Dancing Eros | This Australian Erotic Dance Class Encourages People to Find Their ‘Inner Slut’
We went to try out the new wellness trend that's set to take Europe by storm
I’m blindfolded and lying on the floor surrounded by myriad other blindfolded women, and we’ve been instructed to move exactly as we wish, making whatever noises we feel the urge to. I stretch tentatively, running my hands through my hair and arching my back before wrapping my arms around my waist, breathing in the incense in the air to calm my nerves. This is not where I expected to find myself on a Sunday morning. I listen intently to the other bodies moving around me, to the soothing breathing and gentle moans emanating from the group. And this is just the beginning.
The crux of today’s workshop is the power of erotic dancing. Initially skeptical, I soon learn that there is an untapped level of freedom in moving in a way that makes you feel sexually alive. It’s not something I’ve ever really considered, but I rapidly find that engaging with my body on this specific level feels like waking up. It’s not a choreographed routine you have to try and remember – rather it pushes you to engage with your deepest desires and fears, and to articulate them physically.
"I find myself going far beyond what I’ve learnt in 26 years is “sexy” and throw myself into feminine mysticism"
Dancing Eros was launched in 2013 by Vanessa Florence, in Melbourne, with the aim of reconnecting women with their bodies and helping them to express their sexuality through five archetypes: the Maiden, the Wild Woman, the Priestess, the Erotic Mother, and the Slut. Florence’s theory is that we need to connect with them all so that they can all support each other.
The first Dancing Eros workshop to take place in London is being facilitated by Laura Deva, a criminal psychologist turned tantra coach, who has played a big role in bringing the movement to Europe. She explains that, while everyone needs to tap into both masculine and feminine energy, the world today has been designed around a masculine, more goal-oriented attitude towards the day-to-day.
“Dancing Eros is the work of the feminine energy and discovering what is actually is to simply be, rather than to always do,” Deva says. “When you really step into that energy all the competition stops, the self-love comes through.”
Whether you buy the theory of energies being balanced or not, there’s definitely something tribal about a large group of women sitting in a circle, waiting with anticipation atop pillows, sharing glances through the wisps of incense smoke. We all know this isn’t going to be anything like Zumba.
But any nerves are quickly dispelled by Deva’s manner. She starts by sharing the pillars of a safe space, the need for kindness, self-responsibility, compassion, and support as well as the communal granting of permission for everybody to be themselves. We are, as she explains, a collective.
“People are desperate for connection,” Deva says. “Connection with themselves and intimacy with others. Your deepest fear is usually the same as your deepest desire and as a result, people want to feel reunited with themselves and with each other.”
Eventually, the aim is to know how to access each of the five archetypes within yourself as and when required, both in your sexuality and in life.
What I realise as the class goes on is that I have never given my body the space, the time, or the attention to express itself. From day one, we are trained away from our natural instincts. When I was five, I hated holding hands with my classmates when crossing the road on the way to swimming, but I was made to do it, out of politeness.
When we’re frightened by a group of strangers outside a pub on our route home, we don’t follow our instincts and bolt – in today’s world, that would look insane – so we press our keys between our fingers and walk slowly, and calmly on.
“The connection to the body is missing from today’s society,” says Deva. “We lost this instinct, how to come back to this physical reality. It’s the only one that knows exactly what you need moment to moment.” When she says it, I know this instinctively to be true. Our bodies provide concrete answers to life’s questions – yes or no. That lightness in your step when a friend invites you to a party, or that lurching feeling in your stomach when someone mentions an ex’s name? That’s your body telling you what you want.
“Some people just want better sex,” Deva says. But once someone attends a class they usually realise there’s much more to it"
We pair off randomly and take it in turns to play both dancer and witness. It’s nerve wracking. But as the music goes on and I see the total and complete acceptance in my partner’s eyes as she kneels in front of me, giving me her full attention, I have my last thought of the next five minutes: Fuck it.
I listen to the music, turn off my mind and let my body lead.
I find myself going far beyond what I’ve learnt in 26 years is “sexy” and throw myself into feminine mysticism. I’m switching my anxious mind off and letting my body speak through movement. My erotic dancing is so much more than I expected - and I don’t believe I would have felt the same level of connection and inner calm if the experience had been simply dancing alone.
It’s freeing, authentic, and earnest. For those five minutes, even while surrounded by a room full of wildly moving women, I feel like there is no need for performance, inner-assessment, politeness or protocol. Only electricity shooting around my limbs in powerful waves, joyful and relieved that it’s finally been given a release. I feel like the Wild Woman, animalistic, powerful and full of intense expression. I have to admit, my body surprises me with its boldness.
My witness breathes heavily while I move and I can feel her eyes boring into me. Afterwards, I share my feelings and insecurities regarding the practice while she listens without interruption, and then we do the same, but vice versa. I feel drunk watching her move and listening to her breath – it’s like I’m drinking it in, using her freedom and release to nourish myself.
Seeing these women move so freely, discovering what actually feels good rather than simply trying to look good, is intoxicating and wonderfully strange. A big part of Dancing Eros is witnessing each other in order to learn more about how unique every woman’s sexual expression is.
When we return to our circle, emotions are high. The sense of relief and release is palpable. It’s the first step in an exciting and frightening journey. In Australia, there are regular eight-week programmes for people to take part in to learn in depth about each of the archetypes and how to access them – there is now even a programme for men to start their journey into nurturing their feminine energy.
Meanwhile, it’s growing in popularity around the world as word spreads. Deva is currently taking Dancing Eros around Europe – from London she goes to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Prague. At the end of September, she’s hosting an eight-day archetypes course in Amsterdam.
“Some people just want better sex,” Deva says, explaining the appeal. But once someone attends a class they usually realise there’s much more to it. “That’s all a side effect. [It’s] a great side effect, but it’s not the main purpose of this work.”
“Connecting with your sexual energy is what is going to wake your body up to the fullness of life experience from within.”
Elizabeth Finney is a London-based freelance journalist. Keep up with her on Instagram.
To find out more about Dancing Eros, visit their website.