Halifax has been reminiscent of the town from Footloose for the past 16 long COVID months: No hand jives, no twisting and certainly no twerking—at least not in public.
But as of July 14, dance floors at bars and clubs, as well as weddings and parties, have been allowed to reopen. With this, dancers are navigating a new normal, one where you probably shouldn’t make much contact with your dance partner. If this means you need some new moves, keep on reading because we've got you covered.
“You don’t touch nothing, you don’t touch the other person,” says Carolin Mateus, a dance instructor at House of Eights dance studio on Barrington Street in Halifax, of the dance routine she came up with for The Coast.
Even though Mateus dances in the studio, she misses the vibe of dancing in a club. “In my case. I love dance,” Mateus says. “Of course I teach dance every day, but it is different when you are enjoying [it].”
During the pandemic, House of Eights has had to follow all COVID restrictions, from limiting class sizes to wearing masks while dancing in its second-floor, one-window studio on Barrington Street. “This is hard to breathe, I think it’s more dangerous for your body. Like, maybe many people will be dizzy,” says Mateus.
Gabrielle Greener, who’s been a student at House of Eights since it opened in 2019, says she’s heard “people are excited” to get back on the dance floor, but at the same time, “it makes me nervous a bit, because the variants are out there and all that, but I think people are really really tired of feeling isolated and being by themselves and not having an outlet.”
So after doctor Strang said “my kids would kill me” for trying to offer up any COVID-safe dance moves, we went to someone who would. For The Coast, Mateus choreographed a 30-second dance routine for COVID-safe dancing in Halifax clubs.
It’s comprised largely of old-school hip hop moves inspired by everyone from MC Hammer to Will Smith to Janet Jackson. “This is the steps from the ‘80s, this is the party dance,” she says.
The Coast created a quick three-minute tutorial video of Greener and Mateus teaching the dance, with socially-distanced moves that can be done anywhere you have a bit of space. Watch it below:
Greener says even while doing this simple dance, make sure you take breaks and cool down. “You’re not paying attention when you’re drunk, right? You can’t monitor. Especially in the summer heat,” she says.
But for these Haligonians, the reopening of bars is a change they will welcome with open arms. “I think it’s really good—the energy, the bars and the enjoy with your friends,” says Mateus. “We need the space for socializing.”
And thankfully, the choreography is easy enough that if you only pick up one or two moves, you can still show them off on the dance floor this summer. The only rule is to have fun with it.
“If you’re in the party, you never dance choreography. You at a party, dance ‘ayyy’ freestyle,” Mateus says. Adds Greener, “If you know all the steps you can put them together in whatever order you want.”