Tuesday nights is my weekly commercial jazz dance class at Pineapple Dance Studios. I should clarify – the class is on every week – my attendance is….slightly less than that. But that’s something I love about it – it’s a drop-in class, which means that there’s a different routine every week and so it doesn’t matter if you go as and when you feel like it, as the slate is essentially wiped clean each time.
Pineapple might seem intimidating to anyone who’s not been dancing all their life, but I go to a class called ‘absolute beginners’. That’s right – there’s a level pre-beginners! I think the name is well-judged to encourage anyone to come along. It certainly worked for me.
Time to Warm Up!
The whole class is an hour. Each week we start off with stretching and strength exercises – nothing too difficult, particularly as you can choose how far you go into each exercise (I’ll be honest, I’m nowhere near as flexible as most of the others), but challenging enough that you definitely feel as though you’ve had a very decent warm up. This bit lasts for a good 25 mins or so. The exercises vary ever so slightly each week, so whilst you’re always working everything you need to, it doesn’t become too boring. And the songs always change too.
Get Your Groove On
Then it’s time to get down to what we all came for – learning a routine. It’s usually to a song in the top 10 of the charts (I confess, sometimes the first time I’ve heard it, unless it’s been playing on the office Spotify!). I prefer the more pop or soulful type dance music (give me some Ellie Goulding or Pink any time!) as opposed to out and out dance tracks, but more often than not I’m pretty pumped by the song choice once we get going. The teacher, Karen, is also lovely and there’s no chance of being singled out. You simply do your best to follow her, and she makes sure to repeat moves plenty of times until she can see in the mirrors that everyone has pretty much grasped it. There’s a friendly atmosphere that means if you feel like piping up and asking her to repeat a move, she’ll gladly oblige!
I’m happiest when the dance moves are quite dramatic, as the dance studio is really the only time you get to do that. I find it just the best feeling, to just really go for it and let yourself go with the music. Often movements in the routine will mimic the lyrics which is always very satisfying. Due to the level of the class, and the amount of time we have to learn a whole routine, once you’ve learnt a verse, bridge and chorus, you’ll likely find the sequences of moves repeat as the song continues. This helps a lot as it means once you’ve got it down, you can just get into the dance, rather than constantly having to remember what’s next (although there’s always someone to follow at the front). There’s no judgement – you just give it a go, and you soon find that you’re too busy getting into the dance moves to feel self-conscious.
Stick With What You Love
Sometimes at the end of the work day I feel quite tired and don’t know if I can be bothered to go, but apart from the rare times when I just wasn’t feeling the song and perhaps was too tired, I come out of the class feeling great. When my friends ask me why I don’t look for a class closer to home/work, I tell them that to find a class and teacher that I really enjoy isn’t something I’d like to give up easily.
And the studio is in a great location – it’s practically opposite Covent Garden station. It means beforehand I can pop to the huge Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road, or hit up the H&M that’s now moved to right opposite the studio (yep, this week’s purchase was to optimistically buy some new shorts)! The classes are repeated on Saturday lunchtimes, and whilst I don’t often go then as I don’t want to be sweaty all day if I have other things I want to do in town, Soho is always a great place to be on a Saturday afternoon.
I’ve wanted to dance for a long time, but I was always slightly chubby and very shy as a kid – so there was no way I was going to suggest going to a dance class. But once I went to uni I realised that I should finally give it a chance, and now in my adult life, it’s something I’m so glad I found a way to keep up (even if I defiitely dance better in my head than I probably do in reality). If nothing else, I can’t believe something so fun counts as exercise! Though I’ve got into the terrible (apparently unbreakable) habit of buying cheesecake after every class, so I may be negating all that exercise after all!
- If you want a better idea of what commercial jazz is, you can watch a video here
- I can only speak to my experience, but there are obviously an amazing amount of classes on at Pineapple – so if you’re looking for any type of dance, definitely look at their website here