The 1 Shame-Free Community That Made Me Fall in Love With Dance Again

I took my first dance class when I was just 5 years old, and that was it — I was hooked. I spent my entire childhood and all of my teenage years hanging out in dance studios, building lifelong friendships, a passion for music, and a love for pushing my body beyond what I thought it was capable of.

But when I started dancing in college, suddenly I found that my favorite thing in the whole world was starting to make me miserable. My peers at the collegiate level were more technically skilled and flexible than I was; more adept at memorizing complex choreography at the drop of a hat; and total pros at making auditions look like a breeze.

I’ll be honest, it made me feel like sh*t. And instead of rising to the challenge, my 18-year-old confidence level sank like a rock. It was my habit of incessantly comparing myself to others that eventually squeezed all of the joy out of something I used to love.

I came home from college that semester and slid my plastic drawers full of leotards and ballet slippers under my bed. I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d ever take them back out again.

But then a few months ago (and seven whole years later), I found myself toying with the idea of giving dance another go. I had taken up indoor cycling classes to stay in shape, but they were starting to bore me to death. I decided it was time to drag the bin of dance clothes back out from under the bed and give my favorite pastime another shot.

For the next few weeks, I tried out dance class after dance class at some of NYC’s most reputable studios. I was determined to rediscover that same spark I’d felt for dancing all of those years ago, but I wasn’t having much luck finding a studio that taught real choreography without taking itself too seriously. The vibe in classes frequented by professional dancers felt too stiff and competitive, and it reminded me of the anxiety-inducing classes that made me give it up in the first place.

Just when I was ready to bag the experiment altogether and head back to the cycling gym, I stumbled across Broadway Bodies‘ Beyoncé-themed class on ClassPass. I signed up immediately, because Beyoncé.

As soon as I walked through the door at Broadway Bodies, I knew it was going to be the total opposite of every other dance studio I’d tried. My friendly classmates were men and women of all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, and experience levels. I’m fairly confident that the only trait everyone in the room had in common was an insane amount of enthusiasm for getting down to Queen Bey.

Broadway Bodies understands there’s little point in dancing if it isn’t going to be a good time.

Before class even began, my Broadway Bodies instructor shared three magical words from the studio’s core mission that made me fall in love: “F*ck the choreography” (FTC). Let me tell you, those are not three words you will hear often in other dance studios. She explained that FTC means that no one at Broadway Bodies is pressured to nail all (or even some) of the choreography taught in class. Can’t seem to get the steps down? Cool, no one will judge. After my first class, it was immediately clear that what made Broadway Bodies so special was its honest commitment to being a shame-free, positive community. Broadway Bodies understands there’s little point in dancing if it isn’t going to be a good time — it’s that attitude that’s kept me coming back for more.

If you’re looking to get down in NYC but a Beyoncé class isn’t your jam (judging you a little), don’t worry. There’s a class at Broadway Bodies for all music tastes. Each class’s choreography is modeled after your favorite music videos, Broadway shows, and pop stars, from Hamilton to Justin Bieber to Rihanna and more. And better yet, they take requests for future classes! Check out a sample of some of the classes currently on the schedule below — I personally recommend the Ariana Grande “Side to Side” class and Kanye West’s “Fade” class — and come prepared to have the time of your life while getting a good workout in, too.