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Dopamine Disco: Healing Through Dancing

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The inaugural Dopamine Disco comes to Sheffield this month, bringing hope, joy and good vibes to the masses.

I chatted to founder Simon Brown to get the low-down on this brand new disco party.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what prompted you to start Dopamine Disco?

I'm Simon Brown, a Sheffield-based artist, musician and digital consultant. I was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's Disease (PD) at the age of 43. As I came to terms with my condition, I discovered that music and dancing provided significant relief from the tremors, muscle stiffness and depression attributed to the disease. It's scientifically proven to stimulate dopamine release in the brain, improving mood, motivation and wellbeing.

Anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia are all symptoms of PD, but they are also conditions that affect one in four people in the UK, so I created Dopamine Disco to bring this 'healing' to the masses.

The aim is to draw together and connect the people of Sheffield, but also to try and evidence this as a professionally recognised way of giving relief to the suffering of many. And, hopefully one day, to use this method in a formulated 'healing prescription' rolled out throughout the UK and beyond as a 'socially prescribed' method of symptom relief.

What have been the most interesting findings from your exploration of sounds and music as a means of alleviating the symptoms of PD?

I could nerd out talking about the magic of the key of E, polyrhythms, neuroplasticity and resonant frequencies. Making vocal mantras looping live, by using my voice as a synthesizer and then feeding it through vintage tape echoes and assorted guitar pedals, has produced the most calming effect on my tremor.

Recently I read that 'In music - that moment when you feel a 'chill' of pleasure from a musical passage - causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, an essential signaling molecule in the brain', which I lack because of PD. As a DJ, this means the dopamine is produced just before the drop, so it's more about the anticipation of the drop than the drop itself.

Who else is involved in the project?

I contacted Yellow Arch Studios with a view to experimenting on a larger scale. Yellow Arch have given me so much support, even putting the cause in front of the BBC who are also involved, as the second Dopamine Disco will be broadcast by the BBC. Denon DJ are also on board, providing me with some of their latest DJ equipment and support. Parkinson's UK have been very supportive too.

What's in store for the first Dopamine Disco?

Expect to experience smiles, dancing and good vibes, as well as sensory rooms, interactive audio-visual experiences and games.

Dopamine Disco offers a welcoming and accessible journey through dance music, with DJs and live music performances, as Yellow Arch Studios becomes a place for people of all ages to learn about the importance of the organic chemical dopamine, generated by the human body. The music has been carefully selected, distilled for 30 years and quality checked for its dopaminergic properties.

What do you hope people will experience and take away from spending time at Dopamine Disco?

Whether you're interested in taking part as a therapeutic release for Parkinson's Disease or as an individual who simply just wants to let go and dance for the day with no judgement, stress or sleep deprivation, the Dopamine Disco is open to individuals of all ages and abilities.

I want people to feel better than when they come in and experience a sense of hope, inspiration and a feeling of connectedness.

Dopamine Disco is taking place on Sunday 18 August at Yellow Arch Studios from 4:20-9pm.

Find out more here.

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