Talking 80s Dance on Bay FM
What it’s like running a creative business in Byron Shire
As embarrassing as it is to hear your own voice played back, here’s an interview I did with Phil on Byron Business, People & Lifestyle. It’s one of many fantabulous shows on Byron Shire’s very own radio station: Bay FM 99.9.
You can read the interview below.
If you’re new to Byron Shire, this is an uplifting, eclectic and often eccentric channel to tune in and perhaps subscribe to. Locally owned and operated, I think Bay FM helps keep Byron real.
Interview with Marissa Treichel and Phil Daly on Bay FM, 99.9
What is the business, ‘The Cassettes’, and what was the motivation for this business ‘inspired by the 80’s dance music’?
The Cassettes provide fun, well organised, and welcoming 80s Dance Classes to friendly adults in Byron, Bangalow, Mullumbimby and now Ballina and Ocean Shores. I also teach live online classes to people all over Australia via zoom, as well as travelling to festivals and special events to lead Cassette Workshops (more recently just on zoom).
The Cassettes emerged as an irresistible creative impulse – not as a business idea. It was something fun that I wanted to do – that I HAD to do, actually. I had to choreograph a fun and hilarious dance (or maybe a few hundred, as it turns out!); and it had to be to 80s songs. Because they are funny and emotive and bring a sense of togetherness among people. This fun idea coincidentally appealed to a lot of people.
In the early days (2013) I choreographed a duo to “Let’s Get Physical” for my friend Dave’s 80s-themed 40th birthday party (wearing matching op-shop Adidas catsuits); “Push It” with four dancers for a big outdoor party; “Walk Like an Egyptian” for a fundraiser at Brunswick heads – these were just with my friends dancing with me for fun.
My motivation was to make people laugh and feel warm and fuzzy, and to give me the chance to create layered and interesting dance theatre.
I decided to get a bit more serious, and apply for some music festivals.
I was successful getting into Mullum Music Festival and Falls Festival – so I thought I’d better run an audition and get a group together!
The original group had 8 dancers, with just 1 class running per week. More people wanted to join, so I opened up 2 more classes. Lismore, Byron and Mullumbimby. At this point everyone performed in flashmobs and performances, one per group each term, from farmers markets to woodford folk festival to private parties. So i was dance teacher, and event manager.
At some point I realised it would make more sense, and be so much easier for me, if I had just 1 performance group, and also offered Beginner classes. Most of my dancers were beginners anyway! Not everyone wants to or is ready to perform at public events.
My passion is in choreographing, and creating healthy fun that everyone can enjoy and experience – this is 100% what happens in our beginner classes.
Where did the name come from (for those who don’t know what cassettes are) and how does it relate to your prospective clients/customers?
Cassettes are a pre-internet rectangular miracle used to play music (invented in 1963, fyi). On Cassettes you will find the world’s best music : )
I initially had “Melted Cheese” as my business name. Glenn director of Mullum Music Festival loved my concept – flashmobbing 80s dance routines and running 80s dance workshops – but he requested I change the name! My husband and I brainstormed it together. A big voila! moment.
The cool thing about The Cassettes, is that all of my students are themselves “Cassettes”. It’s an identity, symbolising a creative spark, inclusion, celebrating life and feeling alive.
Could you tell us a little about your business and/or career background?
I completed BA Majors in Contemporary Dance, Visual Art and Creative Writing at Deakin University, followed by Grad Dip Ed at Southern Cross University. I’ve always loved the arts, including public art: I’m interested in activating public spaces to make them safer, and more pleasant to be in.
I’m a physical, tactile person, and sharing that joy of creativity through teaching. I was deeply and positively influenced by the work of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. I’ve loved studying Expressive Arts Therapy in private short courses – the content is so good!
Next year as well as co-teaching our Cassette classes, I’m exploring studying Counselling, as I want to solidify the therapeutic benefits of what Cassettes already offers, as well as learn more skills and open up new directions for my biz.
Cassette teacher and friend Ruth once said to me, “Nudging people in the right direction and peeling off petals to show people’s strengths is one of your biggest talents.” That’s something I’d like to keep doing…I’m not sure how exactly! Perhaps through re-teaching my live online program, The Raddest Self Care Course Eva.
Earlier this year, myself and Vicki Lawrence successfully applied for funding to create a dance-theatre show exploring loneliness, featuring the Cassette teaching team. It was called The Loneliness Connection (TLC), and staged at the wonderful Drill Hall Theatre in Mullumbimby, with mentorship from Director Liz Chance.
I also recently spoke at The Vagina Conversations led by celebrant, deathwalker and Byron legend Zenith Virago, which is really a powerful space where women come together and life changing stories, many challenging ones that deserve to be heard and understood.
Mental and emotional health and wellbeing is integral to everything I do, just as much as physical health – we are all vulnerable as well as infinitely strong. There’s beauty in understanding – and not being scared of – the dark spaces inside us and inside our culture: and bringing light to it. This is how we move forward, grow and flourish.
Pre-Cassettes, I administrated the first Australian Contact Improvisation Convergence through NORPA, and performed in NORPA’s Beautiful Bones, directed by Brian Lucas. I also managed a skateboard festival (!) Fair Go, through my work at Ballina District Community Services Association. As all mums know, being a mum has been, and is, a very big part of my life, throughout everything else. I have a background in childcare, and am very interested in all stages of child development – supporting them to be comfortable and their whole selves.
What’s your connection with the Byron shire/Northern Rivers area? How did you come to live here?
I was living in Brisbane working on an arts festival (2 high young women in the arts), through Backbone Youth Arts and my future husband was living here – Jake – he grew up in Nimbin. For a big city Brisbane didn’t have a lot of dance-theatre happening, alas! And Byron Shire was so much more beautiful. I joined him here in 2005, 16 years ago. We have 2 kids, aged 12 and nearly 15 at Mullumbimby High School and Main Arm Upper Primary School – have had such positive experiences at both schools. I want to always contribute in meaningful, fun and creative ways to our Byron community.
