“We’re going to do ‘Twerkies’ tonight. You know, like a burpie but with that booty.”
It's Wednesday night, and a group of girls are spread around a dark dance studio, each peering somewhat uncertainly at the poles that hang from the ceiling. Upon hearing that the evening’s warm-up will involve jumping in the air and then bouncing their butts up and down while in plank position, this uncertainty quickly dissolves into a look that clearly says, “Oh shit.”
Welcome to Twerkshop.
There are about a million thoughts that race through your mind after you sign up for a twerking class at Denver’s Tease Studio. Questions like: Should I wear workout clothes or should I look like I stepped out of Beyoncé’s 7/11 video? Should I know how to twerk before I get there?
Still, if you’ve ever taken a dance class, you think you have a general idea of how this will go. Yes, there will be a teacher demonstrating predetermined choreography in front of a full-length mirror and, yes, there might be opportunities for group work. But be warned: Twerkshop is not a Zumba class. As adults, we’re terrified of making fools of ourselves in front of strangers. When we sign up for a fitness class, we tell ourselves that we’re just focused on working out — and then try our hardest to not look at the person on the yoga mat next to us. Twerkshop throws all that bullshit out the window.
Twerkshop instructor Marquette Carrington guides the group through a grueling cardio set, all the while yelling out “Twerkology” terms. (Fun fact: a Salt-n-Pepper is when you spread your legs, bend over at the waist and somehow do the running man without moving — actually picking up your feet, but just making your booty shake.)
There’s something that happens, though, when you’re in a room full of strangers, all shining with a well-earned sweat, and the Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song)” comes on. You suddenly find yourself strutting across the floor, three by three, and dropping it low for the last four counts.
By the time the Justin Bieber choreography is pulled out, everyone has gained a level of confidence that didn’t seem possible thirty minutes earlier. It’s likely that nobody in that room is a trained dancer, but that doesn't matter: Everyone is looking in the mirror at something sexy staring back at them.
Carrington shows everyone how to isolate their lower backs and “rock the boat,” and she even throws in some cheerleader arm movements so that we can briefly imagine that we are performing in front of a crowd. (Every student will definitely use those choreographed arms each time Bieber sings, “I just need one more shot at forgiveness.”)
All in all, we only learn 49 seconds of “Sorry.” Nobody is twerking in a wall handstand by the end of the hour-long class, but everyone gains a few new dance moves and a confidence boost.
Carrington says that this first class was intended to be slow-moving, a way to prepare to “get real nasty” next week. Our homework? Go home, place a cup on our lower back ,and flip it using just our butts. Look out for that party trick at the Broncos playoffs tailgate!
In the meantime, if you're Interested in rocking the boat, check out this Spotify playlist designed just for twerking.
Marquette Carrington teaches Twerkshop at 5 p.m. Mondays and 9 p.m. Wednesdays at Tease Studio, 1070 Bannock Street. Visit teasestudio.net for more information.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE...
Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.