Saturday Night: Club class kickin'

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Indy Lifestyle Online
LET'S face it, nightclubs are hell. The music's never quite right, you are stuck with the same old dance moves you learnt 10 years ago, getting home's a pain, the next day is wiped out and they cost too much.

Exercise, too, is a hateful thing. Yes, that's you in the aerobics class mirror, the arhythmic white whale at the back, out of time and out of condition. And out of pocket again.

But now there is aerobics in a nightclub. Club Class is run monthly at the Fridge in south London, combining two activities that add up to more than the sum of their parts. By 7.30pm the queue stretched 30 yards up the street, and when the doors opened the place was swamped with people pulling off their coats and emerging in coloured dance garb, checking their bags in the cloakroom and bustling about on the dance floor.

Michael Batson, a former dancer and now a fitness trainer with Definition, set up Club Class on the evidence of his own eyes. 'I like my music loud and I like it funky, neither of which you ever get in a standard aerobics class. Here you have the chance to move to up-to-date records, mixed by DJs. Plus I've noticed that the English like the subdued lighting and the chance to try out new dance moves they wouldn't normally dare do in front of others.'

In his harlequin-check catsuit and a squirt of dry ice, Michael hit the stage at 8pm, and with his two colleagues set off on a knackering half-hour workout that started with the disco canter of 'Can You Feel the Force?', went through a chart-topping reggae phase and ended with a few galloping House tunes. The normal boring arm-waving and neck craning of the aerobic vocabulary were spiced up as he dropped in little slices of lambada and riffs from the bogle. All this, and in a nightclub.

'Do you want to learn some moves from the Sixties?' yelled the hyperactive female MC between workouts. 'Naaah,' came the chorused reply, but five minutes later half the room was aping the display by the Jiving Lindy Hoppers. The other half were content to fiddle with their Evian bottles, pose in the Freestyle Dance area, or chatter in the alcohol-free bar.

Gina, a Sloaney blonde from Battersea, watched from one side, tweaking her gold leotard. 'My ex-boyfriend still goes to our stuffy old health club, so I hope he doesn't find out about this.'

Kerry and Sherril had come from Camden. 'The music's kickin',' said Sherril. 'And the blokes here are nicer, they're not all E'd off their faces.'

Another workout - under the tutelage of a merciless Amazon to manic rave music - gave way to New Image, a rap/dance quartet, followed by LOSAD, four pencil-thin swingbeat dancers. Now in its sixth month, Club Class attracts talent scouts and health-club headhunters who look for new dancers, singers and happening aerobics teachers.

Those who were up to it went for a third half-hour workout, the floor rumbling as bodies dipped and scampered back and forth under the coloured lights. The crowd was sharp, picking up new moves within one beat of their starting.

Maybe our somatic learning curve gets steeper the warmer we get, or just the happier we get. Certainly the whooping became audible above the music.

As there were no showers, the toilets were full of people towelling themselves down ready for the Tube journey home. Robert, an instructor at Slim Jim's across town, was impressed. 'Yeah, I think I'll start my own,' he said. Outside, a lad was giving out flyers for Antics in Bow. 'Every Wednesday, we got whistles, we got podiums, we got lasers, we got showers . . . we've even got alcohol if you want it.'

Definition Club Class is at the Fridge in Brixton on 3 June, 7.30 to 10.30pm, pounds 7 (071-228 5628). It also has a weekly evening class at the Iceni Club, 11 Whitehorse Street, London W1 (Weds, 6.30 to 9pm), pounds 5. Antics (071-515 2930).