When I was 6 years old, I discovered dancing. Swept up in Flashdance fever, my mom had dubbed the soundtrack onto a cassette tape for her aerobics routines. I used to sneak the tape up to my room, pop it in the cassette player, and twirl around, T-shirt yanked down over one shoulder, leaping and lunging dramatically as I sang along with Irene Cara: "All alone, I have cried silent tears full of pride, in a world made of steel, made of stone."
At 6, the silent tears I cried were mostly about getting stuck with the yellow cup at dinner, a plight hardly comparable to that of a nonunionized welder/stripper whose best hope of realizing her dream of becoming a ballerina is to accept her boss' sexual advances. ("You're fired, I'll pick you up tomorrow at eight" has got to be the sexiest pickup line ever, am I right, steelworkers of America?)
As a woman grown, I continued to get my boogie on, but soon learned the drawbacks of doing so at clubs, where being female on the dance floor is often perceived as an invitation to aggressive crotch-leeches. It only takes a few Jägerbomb-emboldened dude-bros mistaking your moves for enthusiastic consent to sour you a bit on the whole experience. (Pro-tip to said dude-bros: "Yes" means "Yes," but – crucially! – only for the question you've just asked. So, "Yes, I'm into grinding with you on the dance floor" doesn't actually mean "Yes, I want to have sex with you later" any more than "Yes, I like socks" or "Yes, I have been to Pensacola, Florida" does. Tricky!)
The last time I went clubbing, I had to physically fight off a dude who had decided my friend's Beyoncé-fueled bouncing constituted a legally binding contract and was trying to force her into his car. Around that time I discovered Dance Dance Party Party, a weekly all-women's dance party whose only rules are "No Boys, No Booze, No Judgment," and "no boys" sounded pretty good to me. (Austin's chapter of DDPP is open to anyone who identifies as a woman.) DDPP takes place in a darkened dance studio, where attendees sign up to bring the mixes, and talking is kept at a bare minimum as everyone gets down to her own groove. It's a pretty sweet workout, too – without the beer-and-bathroom breaks, an hour of dancing is surprisingly sweaty. The best part? In half a decade of near-weekly DDPP attendance (full disclosure, for three of those years I ran the local chapter), I have never once wondered whether I'm going to have to punch someone in the face at the end of the night.
Moreover, DDPP Austin is getting a reboot this week from "den mother" Christine Giordano (aka DJ DJ From Roseanne). Not only is the hourlong dance session moving to the central location of Brass Ovaries, DDPP is now completely donation-based, which might make it Austin's first pay-what-you-will, woman-only, studio-based free-dance. "We don't want cost to prevent any lady from shaking her booty," explains Giordano.
As for the DDPP style you should expect to see, "no judgment" sums it up. Giordano wears "clothes that are comfortable to dance in – lots of spandex, and bonus points if there are sequins." I favor booty shorts and a muscle tee from dance store Capezio, but tutus, track suits, and good old yoga pants all have their proponents.
Giordano's experience as a sketch and improv performer has informed her attitude toward DDPP. "Improv works best when you know your scene partners whole-heartedly embrace your choices onstage no matter what, and DDPP works in the same way. It's that no-judgment zone that makes it magical. It's an hour to be whoever you want to be." And if what you want to be for an hour happens to be a welder/stripper with aspirations of dancing right through your life, you're in luck: The Brass Ovaries studio space has poles you can integrate into your dance routine. Being is believing, indeed.
Dance Dance Party Party takes place every Tuesday, 8-9:15pm, at Brass Ovaries, 3111 Manor. Suggested donation, $5-10.
Copyright © 2014 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.