If only I had a dollar for every time someone told me “I would love to come to your classes but I can’t dance”. I’d like to clear up the misconception that dance class is only for those who have dance experience. There is something powerful and healing about moving in time to music, moving in unison with other people and learning how to control your body in ways you never thought you could. You don’t need experience in a class setting to enjoy that.
I get that social media has changed how we view dance classes. We only see the very end of class where people are killin’ it. The “For the Gram” version where the lighting is perfect, the angles are poppin’ and everyone has full command of the choreography. What we are really seeing on our news feeds and timelines is a performance in a class setting. We see nothing about the actual learning process. Now don’t get me wrong I can get into to that. At the end of my Twerk N Burn class I usually record a version “For the Gram” and want it to be as live and on point as possible. It feels good to slay the choreo and have those “Yassss Bitch!” moments. As an instructor it’s good promotion for what I’m offering. However, I’ve come to realize that as a teacher, while I love seeing students fully absorb the movement and show out, it gives me more joy to see something click for the person who just came to support their friend, the woman who walked in shy and unsure or the person who doesn’t give a damn about the steps and is just basking in the good energy!
I’ve been a student of dance for 33 years and I know what it’s like to not get it. To not be in the “good group”, to fumble across the floor and be completely lost. When you are training at a certain level those moments are bound to happen. But many people who come to adult dance classes aren’t necessarily training. They just want to have fun and improve. I’ve started to create more class spaces that are rooted in that vibe because I’ve realized how important it is to make dance more accessible to people regardless of their level of experience. I don’t think my gift is taking trained dancers and elevating them to an elite level, it’s bringing out the best in people who just want to move.
Dance has been such an outlet for me my whole life. It strengthens the body, sharpens the mind and helps keep me youthful. There is an abundance of quality adult classes in Austin to experience. Find the instructors you vibe with and take a few classes. Everyone ought to experience the stress release, mind-body connection and enormous confidence boost that comes with taking a dance class. You don’t have to be a dancer to live the dance life!
The short answer is because I wish something similar existed when I moved to Austin three years ago. Blogs are great for giving you a little taste of the city from the perspective of those who are there. When I was looking up Austin lifestyle blogs I was inundated with photos of very thin blonde women eating tacos, doing yoga and attending music festivals. While I have no problem with any of these things , nothing I saw resonated with me. I had a hard time mentally inserting myself into the culture here.
Here I was, a woman of color, single mom, hip hop head and twerk enthusiast entering a world of skinny white women, extreme dog lovers, dresses worn with flip-flops, hipsters and food trucks. Honestly, I’ve embraced all of it. I can’t do flip-flops with a dress but I have worn flats which before moving here was unheard of. I even do hipster stuff like drink craft beers and order avocado toast (which I was doing way before it was a thing I might add) and wear plaid shirts. Dogs in restaurants and bars…? Haven’t quite gotten used to that yet.
My point is I love Austin and the wide range of things it has to offer but I had to do A LOT of asking around, social media scrolling and google searching to find the events that spoke to my soul, places I could hang out without feeling like an “other” and social groups I felt comfortable in. Through my work as a dancer/choreographer and fitness instructor I’ve had the opportunity to connect with many women who have felt the same way. I want to share my personal experiences with people so there is a more colorful, flavorful representation of the city I have grown to love.
Bloom You isn’t just about Austin. It”s about blooming where you are planted and living fully on your own terms. It’s acknowledging yourself as a unique and layered individual and doing what you need to do to remain physically and mentally healthy, at peace and fulfilled. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s a practice. One that I am passionate about and 100% committed to. It’s about making the time and putting forth the energy do the things that have us feeling in love with life. That water us and nurture us as we continue to blossom. I share these thoughts and experiences in the hopes that others will also be inspired to Bloom You!
I’m a passionate food lover who loves fine dining. There’s not much I love more than a five star meal and top-notch service. The problem is sometimes that level of quality comes with a bit of pretentiousness and snobbery. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I feel grandiose and high falutin’. Every now and then I like white-gloved service and the crumbs scraped from my table. I enjoy listening as the sommelier explains that the nose of the wine I’ve selected screams black currants, opening up to a taste of grilled cherries and has the nice earthy tones of melted licorice. I may give a side eye but I still enjoy the description. But seriously, while it can be fun to get into being bad and boujee , that’s not the experience I’m looking to have 90% of the time I choose to eat at a restaurant.
I’m all about the food and none of the ‘tude. Fortunately for me Austin being the laid back city that it is , I’ve been able to have that experience pretty often. For me ambience and vibe, both of the staff and of the other people dining play a role in whether or not I choose to return for another dining experience. Don’t frown up at me when I ask for hot sauce on an already “heavily spiced” dish, we all have our own heat index. Don’t try to up sell my date by saying “I’m sure the lady would like______”, it’s sexist and you don’t know me like that. And please do not look appalled when I ask you to refill the bread basket, we’re not ALL carb-phobic Sharon!
Here are a few of the places where I’ve had a fancy meal sans pretentiousness.
- Uchi I never get a weird look when I just point to what I want on the menu rather than butcher the Japanese pronunciation, in fact I’ve gotten help with proper pronunciation from the wait staff. There is always a chill vibe even when you show up without reservations and have to wait an hour for a table and the food is top-notch.
- Hudson’s Hill Country – The food is delectable and the menu is creative with a focus on wild game. Chicken fried antelope or Wild Boar lollipops anyone? There is plenty to choose from for less adventurous eaters and the vibe is rustic and mellow.
- Cafe`Josie– All you can eat chef’s tasting menu. That’s all I’m sayin’. $25 for brunch and $45 for dinner allows you to experience the chefs finely curated selection of small plates. The vibe is relaxed and elegant and the service is friendly.
- Odd Duck– My personal favorite. The menu changes often, the food is always incredibly fresh and the dishes are unique. The wait staff has a great knowledge of the menu and can be trusted to make recommendations. The food always leaves my taste buds joyful and the experience is pleasant every time.