Misadventures in Wonderland: African Celebration Dance

This month we sent our intrepid columnist to try out African Celebration Dance classes. So what did she take away from it?

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Misadventures in Wonderland

1. Dance schools are as intimidating in real life as they are in movies aimed at teenagers featuring Channing Tatum. Dance Base was quiet when I arrived and it had the same daunting vibes as a huge art gallery; there was a feeling of, ‘if I open my mouth, people are going to suss out that I don't know what I'm talking about’. I don't know why I'm a bit intimidated by good architecture, might be something to do with my posture. All the merchandise on the wall makes me think someone took the PE kit lost property box and worked out how to make a profit from it.

2. Think about what you wear. Lots of women in workwear came in for various classes - is this like Fight Club? The first rule of fight club is don't make fight club jokes as a part of serious journalism. Thankfully, on a value for money level, the tracksuit I wore for sword fighting a couple of months back got its second public outing. However, the wearing-something-that-gets-used-for-cleaning-and-pyjamas look didn't make me feel like the powerful woman the class is geared towards. There was girls there in skirts and sarongs. I, again, looked like a middle-aged gangster in loungewear. However the one piece of advice I can give you is not to wear a thong. Not saying that I stupidly did but if I had, I would've spend the whole hour regretting it.

3. There's a reason I don't dance. I have absolutely no coordination. I could barely do it when I only had to concentrate on my feet, then I had to move my feet and hands at the same time – torture. We were encouraged throughout to look at ourselves in the big mirrored wall. The studio itself has an incredible view of Edinburgh castle through the skylight so I pretended I was concentrating on that when in reality I couldn't bear to look myself in the eyes.

4. African Celebration Dance isn't as celebratory as it sounds. It's a serious dance routine with individual moves in a sequence, not just a joyful free for all. One thing I didn't like was that the guy sitting down controlled the pace. His drumming got faster and faster and the work-out (which essentially it is) got harder and harder. What I did like is that the choreography had meaning: for example, one arm in front of your chest while the other 'chopped' represented protecting yourself. There was high jumps which lead to solid, powerful landings. The whole thing would have been really liberating if I wasn't sweating from my eyes.

5.It's certainly a way to tone up. The next morning I woke up feeling good. Going around my life with relative ease is unusual after I've had a one-off surge of exercise. Everything was going fine until I tried to go up and down stairs and I found out about all the muscles I didn't know were there were celebrating themselves, shouting at each other in the form of pain: ‘hey! We thought you back muscles were dead!’ And that's the story of how I got to five stone.

The next semester of African Celebration Dance classes take place at Dance Base, Edinburgh, Thu 12 Sep–Thu 5 Dec.

African Celebration Dances (course)

This brand new class will take you on a whirlwind journey across the African continent, exploring dance, movement and music that celebrate important chapters throughout human life: weddings, births, the all-important harvest, arrival of the rains and more. Come with comfortable clothing, lots of enthusiasm and get ready…

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