It’s dawn. A group of people are dancing with joyful abandon - apparently in silence. German philosopher Frederich Nietzche once observed that those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music…
So what might a curious onlooker make of this? Could it be a gathering of sun saluters or dance expressionists? A party? A celebration… a silent disco? A yoga session, an aerobics class or a sober rave?
In reality, it’s Secret Sunrise, the new craze that celebrates the dawn of a new day in various locations around Harare. People of all ages and from all walks of life dance, unencumbered, to a soundtrack played through wireless headphones, without disturbing their neighbours.
The need to share compassion, kindness and - most importantly - pure joy as sense of childlike fun has become a global imperative, so it was only a matter of time before the right vehicle came along. No Danger Diaries, a social enterprise from Cape Town was on a mission in Zambia that focussed on reforestation in a small village near Livingstone when the first Secret Sunrise took place. Dance proved to be an international language: where a combination of spiritual, funk and power dance brought together the diversity of villagers, volunteers and children, as they stomped in the dust under an African sunrise.
Co-founder Grant Ross has an audacious vision to make dancing to the rising sun (and even the sunset) a global phenomenon, changing mindsets and creating an avenue for radical self-expression. Their mission: to have Secret Sunrise in every city around the world, is already gathering momentum. Sunrisers currently meet in Ibiza, Bali, Mauritius, London, Sydney, Amsterdam, Dubai, and also in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. And now in our very own Sunshine City, Harare!
The main facilitator for each gathering in Harare is Tara Wallace. Dressed in flamboyant gym pants as she whips her hair from side to side, she encourages and cajoles the Sunrisers (through her microphone) to whirl, cavort and pirouette, to form a conga line, to skip backwards and to dance like crazy, to greet and make deliberate eye contact with other Sunrisers or to simply sway with closed eyes in private bliss. Even the most self-conscious and shy participants shed their inhibitions for an hour and are swept up in the contagious energy of the session.
Katherine Boaler, co-facilitator of the Harare sessions explains why the silent disco style of Secret Sunrise is so wonderful: “It helps you get in the zone and to focus on yourself and what the instructors are saying - exploring new dimensions of communication and body language.” She goes on to say that “the objective of the sessions is to jolt your energy and start your day with a sense of purpose that comes from celebrating the sun. Dance allows you to express yourselves through a medium of soul-lifting, crazy, whacky expression. We are not professional dancers by any means - we are just here to get our bodies moving and have some fun.”
“The experience is geared towards those who need a break from the stresses of daily life in Zimbabwe and there is actually method to the Secret Sunrise madness: it is a way to start stimulating all the happy neurochemicals in our brains early in the morning; from the sense of accomplishment that comes from setting your alarm and dragging yourself out of bed before the sun comes up - to the excitement and euphoria you feel when dancing in a community of people who are inclusive and, at the end of the day, are there to do the same thing that you are there to do – to let loose and get grooving. We are so often trapped in our daily routines and the conventions of life that we forget that it is normal and so very healthy to be wild and free and a little bit silly at times” - Katherine Boaler.
If you’ve been to a Secret Sunrise session before you’ll understand why it has become a workout craze. Not only does it give you the opportunity to exercise in the best way imaginable (dancing and playing around while listening to music through headphones) but it also allows you to take a breather from the stresses of your everyday life and gives you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself long before you have to take on the day’s challenges.
Grant Ross describes Secret Sunrise as a way to leave all your worries and stresses behind; to be present and to learn how to feel comfortable outside your comfort zone.
“The focus of a Secret Sunrise session is to bring conscious wellbeing into the city,” says Grant. “We do this by incorporating conscious practices such as dance, movement therapy, yoga, breathing, meditation, and connection to submerge attendees into a world of catharsis and pure joy. If you’re alive, then Secret Sunrise is for you. It really is for everyone – grab your partner or your children and get them to join you in celebrating the new day by dancing and getting your exercise done in a truly unique way! Secret Sunrise might even get your kids to step away from their electronic devices and into the fresh air.”
So next time you just don’t feel like hitting the gym, join a Secret Sunrise session to get your heart rate up with dancing – and then gently bring it back down again with stretching or yoga to help you relax. It’s a perfect combination that will leave you feeling refreshed, wide awake, happy and ready to face anything coming your way.
Don’t miss the Secret Sunrise Harare Spring Fever launch event at 167 Enterprise Road on
Saturday 21st September 2019 from 6-7 am. Bring the whole family.