With COVID and lockdowns over the past 18 months has made it impossible to dance….are you excited to now be allowed to get down and ‘boogie’ and to be able to run dance classes in 2022?
So excited. Myself and my other teachers, and our students have commented how much dancing with Cassettes brings them each week. I’ve had headaches for the first time in my life since not teaching regular classes! It brings me a lot of health benefits and joy as much as our students.
This year when not in lockdown we had to wear masks – that was hard, as our classes are very much cardio fitness, strength, toning, flexibility etc – very challenging panting in a mask. Never appreciated breathing freely so much!
One big bonus of lockdown: I took the opportunity in 2020 to lead a 10-week live online course I’d just created: The Raddest Self Care Course Eva. I love leading online classes, and it’s astonishing how much direct connection you can feel – much like we’re having right now on the radio. We’re not in the same room, but we’re still here together with your listeners.
In January 2022 you are running dance classes right across the Byron and Ballina shire’s….tell us about these classes? What can people who attend these classes expect? Who is the target audience for these classes?
Yes lots of new opportunities for beginner adult dancers looking for a fun injection to their week:
– Cassettes new 4-week 80s Dance Bootcamp – live online via zoom – 1 hour per week, plus videos and PDF activities. I stream these from my home in Mullumbimby, with my gold glitter curtain backdrop : )
– Within Byron and Ballina Shire, we’re running 8-week term, 1.20min per week, plus videos.
(choose Mon morn and eve, tues eve, weds morn and eve, fri morn).
What to expect:
In the online and in-person classes, myself and Cassette teacher Vicki Lawrence and our “door goddesses” will gradually teach a complete 80s dance routine, which we perform for each other at the end of term. I’m teaching “Don’t Stop Believin” (the first piece I choreographed for a festival) and Vicki is teaching “Walk like an Egyptian”. We have 20 students in each class and tend to sell out each term: part of the joy is being part of a focused, joyful group. And an inclusive group: that’s important. We’re all ages here, and all sizes, a wide range of fitness levels.
As well as the main routine, we lead Cassette warm-up tracks, stretching sequences to smooth out the kinks, core work to tone ones’ buns, and beautiful, easy creative and connection activities, and a short but effective relaxation. We squeeze a lot into every class.
Our students are generally women aged 30 – 60,(plus minus either side). We have a few men too. Our students are friendly, respectful, helpful, grounded, proactive people. They don’t need to be “creative” or know how to dance – our job is to make that part easy. Healthy people, but not obsessively so. The focus is on how we feel.
Why do think the 80’s and in particular dancing 80’s style, is still being longed for…what is it about the music of the 80’s and dance? Will these classes be a ‘regular thing’ going into 2022?
Yes – it’s the optimism, the sweetness, the silliness, the fun! The absence of cynicism. The daggyness. Life is too pretty and neat and perfectly presented these instagram days. And Cassettes is about saying: we are not perfect, and yet check it out. We’re here, rocking out.
Yes regular – we run very organised classes, and have the whole year scheduled. A festival workshop booked in too, first in a while!
What area/s do you think, your company ‘The Cassettes’, has a competitive advantage over your competitors, or to put it another way, what is your unique selling proposition?
The authenticity of The Cassettes can’t be replicated.
Our classes literally exist so that people (including myself!) can have immense fun, social connection, intellectual stimulation, physical health, creativity, increased self-esteem based on getting to know and love themselves better – because it’s not just a dance class (reflective writing, creative drawing, self development activities….and a whole lotta 80s dance. Or, “post disco” as I’ve heard it said.)
Vicki and I are both very experienced and qualified teachers and dance leaders. People feel comfortable in our classes – including shy people, or those who haven’t done a lot of dance or movement – or haven’t for a while. If someone were to say “I have a weak pelvic floor” or “I’m slow to pick up choreography”, we know what to say to make people feel at home. We aim to make everyone – including people who are experienced, intermediate dancers – feel safe to shine. Split leaps can be executed with perfection, or be a playful deer leap of joy.
Something you won’t find elsewhere is the humour – it’s inside the movement itself!
Cassette students also receive home dance videos with their normal in-person term booking.
Retrosweat in Sydney and Body Electric in Melbourne are other 80s dance / 80s aerobic / retro fitness classes that I know of. They’re very cool, and both very different. We have the colour, flair and body inclusion of Body Electric, and would easily burn as many calories as Retrosweat…we may, however, sadly wear less g-strings.
Cassette dance style is “gently hardcore”, as you use every single muscle and move in every direction – but you rarely feel like you’re exercising. And that is the point and the fun!
Bende Barre in Habitat Byron Bay, and lots of other great local dance schools such as Inspire, We Move, Dance Dynamics and That’s My Jam, offer different experiences again. Then there’s Creature Yoga and Seeker and Kind, and the many yoga offerings of Byron Shire – including my long time favourite, Kathryn Riding. I like to dip my toe in and receive from others, as a dance and movement teacher and choreographer. It’s important to fill your well.
How do people get further information?
To find where an 80s dance class is in Byron Shire, or in Ballina Shire, or live online, go to www.thecassettes.com.au Or find us on insta and facebook. I’m also (finally!) on LinkedIn: Marissa Treichel
You can also shoot us an email: [email protected]
So looking forward to seeing all of our amazing dancers and groovers next year. Amazing to see so many new and returning students booking in to their class of choice – Ballina, Mullumbimby, Bangalow, Byron Bay and Ocean Shores!
Yay to blooming together in our new morning 80s dance venues.
In love and lightning,