I had the brill idea a few weeks ago to sign up for an "Absolute Beginner's Workshop" at Broadway Dance Center. I've been meaning to take a class there for a while, but quite frankly I had tap or ballet in mind. The only friend gung-ho enough to join was Amy, and she was feeling hip-hop, so I obliged.
How hard could it be? It’s for absolute beginners, I thought. I was a great cheer-dancer back in the day and frankly, up until my first class, I had found myself relatively adept at shaking what my mama gave me. As evidenced my first lesson, I should shake it only in the dark and hazy anonymity of a club or alone in my room.
Our dance instructor is Bev B., and she vacillates from endearing and witty to downright petrifying within seconds. She’s way intense and has only one lung - I could not be more awed or intimidated by another living person. Amy and I looked at each other through outstretched limbs more than once with fright in our eyes, mouthing WTF?! as Bev B. snapped, “Don’t you dare bend your knees!” “Turn your hips out!” “Look at the mirror!” “If this hurts you’re out of shape!” “Make your head touch your knee!” "Don't even bother if you don't have a flat back!"
Bev B. and her equally frightening assistants moved us through an intense 30-minute warm-up that felt a heckuva lot like an entire dance class. There were movements in the warm-up that I presumed would take the full eight weeks to learn, but apparently those are common knowledge. By the time the actual 8-counts started, I was convinced that I was about to make a huge fool of myself.
Readers, please don't take offense at what I am about to say. I mean this in the most innocuous way possible. So here it is: I am the whitest girl ever to attempt hip-hop dance. I can not shake my booty credibly. I can’t even move my shoulders or chest in an appealing manner. I look like I'm doing the robot or having a seizure. In no way do I know how to “work it" or “get funky.”
Luckily it’s a large class and there are plenty of people almost as amateurish as me. Bev B. says hip-hop is an attitude and “you gotta be like ‘what?!’” And I legitimately was like, “What? Could you explain that further?” How can I get this hip-hop attitude when I’m just a regular, content gal? Note to self: work on getting some anger issues so next week I can be like ‘what?!’
Here are some of the commands Bev B. barked at us - my internal monologue in italics.
“Alright, now y’all got to wild out!” We’ve got to what? I don’t feel like that is a legitimate dance move, I don’t even know what you’re saying! Side note: I tried to ‘wild out’ and I looked like a mental patient escaped from the ward.
“Now after you smack the booty, you got to lose yo’ mind.” Wait, what? What does that look like visually?
“1, 2, 3 freestyle, freestyle.” This means three steps and then booty dance up on someone. Can you even imagine me doing this? Without music? With a stranger? In a well-lighted room? OMG.
“Your moves have got to come from your funk center!” Noooooo! I was born without a funk center! Frick!
Then Bev B. said something about being crump, or getting crunked… gees, I don’t know. I was so perplexed by the end of class that I walked home wide-eyed and confused. After class, I came home and immediately looked up the majority of these new terms on UrbanDictionary.com. It didn’t help that much.
I would love to blame my torso stiffness on my car accident, and it would be a legitimate excuse, but I have a good feeling I would have sucked at hip-hop with or without the neck injuries. In eight weeks, I'll either loosen up and get a hip-hop attitude, or I'll retreat to my trampoline class with its hard-and-fast movements and no attitude needed. There's a good chance that I won't be dancing in any Missy Elliott videos anytime soon. Stay tuned…