Chewin’ the Fat throw dance parties to support mental health

Chewin’ the Fat throw dance parties to support mental health

Words by Sam Howard

An inspiring initiative from the Melbourne beat-lovers.

On average, people speak more than 7,000 words per day. Yet mental health is a topic that is barely spoken about – an issue which can have a detrimental impact within the dance music scene. 

The dance community is often a haven for people to shy away from their worries – a place to distract themselves or to leave qualms for another day. A place to party and forget. And that’s why talking about mental health here is critical.  

That’s where the idea behind Chewin’ the Fat came about – a dance party dedicated to raising awareness and creating an environment for mental health to be discussed openly.  

Benji, Lachie, Bryn, Ewan and James found their lives unexpectedly shattered when one of their friends took their own life. It quickly dawned on them that there is little room or opportunity for people to openly discuss difficult parts of their lives, including their own mental states.

The group, who come together from a range of collectives (Wax Nomads, Groove Sweat, Modus, Native Home House of Plants and Crate Mates), witness people using partying as a place to escape their problems weekend in, weekend out.

“We see so many people just putting a blanket over mental health and we’re trying to remove that blanket so that people can be more open,” Benji says. 

“People are often reluctant to talk about these things and they need the right environment. Especially dudes – if you’re having a shit day, you’re often told to ‘Suck it up and deal with it’ and this manifests the problems instead,” says Lachie. 

The crew wanted to run a fundraiser that was “about more than just raising money” and instead, they wanted to “create an event where people could feel comfortable opening up in a supportive environment,” says James.

What was intended as a one-off gig has turned into a regular event because of the overwhelmingly positive response they’ve received from both attendees and artists who feel more comfortable providing insights into their own mental health.

“I had friends come up to me and say things were totally different for them after the events,” says Bryn. “One friend told me they were so scared to talk, but were able to have a conversation on the dance floor and off it, too. We want people to talk about these sometimes intense, heavy and important subjects in environments with people who will relate.”

100 per cent of profits from Chewin’ the Fat go to mental health charities. You can find the next event on Friday October 25 at The Night Cat featuring visual and musical art from Merve, Midnight Tenderness, Ryan Berkeley, Touchwood and Maya with proceeds going to R U OK.