Questionable Behavior in a Guided Freestyle Dance Class

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

March 23rd, 2011 • Dance for Natural Pain ReliefPrint Print

Tonight a friend was going to meet me at 5:30 pm at my pad, to drive to a guided freestyle dance class downtown. It was a “drop-in class,” direct quote, that started at 6 pm, and I’m about 15 min away.

Well my friend ended up locking his keys in his car. Initially he thought he could extract them, trying various approaches, but he was unable to do so by about 5:40 pm. So shortly after the call informing me as such, I drove 30 min to his suburb to pick him up. Then we drove another 30 min or so to get downtown.

By the time we parked and found the proper entrance to the building (after entering the wrong building and accidentally walking into a massage therapy studio), it was a little after 7 pm. We opened the door, and I was so happy to see dancing bodies writhing around joyfully on the dance floor. Home! I thought. That is, until a woman raced from clear across the room to say, twice, “It’s closed,” while opening the door and hurriedly ushering my friend and me out onto the street – damn near shutting the door on my heels in eagerness to get rid of us.

We stood outside, shocked.

There had been another woman standing at the entrance, someone with much gentler and more welcoming energy, who had greeted us initially when we came in. This woman came out the door after it was abruptly closed behind our backs. She explained that the class started at 6 pm (as if we were unaware) and that the students were already in the third rhythm of the sequence – which, she said, would make it hard for us to join in.

We explained that we’d intended to arrive at 6 pm but that we’d had automobile issues and that we’d driven from far away, just to come to the class. She clearly felt bad and went back inside to talk to the instructor – purportedly the woman who had kicked us out so unceremoniously. Shortly after, the ousting woman, who was indeed the instructor, appeared outside the door. She vehemently explained that the class was “very intimate” and that participants had “already connected with each other” through an opening circle, and that she therefore could not have us intruding on the sacred space.

Dude. If you don’t want people coming after a certain time, make it clear on the website; don’t call it a “drop-in” class; and lock the damn door, leaving a friendly sign outside.

I would never, in a million years, usher someone out of my class like that. With the Dancing with Pain® method, it is critical that people hear the instructions at the beginning of class, so as to dance safely (for themselves and others). But when people have come in late (which will often happen when you’re teaching people in pain), I have lovingly gone over to them and explained to them the basics, instructing them to move gently, even if the music sequence already has reached the crescendo.

There were some times that I felt the need to close the class. In those instances, I made a point of waiting until 20 minutes past the start of class. I then locked the doors – leaving a sign not only informing people, in a friendly way that in the interest of safety, the class was closed, but also offering them a 15% discount on the next class, to make up for the inconvenience.

The kicker was that as she was explaining to us the reasons why we could not under any circumstances enter the holy class space, the instructor tried to take both my hands in hers. I do not shake or otherwise hold the hands of people I do not know. I am sensitive to energy and can be physically hurt by handshakes.

So I moved my hands back. Initially she dropped her hands. But then she abruptly took my left hand in both her hands and squeezed it hard, to the point that I yelled, “Ow, ow, that hurts. My hands are sensitive,” I added by way of explanation. She seemed more annoyed than anything else.  I, meanwhile, ended up with hand pain for hours after the incident.

Meanwhile, the instructor told us to come back next week. “At 6 pm,” she emphasized, tapping her wrist as if it were a watch. Yeah, because, you know, we were such fucking slackers to show up any later. Fat chance you’ll be seeing me again Lady. We were ousted in the name of heartfelt connection. And that, to me, just lacks integrity.

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