Karen Hardy Studios first opened its doors over six years ago. Ever since it has attracted many a Strictly star with in house events both big and small and tonight’s masterclass with Erin Boag is no exception.
Having attended one of the studios very first events back in 2009, a Salsa workshop with Kristina Rihanoff and Brian Fortuna, and a handful of other events in between, I have seen the studio go from strength to strength in more ways than one. The studio itself has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Since the birth of Karen’s second son, Taylor, earlier in the year more staff have been hired to maintain high standards, all of them of course are immaculately turned out and all too happy to make your experience as special as possible. The studio even has its own newsletter with, of course, a column of Strictly gossip.
There is a certain mystique and excitement when it comes to meeting a new Strictly star for the first time, and equally, as in this instance, a kind of relief and warmth on seeing an “old” favourite and Erin certainly embodies this as she chats away to other studio members as others arrive.
The session is well attended with around forty members and enthusiasts present as the class begins. We firstly revisit the basic Waltz steps with Erin joking that this is necessary at “just a Latin studio”. Basics mastered Erin goes on to teach us a short variation over the hour long class that includes whisks, promenades, chasses and spin turns. Not everyone has a partner and Erin does a nice job of making sure all the ladies have the opportunity to dance the steps a number of time. One of Karen’s newest recruits, Chloe, partners me for much of the evening and helps me with my poster and balance as well as making sure everyone else is keeping up.
The evening has a lovely relaxed feel and is all the more enjoyable for it. As the class finishes, Erin urges the studio to teach more ballroom, there is then some social dancing and some settle down at the bar with a cocktail or two where a large screen is showing live coverage from Blackpool on the DSI channel. It’s easy to see why the ever growing number of members here love this little bit of dance luxury.
First published in Dance Today – July 2015