Role model, facilitator, creator.
Moe Aloha’s creates engaging spaces for people. Spaces for men and boys to talk about their feelings, to be vulnerable, to cry. Spaces for strangers to dance, set intentions and connect, and find joy together. Spaces for the people he loves to thrive and be the best version of themselves. You want to be a better person just by being around him, he holds this space for you.
I met Moe at a festival over New Years and was immediately drawn to his energy, and knew I wanted to get to know him better. He is a man of many talents, a wearer of many hats – whether it be as a facilitator and role model to young men with The Man Cave, an event organiser, a studio manager, a music producer and DJ, an optimist and inspiration to his friends. And these hats are not worn separately; their intertwined nature is the very reason for their success, fuelled by Moe’s dedication to live a fully integrated life.
No one ever goes through life completely unaffected by the forces of modern society. Moe will be the first to admit that he didn’t always approach life through this lens of enlightenment and hold himself to such account. It takes work. And Moe has done the work. It’s why he has such an impact on the men of all ages that he works with. He can be completely vulnerable with them, warts and all, and show that there is a strength in doing so.
Breaking down generations of toxic masculinity is never going to be an easy feat. But it is a cycle that Moe is passionately determined to break. I spoke to him about why this work is so necessary, his desire to connect people through events and the future of the live dance music scene in Victoria.
Moe Aloha is…
I see myself as a bit of an astronaut of the inner and outer at universe. I really just want to explore the depths of my own existence and the human experience as well. That underpins everything I do, whether it’s through my friendships, my relationship to myself, or my relationship to my community.
Why do you do what you do and how did you get to this point where you decided this is what you wanted to give back to the community?
I work as a facilitator for an organisation called The Man Cave, supporting young men develop emotional intelligence and awareness around healthy masculinity. I do that a couple of days a week in schools all around Victoria. I also run men’s circles. In those spaces we talk about how things are going for us in an authentic and judgment free space, which, as simple as that sounds, can be quite hard for guys.
I also work as a DJ and run events, and recently they’ve taken on a little bit more of a more wholesome experience. There’s more of an intention behind them, which intersects with my facilitating work. I’m also now producing music and I’m looking forward to running a co-created gathering, which is effectively a festival type experience slash retreat.
On top of that, I have a creative co-working space in Brunswick called New Age Studios. We have private studios, with everything from costume designers to music producers there, as well as a cafe.
Why do I do it? It took me a long time just to figure out what I want to do, what my purpose is in life. I’m really passionate about creating spaces in which people can connect meaningfully. I want to make the esoteric knowledge exoteric, and I want to bring out a more authentic side in everything that we do, so people really live the best lives that they can. I love seeing people shine and overcome their own barriers.
What was your journey to start facilitating with Man Cave and the men’s circle work that you do?
I worked in education and with young people in the UK and I also taught English overseas. But I got into this work when I met my good friend Al about four or five years ago, and we started hanging out socially. The Man Cave were really looking for positive, healthy male role models, and Al had taken over the recruitment and facilitation side of the business and asked me to be a part of it.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the personality, isn’t it? About the connection with these kids, because that’s what’s going to make a difference.
Yeah, one hundred percent. Al’s developed an incredible team of facilitators that are very unique, with a wide spectrum of masculinity. We’ve got everything from someone that’s walked from London to Sydney, barbers, sparkies, gym heads, sports bros, everything.
When you’re in a school, you don’t want to see one type of male. You want to see someone you can relate to. We worked with almost 10,000 young men last year. We are working in schools all over Victoria and will soon be expanding into Sydney.
Most of our facilitators have all had some sort of experience working with a young people or in a workshop capacity. But it’s also about the person they are and that they have done the work. A lot of the work we do is based on being vulnerable. And as a facilitator, if you find that hard to do, how can you expect other people to do the same as well? You’ve got to set the example.
What does a workshop involve? Is it different every time or depend on the group that you’re with?
We follow essentially what is a Rites of Passage framework. So all workshops follow a standard process and there are certain beats we have to hit, but they all turn out differently.
We’ve got to have a bit of fun, play games, and create a healthy relationship with the group. From there, we start to unravel where our ideas of masculinity come from, which will lead to how we’re feeling.
It’s not easy to ask an 11-year-old how things are, and for them to honestly answer you. Chances are, nobody’s ever asked them this before. As a society, we’re really good at asking the first question – how are you? But we don’t ask the second and third questions.
Men also used to play a lot more of an active role in a young man’s life, with a traditional rite of passage prominent in many cultures. This is years ago, before the industrial revolution. In today’s context, that passage is now reflected in how many women you’ve been with or how many beers you drink. That’s how they prove their masculinity.
Men don’t talk about their feelings because it’s been traditionally deemed weak to be vulnerable. And then what happens is you start to see the dangers of not being able to talk about your feelings, what toll that takes. All you’ve got to do is just look at any statistic that shows the rates of incarceration, violent attacks, mental health issues and suicide in men to see there is a pervasive issue within the lives men are living today and they are under a lot of pressure to behave a certain way, which may have detrimental effects. To be tough; not to show any emotions; to be the breadwinner, to always be in control, use violence to solve problems; and to have many sexual partners.
Some of these beliefs, such as condoning the use of violence, are always wrong; others, such as acting strong, can sometimes be useful, but at other times lead to problems (for instance when bottling up negative emotions).
