At first glance, Secret Sunrise seems like a medley of dance, aerobics and yoga, but it’s so much more. Kerri Dunshea and Tash Cope tell us why you should be dancing with them at their next event.
A group of people has gathered at the Pear Orchard picnic site in Kaapsehoop. It is the second day of the Kaapsehoop Wild Horse Festival, and Secret Sunrise Lowveld joins in on the family fun. Fifteen participants are given wireless headsets, before the facilitators, Tash and Kerri, lead them through an hour of breathing, movement, meditation, mindfulness, stretching and dance.
Through the headphones, the first few songs ease the group into a comfortable rhythm, as Kerri starts facilitating. “Take a minute to feel the grass under your feet and the sunshine on your skin,” she says in a soothing tone. “Practice the attitude of gratitude.” People from all walks of life are encouraged to dress up in fun, comfortable clothes and celebrate the sunrise.
Starting off with smooth jazzy tunes by The Kiffness, Too Blessed To Be Stressed, the song choices often reflect the ethos of the event. The playlist moves on to some more upbeat golden oldies by Roxette, slowly increasing the pace to trancy tunes. As a herd of wild horses gathers at the weir to drink, Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony” booms through the headsets. Kerri gallops from side to side, singing “Pony Pony” instead.
Secret Sunrise was born under the African sky. “It started in Zambia, probably about eight years ago. The idea came from a team building event. No one wanted to get out of bed after a night of partying, so the organisers started playing vibey music really loudly. All of a sudden everyone woke up and came out of their tents,” Tash explains. They started doing it more often, but the sound became a problem – that is when they incorporated the earphones. “That changed the dimension as well. It is more private.” It has become a global community and platform which follows sunrises (and sunsets), while celebrating life through movement, connection and music.
Today you can attend a Secret Sunrise in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, the Eastern Cape, the Garden Route, in the Lowveld and abroad. Tash and Kerri started Secret Sunrise Lowveld in May 2018. “We kicked it off at the Uplands Festival. I literally just came from my training that day,” Kerri explains. “You have to go through facilitation training to be an instructor. It’s all about the methodology we incorporate – what to say and what not to say.”
Currently, at least one event per month is hosted, but they are aiming to increase it. “We had loads in September. It was spring and it doesn’t rain – I wanted to use this time of the year to organise as many as possible.” It costs R100 per session, which lasts an hour and the group usually varies between 20 and 35 people. “Every time it is a great party, no matter who comes or how many people join,” Tash adds.
Using wireless headsets also means the events can be hosted outside in nature, in tranquil spaces, without disturbing anyone else who might be enjoying a picnic. “This one is right up there, under the top three,” she smiles, referring to her best-loved locations in the Lowveld. “And Bundu Lodge was amazing, the view is incredible.” The Lowveld National Botanical Garden is another one of her favourite spots, and the Soccer Ball reservoir in Mbombela has a gorgeous view. “I went there and cleaned up the area the day before. When it is clean, it is fantastic.”
Tash and Kerri usually plan the events two months in advance and those eager to join can keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for dates and locations. They also do special events, like birthday parties, corporate events and team building. “I’ve even had a 15-minute icebreaker at a Women’s Day event,” Tash shares.
They also do outreach events. “I recently was at the E3 Youth Development Hub,” she explains. “It was aimed at teenagers and young adults trying to find work. They were going through a skills development process, doing a creative thinking workshop. I just helped them keep the creative juices flowing – this helps you to lose inhibitions.”
If you are a spectator at Secret Sunrise and can’t hear the beats, it can be a rather comical sight. People seemingly dancing to no music. Earlier this year there was a viral video on social media, with the title: “Neighbours are having a silent disco BBQ”. It shows three men in a tiny backyard with headsets on, filmed from their neighbour’s window as they dance to their heart’s content while braaiing. “Everyone tagged me in that post and said: this is what you look like,” Tash giggles.
They are also planning on launching Sunrise Yoga events, where they will offer a full hour of yoga with headsets. Kerri is a yoga teacher and artist, while Tash does financial advice. “But I’ve always loved dancing. I did ballet, ballroom and pole dancing – you name it.” As someone who is aware of the everyday stresses of our modern lives, Tash praises Secret Sunrise for its positive influence in dealing with stress.
“I used to get upset if I didn’t get eight hours of sleep. It would ruin my entire day, but now I’m at peace with the world. It influences your thinking patterns – accepting realities for what they are and not trying to change them,” she smiles. “This morning I arrived here very tired – not lus for it – but once you’ve done it, you feel like a new person. You can deal with anything the day presents.”
Contact Tash on 072-530-9795 or visit Secret Sunrise Lowveld on Facebook
Text and photographer: Mia Louw