Jacqueline Anderson
PhD candidate

Jack, I’m Only Dancing: Believing in the Energy of Dance – psychedelic trance culture in the UK.

Psychedelic trance culture has been labelled in recent years as an amalgam of religious, shamanism, and ritualistic beliefs and practices both global and local in a gnostic melting pot whether participants are conscious of a sacred ritual or not. Are they practising a timeless and universal shamanic trance dance practice evoking a sacred experience in a liminal space of possibility? Is there a re-enactment of a secular pilgrimage to the woods to unlock from the restrictions of mainstream society running free with nature in their own natural state aided by music, dancing, and each other?

The universal and timeless return to the source of a collective consciousness is the religion itself by dancing together since the dawn of civilisation. Or are participants merely returning to the weird dancefloor to get twisted while free of dogma replacing ritual and symbol with dance shoes and sweat? Recent research suggests that the return to our own nature in nature could be the blueprint for a healed humanity presently hidden in remote gatherings by an underground culture that hotly debates where the underground should go overground.

The lack of religion, spirituality, and the incumbent rituals and ceremonies with the loss of connectivity, sociality, a sense of belonging and being with others may have led to growth industries in festival culture and the phenomenal expansion of the healing industries. Does psychedelic trance dance culture and practices hold the answers? Have psytrance dancers found the key to ultimate transformation on the dancefloor?

Psychedelic trance may have many benefits for the wider community progressing exponentially with the legalisation and acceptance of entheogens in society and the phenomenal progress of the psychedelic renaissance. It is timely that psychedelic culture starts to experience the same acknowledgement, acceptance, and legal freedom particularly in the UK. Greater understanding of the practices and beliefs within psychedelic trance culture may contribute to the possibility of a better world for humanity. Fascinatingly within psytrance culture is an acknowledged symbolism and practice surrounding mushrooms extant within its décor, imagery and substances with philosophical analogies about the similarity between the entwined entanglement of the mycelium and the practices of psychedelic culture in natural locations in a possible synchronising of man and nature in an ancient return to the source of true spirituality.

Jackie is a current PhD researcher at UCLan undertaking research in cultural anthropology comparing ancient and modern day trance dance practices with an ethnographic focus on psychedelic trance culture called Daning with Ancestors. She has been an elder member of the psytrance community in the UK for several decades and a dancer in the house scene since the start of acid house scene in the eighties. As a passionate and lifelong dancer her perspective is from the dancefloor where her embodied experiences are key to her focus. Jackie has been an active Festival organiser, attached to several Northern tribes, a pro-active contributor at many events, a volunteer for Psycare UK, a provider of Jackus Dream and Dance Healing Workshops, the manager of Psynergiser Dance Foundation, the administrator of various social media groups such as Psyculture UK, Global Psyculture and the Centre for Research in Psyculture and Psytrance.

She is noted as an elder of the scene, and of Psybase Northern Collective in particular since 2004 and a valuable pace dancer and participant. She has worked for many years as a College Lecturer teaching English, Sociology, Humanities, Psychology and teaching training courses. I have a Masters in English Literature and a Masters in Music. She is currently working in further education teaching sociology. She has a keen interest in politics and the environment having set up Salford Green Party and Salford Friends of the Earth. She set up the Reality Party with Bez from Happy Mondays and came second as a candidate in the local elections. Her main involvement in the fracking movement protests on Barton Moss in Salford started because she was a local resident and succeeded in stopping peat extraction on Barton Moss in Salford.