By Simone Mundy
I loved dancing as a kid. Armed with my little beatbox, leotard and a cassette of Top 40 hits, I’d put on shows for family and friends at parties. It was no surprise to them that Dance was a favourite subject and some of my most treasured high school memories are the Rock Eisteddfods. But then something happened. School finished, I hit adulthood and things got serious. Before I knew it my dancing was confined to the kitchen and occasional late night dancefloors – that was it.
Why do we love to dance with reckless abandon as girls and then start to hide it as women? Yes, our priorities change. Hell, our bodies change. Suddenly I’m feeling self-conscious and thinking, ‘Do I look silly? Am I doing this right?’ Well, the time has come to rediscover that feeling I got in my younger years that seems to have fallen by the wayside, and I’ve found two Adelaide girls to help me in my quest. They’ve inspired me to feel brave and take a risk. Through their Facebook feed they’ve introduced me to a world of regular people, just like me and you, who can dance their arses off, smiling, bold and not giving a f*#k about what anybody else might think.
The two dancing queens I’m referring to are Lauren Thiel and Liz Cahalan, owners and operators of Bey Dance, an all-inclusive dance school dedicated to teaching all the moves of the gorgeous diva that is Beyonce Knowles. Lauren and Liz take your secret passion for dancing in your bedroom, using a hairbrush as a mic, and invite you into a community of like-minded Adeladies to let loose (and lads – inclusive remember). While Liz holds thing down in the schools Melbourne studio, I joined Lauren for the latest run of classes to learn the choreography from ‘Love on Top’.
Image credit: Theresa Harrison
Lauren Thiel is a born and bred Adelady. She was sent to ballet at three to teach her discipline, but instead it developed her confidence and a love of dance and the stage. She spent her early years at Mighty Good Dance School 5 nights a week doing jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop and acting – basically anything they were offering and she’s barely stopped performing since.
“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” Beyonce
In the first week I was sweating before I even got there, fearful of being the most unco. Usually when I dance in a public space I’ve had a few drinks, how could I be the greatest dancer without three pints? And what to wear? And are they ready for this jelly? Luckily that annoying voice in my head was shut down as soon as I walked through the door and saw 20 – 30 other people smiling just as nervously as me. Lauren was great, cracking jokes and telling stories between showing us the steps. She wasn’t just talking to me though, she was talking to every woman in the room and while I was busy learning steps, laughing at Lauren’s jokes and having fun – I didn’t even realise I’d broken in to a sweat. “Fitness by accident” she calls it – Brilliant!
By the second week I was feeling a bit more confident. It was refreshing to be in a room of people who loved dancing and can laugh at themselves when they make mistakes. There was no pressure or intimidating moments. During classes you’re free to chat, move in and out to get a drink or go to the toilet anytime. It’s warm and open and absolutely the best fun! It turns out they were ready for this jelly and my jelly was even coming in handy for a few moves!
This week I found at the heart of Bey Dance is a core group of people who’ve been coming for a few years, attending everything they can. They’ve all become friends and started to hang out on weekends, tearing up dancefloors across Adelaide. Director Lauren is like Superman with her glasses on during the day as an accountant, and then at night the lycra is on and the super Diva is out. I met Lucilla who recently returned from London and confessed what she missed most about home was Bey Dance. I also met a librarian, a medic, some mums, and a few bridesmaids – basically people from all walks of life, but more importantly – all shapes, all ages and all sizes. The thing I love the most right now is that this is a place where alter egos and inner divas come to life. Who you are in the outside world doesn’t have to be who you are in Bey Dance.
After class there were invitations to join some of the girls on the weekend. They told us you don’t have to dance all night or be a superstar, but if you want to drop it like it’s hot even once, they’ll be right there with you. I’m still practicing to the youtube videos Lauren posts after each class and I haven’t quite mastered the first half of the course yet, but I’m having so much fun I’m all ready to book myself in for the next round of classes!
Bey Dance will be running 90 minute workshops almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Adelaide Fringe Festival. But be quick! – They always sell out, and something tells me BOOTYLICIOUS is going to be badonkadonk HUGE! You can follow my (slightly unco) transformation into a DIVA on Instagram or I’ll see you on the dancefloor!
And follow Bey Dance on social:
PS If you love dancing and shaking your booty as much as we do, try Salsa Dancing at Casablabla!
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