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FREEDOM ON THE DANCEFLOOR: MUSIC AS A VOICE FOR THE OPPRESSED

Updated: Aug 31

By Manuela Jaramillo - (Instagram: @jcmanuela)


There is something quite special about the freedom that exists on the dance floor. It’s not just about how incredible it is to let go of the outside world for a few hours, but most importantly, it’s about how powerful it is to be in sync with something that you are truly passionate about. Regardless of what genre of music caters to your liking, the freedom of dancing and the unleashing of every little thing in your daily life are just handful of the many things found in the special space that music allows us to create for ourselves.


For us music enthusiasts, the beauty that we find when we connect with ourselves and those around us is a feeling that cannot be found anywhere else other than the dancefloor. For years music has been a way for different groups, cultures, movements, and everything in between, to express themselves through revolutionary statements. Take the 1960’s for example. Coming out the widespread political protests, along with a new found sexual liberation, was the spread of the hippie movement through psychedelic rock n’ roll, folk, and blues music. The 60’s also saw a widespread growth of black culture through R&B, gospel, and jazz, transcending history that undeniably carries on until today. All through the late 60’s and early 70’s, the roots of reggae arose in Jamaica from the Rastafarian belief, utilizing music to express oppressions of slavery and hopes of unity, a message that spread worldwide through the popularity of the genre. History continued through the 80’s and 90’s with the rise of electronic music through the sounds of techno and house music coming from Detroit and Chicago. Many may not know this, but the foundation of what dance music is today emerged from the underground clubs in Detroit, New York City and Chicago from African American and queer influence. Marginalized groups gathered in clandestine locations to dance in the only place where liberation of self was possible at the time.


These are only a few examples of the way people have continued to use music expression as the voice for the oppressed, creating freedoms that can have a variety of different meanings for each group, community or individual, but ultimately representing the same collective fact: music is freedom.



“But why freedom?” You may ask. The definition of freedom states that it is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint”. Music has been utilized to carry revolutions and push for the freedom and equality that have defined both our history and the our modern way of life. There is undoubtably is a clearly power that lies within the unique expression of music, that transcends the force of words, feelings, and even actions. A power that is both an unapologetic self-expression, representing our unique individuality, as well as a collectivity: for the people, by the people. A power that is fierce, rebellious, and true gift to humanity and to freedom.


While music has different meanings from person to person, regardless of preference, here is an empowering reality about getting lost in the entrancing magic of rhythms and sounds that touch our fibers when we’re listening to our favorite song. A feeling so magical that it is feels impossible to describe the emotion that music can emanate within us. We just know that it is something absolutely beautiful.

I was curious to know how people would describe the impact of music in their lives, so I asked a few friends if they thought music had the ability to make us feel free, and if so, what was one reason why they felt that way. I collected a few answers that quite frankly warmed my heart and made me realize how lucky we are to get to experience such a precious and universal art. Enjoy some of my favorite responses below:

Do you think music can make you feel free? If so, what is one reason why it does?

-Of course it does. Just the way the melodies of your favorite music can make you drift from reality just for a second, regardless of what you’re doing you’re able to free your mind and get lost in the joy it makes you feel inside.

-I feel like we intuitively jam to whatever our souls are feeling in the moment, and sometimes we need to feel free, but sometimes we need to really feel our sadness and emptiness to be able to move forward, and I believe music does that. So the short if it is yes, but that’s only if you are feeling free at the moment, and some songs really capture moments.

-Yes! It can provide shelter and escape when things get rough.

-Yes, it does make me feel free. The reason why is because I can identify with the words and the story behind a song. Sometimes even if the song doesn’t even have any lyrics, you still feel certain rhythms that hit you differently or that remind you of moments or feelings. It frees my mind because I can stop thinking about all the crazy sh*t that I’m going through and focus on the feeling the song is bringing out of me.

-Absolutely! It gets me in a state of trance, lets me be me and express how I am!

-Music allows me to express myself. It’s more than just a party, is an experience where I can just free myself and forget about anything and everything that I’m going through. Music helps me express my feelings in a way that words can’t.

-Yes! It’s an escape from people’s troubles and worries to where nothing else in the world matters but that one exact moment, music is an international language itself. Without it the world would be a miserable place.

-Totally! When you feel and love the music, you forget about your problems and worries for a moment.

-Yes, because when I listen to music, I distract myself from reality. I find my own inner place where I can be me. I feel powerful which relates with freedom since I feel capable of achieving certain goals or just to vent it out.

-Yes. It gives you a little escape from reality and makes you feel through the lyrics.

Music truly is a universal language. It is an escape. A shelter. A space to go through each one of our emotions. A movement. A revolution. Music is rebellious and free, and so are we.


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