Why is it so fundamental that you’re talking to these guys at a young age?
There is a lot of the support that’s available for men at the treatment phase. So once you are already struggling, the only support for you is to see a therapist or a doctor. And it doesn’t really fix the issue, which is preventing that from happening in the first place.
But when you have these conversations early, and you talk about how you feel, it may not end up getting to a breaking point. We work with young men so they know that talking about their feelings is not a bad thing. It’s not seen as gay or weak, which is how traditional stereotypes may portray it.
So before the issue rises, if you can get guys to a space where they can communicate with each other openly and authentically, that’s when real power arises. It’s amazing to be alive in this period of time where you can see the paradigm start to shift; these pillars of unhealthy masculinity masculine stereotypes that have been holding up this façade of what being a man is like start to crumble, and shake, and disintegrate before your very eyes. Men are starting to connect with their kids a lot more. They’re more loving partners. They’re not holding everything in.
Do you think there are better role models out there now for young men, sports players or actors who are leading by example?
I watched the documentary the other day called Feel Rich on Netflix which talks about hip hop and its intersection with conscious living – looking after both your physical health and your mental and spiritual health. I never thought I’d see the day where something like this came up. You’ve now got rappers like The Game, who are running their own cross-country training sessions on wellbeing.
They’re all seeing their friends die from not looking after themselves. About 60% of African American men grow up in urban cities without a father, so the rappers are their role models. And they’re starting to step up to the challenge. Sports stars are speaking up a lot more too. It’s amazing because technology makes all of that information so more accessible. It’s going to be really interesting to see how it evolves, telling the preventative and education piece so it doesn’t get to that point again.
What’s the feedback been like from the guys who attend the workshops and circles?
Unreal. It really just blows my mind to see how something as simple as communicating your feelings can have such a profound effect on people’s lives.
I run men circles weekly, and every once in a while somebody new comes in, and they’re just blown away because they didn’t even know they could talk about these things. They didn’t know there was anywhere to go. Now guys that come into the circles can have these conversations and come out the other side being open and honest and respected for being vulnerable.
For me personally, The Man Cave is completely changed the trajectory of my own journey and my own growth. I remember when I was doing my first training sessions and it was hard for me to talk about how I was feeling, especially because I had such an abusive father/son relationship growing up. It wasn’t until my second or third retreat that I really started opening up. By doing the work that we do, we know what it’s like for other men. We can put ourselves in their shoes. We know how to hold them in that space because we’ve walked that path.
It creates a ripple effect and it’s really inspiring to see. And every time I’ve walked out of that space, I feel so full, I really feel like I’m making a difference. The best part about it, is I get to make a difference and all I have to do is just be myself. It’s called the integrated life and it’s something that I’m really trying to build for myself.
You mentioned the Celestial Gatherings before as a new way of running a ‘conscious’ event. Can you explain a bit more about that?
I’ve been running events for a few years and they were always just the most fun and everyone that came in felt like they could make a friend or build a new relationship. But for me, I really wanted to create an experience where people could come out, feel more wholesome and that they have grown from the experience. Because for me, dancing under the stars with smoke and beats, something that’s been done for millions of years, is a really powerful experience.
With Celestial Gatherings, we’ve created additional spaces that people can go and interact with, such as an art gallery where you can go and appreciate really beautiful art and support local artists. We’ve also had some of the most talented magicians at the events.
The art and the magic has the power of slapping you into the present moment and really makes you focus on what’s happening in front of you, instead of thinking about all the stresses you have at home or the problems you’ve got coming up. It brings you into the here and now.
We have also started doing a men’s and women’s circles before the event. We check in and people talk about the issues that they’re facing in their lives. Some people are struggling and some are having an amazing time, so this is a nice chance to connect with those people. A lot of them don’t know each other, so creates an extra level of intimacy. After we check in we’ll set an intention for the night. For me intentions are the architects of the reality that you create for yourself.
What happens is other people in the circle can hold you accountable, and that energy creates a powerful authenticity and connection on the dancefloor. And the best thing is there are other events that are now starting to take this mindfulness element into their nights out.
What does the future look like for events? Will it be a slow transition back to having smaller, more intimate events?
Definitely more intimacy. I don’t think people are really fiending to get back into clubs. I think the festivals will come back a lot smaller, a lot more intimate. There won’t be big names for a while because of travel restrictions, so we’ll see the local scene flourish. Whenever I go to a festival, the best music comes from the locals for me anyway.
You’ve been doing a few virtual parties. Have you found those?
It’s been amazing. I love to DJ and I just love being able to express my soul to people on a dance floor. And I’ve really missed that part. But I haven’t missed the late nights!
I recently played a Zoom event for my friend who is a very well-known mindfulness practitioner in Russia. She’s got a huge following. I didn’t actually see until about half way through how many people were in the event because I was DJing. There were literally hundreds of people. It was fucking crazy and I just vibed off of that so much.
Obviously, I’d much rather be doing it in front of people in a live setting, but this is the best we can do at the moment.
As humans, we can forget our capacity for resilience and how quickly we can adapt. A lot of people, when they talk about this experience, have said it’s actually not as bad as they thought it would be. It’s called impact bias – when we try to predict the future, things are a lot worse. Most of the time they don’t turn out nearly as bad as you thought, and even if they do, we adapt really quickly.
To learn more about the incredible work of The Man Cave, visit themancave.life/
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