I chat with Haelee Reis about how twerk classes are helping people feel empowered during lockdown.
I've followed Dublin-based twerk teacher Haelee Reis on Instagram for a few months now, and I find her energy and all-round badass-ness infectious. Now more than ever, we all need a bit of that.
Given the current situation, I became really interested in how her twerk classes (which are now online) are helping her and others keep up their spirits during an extremely testing time. And we had the loveliest Zoom chat about it!
She told me how her twerk classes were all about empowerment, fearlessness, self-love and most importantly, fun. I don't know about you, but that is exactly the energy I need at the minute.
"I've noticed a huge interest at the very beginning of this lockdown.
"A lot of women are finding it welcoming and comforting that they can do it from home and with the screen turned off. You don't have to deal with that intimidation of going into a class for the first time. But you can also flick through the screen and see other people. I try to make my classes quite interactive where I'll yell out to certain people and give them encouragement. There are heaps of brand new beginners who are loving the security of being at home.
"I've run a few date nights for us girls as well, like a zoom party. Once we have a glass or two of wine, everyone just wants to get up on the screen."
What I really wanted to know was, 'why twerk?' I'm sure you're thinking the same. Haelee explained to me how the twerking itself wasn't actually that relevant to what she does:
"Our whole reasons for doing twerk classes is to show women how powerful and how beautiful they are. Although the twerking is incredible and amazing, it's kind of irrespective to that. We find that power through twerking.
"I say at the beginning of all of my classes, "I'm here for you guys, you're not here for me." It's a very challenging time at the moment. A lot of my girls at the moment are ex-pats like myself. We're away from our family. I'm from Australia and I actually can't go home at the moment. I'm kind of providing this space not only for them but for me as well.
"We have a family connection and a tight bond. A lot of us hang out together outside of classes as well. It's really helped me and a lot of the other girls who are stressed about their families that they're not with."
After hearing that, I knew that this is definitely something many of us would be interested in trying out during these weird times. So Haelee has some advice and encouragement for anyone who wants to join in:
"The first thing I would say is, please get rid of all of those preconceived notions you have about twerking. As soon as you mention twerking, people think of Nicki Minaj on stage licking her microphone or something like that, but it's not like that at all.
"It is 100% judgement-free. Everyone is welcome. It's more about the vibes, so try not to think too much about learning a routine and being so on point. That is the last thing we want people thinking about. It's very much like 'come in and join your sisters you've never met before.' We find those vibes through twerking.
"I run a few 100% beginner classes. I have ones that I run myself and then we run some through the Twerk After Work app. We've got 25 classes on there.
"People are concerned about what life will look like after all of this. You can have a little cry in lockdown, it's absolutely fine. I'm just trying to instil something regardless of what life looks like after this. We still have a safe space for all of us to meet and be vulnerable, be fearless and be powerful together, whether that's in real life or online."
I bet you're interested, aren't you? I mean, what better way to become fearless and feel your bad b**ch energy than to twerk it out?
If you're interested in joining Haelee's classes, make sure to follow her on Instagram where she posts all the details of upcoming classes.
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