DanceAs much as I love to rock out in my car and throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care at concerts, I’ve always operated under the assumption that I can’t dance. I have vaguely fond memories of a brief stint in ballet as a preschooler, but the only other dance experience I’ve had was a tap class in junior high. It took place in a barn (gotta love small towns) and the teacher spent the entire time mocking my technique and trying to get me to join her church’s youth group. I quit after one class, and never really danced again.

That all changed this weekend. My best friend, who also happens to be a dance teacher, put on an introductory dance workshop for people just like me, so I went, and I danced, and I absolutely loved it. Here are six reasons I’m itching to take another dance class, and why I think you should join me…

1. You’ll get a great workout. Like most people who work on a computer all day, by 5 p.m., my neck and shoulders are super tense and most of my other major muscle groups have turned to veal. My gym routine consists of a pretty similar workout every day, so dancing was a welcome–and challenging–change of pace. Turns out chassés and passés utilize muscles I didn’t even know I had, and by the end of class I was sweaty, sore, and totally energized.

2. It’s a fun way to express yourself. I’m one of those crazy creative types who feels like their soul has shriveled up and died if they aren’t able to express themselves, so I’m always looking for new creative outlets. I love painting, writing, singing, and drawing, but I’d never tried dancing. Damn, you guys, I had no idea how exhilarating it is to move your body in a creative way.

3. It’s a great stress reliever. Everyone knows physical activity is an effective stress buster, but pair that physical activity with music and emotional expression and you’ve got the best stress relief recipe ever. It sounds crazy, but every time I took a step to the beat and stretched my hands toward the ceiling I could feel months of stress and tension flowing out of my fingertips. Ahhhh, sweet relief!

4. It helps you connect with your body. One thing I always felt like I missed out on by not taking dance classes was a connection with my body and a good understanding of what it can do. I watch the way all my dancer friends move so confidently and gracefully–they have a keen awareness of their bodies that’s been honed by years of practice–and I envy them. Most of the time I feel clunky and clumsy, unaware of my own movements. In my Open Letter To The Fat Girl, I talked about how I often felt disconnected from my body when I was growing up, and while I know the dance world has a dark side when it comes to body image issues, there’s something very powerful about learning to move your body and feeling centered in your own skin.

5. You get to wear cute dance clothes. Totally shallow, I know, but any time you get the chance to channel Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance,” you should take it.

6. It’s scary. If you’ve never danced before or haven’t danced in a while, the idea of taking a dance class is really scary (even when it’s taught by your best friend!). One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is that if something really freaks you out, that’s reason enough to dive in headfirst. I never thought I would be brave enough to stare at myself in a mirror and attempt to master choreography, but I’m so glad I did. Next up: I’ve got some rollercoasters to ride


This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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  • Anon

    Well this is just great. Like biking, swimming, and going to the gym on a regular basis, my dance classes are going to start getting swamped with ex-project chicks with attitudes, micro-agressions, and dreams of a come up. I’m all for black women who haven’t experienced “whatever” before, but can y’all run a post on “acting right” in new environments, especially those that may have a different class status that one grew up in? People are noticing, and for most of y’all attempting new things, being aggressive isn’t actually covering up any of your insecurities at these activities.

    Heck, even the black lifeguards at my pool don’t want the water aerobics classes anymore (at least according to one) because instead of seniors or injured/disabled black women… they’re getting younger BW who are mad about their situations, and “mean mugging” the lifeguards (strangely, the two young BW get the hardest stares… hmm). When you go to your first, second, third class DON’T mean mug other folks (and especially other black women) who were already there. We KNOW you haven’t been before.

    • southerngirl

      Damn, black women can’t win for losing!

      First it’s get those fat asses moving, because you shouldn’t be afraid to sweat out those weaves.

      Now it’s don’t bring your “ghetto” ass into “our” space trying to better yourself.

    • Anon

      Whatever. Went for a swim this evening, got eye-shanked by a chick in the locker room, and my point still stands. Errrrwhere AIN’T your hard-scrabble background so act accordingly. A black woman coughed, gagged, and then left a SNOT trail in the lane. Don’t blow your nose in the pool w/ visible snot and have to have the lifeguard call you out on it when the RULES ARE ON THE WALL. Swim lessons are available if you don’t know how… ONLINE if you’re embarrassed! I’ve personally posted videos for those who either want to improve technique or learn basic freestyle here for.over.a.year. When you go to different social spaces, different social rules apply. SOME of the black women trying new things should check them out , or at LEAST adhere to them when they are in your face in said facilities or spaces.

  • LN

    I can attest to this article 100%!!! I’ve been taking dance classes (jazz, hip hop and a little ballet) for the past 8 years (since my sophomore year in college) and I can attest to all of the above! It is an INCREDIBLE workout. Once you get into a consistent pattern, it kickstarts your metabolism like you wouldn’t believe!! Plus it is SUPER fun and the music is incredible! I just took a hip hop class last night where we were dancing to GOOD Music’s Mercy! I gave birth about 6 months ago, and with the help of dance classes I’ve lost 34 of the 48 pounds I gained. Now, my *only* criticism is that the classes can get monotonous after a while. I usually go through a cycle where, after a year of taking classes, I get bored and wander back to the gym or Pilates. Then when I get bored of that, I go back to dance classes and they seem fresh and new. I’m actually approaching another one of my bored periods, so I have to figure out what activity I’ll do to spice things up.