Karen Hardy Studios, London – Review

Unless there`s sufficient lubrication involved (probably tequila or sambuca) you probably won`t find me on the dance floor. It`s not that I don`t enjoy dancing – I really do – it`s just that, like many of my friends and associates, I`d rather avoid the humiliation of not being very good at it.

“So how about some lessons?”

“Not likely!”

…or so I thought. But that was before I was invited to a free lesson at the studios of former world champion Latin American dancer (and winner of ITV`s `Strictly Come Dancing`), Karen Hardy. How could I refuse and what a great opportunity to win some bonus points with my girlfriend!



I decided to face my fears and take Anna along as a surprise.

When we arrived at Imperial Wharf (now serviced by a brand new overland station between West Brompton and Clapham Junction) I immediately regretted my decision. I felt a nervousness I hadn`t felt since doing my one and only bungee jump. Really. Walking into Karen`s gorgeous new studios and seeing those accomplished dancers and their bright-eyed pupils made me extremely fearful of what a fool I was about to make of myself. But I really needn`t have worried. It was all about to get much less daunting.

As we walked in, we were greeted by a friendly-faced member of Karen`s team, who took our coats and offered us a seat in the bar. A dance studio with a bar? That`s right – Karen has gone to extraordinary lengths to make this place different. So down we sat and enjoyed a fresh pot of tea while we waited for our lesson to begin.

Then came the second surprise. Not only was Karen Hardy herself there at the studios, she was in fact the one from whom we`d be taking our instruction. Lucky us! And poor her!

Karen told us that opening these studios has been the culmination of ten years of hard work and, with a membership of 350 and counting, it`s all beginning to make sense. Karen`s dream is to offer something different from the `Fame`-style dance studios she spent so much of her youth in. She believes there`s a gap in the market for teaching hard-working professionals who`d love to learn to dance (not to mention finding an enjoyable way to spend time with their partners AND to stay fit). She also believes that many people don`t particularly fancy lining up alongside hopeful West End performers. I can relate to that. The thought of taking my dancing baby steps while surrounded by spit, sawdust and high kicking semi-professionals fills me with dread. Learning at my own pace, however, I think I can cope with.

And so our lesson began. A bit of Foxtrot to start us off and I immediately found myself having fun. That`s right – I couldn`t wipe the smile off my face. Karen`s teaching style is full of humour and she`s incredibly patient, passionate and down-to-earth. I asked her if it wasn`t something of a step down to be teaching the likes of us as opposed to the world-class competition dancers she usually works with. She was having none of it. She loves teaching beginners – they make so much progress so quickly. I could tell she wasn`t lying – it`s clear that being hands on in this business is very important to her.

And before I knew it, the lesson was over. Time had absolutely flown, Anna was full of smiles and I had found a sense of rhythm I never knew I had. And this is the proof of the pudding. Having travelled to the Karen Hardy Studios thinking it would be a one-off, I now sit here signed up for another session on the 10th March. I`m not lying – I`m actually – officially – learning to dance.

Karen Hardy Studios are located at 10 The Boulevard, Imperial Wharf.

Jim Green is Managing Director of DNA Advertising Ltd.

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