Dance Fever

We have all frequented the night clubs in Old City and admired the dancers, albeit from a safe distance, who actually know what they are doing. Who hasn’t been jealous of those perfectly-toned bodies on the dance floor that manage to move, twist and whirl effortlessly? We’re all guilty.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those who want to learn how to really dance: Classes are available right in our neighborhood. There are dance studios in the city specializing in practically any genre you may be interested in and don’t worry, they accommodate all ability levels.

Classes are offered in forms from ballet and hip-hop to exotic dances like belly dancing and sensual Latin American dances like salsa, meringue and the Argentine tango.

Lesley Mitchell, an Argentine tango instructor at the University City Arts League in West Philadelphia, said that dance classes do more than just teach their students how to “get down.”

“Dance is not only an aesthetic outlet,” Mitchell said. “It is relaxing. It is a form of exercise and serves as a rigorous workout routine. Classes are also a social outlet where one can meet different people and make friends.”

Recently there has been a growing popularity in dancing and classes are being filled up faster than ever.

“Enrollment has tripled in our classes over the past couple years because there is more awareness,” said Todd Fleming, a salsa instructor at Master Jay’s dance studio. “I think it is mostly due to shows like ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and other dance competitions that have made the various dance forms popular with the people.

“People do have an interest to learn,” Fleming said. “If I am teaching my class outside, I get stopped all the time by folks who are enthusiastic about my class and take my card to enroll in the classes.”

The enthusiasm might be there, but some instructors believe that it’s useless if there is no avenue in the city for students to practice and hone their new art.

“Philadelphia lacks good large venues for dancing that are affordable. There is definitely room for growth,” Mitchell said.

“The city could use more venues for dancing,” Fleming said “We have clubs like ‘Brazils’ and ‘Cuba Libre’ that cater to Latin dancing but there are so many other clubs that nobody really knows about.”

After spending hours on campus, most students would probably shy away from signing up for anything that has the word “class” at the end of it.

“We like to make the classes fun,” Fleming said.

“We’re not here to make competitors out of our students. A lot of classes are serious and we don’t want to be like that. We want to teach students the basics of dancing, while having fun at the same time.”

So, toss those textbooks aside for a couple hours, and get your groove on. You won’t regret it. Neither will your wallet.

Amna Rizvi can be reached at

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