Through the towering windows of In the Groove Studios, pedestrians catch glimpses of bodies swaying, stomping, and somersaulting across a spacious wooden dance floor. The downtown Oakland studio, founded by four Bay Area hip-hop artists who share a passion for dance, booms with thumping bass that energizes dance classes throughout the week. Pieces from local artists speckle the walls of their two-story pop-and-lock academy, where professional instructors—including the former artistic director for Culture Shock Oakland and the founder of Groove against the Machine—lead students of all experience levels in styles such as hip-hop, jazz funk, and contemporary. Other days, they conduct fitness-focused Zumba classes and weekly specialty workshops. In the Groove's two spacious dance floors are equipped with stereo sound systems and full-length mirrors, making the space ideal for hosting private functions or revealing to your roommate that you've shaved off his eyebrows before apologizing with a karaoke rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
Grace and self-confidence are learned skills at Allegro Ballroom. The nonprofit, volunteer-operated dance studio teaches students of all ages and skill levels how to master the footwork of various American and international ballroom dance styles. Instructors lead group and private classes in everything from the Viennese waltz and the tango to the rumba and the cha-cha, meeting in one of the three ballroom practice spaces that range in size from 800 to 3,000 square feet. Whether visitors are looking for an introduction to the fundamentals of ballroom dancing or a more in-depth study of a particular style, the instructors are available to provide engaging and informative insight intended to help people navigate a dance floor with ease.
Whether contorting their muscular limbs around unforgiving poles or manipulating their bodies around fabric in midair, the studio's team of talented instructors demonstrates that pole dancing is no longer just for flirty firefighters and penguins. Within the mirrored practice space accented by splashes of lavender, patrons of all fitness levels learn impressive vertical tricks and choreography designed to build strength and flexibility. Colorful suspended silks allow students to reach new fitness heights both literally and metaphorically during aerial classes. Expanding its reach to the mind along with the body, Phoenix Aerial Art and Pole offers a slew of martial-arts classes, such as qi gong, xing yi, and yi chuan.
When Sheila Kelley broke into the fitness scene, fitness pole-dancing classes were unheard of. However, in just a few years, the S Factor—her unique fusion of yoga, ballet, Pilates, and striptease—became renowned for its physical benefits and confidence-boosting ability. Due to this focus on both mind and body, the S Factor garnered widespread acclaim, with endorsements from Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Martha Stewart. The workout's mission is clear: engendering female empowerment, confidence, and respect through sultry pole dancing. The S Factor's healthful impact on its students' bodies can be attributed to its combination of diverse workout methods, all of which build lean muscle mass. The course's six levels build on one another, relying on stretches, pole work, and traditional dance to get students twirling around the pole safely regardless of their athletic experience.
At City Dance Studios, classes are tailored for students with various levels of experience to ensure everyone can enjoy the art of self-expression through movement. Lessons introduce students to a diverse array of dance styles ranging from classical ballet and jazz, to contemporary hip hop and exotic Bollywood, and West African. Each of the five spacious studios (they range from 900 to 2,400 square feet) are equipped with sprung hardwood or Marley floors and are surrounded by mirrors, so budding dancers can keep an eye on their form and keep pet parakeets occupied until the class has ended.