Tuesday, May 5, 2015

When Your Dance Fitness Class is your Safe Place

Image: YouTube 
One of my favorite parts of the week is Monday night for the WERQ dance fitness class at my gym.

Excited about the gym? I know--crazy. The class is full of regulars, and the instructor is always energetic and friendly. With the high energy music, the class feels more like a dance party than a grueling workout. People cheer during their favorite routines, and the instructor cranks up the music after the cycling class lets out next door.

So, last night on the way into this favorite class, I caught a disturbing interaction on my twitter feed. A writer and librarian I follow was harassed after making a comment about how women are harassed online. It's unsettling to hear about this second hand, but worse to see it in unfold in real time. (Purposely not linking here so this jerk doesn't get any further attention.)

Her original comment referred to how women are braving online harassment and aren't being scared off by creeps. To which some guy accused her of having a "suggestive" profile picture, implying her opinion was not valid since she presented herself a certain way.

I should note, her photo shows her in a sweater and knee-length skirt, you know fully clothed and just looking like a woman wearing clothes. She responded back boldly how she has the right to post whichever photos she wants. He then accused her of "playing games."

The only games played here is someone trying to assert control over someone else's choices. And why? I can't pretend I understand.

But I kept thinking about that exchange when I got to class. The studio space was maxed out, with all the regulars, plus some new faces. The class is typically all women, and is about the most diverse class I've taken as far as age, race, cultural background. We're talking poster child class for "Everyone is welcome." The woman in front of me was barely five feet tall, probably in her fifties, and rocked out to the music just the same as the teen girls on the other end.

This is a place I feel safe and welcome. All these women forget their stresses for an hour and practice choreographed dance routines together and it's awesome.

We need these safe spaces. The world can be cruel, and people with no personal investment in your life or well being will seek to hurt you.

I'm so glad I was reminded that there is joy to be found in unlikely places. Even a gym.

Where is your safe place? Which unlikely place have you found joy or peace?

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