IT’S a story we’ve rarely heard, yet it’s one that’s earned its own place in the history of dance music culture. Leyolah Antara, previously known as Antara Deckker, is the woman who helped visualise the Earthdance phenomena with former-partner Chris (Deckker). The ‘seed’ behind the legendary ‘link-ups’ was spawned to synchronise a global Prayer for Peace, and is one she visualised in the wake of a tantric experience in a little corner of an eastern paradise two decades ago. Leyolah was a 23-year old woman on a journey to the soul – and this, is her story.
It was 1997. Data transmission was clogging up the airwaves as fax machines went mental in countless countries in the days running up to the Earthdance Global Peace Party in London.
Chris Deckker and Ashera Hart were up to their armpits in work as they prepared for the event. Meanwhile, 5,437 miles away in Los Angeles, Leyolah and a team of local promoters were busy doing the same thing as event organisers all over the world synchronised their clocks to play the Prayer for Peace at exactly the same time.
Ashera, who was also the original voice behind the prayer for peace, tells me: “Each fax described how to focus the party promoter’s global peace meditation to their nearest planetary power spot or sacred site.”
“And yes, the fax machine was going crazy! It would sometimes take hours because numbers didn’t work or were engaged.”
Those were the days of pre-email technology. Chris was managing operations from a little room in a shared house tucked away somewhere in London.
The chaos is hardly surprising when you consider the 700 Earthdance events that have been held in more than 50 countries since 1997. It’s a wild seed that has grown, bloomed, withered, and in more recent times, as we have witnessed, watered and blossomed.
Leyolah envisioned and wrote the Prayer for Peace in LA in 1996 and then met with Chris in a cafe in West Hollywood to make the final edit. The vocals were recorded with Ashera and it was distributed to party promoters globally when the first Earthdance party finally came to fruition the following year.
Chris and Leyolah conceived the idea for the Prayer for Peace in unison in 1990 when they got held up in Kuala Lumpur enroute to India.
“We were tantric lovers,” Leyolah begins.
“And there were really high vibrations. We were staying in this classic old Malaysian hotel room and we’d just made love and were in this expansive state. And I remember seeing this vision of all these people at different spots around the globe just linking at the same time, creating a web of light.
“And I remember staring at the ceiling of that hotel room and seeing this vision of pixelated geometric grids that linked the different party events and feeling really ecstatic about the potential of that – and the amazing thing is, Chris took that seed and made it all happen.”
Basking in the after-glow of tantric love, Leyolah said they visualised the global gatherings that would take place all over the world. “The focus would be love and peace, and in my language, we would connect to the earth core and use our bodies as a bridge to anchor the star energy into the planet, so that was the original dream seed of it.”
We are discussing the dynamics of global energetic light activation at 2am GMT on a Tuesday morning. Leyolah is in Australia and will be boarding a plane to London for the first time in 20 years.
Her time in the city became a pivotal point of her life – and listening to her speak about it was like re-living the remnants of 90s London all over again.
The Mass, George IV, Prince of Wales, the Drome, Brixton Academy, The Dog Star, 411, Purple Turtle, Tyssen Street Studios, the Fridge and squats like Telepathic Fish and Butterfly Studios. These were the places that inspired the spirit of an enlightened dance music crowd as rave and chill out culture became religions in their own right. 1992 was rocking and London was having it.
At exactly the same time, somewhere in the midst of the North Sea, Leyolah, Chris and their friend Sarah Sol had just left Amsterdam and were about to casually drift into the midst of this mayhem – more precisely, into the confines of Butterfly Studios, the space opened in Brixton by music producer Youth.
“I remember being on this boat to London,” recalls Leyolah, “and I had a vision where I actually saw Youth’s face appear into my reality like a hologram.
“It was quite remarkable because I’d never seen a photo or met him before. And I only realised it was him when I saw him sitting on the floor at Butterfly Studios and I said – oh… that’s the guy who appeared in my vision.”
There probably couldn’t have been a better introduction to London.
She added: “Butterfly was our entry into the city. The Orb were playing downstairs, Youth was upstairs, all the guys were sitting around chilling out and they were serving vegetarian Indian food for everyone at night.
“It was such a gorgeous time. Youth was in his velvet jacket, we were in our psychedelic realm straight out of Goa and we were partying at different estates across England. We were like these seventies hippy children.”
Sarah Sol unfortunately landed in an Indian prison so Chris and Leyolah and friends held a fundraising party to get her out. It was a massive success and they were joined by Phil Ross, Mark Allan and Janice Duncan. Return to the Source (RTTS) club nights were consequently born and took London by storm.
“It was a very inspirational time, and it was the first stage of the awakening. There was so much positivity in the air.
“I had this little group of priests and priestesses – sometimes there were 22 of us doing ritual performances – using fire to create a sacred space at the RTTS parties. It was like bringing this sacred element onto the dance floor, which we would work energetically – just lifting off negative energies.
“People would just get so high on that dance floor, but they wouldn’t know why. Meanwhile, we were quietly clearing out all the dark spirits from the Fridge with my sage stick and drum, cleansing the place and transforming it from a gremlin-like dungeon into a beautiful bright light temple.”
Leyolah, together with Chris as Medicine Drum, and other members, formed the Sushumna Ritual Dance Theatre – and it became one of the first forms of ‘prayer-formance’ to hit the party scene.
