Bring on the Jazz Dancing and All That Jazz

Jazz dancing at the local recreation center sparked joy for author Jo Howell.

Ushering in the 50s Experience 36: All That Jazz!

It’s no secret that my favorite experiences this year has been learning to dance; I adored my salsa lessons and definitely found “my thing.” Like many of us in the UK, I love watching Strictly Come Dancing on BBC every year and have often imagined shimmying across the floor in the arms of one of the male dancers. Would I be looking regal and composed in the waltz, dark and broody in the tango or hot and sweaty in the samba?

Jazz dancing is a passion of Jo Howell's --and she's taking a class.
Photo submitted by Jo Howell

Nope, none of them. Without a doubt, the Charleston would win (jazz) hands down for me. I love the music, the quirky moves, the expressions and of course the opportunity to dance to anything from Chicago. Blast “All That Jazz” at top volume and I am wiggling, shoulder shrugging and joining a chorus line to my heart’s content. Whilst this style of dance is leaning more towards Fosse, there’s no harm in throwing in a few cheeky knee shimmies and side kicks to balance it out….

Cabaret-style Dance Class

So imagine my delight when my lovely friend Jen told me about a Cabaret-style dance class that was starting this very week! Before I could say “razzle dazzle,” I had emailed the dance teacher, the fabulous Maggie, and signed myself up for a 6-week jazz dancing course. No thinking about it, no wondering if I’m too old, no worrying about my size and absolutely no concern about my dance ability (or lack of it). I just said yes, I’m in.

Jazz dancing isn't just about the hands, your legs can have attitude, too.

Thursday couldn’t come soon enough. At 7.45 PM, I found myself in the local community centre with about 20 other women (of all ages and sizes funnily enough!), bent over the back of a chair doing some warm-up exercises. Within the first five minutes of the class, I was in dance heaven – and that was before we were handed a hat and a cane! Maggie pressed play on the CD player and the room filled with the immortal words of:

“Come on, Babe

Why don’t we paint the town? And All That Jazz

I’m gonna rouge my knees. And roll my stockings down. And All That Jazz.”

OMG! I wasn’t just smiling; I was beaming! I felt like I’d instantly transformed into Velma Kelly and boy, was I full of sass! We were put through our paces and threw sultry looks over shoulders, worked together with hats and boobs (don’t ask!) and even managed a bit of a chorus line at the end. With each move, we all became more confident, more sexy, more razzamatazz, more…showgirls.

In Jo Howell's jazz dancing class she got to use a hat and cane

And I loved it. Every single bloody second.

The class was over far too quickly for my liking. I could seriously have danced for hours, but even the best Roxie Hart has to rest occasionally, I guess! I cannot recommend jazz dancing highly enough for anyone who needs a confidence boost, a feel-good factor, a bit of ‘inner sexy goddess’ time or just an hour each week to live out a Hollywood fantasy. I needed/need all of those things at the moment and will be eternally grateful for having the courage to step/tap out of my comfort zone and into a wonderful happy place.

“In case you shake apart, And want a brand-new start To do that – Jazz! Find a flask, We’re playing fast and loose, And All That Jazz!”





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