Echo and the Alcohol-Free Movement

Alcohol-free dance parties have taken off in the past few years in Bali and around the world. As people, even solid party people, become more health conscious and want to party, socialise and dance, but don’t want to deal with the nightclub world of alcohol, enhancers, cigarette smoke and the massive hangovers of the nightlife, the choices have always been limited until recently. A Blue Light Disco for youngsters, a hippie fest in the hills, the options were few, but that began to change in earnest in the past five years.

Ubud has been the home of ecstatic dancing for a number of years and those Sunday mornings up in the Yoga Barn or other similar places have become so busy that there is hardly any room left for new comers to fit on their polished, timber floors. Once thought of as the realm of hippies, under aged people and do-gooders, alcohol-free events and the wellness, live healthier way of life concept behind it are not just growing in the community, but look set at some point to become even more mainstream.

Echo is short for Ecstatic House.

An American DJ and recent Bali settler, Peter Viviani, from Echo, pictured right, and as you see is a vision of alcohol-free healthiness himself, loves his dance music, but was fed up with the alcohol driven party nightlife and began to look for alternatives. Next moment, and right here in Bali, he was throwing his own small alcohol-free events and they quickly became popular.

The Beat had a chat recently with Peter to find out more.

“I started these events a couple years ago just with home parties that became super popular, enough to grow into 400 person micro festivals now. The concept originated as an ecstatic dance house party two years ago to take that vibe into more of a social event.”

The idea wasn’t exactly new as ecstatic dance has been around for a while. Musician, Gabrielle Roth coined the term “Ecstatic Dance” in the late 1970s at the Esalen Institute with her dance format called 5Rhythms. Free-form dance using world rhythms to both work out and mediate have been practiced for decades in progressive western circles. However, with the new, global, health consciousness sweeping the world in the past decade ecstatic dance and sociable, alcohol-free gigs were the elements to a perfect union just waiting to happen.

An image from one of the biggest ecstatic dances in Ubud. The Bali Spirit Festival.

So that brings us back to Peter.

“Because Ecstatic House isn’t a true ecstatic dance container,” says Peter, “we evolved the name into Echo, abbreviated Ecstatic House, and made it more of an alcohol-free micro festival where people can enjoy a party environment without the need to drink. We’ve done 30 house gatherings and 7 micro-festivals to date, and plan to continue to do many more, showing people that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time.”

There’s a growing movement for sober events in the world today with others such as Rise & Shine in the UK, Daybreaker in the US and many more around the planet.   “We believe that more and more people are seeking healthier ways to live and to party, where you can go out, have a blast, get home on time and wake up the next day feeling refreshed and vibrant,” says Peter.

Yes, hangovers are so yesterday, and let’s not forget the aggressive nature of über alcohol fueled individuals ruining another night out. Women, particularly, can take a sigh of relief.

A recap of one of the Echo parties

So what is the difference between ecstatic dance and Echo?

“Ecstatic dance is supposed to be no alcohol, no phone, no talking, so it creates more of a container for expression of movement without these elements. Echo is more of a social event.”

Electronic and live music feature at Echo events.

Alcohol is known as an ice breaker, especially with introverted type people (like myself!). How do people break the ice at your events normally?

“We have aspects such as non-alcohol elixirs, cacao & breath work opening, acro yoga, workshops, vendors, tea ceremony, spa experience and more. When you remove alcohol, you need other elements that mix the crowd, and these seem to work pretty well.”

You say the movement is growing. What do you think is next for the ecstatic dance, alcohol-free party movement?

“I think a big thing will be the synergy of bio-hacking & wellness aspects in a party environment.  This is one of our main goals, to create an environment where you leave feeling better than when you arrived, while making authentic connections with like-minded people.   Also, as AI rolls out exponentially in the next couple years, the way we come together in real life will carry much more importance as the lines between what’s real and fake will become progressively blurred.”

And where are the Echo dance parties taking place in the near future?

“September 16th at Stone Stage in Nuanu.  Then a really special place in Bedegul just asked about October.  Various house events as well, but we are keeping those more closed with private invites since we can only have limited people there.”

How about the music at these Echo events. What style of music is playing?

There’s a huge variety, but mainly electronic (all forms of house mostly and some more). We have live music to open and close as well. This time two local live groups will open and close.

So friends, if you are looking for an alternative style of dance music party, one where you don’t need to get smashed drunk to enjoy yourself, you now have an option. And that’s Echo’s show Metamorphosis at Nuanu City on Saturday, 16 September.

See you there.

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