“I wanted to take the ritual dance off the stage and onto the dance floor,” says Leyolah.
“And that’s when we started to create the seven-pointed star with a cauldron of fire in the middle – encouraging us to look within, hearts connected. The cauldron was a a wok on a stand flickering with blue flames.
“I think our energy work on the dance floor was unseen, but people would walk in and suddenly feel really happy.”
More than six thousand happy people turned up to the Brixton Academy for RTTS’s Chakra Journey CD launch party in 1995 – an album visualised by Leyolah.
RTTS co-founder Phil Ross recalls: “I was always struck by the huge energy and strength that Leyolah had. That night she organised a huge chakra dance ceremony with the Sushumna Dance Theatre on the ground in the auditorium of Brixton Academy. It was colour-coordinated with the lighting crew and as the night progressed, it got busier and busier until it was completely full.
“And then about an hour after opening up, Leyolah started the ceremony itself – and by the time they finished, the place was completely packed and it had morphed from a chakra dance ceremony to a full on dance party. I remember it was becoming quite difficult to maintain the ceremonial circle as the place began to fill.”
Leyolah had to leave London in 1996. She had returned from Mexico but was refused entry. “They gave me a month. It was a bit of a wrench because I was at the peak period of my life.
“We were really exploring the intentional vibration at that time and then suddenly I had to go back to Australia and start again, but it wasn’t the same.”
After digesting the un-timely news that she had to leave the city, Chris and Leyolah conducted a crop circle ceremony. “I did my shakti breathing to connect with the crop, the wheat, the earth energy, and it shot up through my central channel.
“I had this experience where my thymus chakra blasted open and I saw this fractalized vision of Kali faces, it was like I had to face the point where my soul had separated from source.
“I used sound in a way l‘d never used before and that felt like it opened my core separation wound out of my solar plexus – I started to explore how I could cultivate that earth energy through my body – how I could move that Kundalini shakti, and the different ways she could manifest.
“So I started to see the deity. It wasn’t outside of me, Kali was the force of Kundalini moving inside me, and she was the force that would clear the blockages – she was that Kali force.
“Then the vision transformed into a balance of light and dark and then the third phase of the vision was an integration of light grids through my whole body system. I felt so much love.”
This, so to speak, was Leyolah’s leaving party as she made off for the shores of LA. And from this point, her relationship with husband Chris transitioned to a friendship, which continues to this day.
RTTS parties continued in her absence – at least until the launch of the Sacred Sites CD in 1998, but things were never quite the same again.
Contributing factors also included the rise in competitive promoters across London’s underground party scene. However, there were other factors too.
“I think it was more challenging to hold the spiritual space when the sacred feminine had left,” she tells me.
Phil Ross agrees: “Chris and Leyolah’s joint energy was a huge part of Return to the Source. When they split, they continued to work together, but their energy started to dissipate. Leyolah left the country, and then Chris left too. We tried to maintain a feminine energy with some amazing female contributors, but no one really had Leyolah’s feminine power and so it was difficult to stop RTTS from becoming just one big trance party – whereas before, it was more than that, it was a happening.”
He added: “She’s one of the strongest spiritual women I’ve ever met – hugely creative and sometimes quite terrifying yet exciting at the same time. An immensely powerful woman. She’s just fabulous, absolutely wonderful.”
Leyolah conceived the initial vision of Earthdance in that hotel room back in 1990. Six years later, at the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Chris visualised the name: Earthdance – a global party for planetary peace – and a fundraiser for Tibet.
“And then he made it happen,” says Leyolah. “He was the networker, an amazing connector. The feminine sees things, and then a good masculine will come along and manifest that seed, and Chris did that.”
Earthdance London was born a year later in 1997 – which takes us back to the beginning of our story and how Chris and Leyolah came to simultaneously stage Earthdance events at opposites sides of the pond.
Moving back to Australia, Leyolah continued to hold Earthdance events in the subtropical rainforests and beaches of Byron Bay Shire for the next seven years.
She adds: “My role was always as the woman guiding in the background, while Chris was more in the forefront. He took the vision of Earthdance as a world peace event to the next level by taking care of structures, orchestrating the parties, and making it happen in the real world. So in this way, he birthed the project. In fact we both did with our masculine and feminine energies – and we both acknowledged the link up was the key thing, the part where we are connecting everybody at the same time in that intentional moment.”
Those formative years shaped and trained Leyolah for the work she does today in Australia as the creator and founder of Kundalini Dance – which she describes as ‘a powerful life changing alchemical dance practice.’
“It’s really interesting, because I now host global webinars for deep healing for groups of 250 – 1000 women at a time. I generally pick a theme such as healing sexual shame and literally work the energy for the group of women.”
She added: “I think Earthdance trained me for this work, which is all very deep and transformational. It’s a part of my own wounded priestess story too, but I see it as part of my journey of empowerment as a young woman of 26.”
Things have come full circle for Leyolah as she returns to London at the age of 51 for the first time in 20 years to host this week’s Earthdance party.
She says: “If there’s any message I would like to get out there, it’s one of inspiration behind this global link up. And so at 1am, we drop all our personal stories, drop all our shit and get to the feeling of envisioning peace.
“And how we create and manifest that is by feeling it is happening already. I’m really excited to be invited to orchestrate this link up with Natalie Slater. It’s going to be a very special night.”
Interview and article by AnuKi Media