When the folks at Pure Fitness called us up and asked if we’d like to join their Michael Jackson dance class, the answer came quickly: no. Credit to the dark arts of marketers, though, that after some persuasion, I decided that it was in fact a perfectly reasonable way to spend an afternoon.
And so it was that one recent Saturday, I find myself breathlessly left-right slide-gliding to ‘Dangerous’ like a sand crab on ketamine. Two-hour workshops are headed up by guest instructor Andres Vesga, a kind of friendly superman who has a humanness and self-belief you could serve dinner on.
Of a class of around 30, most are those super-healthy drama student types, the kind with even suntans and flat stomachs, and that sort of boundless, labrador-like energy and almost frightening enthusiasm for being alive that make self-loathing, writerly sorts like myself feel like they’ve arrived in some far-out realm of science-fiction.
Don’t let that put you off, though: save for one lady who had her stink-eye down pat, the group are extremely friendly, and there are enough first-timers and exercise needy there to take the edge off.
Vesga, it turns out, is a formidable mover and shaker, and keeps things going at quite a pace. He has that teacher’s all-seeing eye, with a knack that comes with it of making you feel special even though, as was in my case, you’re a total lost cause. At the end, there was a palpable feel-the-love moment of which Jacko himself would have been proud, when the class breaks in two and we have a kind of dance-off.
This is undoubtedly huge fun, offering a rare sort of energetic escapism with an incidental feelgood workout thrown in, and the pressure free opportunity to take things as seriously as you want. I was crap, no doubt, but I left with a faint feeling of nostalgia for the sort of high you get after, as a kid, you watch something like The Karate Kid and go off believing you’re a warrior who can overcome insurmountable odds if you only put your mind to it.
Happily, however, I just about resisted the temptation to hit Orchard Road and, with a flat palm placed over my crotch, rutt my gear at passersby. But only just.
The Michael Jackson Dance Workshop is held at Pure Fitness. Booking essential. Members $25, non-members $50. Go to their website for the next available workshop and a full list of classes.
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