Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life

Article excerpt

Well, I found the Adulis restaurant and my online date was there. She didn't muck about, and neither for once did I, and when we parted at noon the next day, I was very tired. So I was relieved to be checking in later at a spa hotel on the north Cornish coast called the Scarlet, to write a travel piece about their twoday organic wine-tasting break called 'Naturally into wine'. It was the perfect opportunity to recuperate, I imagined. A gentle swim, perhaps, a stroll on the beach, then a glass or two of Peasant's Varooka in the evening to see me out.

A cheerful woman called Cherie checked me in. Should she put me down for the beach yoga class, or perhaps the transformational dancing, before breakfast? 'Transformational dancing!' I said. 'Before breakfast!' 'It's brilliant, ' she said. 'Oh, go on, then, ' I said, fool that I am.

Horribly early next morning, then, I shook hands with Amanda, who was leading it, and with Bonny from Melbourne, who worked at the hotel. Bonny had never done any transformational dancing before either. Amanda led us barefoot into the silent, sunlit meditation room. Three tea lights representing our campfire flickered in their holders on the smooth wood floor. We sat around these, on cushions, cross-legged, facing each other. Closing our eyes under Amanda's instruction, we visualised what our perfect lives would be like, then we breathed our visions slowly and deeply into reality. Then we lay down on our backs and Amanda invited us to feel the benevolence of the living planet beneath us while she purified the air with a shamanic rattle. Then we stood up and faced each other; Amanda slid a CD into her boom box; and we started to dance.

The music was Native American-style chanting to a hypnotic techno drumbeat with psychedelic guitar riffs, increasing in tempo and intensity, until finally, after a solid hour of it, Amanda flung open the doors to the open sky, whacked up the volume to maximum, and we were pumping and gyrating with our arms waving above our heads like three raving lunatics. Apart from cajoling us by frenetic example through every last barrier of decorum (and trilling with demonic exuberance as she succeeded), Amanda's only spoken intervention was to lead us in the chant: 'Fire! Fire!

Take me higher!'

I wouldn't have believed I could dance like that without a good drink (at the very least) inside me, but I did, and I did indeed feel transformed afterwards. …

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