Samantha Whitaker gets her groove on at a Neon Fuel street class
I’m the first to admit that I’m in no way ‘street’. But, even though my ballerina’s posture can’t quite get down and loose enough to really pull it off, I love street dance. For years, I’ve been looking for the ‘right’ class – one that’s challenging but not intimidating – and had almost given up hope. Then I tried Neon Fuel.
Founder Thalia Charalambous is one of those people with a finger in every pie. She’s a dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, writer, nutritionist and expert organiser of ‘hip trips for healthy hedonists’, where a group of 20 or so go away for dance masterclasses, followed by cocktails and clubbing until the early hours. So far, Thalia’s taken dance-lovers to Ibiza, Berlin, Paris, Morrocco and Copenhagen – and this autumn, she’s hitting New York, where a session of flying trapeze is also on the itinerary.
Thalia’s classes in West London, near Ladbroke Grove, are small and intimate – usually around 10 people – but larger pop-up classes are planned for August in locations all over London to suss out the demand. Chatting in the studio before the class, Thalia was warm and welcoming, and I immediately felt like one of the gang. We warmed up, did some abs work, and then got straight down to the routine. It was challenging – quite fast and physical, with some floor work – but I got it, and I loved it. There were options for the more tricky bits, and we danced the routine to a variety of tracks to try out different speeds. Thalia turned down the lights so we could really get into the zone without feeling self-conscious, and for an hour, I didn’t think about anything other than learning the moves and busting them out. It was hot and sweaty, and unbelievably satisfying.
After the class, we went to a tapas bar for a drink, because this is what Thalia is all about: dancing, keeping fit, eating well and being healthy, but also letting your hair down with a glass of wine. (Her pop-up classes will hopefully have a pop-up kitchen, too, serving Neon Fuel cocktails, complete with glow sticks.) ‘People think being healthy and partying is a contradiction, but you can do both,’ says Thalia. ‘It’s not about excess, but balance – everything in moderation.’
Absolutely all abilities are welcome at Neon Fuel, but because the social aspect is so important, you have to become a member so that Thalia can make sure everyone is on the same page attitude-wise, and no one feels intimidated. Thalia and her dedicated membership are all ‘healthy hedonists’ – mostly professional, like-minded people of all ages who, above all, are fun and love to dance. To join, you can be recommended by an existing member or fill out an online form.
Thalia also has clients for private dance classes, and offers corporate courses and bespoke trips. Recently, she organised a dance fundraiser in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and will be holding another event later this year for the charity Mind, which helps raise awareness of mental health problems.
For more information about Neon Fuel classes, trips and events, visit www.neonfuel.com