If you needed a reason to come to class for the first time, or you’re a long time DDPP-er and want to read about the scene you help create, check out this article! Thanks to Monica Eng who braved the ridiculous environs in the name of news!
Girls go wild at Dance Dance Party Party
By Monica Eng | Tribune staff reporter
November 8, 2007
Ladies, how many times have you been out on the dance floor wishing that you were:
A) not wearing those ridiculously painful shoes;
B) free to bust out your craziest moves; or
C) wearing a sports bra?
Well, I’m here to tell you girls that there is a dance floor where you’re not just allowed but encouraged to do all three. It’s called Dance Dance Party Party, and it may just be the funkiest weekly dance party/exercise class this city has ever seen.
The concept is so simple that it seems weird no one thought of it before: Basically get a room, play some butt-kicking tunes and let women dressed in exercise gear get their groove on for about an hour.
Although the DDPP events started in New York, Chicago roommates Jenn Brandel and Jenn Martin said they thought it up independently one night earlier this year when they decided they were sick of going to the gym.
“When I was on the treadmill with my iPod on I would just want to bust out and dance, but that’s not something you can do at the gym without getting dirty looks,” Brandel said. “So we sat down one night and said, ‘Let’s just do a dance class for women.'”
The next day Brandel, a freelance radio producer, saw a story in a magazine about the ladies who started DDPP in New York and thought it was “the most amazing cosmic synchronicity ever.” She and Martin decided to join them as the Chicago chapter — other chapters include Los Angeles and Austin, with more opening soon.
After starting up DDPP Chicago in June, the Jenns have attracted a loyal following of groovesters to their Wednesday night all-chick jamborees, with attendance ranging from 10 to 26 people each week. This month they’ll expand the schedule with a Sunday afternoon dance party as well.
Intrigued, we pulled on the same sweats, T-shirt, running bra and shoes we’d wear on the treadmill and dropped into the Perpetual Motion Dance Studio in North Center on a recent Wednesday. Nerdily cool gals in their 20s and 30s were warming up and chatting in the basement studio when we arrived. About a dozen had gathered as the 6:30 start time arrived.
Some were newcomers.
“My boss mentioned [DDPP] to me and then the next day I saw a flier for it and I thought I should come,” said Natalie Sacco, 23, a first-timer who recently arrived in Chicago.
Others were more experienced DDPPers
“A friend in radio convinced me to come,” explained Kristin Moo. “When I got here the first time, they warned us that it would be a little bit awkward and that everyone would feel a little shy at first. But by the end of the first song you don’t even think about what you are doing.”
Liz Mason, 33, a bookstore manager who was dressed in knee-high tube socks, shorts and running shoes, has been attending since the first week.
“I met both of the Jenns at a clothing swap party where someone brought a turquoise leotard and we all got on the topic of ‘Oh my God, I also love “Xanadu,”‘” Mason said, demonstrating the kind of off-kilter sense of humor and nostalgia that pervades the event. “When Jenn Brandel mentioned she was going to do this, I said ‘I am totally in’ and, unsolicited, I made her a dance CD.”
Once the clock hits about 6:40 p.m., and most participants have arrived, stretched and handed over their $5 admission fee, the Jenns — tonight both dressed in “We can dance if we want to” T-shirts and white headbands — welcome the group and lay down the only rule: “No judgments of anyone else — or yourself.”
With that, Brandel dims the lights and announces that tonight she’s the deejay — participants can also submit their own playlists and play guest deejay.
With only a floor lamp, some revolving colored lights, a lava lamp projection and some sparkly Christmas lights on the floor to guide us, we start moving to the hypnotic “Rafiki” by Zap Mama. A few gals are a little stiff and self-conscious but by the end of the song, and for the rest of the night, we’re all shakin’ it like we just don’t care.
As the playlist flows into The Cars’ “Let’s Go,” Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” and The Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like,” we’re breaking out crazy moves that we’ve only ever shown our stuffed animals in the privacy of our teenage bedrooms. Why we decide to reveal our inner spaz to this room of mostly strangers is unclear. Maybe it’s the dim lights, the girls-only policy or the vintage tunes that transport us to our childhoods. Whatever the reason, it works. And before we know it we’ve soaked through our workout clothes and fogged up all the windows.
In the absence of an automated exercise machine or personal trainer, we have irresistible songs urging us to keep going. Brandel planned her playlist brilliantly, dropping in The B-52s’ “Love Shack” at about the one-hour mark when some of us had started to flag. But who can possibly resist bouncing around like a freak to this song? Not me.
Other songs on Brandel’s playlist included Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam,” a remix of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” The Police’s “Do Do Do De Da Da Da” and Billy Ocean’s “Get Out of My Dreams (and into my car),” finishing with Feist’s “I Feel it All” before the cool-down stretching music kicks in at 7:55.
Soon the lights flip on to reveal a room of sweaty women who clap, hoot and begin gathering their water bottles and bags. They’re the same women I met 90 minutes ago but with whom I feel a new camaraderie. We’ve shared something weirdly personal. And I’m not sure why. But it was a buttload of fun.
– – –
Dance Dance Party Party
Where: Perpetual Motion Dance Studios, 4057 N. Damen Ave.
When: 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays and 3:30-5 p.m. Sundays.
Go to dancedancepartyparty.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information.