Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Zumba!

by Laura Pedersen

It brings a whole new level of understanding to the word “gyrating.”
I have never been presented with the opportunity to move my hips so quickly, so (yes, this word is appropriate) violently in my entire life.

Zumba, for those less-inclined to hip gyration, is a workout phenomenon that features dance movements to Latin music with the ultimate goal of ‘toning’ and ‘sculpting’ and ‘invigoration’ and whatever other marketing words you wish to apply. As a survivor, I can tell you: it is a genuinely intense workout.

To Zumba is enjoy a kind of liberation. It’s sensual, not sexual; and it is about self-appreciation. As a newcomer, I saw experienced women adding twirls, fun hand motions, sexy body rolls, twists, or simply anything they felt like putting into their personalized dance routine. And when that Latin beat is throbbing in your ear, telling you about how sexy and alluring women are, you feel some part of that sensuality rub off on you.

Question: why can I, with great confidence, guarantee that these Zumba women will not dance like this on Prospect Street?

The question is perfectly relevant: Zumba is dance, with a repertoire of practiced moves performed and reperformed with each class. It’s not as if suddenly you have a crowd around you – you’re one of 50 on the Zumba dance floor. A fear of embarrassment in front of female friends? No, I saw some of my own friends there, and many women came in groups of friends to the class.

I suggest the change is because there are men on the Prospect Street scene. The purpose of the dance changes from a liberating workout to an opportunity to meet men. Obviously, this is not every woman’s motive for dancing in a club on the street, but let’s be realistic – it’s a powerful motivator. And when this motive is present, the nature of the dance itself changes. Why? Why not dance with your moves, that suit your body and your style with an equal level of enthusiasm whenever you have the opportunity?

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