have picked up from their first online dance event, The Good Foot, in March. Some of the advice includes using an essential oil diffuser, placing tealights in a glass cup to create shadows, throwing a colourful scarf over your lamp and using an auxiliary cord to connect your device to a stereo.

The first Bedroom Dancing session held on Sept. 21 had over 30 people sign up. Although the physical component of the club is missing, McMeekin, Mae and Anisef appreciate being able to reach and engage with more people on an online platform. Anisef recalls community members asking to do a live stream of Bedroom Dancing when it was held in person last year. They hope a virtual dance party where cameras can be turned on or off at attendees’ discretion will help lift some of the physical accessibility barriers and social anxiety about coming to a club.

“I really hope . . . these sessions can create an hour where you’re not worrying about anything and you’re connecting back with yourself and . . . getting grounded in your body. For me, that’s the power of dance,” said Anisef.

“I really hope . . . these sessions can create an hour where you’re not worrying about anything and you’re connecting back with yourself and . . . getting grounded in your body. For me, that’s the power of dance,” said Anisef.

Mae shared a similar sentiment. More than anything, she was the most thrilled about “DJing” and being able to share an energetic exchange with people through music and dance again.

“I hope that [the attendees] can feel invigorated to move a little more in their own way . . . [and] connect with the community. That’s my ultimate goal,” explained Mae. 

As someone who deeply values the analog experience, McMeekin did not have plans to host online events prior to Bedroom Dancing. She missed all the physical aspects of Sous Bas, from the smells to the interactions with the old and new faces at the bar. However, launching the dance series has inspired her to think about a more long-term online strategy for the bar. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have felt stressed, worried, confused or overwhelmed. Bedroom Dancing offers an outlet to de-stress, reconnect with the community and share an exhilarating sensory experience that we thought was lost to the past.

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