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Dance Dance Revolution
C3 Hip Hop Dance Co. is bringing youth hip hop to the Spa City (so SLAH jumps into a booty-poppin' adult dance class). PLUS: Mark Behan speaks out and (at last!) a winter weather event.
As someone who isn’t afraid to drop it low on dance floors up and down Caroline Street, I was surprised to feel nervous walking into my first-ever hip-hop dance class at Max Level Fitness this past Wednesday. For one, my moves usually only come out after a few drinks; plus, my friends are always there to provide backups. But there I was, stone-cold sober and utterly alone, at the first class of a five-week session put on by Miami-born dancer Julie Labate, a certified VXN Dance Fit instructor. And while the studio space didn’t have vodka sodas or any of my friends, it did have one thing the Saratoga City Tavern’s Boom Boom Room does not: a mirror, so you can actually see just how bad at dancing you really are.
“Ladies, how we doing?!” Julie said, welcoming the small crowd of women at 6:15 sharp. “I don’t know how to explain what this is,” she said to the five or so first-timers in the class, “but afterwards, you’ll get it.” For the next hour straight (with a couple of short but much-needed water breaks), the 20 of us watched Julie break it down to a steady stream of 2000s and early 2010s hip hop songs, trying, without much luck, to mimic her every hair flip, body roll and booty pop. “I’m not judging you, and no one else is judging you,” she yelled to the room. “So you’d better not be judging yourself.”
By the time “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” came on, I was sort of getting the hang of it, keeping an eye on the woman next to me—who seemed to have all the moves down, albeit without the effortless body gyrations Julie incorporated into everything she did. “I discovered VXN online during the pandemic when everything shut down,” said the woman whose name I learned was Lisa. “If you do it enough you start to recognize some of the routines”—one of which she calls the “booty battle” because “you’re twerking the whole time.” Lisa was thrilled when she found out there was an in-person VXN class, which combines hip hop choreography, hit music and stage lighting in a dance-fitness format, in Saratoga, and had taken classes with Julie before.
While Julie has been offering her adult VXN classes in Saratoga for about three years (she was one of the global brand’s original instructors when she lived in New York City before moving to the Capital Region to start a family), this month she’s launching her own company: C3 Hip Hop Dance Co., the first youth dance company in Saratoga focusing exclusively on hip hop. (Julie promises the youth choreography will be less risqué than the adult VXN dances.) “What really drives me to pursue dance today and continue to offer it as an opportunity to kids and adults is how impactful it was to me growing up,” says the dancer who came up in the same youth dance company as Channing Tatum and performed in the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXIV. “As my daughters grew, I realized I wasn’t finding anything in the area that they would be able to grow up doing, or the same sort of programs and opportunities I had in Miami. I decided it’s time for me to bring it here.”
The first session of C3 Hip Hop runs February–June of this year, with a free clinic for interested families to preview the program’s choreography and class structure happening tomorrow, and team placements (advanced, novice/intermediate and pee wee) happening on January 28 and 29 (sign up here). “Everyone who comes for team placements will get placed on a team,” Julie says. “It’s not like tryouts where you could be cut.” Practices will be held on Sunday afternoons, and will culminate in a season-end performance for friends and family.
“I really want it to be a community where people feel so impacted by it and committed to it that they spend their whole youth careers dancing,” Julie says. “And when they grow up and have kids, their kids will be part of the program. That’s the type of program that I want to build and that this community can really benefit from.”
As I packed up my things on Wednesday night, dripping sweat and humbled, I explained to a few of the women in the class that I was writing a story for Saratoga Living After Hours. “This is definitely an after hours experience,” Julie chimed in. “But you’ll never see me in a club again.” Armed with an arsenal of new moves, I cannot say the same.
Quote of the Week
“Jeans, sweater, boots with some sort of insulation, hat, gloves—and a full-length faux fur.”
—The Sagamore’s Glacial Ice Bar must be this weekend
Mark Behan Left Us Speechless.
We already knew that Mark Behan is the communications king of the Capital Region. But when he sent us praise laced with play-on-words fun and other impressive literary tools? We had to—humbly—share. Guys, the writing.
“Unless you have eyes and ears everywhere in Saratoga Springs, this is the first-read and a must-read. It’s Saratoga’s Page 6, the insider’s tip sheet for those who love the nights, lights, sights, bites, invites, frights, rights, wrongs and vibe. Do yourself a solid and subscribe! SLAH has the back story and the front runner. Who else but cultural botanists Natalie Moore and Abby Tegnelia can identify the eight types of people at Coffee Traders? Who can diagram four floors of fun at City Tavern and create crossword puzzles of local trivia? A spelling bee at King’s. Oboy, they’re on it. They sip and sup first, dress to impress, riff on the secrets of mac and cheese greatness, spot celebs in their Saratoga hideaways, and help put more jiggy in your kicks. You’ll be talking about SLAH. It’s how you avoid blah.”
The Winter That Wasn’t
After one of the most mild winter starts in memory, this week finally brought us something to talk about on the weather front. Some schools (gasp!) sent their students home early for the first time this year, that one snow day they enjoyed already a distant memory. A “complex storm” brought ice and snow Thursday pm, with snow predicted (maybe?) on Sunday, our next “wintry precipitation event.” It was looking like another snow day was promised for Monday, but (sorry, kids!) overnight those dreams seem to have vanished with snowfall likelihood dropped to a 50%. Still, at last, Mother Nature gave us something to talk about.
Lost and Found?
Something to look forward to this spring: a city-wide hunt for horseshoes worn by Saratoga racehorses will kick off April 22. The collector’s items will be hidden all over town. Follow the fun on Instagram—and stay tuned for more information.
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