A Slave 4 SOS
“I know I may be young…
I’ve got feelings too…
And I need to do…
What I feel like doing…
So let me go…
And just listen-“
Eyes bulging. Mouth wide open. Goosebumps washed over me like icicles piercing my skin. This was the breathless moment when all my senses surrendered under Britney’s spell.
Whenever I hear the iconic opening of ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’, I’m transported right back to this initial encounter when I was just eight years old. I suspect an identical scene played itself out for every girl who grew up to this classic. Britney had ditched her darling pink pom poms, cutesy pigtails and clearly tired of feigning virginal innocence. This dirtier, sweatier and nastier Britney had belly danced and booted the old Britney off the stage and into oblivion.
At eight years old my understanding of being sexy was somewhat limited. It probably extended to applying two layers of lip balm and prancing around in my ‘Groovy Chick’ dress. I thought I’d bag my own Justin Timberland in no time. My guts told me he liked patchwork-quilt.
Britney’s ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ music video was a ground-breaking moment for every little girl who blissfully believed likewise. To our enthrallment, and most parents’ mortification, Britney was doing a great job enlightening her starstruck disciples on how to be sexy.
A year later Christina Aguilera’s ‘Dirrty’ followed suit and mother of Mary, it lived up to its name. There’s so much raunchy gyrating, within seconds, the boxing ring morphs into a fully fledged brothel. With her crotchless leather chaps, minuscule bras, studded piercings and ratty hair extensions – Xtina gave the spunky, steamy and double eyebrow raising performance of a bona fide hoochie mama.
I thought the whole routine looked pretty professional. Naturally I wanted to learn all the moves.
My prepubescent body, starved of hips, tried to jerk its way into womanhood, with lots of grey areas involved and ‘Groovy Chick’ attire still in tow. This month I have to shower ‘Seen on Screen‘ in praise for recreating these memories and making them glisten more golden than ever.
I caught wind of ‘Seen on Screen’ a month ago through a friend’s recommendation. With solemn owl-like peepers, she confessed that she goes a little bit loopy without her weekly ‘SOS’ fix. ‘Seen on Screen’ was founded in 2011 by professional dancer Bonnie Parsons. If you’re itching to learn the sassiest moves from divalicious music videos, look no further. ‘SOS’ operate like extensive fairy godmothers of the Dance Kingdom, running classes and workshops across 10 different London locations. The lessons are taught by a bunch of young and lively professional backing dancers, passionate about sharing their expertise and generating feel-good class environments.
I felt like I’d hit the jackpot when I was scouring the ‘SOS’ January timetable and one Saturday I spotted the divine double whammy of my dreams. Workshops for the two pivotal moments when both squeaky-clean Disney Club stars turned into very naughty strumpets.
My sweaty fingers clumsily criss-crossed over one another as they frantically purchased both workshops online. As the days drew closer, I begun to feel increasingly nervous about rocking up to the lessons, a lonesome Eleanor Rigby. In my early teens I’d always derived great pleasure from dancing. I attended several dance classes a week, competing in local competitions and shows once every blue moon. By my late teens, socialising had disrupted all elements of my life. I had dropped out of every class, one by one. Clubs became the alternative venue to practice tamer renditions of Beyonce bust bops and Shakira hip pops. My memory of the last time I had all lost inhibitions in a class environment was coated in cobwebs. I felt out of practice and was anxious I’d embarrass myself.
When the day finally dawned, I sheepishly shuffled my way into the ‘Harbor Club’ in Nottinghill and towards the studio. Our chirpy instructor Lisa was fresh off the Kylie tour and gave us such a lovely welcome, the room felt positively warmer. Lisa begun blasting out ‘Will2K‘ for the warm up, her curls cheerily bouncing along to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. The class was mainly twentysomethings, with some older and younger students sprinkled here and there. I registered a variety of shapes, sizes and dancing abilities. However cheshire cat grins illuminated each and every face. At this point my contorted chest breathed out its very last, lengthy sigh of relief. Everyone else was here to let their guards down too. After a luxurious loosening up of the limbs, we got down to Britney business.
By the end of both workshops I left satisfied I’d mastered the routines to the best of my ability. I’d been beaming, lolling my head around in laughter and gradually rebuilding my confidence. Lisa was our coach and cheerleader throughout. She gave us encouragement to no ends, most frequently, not be bashful and touch our bodies ‘which were ours to touch’. The reassurance that we didn’t have to writhe around on the floor as wholeheartedly as Xtina, ‘cus she was a little slutbag who loved it’, was met with resounding laughter and people beginning to flirt with the idea. Now fifteen years down the line, I felt I could finally embrace my femininity and sexuality in a way I couldn’t all those years ago. I was no longer looking up to Britney and Christina, my eyes thick with child-like wonder. I was embodying them myself. I felt like a true diva: it was a deliciously gratifying and glorious feeling.
The routines were broken down into perfectly palatable sizes. We practised the dances thoroughly and not a single signature move was left unturned. The classes didn’t revolve around a flawless execution, they revolved around adding your own slice of spice. That’s what makes ‘SOS’ so liberating.
I vowed I would return soon and so I did. The location this time around was the ‘Soho Gyms’ branch on Clapham High Street. In our ‘TBT’ class Elliot got us to grips with a routine to Beyonce’s ‘No Angel’. Elliot was just downright fabulous and made himself the butt of countless jokes. When our bodies weren’t contorting to Beyonce, they were at his quick-wittedness. For this particular street-style dance we were told to move like we had ‘a load of inches hanging down there’. Elliot motivated us to unleash our Sasha Fierce and not abandon him as a one man freak show. He kept on reiterating the ‘SOS’ ideology to have self-confidence, style it out and lose yourself in the moment whilst having a deviously good time. After all, times like these are prime ones to steal the crown from Queen B.
By the end of the class I wasn’t quite a Queen B….although I certainly felt no angel.
Wanna dress the part? Take a peek at my favourite sportswear this season