Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Co-founder Gillian Clark's been teaching since 1987 and is certified as both an instructor and personal trainer through ACE, AFAA, and Cal State Hayward. After developing the Yoga Booty Ballet at Crunch, Clark and partner Teigh McDonough (a trained instructor, trainer, dancer, choreographer, actress, and movement director for more than 20 years) created the boutique body-shop Swerve.
Personal trainer Nicole Williams founded Allure Dance & Fitness Studio to bring clients closer to their health goals through fitness classes, personal-training sessions, and intense, empowering pole-dancing lessons. Having dubbed the pole "the new dumbbell," Nicole now draws on more than 10 years of experience training everyone from housewives to celebrities as she brings full-body pole workouts to the masses. Nicole and her coterie of instructors specialize in pole dancing, but also lead personal-training sessions and classes that incorporate kickboxing, plyometric, and cardio techniques. Along with classes, Allure hosts private pole parties to sprinkle some spice into birthdays, bachelorette parties, and routine training for streetlight cleaners.
Evolve Dance Studio's sultry dance classes have earned Pop Sugar’s praise for their ability to cultivate strength, flexibility, and confidence. Inside the naturally lit studio, talented instructors lead sessions that cover climbs, poses, and more spins than a laundromat filled with pinwheels. The studio recruits decorated dancers to teach many of its classes, including Mina Mortezaie, winner of the U.S. Pole Dance Federation’s 2011 Pole Vixen Championship, Sasja Lee, 3rd place winner of the Pacific Pole 2013 championships, and Brynn Route, winner of the 2011 Miss Texas Pole Star. The dance location was even recently featured on an episode of the Lifetime show, Dance Moms and was considered for a place for the show participants to practice their routines.
Multiple classes in a variety of dance disciplines are available seven days a week. Start the week off with 5 p.m. yoga booty ballet, a bouncy, stretchy fusion of body-friendly natural movements, or go straight for the sweat stuff with a 7 p.m. cardio class. Your Neighborhood Studio also offers hip-hop, cardio ballet, ballet fit, and jazz classes. View a complete monthly schedule here. Dance classes run 55 to 75 minutes, and yoga sessions last 75 to 95 minutes. All classes except tango are drop-in, appeasing busy bees, wishing wells, and the commitmentphobic.
Regardless of dress size or dance background, each woman who enters one of The Secret Pole Dance Studios becomes a part of a supportive community. At both the original Culver City studio and the brand new Hawthorne location, instructors dish out compliments as they guide women through choreographed fitness routines, empowering dancers to overcome inhibitions and let loose along the way. During the Pole Diva and Sensual Movement classes, instructors also encourage camaraderie, occasionally breaking participants into groups and have them perform for one another. Though it may seem intimidating, this opportunity to show off in front of a nurturing audience provides students with the opportunity to build self-esteem.
In addition to boosting mental fortitude, the studio's sensual fitness routines also build physical strength; pole-dancing classes sculpt arms and cores, and chair-dancing classes firm up glutes, quads, and newly emerged dorsal fins. Classes unfold in the studios or on location, but the fun doesn't necessarily end once the imaginary bell rings; groups of gals can even reserve the spaces for private dance parties.