When I swung open the door to my very first Vixen Workout class — dubbed “the Beyoncé dance class” — I was surprised to find that I had stepped directly into the studio. There was no lobby. No front desk. About 60 twentysomething women stood chatting excitedly, all wearing leggings and colorful tank tops and yes, some were even in sneaker wedges, a suggestion that came up a few times on the class website.
“You’ll feel extra sexy in wedges,” they had said, “but sneakers are fine!” I bought my very own pair of sneaker wedges for the occasion. I felt like if I was going to do this I should really do it, and besides, I was not there to feel fine, I was there to feel like Beyoncé, dammit.
It was close quarters in the studio; barely enough room to outstretch your arms without knocking your neighbor in the face. Still, I found a place in the back corner.
“Those!” the girl standing in front of me said to her friend, pointing at my footwear. “Those are perfect. I feel like mine are too high.”
“$17! Target!” I shouted. The girl high-fived me. I beamed.
You know that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Nia Vardalos gets invited to sit with the cool people at her community college and she eats a sandwich made with white bread and feels like she belongs after years of being shunned for eating babaganoush in the cafeteria? That’s how I felt after that moment of My Big Fat Beyoncé Dance Class.
The instructor, a spunky woman by the name of Josie B., rallied us all together, inviting willing women to the front of the room to “grime,” which she said was doing any move you would do in front of the mirror alone but would likely get you fired if you did it in the office.
Then she showed us some moves, about 10 in all. There was the Hungry, where you stand akimbo and roll forward. There was this body roll thing that you did with your butt with your hands in your hair. There was a move where you dropped everything to the ground and then came back up slowly (butt sticking out). There was booty shaking, there was squatting. In retrospect, there was a lot of butt work. I should have warned my butt.
I wanted to take photos of each move, but one of the perks of the class was the “no cameras, no phones” policy. “This is a safe space,” Josie reminded all of us. “This is a place where you shouldn’t have to worry about your body showing up on Instagram or Facebook. Just dance. Have fun.” Then she added, “You can take your selfies at the end of class.”
After spending 15 minutes repeating the same moves, Josie turned the music on high and we got moving. Each Vixen Workout is the same, from the songs to the choreography, and after awhile, my new friends explained to me, you start picking up all of the moves and all of the steps. Many of them knew 15-30 minutes worth of full choreography without having to stop and strain their necks forward to watch Josie and keep up (like I did, the entire time.)
“Just move! Be sexy!” Josie would shout at us (mostly me) when the moves got more and more difficult.
In the beginning of the class I was still feeling shy. But by the third chorus of “Who Run The World (GIRLS!)” I found myself singing along. By “Drunk In Love” I was popping, locking, and dropping like no one was watching, and by “Crazy In Love” I was sure I was going to fall over and die.
But as Josie continued to scream, “Don’t worry about the moves just move,” I just continued to move, completely drenched in sweat. I am sure if I caught my reflection in the mirror I would have killed myself. I only survived because, fortunately, it was completely fogged up.
A friend who texted me afterwards asked if it made me feel sexy. It did. I felt sexy. I burned about 600 calories (according to Josie) and I felt really, really good. It was whatever the Beyoncé version of runner’s high is.
I have to say, Beyoncé makes it look really easy, considering my biggest concern about taking the class was if my sneaker wedges made me look like a god damn idiot when instead, I woke up the next day completely unable to walk. (“My legs are on fireeeee,” I whined to anyone who would listen. “Uh yeah, because you danced in fucking sneaker wedges.”)
Would I go again? Yes, and I’d drag every woman in my life with me. For $15, it’s a deal that can’t be missed, though the classes book up fast. Here’s hoping they don’t gentrify the entire thing and throw eucalyptus towels and mineral water into the mix; the last thing we need is the Soulcycle of twerking.
The Official Vixen Workout is located in various NYC locations and Miami. Classes are $15, held 4-5 times a week and often sell out a week in advance. The class is only available to women (sorry, gents!)