I am not a great dancer, and I just take dance classes for fun and fitness, but I really like doing it because it makes me happy. What also makes me happy is seeing others dance and enjoy themselves, so I am going to try to convince you to try hip hop dance class for selfish reasons.
My qualifications: On-and-off for 5 years at about 8 different locations around the Bay Area. I have never performed, but if you want to hit me up for clubbing, I promise I’ll be a really fun dancing partner. ;)
What it is: Originally a street dance to hip hop music, it has now evolved into a mainstream dance style with various sub-genres like breakdancing, locking, popping, tutting, etc.
What you’ll actually be doing: You start off stretching and warming up, then possibly some across the door moves. Finally your instructor will teach you a short routine for the remaining of the class. Each teacher’s style is different and they can’t help but utilize similar movements, so class should become easier each time if you take it from the same person.
What you’ll be working on: Depending on the routine, hip hop dance class includes cardio and or exercising your core, legs, and arms. The trick to make certain moves look really cool and effortless is often contracting your abs or arm muscles right. If there’s going to be heavy floor work, the instructor often ask you to bring knee pads beforehand. You also really get to work on your musicality in class by matching what your body does to the timing of beats. Mostly routines are measured in 8-counts but occasionally it’s choreographed to the lyrics. And like all dances, the routine often tell a story or convey a mood so you get to use your acting or “character modeling” skills a bit. Maybe this week you’re dancing to Aalijah but the next time is Frank Ocean. Bring out your performance alter ego with facial expressions and some attitude.
Music you are most likely going to hear during class: Hip hop obviously, but the time period vary greatly. Could be old school, could be the latest Top 40’s.
What the instructors are like and what they’re likely to say or do: Oh man. Hip hop dance instructors are some of the most fun people on the planet. They make me giggle or laugh all the time. They’re never boring and they’re just happy to see you show up for class and share their passion. They don’t care how good you are because everyone gotta start out somewhere.
Who are likely going to be in your class: Literally anybody and everybody. I’ve seen dancers with completely grey hair and a lot of swag, and I’ve seen pregnant ladies break it down. I will admit that the classes usually have a female slant unless it’s breakdancing, but that could be a selling point for ya. Most dance studios offer classes reserved for kids, but you might get some teenage classmates who will make you feel really bad about your own dancing skills. Don’t be- They have to go through puberty and adolescent still, so you do have that over them.
Suggested attire: Comfortable sports apparel with athletic shoes you can really move in, but feel free to color coordinate and add in some flavor. I see plenty of people in class dressed like they’re starring in a music video. On the other hand, a lot of others just look like they’re going running later.
What you will feel like right afterwards: Depending on the routine, slightly to mid-ranged tired and sweaty.
What you might feel like the next day: Probably perfectly okay unless you got a sassy routine that require a lot hair-flippage, in which case, a slightly sore neck. Oh, or if you did a lot of booty popping, your lower back might also hate you a bit. This is why stretching afterwards is important.
Extra tip if you’re just really, really shy or scared or you think you suck at dancing: Hip hop is not a form of dance that requires classical training. What this means that it’s much easier to “fake it” here than say, ballet or salsa. Just hitting the moves to the hits without all the small details is often enough. Don’t worry about getting everything right. The person next to you who is able to follow the teacher’s every step probably has danced for many years, and trust me, they’re not going to talk crap about you behind your back because they’re focused on improving their own craft. Hip hop dance class is also incredibly fun, and the environment is encouraging and welcoming. If you mess up, laugh it off or shrug it off. Don’t take it so seriously. Honestly, no one is judging you as much as you do in the mirror.
I’m going to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite hip hop teachers Micaya, who just turned 50 years young recently so you should be motivated:
“I have people constantly coming up to me and apologizing that they can’t dance, before they even take my class. I know that if I taught any other skill, I wouldn’t have that same experience. Nobody would come up to me and say, ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t know how to use this camera.’ Well, of course not- you haven’t taken the class. Come in, leave your ego at the door and learn.”
So again, from the top,