At this friendly Latin dance studio in Broadway you can dabble in everything from salsa to samba, but if your body is aching for energetic, grounded movement full of fierce style, reggaeton is your remedy. While you don’t need any experience to join the dancefloor, you will need to throw your body into the beat during this fast-paced drop-in class at Latin Dance Australia (LDA).
Luckily, the powerful women teaching these open sessions, Debralee Scarselletta, 38, and Sera Fichera, 27, are world-class professionals, and have a knack for helping you master the hip grinding, chest pumping, booty dropping and body rolling they mix into their free-flowing combinations.
“There’s a definite heaviness and attack to the movements, but also beauty and flow in its fluidity,” says Scarselletta. “It’s a really grounded, high-energy style, but it can also be really chilled and very earthy and raw.”
The style, which evolved from Latin American club movements with hip hop and Afrobeat influences, is becoming more familiar, as Puerto Rican singers like Daddy Yankee and Ozuna bring reggaeton rhythms and culture to mainstream music. “There’s a specific beat to reggaeton music, and the movements that we teach in class really express the music,” says Fichera.
Scarselletta is up front in one of the large performance halls at LDA showing us how to marry our movements to the beat. We’re getting sweaty in front of the mirrors beside at least 40 other grinding bodies, which is a relief for those wanting to shimmy in the back row or a great opportunity to get courageous up front.
We start with slower warm-up grooves interspersed with stretches, before focusing on specific movements for the full duration of a thrumming song. Our thighs are burning after three minutes of booty dropping all the way to the floor, and we discover uncharted territory in our core as we body roll into an aching abyss.
As a technical dancer, Scarselletta makes sure we’re sticking at our chest pops and drops, but always with a smile. “I like to keep it fun, nothing too serious.”
She mixes in looser movements and fast mini combos that we happily follow before the hilarious finale. The group bumbles into two circles to pump out freestyle flows. We end by pairing off – hello, sweaty stranger, let’s grind – and laughing our way through dual booty shakes until we collapse. The smiles are glowing around the room, and it’s clear that everyone has shaken a load off.
“It’s a great outlet, even for us [teachers],” says Scarselletta. “If we’ve had a long day or we’re frustrated or exhausted because we do really long hours in the studio, we love to just get in there and have fun.”
The open reggaeton classes at LDA’s Broadway studio run on Tuesday from 6.30pm and Saturday from 10am, and it's $20 for a drop-in session. If you’re feeling inspired there’s choreography-focused intermediate classes, too. Once you’ve mastered this intense repertoire, take on bachata, kizomba, Cuban salsa and more at their three Sydney locations.