Sorry it's been a while since I last wrote. It has not been for lack of material, I've just been having a lazy couple of weeks. I started on a health kick about a fortnight ago and it went really well for approximately 4 days until I went away to my friend's wedding and I quite spectacularly fell off the wagon and haven't looked back since.
As part of The New Me, I decided I was going to walk to work and back every day and start eating more healthily (she writes, as she tucks into a large bar of Dairy Milk Bubbly). I was feeling really motivated and decided that instead of waiting two weeks for my friend to be able to join me, I would go it alone to the Street Dance class to find out what it was like.
As I came down the stairs in the only remotely sporty clothes that would fit over my rapidly expanding frame (a pair of jersey trousers that finished about an inch above my ankles, a bulky pair of trainers and a baggy black top), Mr G raised a suspicious eyebrow.
"What?" I asked.
"Oh so you're actually going?" He quizzed.
"Yes!" I laughed.
"On your own?"
"Yes! Oh God, do you think I shouldn't go? I look like an idiot, look at these trousers!"
"No no, you go, I just didn't think you would actually go, that's all." The encouragement was just flying in my direction. Cleverly though, that was enough to ensure I went simply for the purpose of proving him wrong.
So off I trotted. On the bus I text my sister Fiver:
Just off to my first ever hip hop dance class!!! Feel like a right dick! I bet the other people in the class are all going to be 18 year old pole dancers and I'm going to be this big old blob with two left feet!
Fiver: It's OK you have watched Step Up 2, you know the moves! Ha ha
Yes that's true, I do know the moves... They might ask me to take the class!
Truth be told, I was more than a little concerned about making a complete fool out of myself, but with the class dubbed as "a cross between Lady GaGa & Pussycat Dolls", I was intrigued in equal measure.
I arrived early at the glass-fronted Street Factory Studios and typically, in an attempt to look casual, tried to open a door that was locked.
Once eventually inside I was greeted by a man with an Afro (I mention this because in my experience anyone with an Afro is infinitely cooler than me from the get go) I proceeded to spew a stream of anxiety at him that went a bit like this:
"Hi! I emailed the other day about classes and was told to come to this one and I'm a bit worried that I'm going to be rubbish because it's an advanced class and am I going to be the oldest person there? And is everyone else going to be really good and will wonder why I've just walked in off the street? Where's the toilet?"
He did not seem remotely concerned, perhaps mildly amused, and reassured me that quite regularly newcomers from all ages and backgrounds turn up to try their feet at street dancing and I should just give it a go.
Phew. Started to feel a bit more relaxed so sat down to wait for the class to begin and sent a text to Mr G.
I'm here! Been told they get lots of new people, and seems like a nice place. Think it's going to be fine!
In walked a pretty, petite girl wearing slouchy jogging bottoms and a crop top that stopped just beneath her armpits. Her stomach was about the same size as one of my thighs.
Why did you talk me into this? A really cool girl who is obviously a proper dancer has just walked in and her tummy is about the size mine was aged 11. This is going to be awful :(
She hopped up the stairs and I heard the door open again.
Make that two girls.
Correction: Three. And now a trendy teenage boy.
With that it was time to begin, I had paid for the class so there was no turning back now. I followed the others upstairs into the studio. The girl I had seen walk in first, it turned out, was the teacher. She looked around.
"Where is everyone?!" she laughed, and then clocked me.
"Have you been before?" she asked.
"No" I mumbled.
"Have you danced before?" She asked.
I thought the answer to that was fairly obvious, and guessed now was not the time to mention my illustrious tap-dancing hobby as a teenager.
"No" I mumbled apologetically.
I could tell everyone in the room (including me) was wondering how the hell I had ended up in the advanced class, as the teacher said she hoped I would be able to keep up as it was quite...advanced. I suggested that I stood at the back and they all tried to ignore me, although quite how they were going to ignore someone dressed head to toe in black and about double the size of everyone else in the room was a mystery. I looked like the grim reaper of physical exercise.
As we started to warm up to Justin Timberlake's SexyBack, I was mightily relieved to learn that I could still touch my toes and I started to think it might be alright after all.
Thankfully in a dance studio you have the benefit of a mirrored wall, so before I could get too confident I was confronted with the harsh reality that before we had even started, I looked ridiculous.
With that our teacher started taking us through the moves in small sequences. It should now be apparent that I know nothing about dancing, so I'm finding it hard to describe what the dancing was like. I suppose it was exactly what I imagine if I think of hip-hop / street dancing. The teacher was an amazing , natural, edgy dancer, she made every step look so easy and even when she was just putting her hair in a ponytail looked about a million times more graceful than me. Everyone else in the class looked super cool too. Thanks to the mirror I was constantly reminded that I, on the other hand, looked like an overweight, CJD-ridden cow with 3 legs, skidding on some ice.
Every time I caught sight of how awful I looked, I laughed nervously and wondered what on earth was wrong with me when I had thought this was a good idea. But once I realised that the other people were not even remotely interested in what I looked like and started concentrating on learning the routine rather than beating myself up for not being Beyonce, I started to enjoy myself.
Nobody made a fuss if I made a mistake and nobody made me feel like I shouldn't have been there, we just got on with it.
At the end of the lesson, I was really pleased when the teacher said she hadn't thought I would be able to keep up so was impressed that I had followed the whole routine and was welcome to come back the following week.
By no stretch of the imagination were my attempts at dancing anything other than comic, but I ended up having an absolutely brilliant time. With all the will in the world I don't think I will ever be able to dance like the other people in the class, but I'm really glad I went. It was just as energetic as an aerobics class but about a million times more fun and I'll definitely be going again.