Featured in Biltmore Beacon
By Monica Bethelwood
On the long list of cool things to check out in Asheville, it’s time to add one more. The new “Dance Club Asheville” is a dance studio for everyone, whether they be professional dancers, stay at home moms, retired folks looking for a hobby, or husbands looking to impress their wives. With classes ranging from jazz and funk to the increasingly popular pole dancing and burlesque, there’s a little something for everyone here.
Before opening Dance Club Asheville (DCA) this past May, Kathleen Hahn was a familiar face on the Asheville dance scene. As a seasoned professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher, she regularly taught modern, burlesque, and flash mob classes on the third floor of Loretta’s Cafe on Lexington Avenue. Then, two years ago, she moved back to NYC (where she has lived previously) to expand her dance training in preparation to start DCA.
It was during this hiatus from Asheville that Hahn fell in love with and added a new style of dance to her repertoire- pole dancing. While many people imagine pole dancing to be a style limited to a very specific kind of “venue,” over recent years it has made it’s way out of the shadows and into many mainstream dance studios as a more alternative kind of class. Why?
“Women are realizing that it’s a great way to get an amazing workout that they enjoy more than going to the gym. It also gives them an opportunity to explore their sensual side and practice being comfortable expressing their sensual side. It feels good to become more confident in that way and it feels good to be strong,” said Hahn.
The DCA studio is split into two parts. On one side of a sparkly, hanging ribbon divider is an open space for dancing, and the other side has five poles for the pole dancing classes.
While one might imagine that the attendees of a pole class might only be young, athletic and limber women, anywhere from teenage girls to women in their late 50’s have come to enjoy one of these unique, strength building classes.
For those who unsure if a pole dancing class if for them, Hahn has encouraging words.
“Do it! It’s way less intimidating than you think,” she said. “People with very little upper body strength are able to do a lot in their first class. You take pole dancing classes to build strength so coming in without a lot of strength is normal. We all start at the beginning.”
At DCA, all skill levels are welcome. There are plenty of class options from beginner to advanced, and Hahn makes it her business to ensure everyone is having a good time. Aside from pole dancing, DCA offers a wide array of classes in jazz/funk, classic jazz, burlesque, high heels, modern, exercise dance, boot camp, and flexibility and conditioning
The studio will also offer performance opportunities, flashmobs, special workshops, ridiculously fun events, as well as being available as a rental studio and party venue.
Hahn’s “I Do Dances” will also operate out of the studio, offering custom choreographed first dances for wedding couples and other wedding dances.
Students have the option to try out one class at a time or to become a monthly member.
Dance Club Asheville is located right down the street from UNCA at Riverside Crossing, 9 Old Burnsville Hill Road, Suite 3. Find them online at DanceclubAsheville.com for more information, to check out their class schedule, and sign up for classes.
Story by Leah Shapiro
DANCECLUB Asheville Promotes Empowerment Through Movement
A dancer since age three and personal trainer since 2002, Kathleen Hahn says she has always gravitated toward physical activities that require grace and strength. Yet, when she attended her first pole fitness in New York City, she didn’t realize how addicted she would get.
In October 2014, Kathleen moved from Asheville to New York, hoping to go deeper in a range of dance styles. At the time, she had lived in Asheville for five years and regularly taught classes, such as jazz/funk and flash mob dances, above Loretta’s Café. “I really missed teaching while I was in New York. I was teaching a little bit at the pole dance studio, but not in the same capacity as when I was here.” She earned three certifications through New York Pole Dancing, and returned to Asheville this past February with the idea of opening her own dance studio.
Last month, Kathleen officially launched DANCECLUB Asheville. Her hope is to encourage uninhibited dancing in an environment free of intimidation. Half of the studio is dedicated to pole fitness and the other caters to a range of classes, from burlesque and jazz to modern and exercise dance.
“I think people are drawn to pole fitness because it encompasses so much,” says Kathleen. “It’s fun. It’s playful…But it also builds strength, which I think is the most empowering thing about it.”
The technique focuses heavily on upper body and core strength. Dancers will kick a leg around or use their body weight to push themselves. “You’re using the momentum to your advantage, to make it smooth so that you don’t tire yourself out,” says Kathleen. “There is a good amount of science involved.” She says many pole dancers have gymnast backgrounds.
But she quickly adds that you don’t have to be an athlete to give it a try. “I think everyone should feel welcome in a pole class,” says Kathleen. “It’s just like any other skill: You start at the beginning.”
One of the many classes offered focuses on flexibility. Instructor Lucy Howard teaches the class on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and Kathleen on Saturday at 10 a.m. Folks can drop in to single classes, but sign-up is encouraged. It’s recommended that attendees wear shorts that hit at least two inches above the knee. Kathleen had a recent conversation with a yoga instructor friend who told her that so many potential students said they weren’t strong enough or flexible enough to take a yoga class.
Kathleen had heard the same reasoning from others about pole. Their replies were the same: But that’s exactly why you do it. You don’t have to flip upside down if you don’t want to, says Kathleen. “There’s so much you can do.”
On Thursday, June 23, at 4 p.m., everyone is invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Refreshments are followed by a dance party.
DANCECLUB Asheville is located at 9 Old Burnsville Hill Road, Suite 3, in Asheville. For more information, visit danceclubasheville.com or call 828.275.8628.