Ecstatic dance is a way of totally letting the body into the flow of the music. In this type of dance your body moves freely, there are no dance steps or any kind of rules to follow.

Creativity, harmony and unlimited energy, this was the environment felt during the weekend between 25 and 27 September, when Olhão hosted an Ecstatic Dance event, promoted by Sabino Soares, who is very committed to spreading the word about the benefits of this practice. “I deeply believe that through Ecstatic and mindfulness, I bring more health and well-being to my community and myself.”

Sabino Soares began to explain how he gave up his first love to find another one. “Ecstatic dance came into my life like a real bomb. I danced Ballroom for a couple of years because dancing is in my blood - I've always loved to dance. However, at a certain point Ballroom dancing started to get very serious (regular training, competitions, etc) and I lost my interest”.

Meanwhile, it was when he was invited for an ecstatic dance event in Lisbon that he first met his new passion. It was an “incredible experience of freedom, connection, and presence and… Suddenly, I found myself in a site with about 100 people who were all like me, who felt the music and the rhythm the same way I did. I felt that I had finally gone home, to my tribe, to my family. Since then, I have never stopped”.

The best part is that ecstatic dancing is for everyone, as it has nothing to do with knowing how to dance. “Ecstatic dancing is not about achieving the best performance to show something to myself or others. It is simply breathing and get into the rhythm (I even say that it is not for listening with the ears, but through the pores). The body knows exactly what it needs. However, the mind gets involved in everything - "Now I'm going to do this!" or “I can't dance! I look like an idiot! How ridiculous I must look! It's embarrassing!"

Ecstatic Dance Health Benefits

“Ecstatic Dance brings benefits to physical health, as it moves the whole body in a totally free way, in addition to relieving stress on a mental level, it is a space where the participant can have an amazing experience of connection with himself and with others, which is a very important feeling for human beings”, he said.

Indeed, freedom of movement will make it easier to be more present, feel more joyful and connected, and help you get rid of anxiety and negative thoughts. Moreover, there is research “that has linked all kinds of dance to better cognition, greater mobility, improvements in heart health, better daily emotional control and even reduced falls in the elderly and others,” he said.

Two years ago in an Ecstatic DJ course Sabino Soares had the pleasure to meet “a 70-year-old American gentleman with Parkinson's who was the target of scientific research because, from the moment he began to participate regularly in ecstatic dance, his symptoms regressed and, when I met him, they were almost imperceptible. That's why he decided at age 70 to become an ecstatic dance DJ.”

At the moment, Sabino Soares is totally committed to ecstatic dance. “I'm the founder of Ecstatic dance Algarve. I'm an Ecstatic dance DJ and I've been invited to several national and international festivals. I dance and meditate very often at home, sometimes starting at 7:00am - this is a good way to keep my mental, emotional and physical sanity”.

The ecstatic dance, which was founded by Gabrielle Roth, has been practiced by many cultures. In the ancient and widespread practice of shamanism, dance and rhythmic drumming were used in spiritual practices, he told The Portugal News.

Please, don’t get me wrong if you think you’ll need to wait until the next festival to try ecstatic dance! You can start right now at home. However, if you would like to have a more complete group experience, please have a look at:


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins