Well, I can officially say that I have participated in a hip hop dance class. I can also officially say that it was not the prettiest thing anyone has ever seen me do.
As in, after class the instructor gave me a hug and a sympathetic look as if to say, “Oh. You poor white girl.”
Believe me, sir. I know.
I knew the minute I walked into the studio and started singing Radiohead to myself, “What the hell am I doing heeere? I don’t belong here. I don’t beloonng heeeere.”
So I decided to sit in the back of the room, near the door (in case I needed a quick exit strategy). I thought this was a safe place to sit, actually, because there was a dude who looked about as dorky as me who sat in the middle of the room by the wall. And I thought, “Well, at least it won’t be so bad now!” … except dude could kinda move, and he also had friends in the class. SHOWS HOW MUCH I KNOW.
The instructor walks in, and immediately says, “I’m not gonna waste time with too many words, but what I can tell you is not to judge yourself. Be okay with your level right now. Accept your awkwardness.” And I wholeheartedly liked him right then.
… Until we got to the warmup.
I mean, okay. It’s not like I’ve never done warmups of any kind. And it’s not like I’ve never taken a Zumba class in my life (I am not immune to fads, people!), but seriously? This was like a warmup on crack. See, the way I feel about exercise is that… I sorta dig challenges, but it takes a lot for me to get there. So, imagine in this scenario that I’m like Winnie the Pooh. Before he eats, he does this exercise: “Up, down, touch the ground.”
That’s me. I’m cool with that. I mean, I can’t touch the ground (literally. I’m not that flexible). But it’s easy. It’s simple. Three commands I can follow.
And it started out simply enough. It was like, “Wave your arms this way. Now wave your arms that way. Now wave your arms over your head. Now sway a little bit.” and I’m thinking, “Ok. I already look ridiculous, but whatevs. I can do this. And sway. And sway.”
AND THEN HE’S LIKE, “Pushup. And plank. And pushup. And plank.”
And I’m like, “Wait… what? Am I in the wrong room… Or…”
AND HE GOES ON, “Down dog. And pushup. And down dog. And pushup.”
… Yes. Of course I went to a dance class that would do my least favorite yoga move. I stumbled along the best I could, but when I had enough, I did exactly what I would have done in yoga: Child’s pose. So while everyone is fucking upping and downing and pushup-ping and planking, there Amanda is, kinda huddled in a ball.
We finally get to the part where we’re going to start on the routine, and he doesn’t do counts. He does things like “Ta ta TA,” and I’m like, “Yes, go on. Tell me more. Maybe just in numbers this time?”
He says we’re gonna start on our right foot, left arm. I think, “Right foot. Left arm. Right foot. Left arm.”
I think the first time, I got it right. Every time after, it was right foot right arm left foot right arm left foot left arm – DAMN YOU LEFT SIDED DOMINANCE.
So then we had to do a swoosh move, and then arm up arm up and ta ta. (If you’re wondering what the fuck I’m talking about, then I’m giving a fairly accurate description of me, during this experience).
Then he says, “This next part, you need to be smooth. There’s a difference between sharps TA TA! and being smooth. Letting it flow. Hip hop is all about feeling the music. Now you’re here. Ta taaa. Now swing your right leg back. Be smoooooth.”
I swung my right leg back, the same as everyone else did, but my right leg was attached to an invisible 3 million pound anchor.
“Now kick your knees up. Left and switch! Right!”
I… didn’t get it. I just stood there.
“Left and switch! Right!”
I felt like a scientist, taking notes on an unfamiliar culture: It seems as if the humans, let’s call them dancers, do a move wherein their left knee comes up while facing right, and then they switch, and bring their right knee up while facing left. It seems to be a very complicated move, and how they do it, I haven’t exactly figured out yet. More studying tomorrow.
So the instructor looked at me and he said, “Look at my legs. Left is up. Right is down.” He could have been talking to me in Portuguese. My brain sort of understood. My body was frozen.
He said, “Pretend you’re kneeing someone in the balls.”
And I got it. (Of course. Thank you, kickboxing.)
After that, the rest of was kind of a blur. There was more moves that I didn’t get. Lots of time where the moves were too fast and I just stood there instead, kind of like when you’re singing along to a song and you don’t know the words so you mumble until you get to a part you can sing confidently? I did that… with movement (or lack thereof). And the whole time, the instructor’s like, “Good! You guys are getting better!” and I was just standing there wishing we could go back to the “right foot, left arm” portion.
We did the entire “routine” to Foxy Brown’s “Oh Yeah” and I’ve never felt more embarrassed. Especially because we had to do it like 17 times in a row.
Afterwards, I asked the instructor if we were going to work on the same routine next week (insert previously mentioned hug here and the not previously mentioned comment, “KNEE HIM IN THE BALLS!”), and he encouraged me to come back next week, and the week after that.
I hope that by the time this is over, I can at least do one full measure without feeling stupid or silly or lacking.
I also hope that by the time this is over, the instructor may remember me for something else than being the “Knee ball girl” because… that shit cray.
Have a good night, everyone.