You walk into a dark space filled with 80 other people, all anxiously waiting. It’s a Tuesday, but the room is buzzing like a Saturday night. Someone tells the group not to talk for the next 90 minutes, to just dance, and to give it as much energy as they want. As the volume increases, everyone starts freely moving their bodies to the beat.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – this sounds awesome, and weird. Whenever I bring up the name of my new favorite sweatfest, Dance Church, I hear the same question every time, “Dance Church – what’s that? Is it religious?” Since that’s the number one question I hear, let’s get that one out of the way.
WHAT IT ISN’T
Dance Church, is not religious. It’s not a cult, and it’s not actually church. But it’s not just dance either.
WHAT IT IS
Those who attend just once or religiously understand that it’s so much more. For me, it’s now a way of life.
Dance Church is a congregation of people who come together to dance. For 80-90 minutes, you find yourself dancing to the beat of the music, following the moves of the instructor or those around. The instructor is at the center of the room and will have you changing directions and facing every which way. There is no “front” and there is no judgment. But there is A LOT of sweat.
Dance Church is a hot new workout that started here in Seattle, WA and it’s spreading across the country. It won’t be long before you can find it in every major city. That’s my prediction. The concept is simple – a bunch of people come together and DANCE.
Kate Wallich, the brilliant mind behind this exciting way to get your sweat on, funds dance projects directly with the dollars students pay to attend Dance Church. This program helps create local shows like the Industrial Ballet, that we can all go see. It’s really a win-win.
You start off the class just getting your body moving, flowing, and bouncing to the beat. The only sounds are the music blasting and the occasional cue from Kate or another instructor leading the class. You follow their movements, which often remind me of those old Reebok aerobic classes from the 80s. Yes, I may have been born in the 80s, but I still remember the tights and high knees. You’ll get plenty of those in this high-intensity dance class. The beauty of it is – at the beginning of class, you’re told to dance at the intensity that feels right for you. If you want to give 50%, that’s fine. Kate will always give 200% – and her energy is infectious, but it’s your class and the important thing is to just move and have fun.
Now, if you prefer to dance to the beat of your own drum instead of following instruction, there’s plenty of room for that too. The freestyle moments are one of my favorite parts of Dance Church. Everyone busts out their favorite moves and just lets loose. It’s exhilarating! It’s freeing. It’s uplifting. Even in the brief moments of silence between songs, Kate yells, “keep your moves!” – and, people do.
Between these freestyle moments, you’ll also find yourself dropping it low, hands on the floor – you’ll even find yourself grinding your rump on the floor, and hitting your core hard. Every so often you’ll be instructed to find a new spot on the dance floor, and that’s when beautiful chaos ensues, as everyone dances their way around the room in a very disorderly, yet somehow fluid, way. You land in a new spot surrounded by new people and new energies.
At the climax, everyone gathers on one side of the room towards the speakers and gets closer together. This is when the energy floating throughout the room starts to move directly from your hands into your neighbors’ hands or shoulders, as everyone who feels comfortable connects physically and keeps moving in sync with each other and the beat. This is where I feel an almost tribal connection in this gathering and moving of bodies. Dancing in unison, just feeling the music, and simply coming together to share this experience – it’s a beautiful thing, and I just can’t get enough.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRY IT
If you like to dance, even a little, you’ll love it. If you don’t think you like to dance, this will probably change your mind. If you’re looking for something new to try, this is it.
Let me sum it up for you in bullet points:
- It’s an awesome workout.
- It’s a great way to shake off the week’s stresses.
- You’ll meet incredible people. (Hey, Shannon, Ryan, Chelsea, and Ari – who brought me)
- You’ll leave with an exhilarating high from all the positive energy.
- You’ll be supporting the arts and a local nonprofit.
- It’s nonstop FUN.
WHERE TO FIND IT
You can find Dance Church in Seattle on Tuesdays (8 pm), Saturdays (10: 30 am) and Sundays (10 am), usually at Velocity Dance Seattle. Locations change depending on the time of year, but you can stay up to date by following along on social media. One field trip took Dance Church to Washington Hall and another to Century Ballroom. What other cool places could you see Dance Church popping up?
WHERE ELSE TO FIND IT (FOR NOW!)
Portland, OR – @stepspdx
New York City, NY – @gibneydance
Los Angeles, CA – @thesweatspot
HOW TO CONNECT WITH DANCE CHURCH