I used to be cute. At least, I used to feel cute. Nowadays? I live in ripped jeans. My makeup regimen is limited to lip balm and eyeliner. My five-year-old uses me as a napkin.
There are lots of reasons I was excited to try Chair Burlesque, but one of the main reasons was that I wanted to feel sexy again, even if it was just for an hour. The other main reason is that I’m a total ham, at least in theory. In practice I’m more of a turkey. I always forget I'm shy. I never remember until I'm right about to do whatever crazy thing I signed myself up for, and by then it's too late.
Chair Burlesque is basically sexy dancing, with a chair. You get to sit now and then, which is nice, but you're not lounging around. Even when you're sitting, you're working. There's a lot of hip swaying and hair tossing and leg-spreading. It's not a church dance! It's a sexy dance. It's meant to be naughty.
After buying my ticket and being excited all week, I almost didn’t go. I got in a huge Facebook fight earlier in the day and my anxiety skyrocketed. Two hours before class started, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide under the covers. This is the problem with being adventurous when you suffer from anxiety. Sometimes, you just don’t have it in you, and it’s okay to cut yourself a break. On this particular day, I managed to throw my leggings on and push myself out the door. I muttered something about ‘adventure’ and off I went.
I have lots of coping mechanisms, but the one I used on this particular night was "So What?" Basically, I imagine all the worst case scenarios, and then I ask myself, "So what?" The answer to that question is never "THE WORLD ENDS!" and that's the point.
I went alone. I'm alone a lot because my friends are busy and coordinating schedules is a nightmare. Also, I’m a loner, Dotty. A rebel. I was one of two ladies there by herself. Everyone else was with a group. But once the class started, the groups dissolved and it was like we were all in it together. It helped that the class was BYOB and everyone got their pre-class drunk on. It might have been fun to be a little tipsy. I can definitely see how it would’ve loosened me up. But being stone cold sober was okay, too.
The first 15 minutes were dedicated to warm-up. Ashley, the instructor, led us through some dance moves which included lunging and bending and stretching in and around our chair. The remaining time was spent learning a choreographed routine. This is where most of the laughter happened. Our routine included rolling on the ground ("You're not barrel-rolling. Make it sexy, girls!"), twerking ("Pop that ass, ladies!"), and strutting ("Give it sass, you're not out for a morning walk!"). We learned the dance bit by bit, then put it all together. I don't know what it looked like, because I was so focused on my own work that I didn't get a chance to look around, but judging from all the hair-whipping and leg-kicking I saw out of the corner of my eye, I'm going to say we looked sexy as hell!
In the end I was glad I went. The class wasn't a huge calorie burner like Zumba or Dance Cardio, but it was fun. We laughed a lot - at ourselves, and at each other. We channeled our inner Beyonce. We were awesome. For one and a half hours, I was a ham. I was a turkey. I was every kind of lunchmeat. But I was sexy lunchmeat, dammit! I was sexy.
What I learned:
1. Chair Burlesque is a stripper dance! There’s a hypothetical person supposedly sitting in that chair, and that's who you're dancing for. My person was Colin Firth, because if I’d pictured my husband I would’ve had to take myself seriously. (Also because Colin Firth.)
2. You’ll get bruises. I got them on my knees from crawling on the floor. Some girls got bruises on their inner thighs from straddling the chair. One girl had a bruise on her back. This dance is serious!
3. Girls are awesome. I already knew this, but it was pleasantly reinforced. We were all there for each other. We were a team.
4. I’m still kind of sexy. Sure, I wear the same jeans three days in a row. But underneath those grungy jeans, I'm a sex kitten. Because I said so.
Classes are offered semi-monthly at Fit Method Studio in Buffalo, NY.