Trying a Class for the First Time?

Maybe you’re thinking of trying a dance class for the first time but are feeling a bit nervous. Maybe you’ve never danced before and this is your year for trying something new? Well, I’ve been going to dance classes for several years now, but it’s still scary to turn up at something new where you don’t know anyone, or you’re unsure of your abilities. A friend told me recently that she and her SO want to learn Salsa dance. They went along, got to the door and then chickened out and went home again. I’ve done the same thing myself before, so I’ve put together some tips for getting yourself through the studio door:

Find a class specifically for adults

Mixed age classes are great if you’re feeling confident and already have dance experience, but a class for adults will be understanding of how adults learn and adapt, and you’re less likely to feel daunted. Adult learning colleges are excellent at this! They also tend to run in terms, so there are regular points in the year where there are lots of new people, like you, starting at the same time.

I tried a few classes in the past which were advertised as being for ‘adults’, but in reality the age was 16+ and the class was clearly aimed at the younger ones. I felt like a giant with extra-long limbs who couldn’t do what they were doing and exited asap.

Contact the teacher beforehand

It’s a good idea to contact the teacher or school to find out more about the class, including the level. They will answer any questions you may have, they might even recommend a different class, level or school, or give you a free trial. Linked to that:

Find out if there’s a dress code

Some classes have a dress code, but many adult classes are relaxed, as long as you’re wearing appropriate footwear. It’s best to find out what to wear so you don’t splash out on expensive leotards unnecessarily. I wear leggings and layered vests for tap, ballet and jazz. I did start ballet in leotard and ballet skirt, but my adult college class had a relaxed dress code; the only thing was to remove jewellery. (I remember once a guy came in dripping in heavy silver necklaces and rings. The teacher asked him to remove them. Said guy walked out!!)

Get there early

I don’t mean an hour early, but get there so you’re not rushing and stressed before going in. Give yourself time to use the facilities, find the studio or room, stretch, fill up your water bottle etc.

Smile and say hi

Whenever I go to a new class I make sure to acknowledge other people, smile and say hi. It goes a long way. People tend to reciprocate and you often find it a nicer atmosphere. It also helps to make other newbies feel welcome and contributes to forming relationships with your classmates. There will always be people who are stand-offish or cliquey, but on the whole it makes a friendlier class that you can look forward to.

Take a friend with you

Persuade a friend, colleague or family member to go with you as moral support!

Any other tips to add?

What have your experiences been when trying a dance class for the first time?

I’m going to an Interior Design one day course in London on Friday… I will be applying some of these tips! 😬

Squeezed

Today I was back to the lunchtime tap class which I used to prefer for being smaller and calmer, but find I am increasingly stressed out by squeezing it all in during my (extended) lunch hour (changing, walk there, dance, walk back, shower, change, eat). On top of that, the college is renovating the entrance and reception area to make it more accessible, so you now have to walk round to the back of the building to the temporary reception area. Thankfully Studio C10 is easy enough to find from that location.

The class was bigger than usual, but that was nice in a way, less exposing! I wore my white Jason Samuels Smith shoes, fresh from the amazing weekend in Salford! I was complimented on them by a few classmates and our teacher. One of the guys in the class was wearing the same shoes, which was cool. I didn’t really want to be the standout with the expensive shoes 🙄

I would definitely say that last weekend’s tap festival gave me a bit more confidence today. Maybe it’s the shoes! No, I think as comfy as they are, Saturday’s bootcamp taught me some new steps and helped me go over old ones with extra tips. Amazing what you can pick up (excuse the pun) in a few hours!

Today we went over the basic time step, but as a few of us were already familiar, we got to do the double version (with flaps). I was paired up with the older theatre type lady (leg warmers and everything!) to go over it in a straight way and then a swung way, but she is clearly trained in the classic style rather than heel-heavy Rhythm Tap and the more modern stuff that’s going down these days and she kept telling me off for being turned out. But that’s how I like to do it! Then she was throwing in extra bits that she knows and that went way over my head. Kind of an unhelpful pairing I’m afraid to say. Anyway, I’ll keep doing my thing!

A couple of people are going to hire the studio straight after the class from next week for a practice session – great idea! Unfortunately I have to get back to work – boo!

“Tap is by the people, for the people”

Ever been unequally yoked in a dance class?

It’s Tap Wednesday!

This evening I managed to stay at work until 5pm. Doesn’t sound late, but it’s at least an hour after all my colleagues have left! But that’s another story. Went to Rhythm Tap II (tried to hydrate as much as possible beforehand) and caught up briefly with R. No sign of K this term – maybe she’s doing something else.

Once again the basement studio was like a SAUNA. I actually missed an opportunity to use a sauna at a hotel we stayed at in Birmingham at the weekend for the National Running Show, so maybe I shouldn’t complain LOL

It was a full studio as is the way on Wednesday nights and you could sense everyone’s energy – KABOOM!It’s funny how different it feels to a Thursday lunchtime which is smaller, calm and laid back. We warmed up in a circle as usual and then did some more 3 beat exercises as per last week. One exercise travelling backwards, one crawling to the side another on the spot. The one I’ve been practicing constantly because it’s in the routine! Just doing that I was sweating.

We then moved on to our routine which, you guessed it, is in 3/4 beats. I remembered the beginning and then there was lots of new stuff to learn. Some parts a little tricky, but I’ll get ’em. Loved the quick jump in the air with double-flap at the end! (jump-f-lap-f-lap!)

Class finished with the group split into 2 to perform it while the other half watched. I felt a little self conscious in the sense that my mind went blank just as we were about to start (!) BUT I trusted that I would just go with it, and I actually did better than when we were all dancing together. I think it’s that thing of doing better under pressure again, which I don’t get. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been meditating on this: