Have you ever been to a dance class as an adult? I've heard so many tales of body snark, cliques and bitchy teachers that, to be honest, I'd never even thought about going.
Many of us would love to learn to dance - remembering the fun we had twirling around to music as a kid - but are worried we'd be crap, uncoordinated and clumsy. We're put off by gym classes filled with slender women in the latest sportswear who are all sucking up to the teacher. That stuff's not for the likes of us.
Dance classes for adults always assume you want to be an amazing dancer, which is a bit irritating when you'd rather just have some fun. They are also extremely off-putting if you're in any way 'different'. What if you want to learn ballet and you weren't born female? What if you want to learn hip hop moves but you're white and middle-aged? What if you'd love to learn to tap dance even though your body type is more 'bear' than Fred Astaire? Well, finally, there is a dance community for those of us who are never going to look like dancers.
Irreverent Dance began as a beginner's ballet class for "adults that don't know their barre from their bar". After the curriculum was expanded to include tap and hip hop, it became clear to founder Amanda Jones that this wasn’t just about learning sautés in third or how to grind to Do It Like A Dude. It was also beginning to build a safe space for LGBTQ folk to socialise, get fit, and have their identity and body accepted in a way that just isn’t possible in most fitness classes. There was no bitchiness, just friendly people having fun and helping each other to learn something new.
Whatever your shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender or orientation, Irreverent Dance will welcome you with open arms. All you need is enthusiasm and an open mind. I thought I wasn't flexible enough for ballet, but the classes improved my flexibility and also my confidence. There really are fewer valid excuses not to attend a dance class than you'd think. Sadly, not living in London is currently one of them, but this is set to change.
Amanda is looking to expand the project in 2013 to offer more classes in more locations, reach out to vulnerable LGBTQ adults, and offer existing dance practitioners a toolkit for promoting inclusivity in their schools. Irreverent Dance is now a registered non-profit organisation and is raising funds for this expansion via BuzzBnk. If you can spare even £5, please pledge it to help this fantastic project grow. Everyone deserves body confidence and dance is such a wonderful way to get that.
Even if you can't spare any cash, you can help by spreading the word. Follow @IrreverentDance on Twitter and tweet about it to your followers. Like the Facebook page and share it with your friends. Write a blog post, share the link to the performance video… tell anyone and everyone who you think might be interested! Of course, if you live in London and want to get your dancing shoes on, you can always get involved directly by signing up or coming to an open class. I can pretty much guarantee that you'll have an awful lot more happy in your life if you do.