Europe’s First Gender-Neutral Dance Studio
Yesterday saw the opening of Europe’s first gender-neutral community dance studio. After Irreverent Dance‘s successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of last year, followed by months and months of legal wranglings, property searches, stress, tears and tireless work from many wonderful people, Amanda and the ID Board made the formal announcement on 29th May that IDHQ would be open in time for the new classes beginning in June.
After getting the keys to the new space, and proceeding to roll up their sleeves in order to clean, paint, build and fix, these wonderful folk turned the place from empty shell into Irreverent Dance’s new home with 36 hours of hard work, making sure it was ready for its first social event yesterday afternoon. On the date of the launch announcement, ID’s Founder and Principal Amanda Leon-Joyce said:
Irreverent Dance is a happy accident. I never anticipated that the informal class I began running for friends in 2012 would become so popular or so necessary. It’s been an extraordinary journey of exploration and learning, and the reaction of our students when we learned together that over 850 people had contributed to funding a new home for them was simply beyond words. The journey only began once we had secured the money, however, and months of hard work and dedication have gone into realising that promise. There are times I wondered if it was even possible, and during those moments I think many of the core team and I were only able to carry on by imagining how it would feel to tell the community that we’d made it. After such a long and emotional journey I cannot wait to welcome them, and all future students to IDHQ. On a personal level, this feels like a victory for diversity in dance and I could not be more proud to be a part of it.
Arriving on Holmes Road in Kentish Town yesterday, I grew excited that I was finally heading to the Irreverent Dance community’s new home. Every other space we’d used felt like we were just visiting, camping out in a corner, confusing everyone with our rainbow sparkles and disregard for gender norms. This would be a place where we could really feel at home, spread our wings and grow. Where more classes than ever can run, and where we can socialise on our own terms.
Visiting IDHQ was an emotional moment for every single person I saw walk through those doors on Sunday, as we all felt like we were ‘coming home’ and could immediately feel the love and care that had been put into the place by the wonderful ID Board, working on our behalf. From the logo on the bold purple wall behind the desk and the storage spaces in the studio area, to the wall of photos, gender-neutral toilet and community kitchen, this felt like the place we’d all worked so hard to raise money for. Thank you to every single person who donated to the Kickstarter campaign, everyone who has worked behind the scenes to secure IDHQ’s future in the last few months, and everyone who showed up yesterday for the ‘housewarming’.
Back in the summer of 2012, I took took part in the first ever dance class that I truly enjoyed and discovered that I actually really like ballet. A year later, I took part in London’s LGBTQ Pride parade for the first time, with a wonderful group of new friends. In 2014, I performed on stage in a proper theatre with even more of those friends, and managed this en pointe! So what has 2015 got in store?
Well, so far I have seen the opening of the new home of the organisation which made all of that possible so who knows what exciting things the future will bring. Irreverent Dance has provided a safe welcoming space for people of all genders, sizes and abilities to move and socialise together, so having a dedicated physical space – a home – will allow even more wonderful people to join our community. I look forward to meeting them all very soon.
Irreverent Dance classes begin at IDHQ on Monday 8th June in ballet, tap, and partner dances like swing and Latin, aimed at adult beginners who may not feel comfortable in mainstream dance classes due to their gender expression, sexuality, body shape, or physical abilities. Images by motters, mandaleonjoyce and lipsticklori.