Class Review: Shway

23rd January

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I love the vibe of Gymbox dance classes – every one I’ve been to not only has awesome music and amazing instructors, but has been set at exactly the right level so that the good dancers are pushed, but those of us with slightly less rhythm aren’t left behind. So being sent to review Shway on a Saturday afternoon was exactly my kind of assignment.

Shway is the latest addition to the School of Dance category, and was born out of the 70s underground disco scene. It’s about moving every part of you in a big way, and in particular, being super expressive with the arms and hands. Every class is taught by Gymbox’s Dance Master Trainer DeeDee, the UK’s leading Shway Style specialist. She trained with world-renowned dance pioneer, Adolfo ‘Shabba-doo’ Quinones, who’s choreographed for stars including Madonna and Luther Vandross – so you know you’re in good hands.

DeeDee starts the class telling us her aim is to help us make our bodies do things they hadn’t done before, and to prove it, throughout the class she has us repeating movements and stances over and over again to drill them into us. It’s exhausting and some of them start out feeling a bit awkward, but in time our arms and hips are popping like we do it every weekend. She also wants to give us the confidence to take our newfound dance moves out into the real world, whether that’s the club or the living room – as awesome as they are, I think mine will stay in the latter, though once Dry January is out of the way, who knows.

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We start out small, repeating each count of 4 until everyone’s got it down before moving onto the next, and it surprising how quickly the sections build up. There’s a lot of “talking with your hands”, giving some attitude, and sticking hips out in all directions. There’s also a move called a “loose booty” which I swear looks much cooler when DeeDee does it than when I do. That’s just one of a range of moves that comes straight out of Soul Train, and when they start to come together, it really does have that very cool, “awesome dancing without looking like you’re trying” feel to it that the Soul Train dancers always had.

The music certainly helped to get that vibe. We were practicing to disco queens CeCe Peniston and Kylie Minogue, and when it came to putting on our final show, DeeDee brought out 80s classic “Good Life”. She reminded us to take note of the lyrics and throw ourselves into the dance – to let ourselves go and find the joy in it. By that point, I was getting a lot more confident with the routine, and wished I’d packed my sequinned flares to really do it justice.

Shway is such a fun class, and one that will only get better the more times you go. It’s the kind of dance where you’ll quickly be able to just enjoy the movements without thinking, and with such upbeat music and DeeDee’s infectious enthusiasm, it’s hard not to enjoy it even if you’re not hitting every step. It’s a brilliant addition to the Gymbox schedule for the start of the year – a bit of joy and brightness in the grey, post-Christmas months!

You can check out the Shway video here.

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