Ep2 Osara from Ecstatic Dance Bristol and Ace Collectiv

17th May 2024 Gemini 1.5 Pro

This episode of the Dandelion Podcast features Stephen Reid in conversation with Osara, the founder of Ecstatic Dance Bristol and Ace Collective. Osara discusses his journey from DJing in mainstream clubs to creating alcohol-free intentional dance events that foster authentic connection, community, and personal transformation.

From Mainstream Clubs to Conscious Dance

Osara's passion for music and DJing began in his youth, leading him to play at free parties and clubs, particularly in the drum and bass and jungle genres. However, as he matured, Osara felt an increasing disconnect with the alcohol and drug-fueled atmosphere prevalent in the UK club scene.

I remember going to a really famous club in Bristol called Blue Mountain and So I get there, I'm doing my set and I'm not getting paid, I'm just doing it for mates and then I want to get a drink and they're like, "Can I get a drink?" And I'm like, "Yeah, there you go." Behind the DJ decks is just like a full 24 pack of beers, Red Stripe for the DJs. And I'm like, I just really don't want to drink Red Stripe beer.

This experience sparked a desire in Osara to create a different kind of space – one that focused on the art of DJing and the power of music for connection and self-expression, free from the distractions of alcohol and drugs.

Discovering Five Rhythms dance in his late twenties marked a turning point. He found it to be a transformative practice, offering a safe space to move energy, express emotions, and connect with oneself and others. This experience inspired him to organize his first events, combining DJing with elements of conscious dance, eventually leading to the creation of Ecstatic Dance Bristol.

The Birth of Ecstatic Dance Bristol

Osara's introduction to the world of ecstatic dance came through Rene Lacroix, founder of Ecstatic Dance UK. Playing a set at one of Rene's events in London served as a significant initiation, leading him to establish Ecstatic Dance Bristol in 2019. The inaugural event, held on a Sunday morning, was a resounding success, defying the typical Bristol club culture and highlighting a desire for alternative ways to connect and celebrate.

Osara emphasizes that the absence of alcohol and drugs allows for a more inclusive and accessible experience, attracting a diverse crowd, including families with children. He intentionally schedules some events during the daytime to cater to parents and carers who may find it challenging to attend late-night events.

The Power of Ritual and Ceremony

Drawing inspiration from his experiences with plant medicine ceremonies and his Celtic heritage, Osara incorporates elements of ritual and ceremony into his events. He sees these practices as a way to connect with something deeper, both within oneself and in the natural world.

Events like the Spring Equinox celebration at the Mount Without church exemplify this approach. The event included an altar, an opening circle with a prayer, and a focus on the unique qualities of the equinox, such as equal day and night. These rituals provide a framework for participants to engage with the event on a deeper level and connect with the cycles of nature.

Creating a Strong Container and Community

Osara emphasizes the importance of creating a strong container and a sense of community at his events, elements inspired by the Ecstatic Dance format. He believes that the structure of opening and closing circles, guidelines, and a facilitated journey creates a safe and transformative space for participants to explore different aspects of themselves.

I feel, yeah, I just feel like they're very powerful containers. And so I feel like what I've done then is like taking that format and then applied it and transitioned it into bigger, longer events.

He highlights the significance of the "safer space agreement," which encourages individuals to take responsibility for their experiences while fostering inclusivity and respect within the community. The guidelines address a spectrum of sensitivities and ensure that everyone feels welcome and safe to express themselves authentically.

The Vision of Ace Collective: Sexy, Silly, and Spiritual

Ace Collective, Osara's latest venture, serves as an umbrella organization encompassing his various offerings, including Ecstatic Dance Bristol, DJing, mentoring, and coaching. The collective champions values such as authentic connection, soul-invigorating ceremony and celebration, and respect for oneself, the community, and the planet.

So yeah, what I've been learning by doing these events the last few years is that they're more than just coming to venue and listening to DJ and listening to some live music. These events are really places where we give opportunities for people to really journey and be with different parts of themselves.

A key aspect of Ace Collective is the integration of "sexy, silly, and spiritual" elements into events. This concept aims to move beyond solely spiritual experiences by incorporating playfulness, sensuality, and embodied practices. The Equinox party, for example, featured a sensual embodiment piece, a feather lounge encouraging touch exploration, and a cuddle corner to foster intimacy and connection.

Looking ahead, Osara envisions expanding Ace Collective with events like the Equinox parties, a New Era Rave at a prominent Bristol club, and continued exploration of innovative formats that blend music, dance, personal growth, and conscious celebration.