Welcome to Ubud, Where the People Aren’t Afraid to Dance

Dance in Ubud

I’ve been living in Ubud now for 10 months. To say that it is a unique place is a severe understatement. There are more Raw Food Restaurants in a 15 minute radius than anywhere else in the world. It’s just as common for fresh young coconuts to be served at a bar on a saturday night as beer. It’s easier to find a place to work on your meditation practice than it is to watch a sporting event. Yoga studios are twice as common as gyms. And, perhaps the most unique and inspirational characteristic of this special town of approximately 30,000 people is that the people aren’t afraid to dance.

Well, With the Exception of Yours Truly

Until last night, I hadn’t joined the phenomenon. I’ve been to numberous social events where people have danced without inhibition, insecurity, and perhaps most strikingly, alcohol, for hours on end. And I just judged them, rationalized why dancing isn’t my thing; decided that I was too cool for it. I’ve been participating in some powerful work based around Jungian archetypes recently, and it has helped me understand my own emotions, actions, defense mechanisms, projections and judgments. Last night I recognized that the only reason I wasn’t dancing was because I was afraid. Simple as that.

Thank You Nick Wallaki

Now, for the most part, the music that gets played in Ubud isn’t my cup of tea. Without music that I enjoy, I don’t feel the urge to dance and I am spared dealing with the torrents of fear that hurtle through my heart when I do hear music that I want to dance to. Last night I attended a concert put on by a sensational musician by the name of Nick Wallaki. He sings, he plays the guitar, the ukulele, and, most impressively, the digeridoo. Plus he incorporates a kick drum while juggling all of that. He emanates a genuine energy of love for music, humanity and Indonesia. He sings a lot about his extensive experiences in this country, sometimes in, quite endearingly, Indonesia. Even though it’s still not the kind of music I normally listen to (I listen almost exclusively to hip hop), I freeshin’ love it. So, unsurprisingly, I felt the desire to hit the dance floor and get buckwild when he started jamming.

Dance is the hidden language of the soul
– Martha Graham

Fear be Damned

At first I resisted. I stood in the back of the crowd and then moved to the second floor while watching the first few songs. I had actually discussed how I wasn’t down with the dancing scene in Ubud earlier in the night with a friend, who, new to town, hadn’t come around to it yet either. It can be nice to find someone to share fears and insecurities with. It makes me feel like less of a coward. But I don’t know that he was afraid, had no idea why he didn’t want to dance, and was simply projecting that he shared the same fear as me to make myself feel better.

When I find someone who shares the same opinion as me, it gives me a basis on which to formulate arguments against my intution, and rationalize why I shouldn’t do something. Now that I’m aware of this I can counteract it. I’ve learned more in the 10 months I’ve lived in Ubud than I did during my entire time in university. The most important thing I’m learning is to follow my intuition, to go with my gut, and to trust that, even if I can’t logically back up some of the feelings I have, they are right. Last night I easily recognized that I had the natural intuition to dance and that I was making arguments based on fear and insecurity to suppress that feeling. So I told my mind to bugger off and pranced away to tango with my heart.


Woah! I’ve Been Sleeping on this Whole Dancing Thing

It took me a couple songs to properly loosen up, but once I did, I let it loose like I’ve never done in my life (sober – I used to get pretty crazy on the beat when I was twisted back in the day). I suddenly understood why seemingly every person I’ve met who lives in Ubud tells me to go to Ecstatic Dance at the Yoga Barn, where talking is forbidden and uninhibited joyous dancing reigns supreme. At least that’s what I hear. I magically remembered a bunch of the moves I learned when I spent a month in high school learning how to break dance (I quit because I was afraid I would never be any good, but I tell people it’s because I got a rug burn under my eye. Which I did, but that’s not why I stopped doing it.). I danced, rapturously, spastically, frantically, and blissfully for the remainder of the show, save for a couple of songs that I spent writing down some hip hop lyrics that started flowing through my brain on my Ipod.

When the lyrics flow
a true rapper takes note
because only the spirit knows
when words from the heart will let faith show

It Feels Really Freeshin Good to Conquer Fear

I now have a better understanding of why everyone in Ubud is so happy. Well, I already knew that it’s mostly thanks to all the super freesh Raw Food 😉 but now I get that the dancing plays a big part. As Martha Graham, the famous dancer and choreographer said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul,” and to speak from the soul means to live from it. To live from the soul is to be alive. I felt astoundingly liberated, and powerfully inspired. To live life like I want to. Like I choose to. From the Heart. From the Soul. On the Dance Floor.

8 thoughts on “Welcome to Ubud, Where the People Aren’t Afraid to Dance

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