By Jared Davidson –
The Flava Factory and Carleton Tavern have teamed up to make the Wellington West area a little funkier. Every third Sunday, the tavern will host Soul Train Sundays, an opportunity to enjoy some upbeat dance lessons in the company of neighbours who may be equally clueless when it comes to rhythm. The event is aimed at would-be dancers in their mid-twenties and upward, and caters to beginners especially: no prior training required. For the price of $10, attendees receive a 90-minute lesson that introduces several dance moves before tying them together into a routine.
The lesson is taught by representatives of Flava Factory, a neighbourhood dance studio that specializes in street style dance. The moves taught at Soul Train Sundays are borrowed from such styles as house, dance hall, and breakdance, but the focus is on hip hop from the 1980s and 90s. Expect plenty of sliding and clapping and be ready to, as House of Pain would say, jump around.
This kind of dance is a workout. Half way through the energetic inaugural class on March 20, most of the attendees were slightly red in the face, but smiling.
The class was led by Vanessa Lovell of Flava Factory. Her style, relaxed and encouraging, was conducive to a positive and friendly environment.
The Carleton Tavern is a surprisingly good venue for a dance class such as this. The staff pulled the tables and chairs toward the back of the tavern, creating a large dance floor in the front near the stained-glass windows. Participants arranged themselves in an aerobics class-style formation with Vanessa demonstrating moves from the front. It was a format that helped bring people in, and avoided putting anyone on the spot.
The welcoming atmosphere is a part of Flava Factory’s mission to make this kind of dance accessible to anyone.
“Sometimes people will say ‘I’m not a dancer’ and ‘I’ll look ridiculous,’” says Vanessa. “But of course they’re not as bad as they think they are.”
The Flava Factory recently relocated from their south end location, and they’re doing their best to get involved in the Hintonburg community. This is the first event of its kind, but they are looking to form more partnerships and help bring their style of dance to more people.
And if Soul Train Sundays is any indication, there is a market for this kind of event. On Sunday March 20th, there was plenty of energy in the room, and everyone seemed really into the routine, so much so that much of the class continued dancing long after the class had ended.
Though the date has yet to be confirmed, Soul Train Sundays will likely continue in mid-April. Vanessa hopes to see a lot of new faces in the crowd as well as repeat customers from the March 20 event.
“I’d really like people who are new to dance to come out because it helps them get a new perspective on dance,” she says. “It helps some people get out of their shells.”