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StrangeBrew: Come as you are

Monday's 'bounce' as a house for communal jazz and soulful dressing

Self-expression and sense of style has the capacity to transcend us into elevated and true ways of being. When we feel truly ourselves, we can be taken into a space of euphoria - floating on a high of feeling authenticity.  The way that we present to each other and to ourselves feels important to us all - we want to get it right, in the sense that we want to look like who we are and what we feel. Let’s gently remove this sense of ‘right’, allow ourselves to get it wrong, and replace it with a desire for truth. Remembering that elements of our truth are often always in flux, mutable and changing. 

When we feel authentic in our self-expression, we can move with integrity and ease. This feeling of happy comfort allows a dip into the world that rests beside ours - utopia. Utopia defined as ‘an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect’. Here, let’s realise that anything that we can imagine can be our reality. This utopia of ours is rooted in the present, in our yearning and in our truths. Glennon Doyle writes beautifully on the idea of bringing forward what lives within in her book Untamed, which I highly recommend!  


Utopian feelings, I think, come from a yearning to belong and to be fully expressed, as to be honest brings tranquillity. Strange Brew is a haven for this feeling of utopia. The Bounce live jams on Monday nights are a hive of free forms - fluid and languorous expression, easy and honest. To be around so many people who feel safe enough to dress and express in their truth is perhaps one of the most special things in the world - the purest ecstasy. It is a liberation. 

I want us to think about how different genres of music marry into different modes of style, and how both are forms of utmost expression and a vocalising of the self.  Both are emotional forms of art which we can all access and embody. Does the music you listen to affect how you feel? How your mind and body feel? Does it influence how you want to dress? Are music and fashion embodiments of each other?

Music is the language of the poets - I invite us to consider that the way we dress and compose ourselves can be like writing poetry too.


The bounce jams at Strange Brew not only house improv jazz music but also soulful dressing, bodies alight with a feeling of wholeness. If you go along one evening, you can expect to think about what we can learn from improv music. Musicians improvising together learn to connect with the other musical elements around them. They bounce off each other. They must listen more deeply to the harmonies and rhythms outside of their singular instrument. They play as part of a greater whole, realising that they all fit together. To create music un-according to a set plan means to trust yourself that you can get it ‘right’ - you can produce a true sound, music rooted in truth.


The sounds emanating from the instrumentalists at Strange Brew are free forms floating in the air - unplanned and ever changing - and this synchronous spontaneity ripples into the crowd. Our dancing changes when we’re listening to musical improvisation. It’s more rhythmic, it feels looser, lighter, less restrained, more natural, more in flow. A guitarist at one of the jams I went to articulated it as so: ‘it sounds cliche but when you get to play the guitar, you express something you can’t say with words - and that’s it for me.’ A lot of the night’s beauty is there in that feeling - it’s a conversation of sounds and vibrations, a way of speaking to a room without words. The air around you is embodied with feeling, allowing our bodies to join the conversation.


To immerse ourselves in the music and clothes that match our vibrational frequency, is to cultivate conditions which allow for grace; grace being a sense of ease and trust. With this trust we find that the self is revealed by the things it says yes and no to - follow the yes feelings for the direction of your flourishing.


We often look to the arts, music and fashion in this case, to find ourselves reflected there. To experience this visceral recognition of our self is incredibly lifting. Remember, the beauty you see in anything reflects the beauty in you - just like the instrumentalists, you are dancing as part of a greater whole. So, when you go somewhere like Strange Brew on a Monday night and feel at home amongst the sound and dancing - it is a way of receiving yourself. Poet Billy Chapata writes that ‘reclaiming yourself, feels like hearing a song you love for the first time in a long time’; perhaps this can resonate with you. 


May the jams at Strange Brew remind you to always roll out the red carpet and come as you are - in all your forms, and free. 

by Meg Stoneman 

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