Mathew Bergan Dancing Warrior Yoga – 10th Birthday Party
Welcome to Dancing Warrior Yoga headquarters and welcome to our 10th Birthday celebrations. We made it – woo hoo! Its great to see you all here tonight and thanks for giving up your Saturday night for US!
You’re in for a treat. We have some great performances, food, dancing and music coming your way.
Please feel free to mingle, dance, flirt and gossip and arouse all of your senses tonight.
I would like to share a story with you about how things came to be.
In 1989 friends and I use to pile into a taxi and head across town from Darlinghurst to a rustic suburb with industrial factories, swampy waste land and the od lesbian couple walking their dogs.
This humble suburb was called St Peters.
St Peters in the 1980’s felt like the edge of the universe to me. I was 21 years old with bright eyes and a bushy tail. St Peters never felt like it was a safe place for Darlinghurst baby poofs like myself, nor the colourful tribe of queers I travelled across town with. Back then difference came at a price and violence was never far away.
Our taxi journey would end at 13 May street, St Peters – next door in fact, which is presently the salsa dance studio.
My dear friend Ian Oliver held the lease on next doors warehouse, which is identical to this space. Ian was an industrial jewelry maker. The industrial look was in! He’d converted his warehouse into a Mad Max inspired work studio, full of obscure post apocalyptic steel artwork made of rusted and twisted metal. He also leased his studio to other artists and creatives.
30 years ago, next door, we partied hard and danced to a new kind of music the DJ’s were playing called house music. The beats were tribal and the divas sang from the soul. We swallowed fabulously strong ecstasy pills and unleashed our inner wild child.
We saw human spirit through a tribal lens where our community of like minded souls was safe and could explore and unleash our mind and body without censorship, judgment or violence. We were fearless and courageous and – somewhat out of our heads!
Our young and playful community consisted of artists, dancers, theatre makers, film directors, fashionistas, DJ’s, and fabulous nobodies. We all oscillated wildly at the centre of our own underground scene. At least we thought so.
We were excited about the future. We knew we had a lot to contribute to society – and we did.
Then sadly the impact of AIDS hit our community and everything changed.
Friends started dying and our secret partying tribe soon disappeared. Sadly Ian Oliver died as did another 20 or more delightful friends and party animals.
In 1991 next doors studio closed down, and so did that chapter of my life.
Telly port ahead 16 years to 2006, and 3 careers later – yoga takes over my life and my old friend dance comes back to visit me.
I hunt through the Inner West for a warehouse space that I can convert into a yoga school.
Consequently, most days I would drive past this very building which had a sign out the front advertising 110 square meters for rent. The nostalgia at halcyon days gone by made it difficult for me to pick up the phone and make an appointment to view this studio. I really didn’t know if it was a good idea to return to this building, this part of town, as the memories of yesteryear were amazingly virbrant yet at the same time sad and haunting – so many great lives lost….. what could have been – never was.
I take the plunge and arrange a meeting with the landlord. And what a shit hole this venue was at handover. Previously, it was a sewing sweatshop where Macdonald’s hamburgers made their staff uniform. The walls and floors were black and sticky with sewing oil and fluff.
I could hear the spirit of Ian Oliver implanting thoughts into my subconscious mind saying – “Sign the fucking lease Mathew! People will come! Be brave. Carry creative spirit forward. Enjoy a vibrant community of like minded souls”.
For four month’s I scrubbed and cleaned. Friends and family rallied to help paint the walls and carpet the venue. Reverse Garbage in Marrickville provided paint, and carpet squares. The whole refit cost $1000.
In June 2006 Dancing Warrior Yoga opened its doors and it was purely down to business. For the first few years I was a one man band full of determination and enthusiasm to do one thing – teach yoga.
My belief in yoga and its capacity to help, heal and inspire people was enough to sit out the hard times such as:
• No one turning up to classes
• No wage or income after expenses
• Floods and storms
• Crazy neighbors high on crack
In 2013 we commenced yoga teacher training which has helped the school to blossom and provide a whole new level of productivity and personality.
Dancing Warrior Yoga is a non denominational yoga studio – we don’t align ourselves with any mysterious gurus in India or beyond. We have one belief and that is that authentic Hatha yoga, which originated in India, has incredible power to transform peoples bodies, hearts, minds and souls. Millions of people practice yoga across the planet for this very reason.
Today we have 9 fabulous teachers that you will hopefully meet over the duration of the weekend. We also have a team of awesome people behind the scenes keeping the school afloat, I send you all an express hug and mega thank you. And, a shout out to the husbands and wives, lovers and partners supporting us and believing in our special kind of crazy work. They might later tell you tonight what its like to be a “yoga widow”.
There are also teachers in the room tonight that have previously taught yoga here over the past 10 years and contributed to Dancing Warrior Yoga’s evolution. I would like to share my thanks for your love and support.
I would like to thank our assistants for contributing their time to make this OPEN weekend of FREE yoga classes an extraordinary and memorable one.
I would also like to thank our studio Manger Clare Lovelace for being an amazing tour de force. Clare does an incredible job keeping the wheels turning behind the scenes, and supports me through my colourful dementia.
I would like to thank all students past and present that have and do attend yoga classes here – without you we wouldn’t be here.
Can we raise our glasses please for a party toast!
• May Dancing Warrior Yoga evolve and prosper for the next decade!
• May Sydney remain a diverse and safe city where friendly people live and look after one another.
• May our ethnicity and sexual orientation be celebrated and liberated.
• May Sydney remain a town where we can afford to live, florish and prosper and not just survive and tolerate.
• May Sydney NEVER become baige and boring and only a town for the rich.
• May St Peters and Newtown remain a diverse and safe place where the people, walls and streets continue to sing loudly. Where difference is celebrated and artistic expression uncensored. May tonight be a tribute to all the standing and fallen people whose lives have been enriched and celebrated in this unique ghetto.
As the T-shirt says “Keep Newtown Weird and Safe.”