Pop Goes the Booty

Turns out you can teach an old tush new tricks

(Getty Images)

At the end of December 2015, with the New Year and (in another month) my birthday approaching, I thought it was important to try something new but wasn't sure where to start. I finally decided to take a dance class called Booty Pop. You heard me right.

Here's how it was described on their website:

Karma [the teacher] will break down the proper technique of booty pops/twerking/hip isolations and body rolls.

Now, I've been a dancer all my life. My body knows basic rhythm and though it's getting harder to remember combinations as I enter my advancing years, I can usually, eventually, get it. But there are certain things my body can't do and along with having a healing factor like Wolverine or being able to tolerate soy milk, popping my booty is at the top of the list.

I didn't really care if this activity was pro- or anti-feminist because, as it turned out, what mattered more to me than advocating for the social rights of women was finally learning to make my ass do that thing that other people's can do and that mine cannot!

Prior to uttering the words "I'm here for Booty Pop" to the girl at the front desk, the only context in which I'd ever used the word "booty" was when referring to treasure. When I get to class, Karma isn't there. There's a sub­—a woman I've taken class with before, in something called Get Your Girl On or Slut Hop or Labia Funk—and I didn't much care for her. But when I saw her move her ass with as much dexterity as a normal person uses to shuffle cards, I was floored. Literally.

Half the class was spent crawling around on the floor like a sexy leopard or, in my case, an old lady in a '70s sitcom who'd lost her contact lens. And don't even get me started about my knees and back, which were in an inordinate amount of pain.

The class was a mix of ages. There was me, a couple of women my age or maybe a little older and two hot twentysomethings who I immediately hated because they could do every damn booty pop, hip isolation and body roll effortlessly. Thank god, we never twerked.

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So, we were doing the routine, chock full of booty pops, and I'm proudly holding my own. I seemed to be on par with most of the class. Most. The twentysomethings are front and center and were definitely blowing me out of the water. Some of this ass thing has to be genetic. To be honest, I don't have the shape of a booty that wants to pop. You know how some people have pear-shaped butts and some have apple-shaped butts? Mine is a square: a Ghiradelli Chocolate Square-shaped butt.

After a few more minutes of various gyrations, it was time for the big move. This is a move—I'm sure you've seen it in videos or at your favorite brothel—where you slide on the ground slowly until the last thing left in the air is your ass. Surprisingly, I could do that, but what I didn't mention is that your cheek is on the ground this whole time, so you're facing front, twisting your neck. In other words, I'm in massive pain and it was at this point that I decided I was a feminist! Screw the patriarchy, my neck hurts!

Cut to a little over a year later. Again, with my birthday fast approaching, I decided it was time to go once more unto the breach of dance classes I'd never tried. This one was called Island Groove. I'd seen parts of the class before and it always seemed like everyone was having such a great time, waving bandanas and shaking—not popping—their asses.

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What I soon discovered, however, was that this was a simulated sex class. The four men in the class stood in front and then four by four, we women, the female teacher explained, would dance suggestively and ultimately grind on them. Some of these women were really into it, putting one leg up on the guy, or even jumping up on him with both legs wrapped around his waist while their pelvises wildly thrust into each other.

I started thinking about the sexualization of women in general, and of black women specifically, and how this mostly black class would respond to my concerns and maybe I'm just being too uptight? But I couldn't answer any of these questions because now it was my turn to grind my vagina into a strange man's penis.

I was giving it all I could, trying to have fun and act like I wasn't embarrassed almost making a baby with this guy when he grabs my legs and hikes me up onto his groin. I realize how crazy I must look and I'm laughing hysterically until the teacher comes over and really pushes me up on him. Now my back's screaming in pain and all I want to do is get off. Of him. I want to get off of him.

After almost copulating in several other Kama Sutra-like positions, the class ended with everyone in a circle and the teacher in the middle. One by one, each student would go into the middle and rub up on her, while playfully waving their bandanas. Then people would come at her two at a time. I didn't sign up for this "Eyes Wide Shut" outtake, so I split—never to return again.

One week later, I was at the Women's March on Washington. A few fellow marchers would occasionally bump into me, but I'm happy to report there was no dry humping.