London’s friendliest dance classes… and the best music to practice to

October 17, 2015

When I was younger and dropping my sister off at ballet lessons teachers would occasionally comment that I looked like I should be dancing too – I was very skinny with extremely pointed feet. I would mumble that I wasn’t really a dancer, and then do something like fall over as I stood up or have to make an L shape with my hand to work out which one was left and which one was right, and they’d realise why. Co-ordination has never been my strong suit, and as a result I’ve been as dance phobic as any boy you’ve ever met. Even after tantruming to be taken to balls I have sat sullenly at the side because I feel embarrassed about dancing, and I usually avoid dance classes at the gym for fear of crashing into someone behind me.

But I make an exception for AJ O’Neill’s amazing dance classes at Kensington Virgin Active. He sticks on a sublime mix of 80s cheese and hits from musicals, chucks in a bit of Latin for good measure, and is so chirpy and positive that even I don’t feel self-conscious skipping around the studio in freestyle interludes. I can’t follow everything he does, and there are some really good dancers in the class, but the atmosphere is so jovial that it doesn’t matter. If you want to try it out, blag yourself a pass to Kensington Virgin Active and I dare you not to enjoy it!

Great zumba class taught by the amazing @sitdownaj

A post shared by Hannah Wilkinson (@hannahfidgets) on

Having found a dance class I enjoy for fitness, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to find a more technical class to help me unleash my inner cinderella. When I saw Absolute Beginners Ballroom Dancing advertised at Fulham Broadway station I knew I had to give it a try.

The fabulous Thomas Michael Voss‘s philosophy is that if you can walk then you can dance, and he certainly has miles more patience than anyone who has ever tried to teach me before. After brilliantly repetitive lesson I have mastered the waltz box step well enough that I can practice it in my bedroom to Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me and Dolly Parton’s Rockin’ Years – as if I needed an excuse to listen to Dolly!

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