I have taken dance classes for most of my life, so when I saw a sign in the window of a local dance studio offering a free first-time hip-hop class, I thought I would give it a whirl.
I am usually coordinated and graceful when it comes to dance movements. I feel the beat. If I can get past feeling embarrassed and inhibited, I can really shake my groove thang. But, yesterday my groove thang wasn’t shaking. It was wondering what the hell it was supposed to be doing.
I have taken hip-hop before, and while I have been able to do certain moves with ease, I can’t do the body rolls where you wriggle from your shoulders to your toes and then wriggle back up again. I do have plenty of body rolls, sort of like when you hit a container of biscuit dough against the counter and all the dough pops out. In fact, it took me about ½ hour to get ready for the class because I had to stuff my back fat into my sports bra and my muffin top into my spandex workout pants.
But, yesterday’s class was different from other hip-hop classes I have taken because the teacher didn’t use numbers to count the movements we were supposed to be learning. Instead of the usual, “and a 5,6,7,8…” she said, “you go here and then phewm, and then pop, then we’re going to zloop, and shh, shh, shh.”
Pardon me, but WHAT?
What exactly is a phewm and a zloop?
She told us at the beginning of the class that she teaches in an unorthodox manner. She told us she doesn’t use counts, because that’s the way she was taught in L.A. Plus, this wasn’t the first class of the session. I didn’t know when the first class was because I had just seen this sign offering a free class and thought I could handle it. The other woman in the class said she had a hard time with the “no beat counting”, too, when she first started, and so did the other few women in the class who weren’t there that day. But, she assured me I’d catch on in another class or two.
Um, no. I won’t. Because I’m not coming back.
If the music had been more familiar to me, I might have been able to connect it to the moves, but I am not as familiar with John Legend’s music as I’d like to be. If she had used Janet Jackson music, I would have been able to be “Nasty”, in “Control”, or part of “The Rhythm Nation”. If she had used Michael Jackson (may he rest in peace) music I would have been able to “Rock With You,” show you who’s “Bad”, and be a “Dancing Machine.” I even know a lot of The Black Eyed Peas songs and “I Gotta Feeling” I can show you “My Humps”, and “Boom Boom Pow” with the best of them. But, since I didn’t know the music, and we started on the beat that comes after the first beat (the beat I would refer to as “2”), the junk in my trunk stunk.
I looked around and noticed there was no clock in the room. The class began at 1 pm and was supposed to end at 2 pm. I had no idea if 15 minutes had passed by or if it was tomorrow. Plus the teacher closed the door at the beginning of the class and “I Gotta Feeling” of “Bad” and “Nasty” claustrophobia. I was losing “Control.”
Then she started showing us the hand movements that were supposed to accompany the feet. “You put your hand up to your mouth, and it’s uh, uh, umph, da, ditty, da. Then you take your other arm and whip it up to the other side of your head, and it’s a boom , ba, da, da, zloop.” I thought I was going to accidentally punch myself in the head so hard I would pass out.
That’s when my left eye started twitching.
We went over and over the combination until we had learned the first 23 seconds of the song. 23 seconds? It took all that time to learn the movements to just 23 seconds of the song?
No clock. Can’t breathe. Eye twitching. Closed door. Almost knocked myself out for the 5th time. And I’m no closer to learning this routine than I was when the class began. I am grateful this class is free and doubtful that I’ll return next week. And, can someone please tell me what time it is? I am in hip-hop hell.
After the class we all talked a bit about ourselves. Throughout the class the 23-year-old teacher, and the 39-year-old other student kept telling me I was doing well. But, when they found out I was 49, they both said, “Wow! You did GREAT!” I felt like they would have handed me a walker, if there were one, and then help me out to my car.
The same dance studio is thinking of offering stripper classes. Now there’s something I’d be interested in learning. They don’t have poles, but they teach you some basic sexy moves and it’s supposedly a really tough workout, not slutty.
But, then I found out the same person who teaches the hip-hop class would teach the stripper class. I just couldn’t see myself trying to be sexy to “zloops, bam, ba, das, and shh, shh, shh’s”, while simultaneously trying not to whack myself in the head. And let’s face it. A 49-year-old stripper is just plain sad.
I think I’ll go back to the gym I usually go to and try the Zumba class again. I’ve taken it before and the teacher actually used numbers to count. “That I can do! I can do that!”*
*Lyrics from “A Chorus Line.”