Sponsored: I jumped at the chance to attend a women only dance class with Gay Men’s Dance Company.
The ex-theatre school kid in me was buzzing.
I was fully prepared to go all in and give 110%.
My best friend told me it was for that exact reason she feared for the other people who’d be in the class with me. Also that my chosen attire made me look like a school PE teacher.
The idea of an all female dance class was extremely appealing, as it also apparently was for some of the women who attended.
While the class usually consists of around 12 women I’m told, this week there was just the 6 of us.
Kimberly was our teacher. I joined Amirah, Dasha, Angelique and Olga as her students.
Angelique explained she comes because it’s nice to just be in a group with women. Amirah agreed, explaining ‘it’s not intimidating, unlike most other dance classes in London.’
Olga said the class helps you gain confidence, as well as being a nice way to socialize.
Dasha joined the group because she got bored at the gym, saying the classes are fun and good for getting you out of your comfort zone.
She said: ‘It’s a challenge! Because it’s okay to dance in a club, but how do you do a routine?’
So how do you do a routine?
I felt like I needed to douse myself in my bottle of water
We began with a typical warm up, which actually made me sweat a lot more than the dancing itself I’d say.
I could deal with the box steps and grape vines. I could do those with my eyes closed.
There’s no room for being uptight or self-conscious in this warm up either. You’re encouraged to help each other stretch (Shout out to my partner Angelique).
It was when we got to working our abs and core strength that I was at risk of tapping out.
My abs were worked so hard, they felt like they’d done three 13-hour long night shifts in a row. It was madness.
I felt like I needed to douse myself in my bottle of water rather than drink it.
After a breather and a lie-down, my breathing was back and I was ready to continue.
I’d forgotten just how fast dance is
Kim had informed us that this week, we’d be dancing to Beyonce’s track Who Run The World.
You won’t be laughing as much at that as we were.
The group was starting to prepare for attending the Royal Vauxhall Tavern sports day. Last year, GMDC won and they were determined to do so again this year.
For this reason, Kim told us the routine would be a bit quicker and bit more intense than normal.
That was fine. I was ready. I was prepared (Thanks to the vigorous warm up).
What I’d completely forgotten from theatre school was just how fast dance is.
Walking through the steps and moves is fine.
No one watches a dancer’s feet
The moment you put on the music, everything is a blur and all you do is wave your arms about and hope for the best.
Kim took care to help anyone with any bit of the routine they struggled with, however.
There wasn’t a moment I felt like we were judged by her for not picking things up straight away. Which lends to why we were all so relaxed and comfortable throughout the entire class.
‘There’s something about women,’ Kim told GSN. ‘We’re very judgmental of ourselves. I think the reason that is – It’s a straight man’s world, isn’t it?’
She says it’s hard to get people into the classes but once they are in here, they happy.
‘Look at these guys,’ She gestures to the group. ‘They’re pretty confident. What I find normally is, when it’s a small class, that’s pretty hard to achieve.
‘When it’s a big class, it’s “Let’s just do this because it doesn’t matter and we can’t be seen.” But considering there’s five of you, they don’t care. You didn’t care. It’s pretty chilled. It’s a good environment.’
As the routine is practiced a few times, most of it becomes frantic arm waving with a purpose, as opposed to without.
Kim constantly reminds us, no one goes to a show and watches a dancer’s feet. You watch their faces.
She’s not wrong.
‘I found a passion for empowering people’
We got the majority of the routine down to a T after a fair amount of walk throughs.
Then at the end of the class, the routine was recorded so people who had to miss today’s class could catch up.
The portions we couldn’t quite master were performed by Kim.
She went to Uni to study dance and says she kind of ‘fell into teaching.’
‘Someone offered me an opportunity and it just grew and grew and grew,’ She explained.
She’d been the choreographer for Pride in London for six years when Alex, who runs Gay Men’s Dance Company, contacted her. He explained how he’d had requests for a ladies class. And here Kim is today.
‘I found a passion for empowering people,’ Kim says about teaching. ‘Whether it’s a fitness thing or they want to learn a new skill or grow in confidence, it’s quite contagious.
‘That feeling of helping people be able to do that, to be able to come to class and just be free. You come into this world that’s so accepting and everyone’s so relaxed, there’s no judgment and just have fun.’
‘We need more women’
Typically after classes, everyone goes to the pub for a drink.
Amirah chimes in: ‘It makes it so that you can have a dance and then have a drink.’
‘It’s the best time to do it because your metabolism is really high!’ Kimberly laughs in response.
Without even realizing, half an hour after the class finished we’re all still stood in the studio chatting.
A recurring thing though is the need for more women.
The group debate whether the low attendance level is because there’s a lack of promotion for the classes or whether more women are just too self-conscious to attend.
Kim announces to the group that much like how the men’s group grew and then earned themselves a slot on Pride in London’s main stage, they could too.
The women’s classes have only been running for 5 or 6 weeks now, so they all have high hopes though – ‘There’s a lot of potential.’
For more information about Gay Men’s Dance Company’s Ladies classes, head to their website.