You guys, I have a confession: I do NOT enjoy exercise. I know that there are those of you out there that love running, biking or going to the gym, but I just absolutely dread it. I didn’t grow up in a household that prioritized working out, so I never got into the habit of incorporating activity into my life. I can really only talk myself into exercising by attending a workout class (read: Zumba, Pilates, etc.) because if I enjoy the activity I will focus less on the fact that I am exercising at all… so when a friend told me about a class with an interesting concept called “Dance Church,” I was super intrigued!
I believe the creator and founder of Dance Church, Kate Wallich, began offering the class on Sunday mornings (hence, the “church” part of the name) back in 2010. It’s a completely original concept and is like no other structured dance class that I have ever attended. It’s actually a little difficult to explain, but I’m going to try anyway:
Class is held in a darkened room in a dance studio with curtains covering all of the mirrors in the room… all class attendees wear whatever feels comfortable for lots of movement (and getting super sweaty in); I have seen selections ranging from loose-fitting t-shirts and basketball shorts to yoga pants and sports bras. Upon arrival, the vibe feels kind of club/lounge-y because there is dance music gently bumping in the background of a dimly lit room while everyone removes their shoes, stretches out/warms up their muscles and chats amongst themselves.
As soon as the arriving trickle of attendees slows down, the instructor greets the class, introduces themselves and explains a bit of what to expect: (something along the lines of) “Welcome to Dance Church! My name is ____________ and we will be dancing for the next 80~ minutes! There are a lot of us today so please be aware of your body and respect the space of those around you, you can go at your own pace/intensity level — I will be going at 100%, but if 40% feels better to you then listen to your body, follow my lead but if you can’t see or hear me follow those around you, there is no talking and no taking pictures… okay, let’s get to dancing!” The instructor turns the music up so that it’s even more club-like and then takes their place in the center of the room so that there is no “front” or “back” of the class. With the playlist of dance music cranked up, everyone begins to freestyle dance in their own space for a minute or two before the leader starts to shout instructions (i.e. “Move your right arm! Move your left arm! Now both arms!”). You will have the opportunity to freestyle dance and follow where the music takes you in between suggested dance-y exercise movements which really makes the class less regimented than a traditional one. A few times during class the instructor will have everyone change direction and even move around the room in order to experience a different spatial situation and vantage point. There will be floor work (which is sometimes more challenging than when you are on your feet!) and a cool down period toward the end of class which includes a few minutes of “daydreaming”.
If you enjoy dancing, I honestly can’t express how therapeutic it is to just dance and sweat out all of your stress (and trust me when I say that YOU. WILL. SWEAT.). The environment is judgment-free and so inclusive… attendees are from every race, culture, age, identity and walk of life. I guarantee that you will walk out of class (a) completely drenched in sweat, (b) with endorphins pumping through your body, and (c) with your heart full of positivity. I can’t recall a class where I left without a huge smile on my face.
Dance Church is quickly spreading throughout the country… there are already classes available in Portland Oregon, Los Angeles California and most recently in New York City! Follow @dance_church on Instagram for more information on classes offered near you.
Seattle classes are offered at Velocity Dance Center on Capitol Hill on Tuesday nights from 8-9:30pm, Saturday mornings from 10:30-noon, and Sunday mornings from 10-11:30am. Classes cost $15 at the door, but you can purchase a class card (at the door or online for $130) that gets you a bit of a discount AND faster access in to each class as you only have to wait for a stamp on your card instead of waiting in the payment line. Please note that they accept all forms of payment: cash, cards and checks! Be prepared to sweat and have FUN!!
With my current schedule, I like to go on Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings… come say hi and let’s dance!
✨BONUS✨: On Sunday, November 4th, there will be a MEGA CHURCH class held at Century Ballroom(!!!) in Seattle at the usual Sunday class time (10-11:30am). If you bring a friend who is new to Dance Church, you’ll get the class price discounted to two-for-one!! Hope to see you there!