First Lila (journal entry comparing lilas with psytrance transcribed from audio recording, listen to original by clicking “First Lila sound”)

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This evening we were invited to a lila in Sidi Ali

First Lila sound

We arrived at a guest house with beautiful tiles. Walked up a few flights of stairs to a room with a band. There were 5 men playing instruments and three men were singing. Sitting all around the outside of the room were women. The room was lined with windows that were shut. There were people in the halls. We came in the door way and sat down and the musicians started playing. Everybody started to clap and we clapped along. It was really fun. It was something I knew how to do, to clap and play with the beat. I was excited to participate. The women sitting next to me were from Marrakesh and were friendly. I asked if they knew the host and they said no, that they had rented a room upstairs and heard that the ceremony had started here so they came down to see and were invited to participate just like us. One of the women I was talking to had a baby, big enough to communicate with me with her eyes and face, but just a tiny little baby. We smiled at each other for a little while and then the women passed her down and she stood on the lap of the women sitting next to me so I held the baby’s hand and danced with her instead of clapping, which made me feel fantastic to be able to look someone right in the eye and express and really connect in this sort of situation and it also made the women know that I was nice and I was safe.
Then people started standing up. The gathering was for the health of one woman in particular, she was sick. The music would play for 5 or 6 minutes and stop between songs. This was what I thought was strange. Pretty much everything else that was going on, apart from the aesthetic, was exactly what people do at psytrance at home. When I go trance dancing the tempo is the same, the movements, more or less are the same, but the structure of stopping every few minutes was really strange for me. They would sing and dance and the one woman who they were praying for, well sometimes it was different women, but one at a time they would go into a trance for one song and every one would gather around them and make sure they were safe, make sure they wouldn’t knock into anything or hit their heads or make sure that their dress didn’t come up and show their bums.

We’d clap and we’d dance and every so often the music would go really really fast and crazy and then it would come back down and I thought it was exciting because when I go to electronic music parties I know the music so well that I don’t have to pay attention to it, my body knows where all the drops are. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with what josh calls Bubble Gum Trance where the music goes and it goes and it goes and you think it’s going to drop and your body does the drop but the music keeps going and it’s kind of embarrassing, like when you’re talking to someone over loud music and it stops and you yell something really loud in the quiet between songs. I’ve noticed and been frustrated with how much know electronic music. I’d like to have to try a little harder, so this was giving me that. I didn’t know where the drops were. They would all start playing really really fast and then they would all stop at once. I don’t know how they were communicating it but it was a different rhythm than what my body knows.

The part that I think is strange is that they would stop. At a psytrance party, if the music stops it’s because the equipment has failed and it usually only happens for a few seconds at time but when it happens we all scream, sort of to say “ah! You fucked up” but in a joking way because it fills the silence. But here it’s suddenly silent. Every one sits down and is quiet as if nothing happened. If I am watching a band, when they stop I applaud and cheer. But no one did that. It was just like “ok now we’re done” they would stop for a while and the family running the lila would come in and offer tea and cakes and we would chat with the people around us.

When the music goes we are all clapping and dancing and one of the women would go into trance. She would start swaying her head and headbanging and really let her hair down. Like down as far as it goes. They give her incense to inhale which I assume in serian rue to help her go into trance and they gave her something to drink which I presume is absinth because we met an old man last night who gave us worm wood. I have some fresh wormwood growing in a bowl next to my bed. The windows are shut and they are hot boxing the place. Its high energy in a small space. And the drums are these high pitched hand drums that physically make my ears hurt. This is the girl who can spend hours with her head in a base bin. I don’t like the highs, they hurt me so I said I wanted to go outside and Mohamed had the same feeling. It was just too smoky so we went for a walk. But everyone else spent the whole few hours in the room which is strange for me to. To sit in the room for so long without participating. Without dancing, without trancing. Not that my community trances like that. When I go to psytrance people don’t have a fit. Only twice have I ever seen someone have a fit on a trance floor. Once was when Bexx in hysterics having eyegasms literally ejaculating tears from her eyes for hours, laughing. Another time when a boy fell down on the ground, similar to what we saw tonight but eyes open, mouth open, in ecstasy. Just happy. And the dogs do it…? Well no they don’t, they bark on the dance floor out of happiness. I think it’s a bit like what I probably did for years before I noticed it: the first time I noticed was when I started going to Eri Café. The sound system was a lot smaller than what I was used to so you could hear the din of the crowd which I’d never heard at a trance party before and when I got going on the dance floor I realized that I vocalize while I dance, and once I knew I started doing it on purpose ‘cos it was good to vocalize while I was dancing. And the boys do it too, they throat sing, well not just the boys there are girls too, like paula. Once she was describing what Om is like and she said ‘it’s a place where grownups go where they can play. Where they can splash and howl and bark and growl and sing and play. And just let themselves out.” The dogs are so good at it, they see us on the dance floor and they know what to do. They bark, but not barking at you, barking with you. It’s like they are laughing. And you can look and smile at them and they will smile back. It’s a joining in, not a “woof woof, get of my land” kind of woof.

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