The day I learned how to twerk

A few weeks ago, I learned how to twerk. Remember that one time I went to Zumba? Yeah, it was kind of like that. 

You see, one of my coworkers had recently attended a dance workout class at a local community center with some of her friends. It was called “B Fab Fitness,”and it was basically an hour-long dance class full of twerking. She had so much fun that she invited some coworkers and me to join the next week.

I am not a good dancer; not when I’m sober and not when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. It’s just a fact about me, like, I was born with blue eyes and freckles and no dancing skills. So when I was invited to twerk class, my first reaction was “Hell no.” But, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try it. At the very least, it’d be a good story. So, I went.

I emailed Bryan that afternoon to let him know I’d made plans. “I’m going to some sort of twerking class?” I told him. I included a YouTube video link of the class so he could see what I was talking about. “I just died laughing. I am sweating I laughed so hard,” he responded. Great.

The class was on a Tuesday night at a community center on the opposite side of town from my house. My coworker had told us all to arrive early because the class fills up quickly, so I got there about 20 minutes ahead of class. Or, I tried to. But I’m horrible with directions, and traffic was still kind of rush houry and the community center was hard to see in the dark, so I accidentally drove past it twice before I found it.

When I finally parked and walked in the front doors, I was flustered from the traffic. I was also nervous because of my lack of dancing skills and arriving alone in a new place – I get weird about that. I stopped just inside the doors and looked around, hoping to see a familiar face, but I saw none. Anxiety started to creep over me. A man behind the front desk asked me if I needed help. I got more anxious.

I tried to look casual as I approached him, like I knew what I was doing. “Ahh, yes, thank you. Yes sir, I’m here for the uhh, the uhh…” What is this class called again? I leaned forward, like I was whispering a secret password. “The twerking class.”

He laughed. I flushed. We stared at each other. “Isn’t there, like, a twerk class here? Like Twerking Tuesday or something?” I continued.

“You mean B Fab Fitness?” he replied, still smiling.

“Um, oh yes,” I said, liquefying from humiliation.

“Yep, it’s $3.00,” he said.

Now, I never carry cash on me. Ever. I had known that there was a cost for the class, though, so I’d managed to scrounge up $3.00 at my house – in change. I opened my wallet and poured out a pile of silver coins. The man cupped them in his hands, stifling laughter. Still trying to play it cool, I pushed back my shoulders. “Wonderful, wonderful. So, anything else?” I asked him.

“Nope,” he said. “You’re all set.”

“Ok, great,” I said. “Umm, can you tell me where the class is?”

“It’s in that gym over there.” He nodded his head in the direction behind me, his hand still overflowing with nickels.

“Right, right,” I said. “Thanks again.”

I slung my bag over my shoulder and turned around to face the long hallway. As I was walking and looking around desperately for any familiar faces, I thought I heard the front desk guy say something else, but when I looked back, he was looking away. Oh well.

I walked down the hall, which was very long, but as I neared the end, I didn’t see any gym. Bathrooms, offices, a supply closet… where’s the gym? There was a stairway at the end of the hall, so I figured maybe the gym was at the top. That seemed kind of weird, but whatever. I got to the top only to find I was standing in the middle of a weight room packed full of muscley men, who all seemed to pause when they saw me – out of place and clearly confused.

I let out some sort of high-pitched giggle, turned around and went back down the stairs. At the bottom, I made very distant eye contact with the man at the front desk. He pointed to a door no more than five feet from where I had been standing with him. “It’s over here,” his voice echoed down the hallway.

I had no choice but to make the long, awkward walk back toward him. “The gym’s right here,” he said again as I got closer.

“Oh, thanks, yeah, I know,” I said, playing it super cool. “I just wanted to, umm, see what was happening upstairs. You know!” Face palm.

I walked through the gym doors, and a dozen people were waiting inside for class to begin. I found a spot along the wall to set down my things and noticed that a very busy running track circled the second story of the gym. Oh great, so people can watch me. I stood alone for a few minutes, still yet to see any familiar faces. Unsure what to do, I decided to go to the bathroom.

I walked back out toward the front desk, down a different hallway this time, and found the women’s locker room. I opened the door to find a broad woman in neon Spandex jogging in place in front of the mirror, music blasting from her phone. She growled at me as I smiled at her.

From the bathroom stall, I sent a series of frantic texts to my coworkers. “Where are you? When will you be here? Am I in the right place? I keep doing dumb things HELP.” They assured me they were near. By the time I returned to the gym doors, I saw a few of them walking in. Phew. 

We walked back into the gym, which had gotten significantly more full since the first time I was in there, and we spread out in the middle of the room. I had really been hoping to hide in a very back corner somewhere, but no luck. I was really going to have to bring my A-game.

I was very aware that my little group made up a racial minority in the room, which made me feel more nervous, based on sheer stereotypes about dancing skills. I did not want to be the white girl with the high ponytail who couldn’t dance. I tried to do some stretches to make it seem like I was really confident and used to dancing.

Finally, the instructor walked in. I recognized her from the YouTube videos. She had chiseled abs and thighs like tree trunks. Standing next to her was some kind of hype man – one of the few men in the class – who seemed to be her sidekick. And now, walking in to join him was the Spandex woman I’d met in the locker room. Oh good. A small group of middle-aged women filtered in behind me, which gave me some comfort, but the group of ladies in front of me was the most intimidating. They had hair and booties and they were already twerking, which was mesmerizing.

The instructor opened the class with words that splintered as they echoed through the gym, so I couldn’t understand them. Everyone cheered, so I did, too, and then the music began. Instantly, we were squatting, bouncing, swinging our arms around. I was always a step behind. Song after song played, and the instructor danced, and everyone joined, and I always followed a step behind.

The twerking part was the hardest, because even though I had spent a significant amount of time that day Googling “How to twerk,” I hadn’t quite gotten the one-on-one learning environment in which I thrive. Also, from what I could gather – though I can’t be sure – it seems like twerking is one of those dance moves in which you just kind of pop your body, and then the curves of your vivaciousness follow along in some beautiful skin-toned wave? And while I’m not at my ideal state of toneness, I am unfortunately lacking some of the required curviness that really accentuates the twerk.

And so I found myself standing awkwardly, writhing off-beat and grimacing from concentration while admiring the talented women in front of me. Overhead, a man pushing nothing in a stroller circled slowly on the track watching us. The hype man helped by accentuating really punchy moves with a Ludacris-esque “O-kay!” and we all bounced on this way for an hour. At one particular low point, Beyonce’s Formation came on, and everyone got in a literal formation, which I also noticed too late, so I had to sandwich myself between two of the really good girls.

In the end, I did as horribly as I’d feared, but no one seemed to care that much. I left sweaty and sore with bruised pride but a story to tell. And, if I could ever convince my coworkers to be seen in public with me again, I’d probably go back to give it another try.


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