Although I love Psy’s zany ‘Gangnam Style’ music video, I never got into K-Pop (or Korean pop music). I have an especially hard time relating to K-Pop girl group singers: super-slender women with extraordinarily fair skin for East Asians, who occasionally act OTT cute. But K-pop is huge – and not just in Korea, so I ventured into a K-Pop dance class to see what the fuss is about. I have dabbled in quite a few dance genres, but I entered BASE Studios as a complete K-Pop dance newbie.
Before class Love K-Pop Dance London [(L):KDL] instructor, Louise Quan, advised me to watch the music video a few times in preparation: ITZY’s “Dalla Dalla.” The female quintet evokes a bubble gum pop vibe with about 10 mL of badass attitude thrown in for kicks. I didn’t understand the wannabe edgy aesthetic until I read the English translation of the lyrics – and then I wholeheartedly jumped on board, since I am all about self-love and female empowerment. With these positive themes, I can definitely see why this one shot to the top of the K-Pop charts.
I’m not pretty and charming …– “Dalla Dalla”, ITZY
I don’t try to meet your standards
I like myself
Keep your chin up,– “Dalla Dalla”, ITZY
we got your back
Keep your head up,
just keep on dreaming
ITZY “Dalla Dalla”
Official Music Video
ITZY “Dalla Dalla”
Love K-Pop Dance London: Class Review
I shyly shuffled into class, but quickly felt at home in the studio during the short warm-up of stretching and body isolations. We had lots of material to learn, so we jumped into the choreography right away. The movements, broken down, were simple enough, and I felt confident after learning the first section. Unfortunately, my brain felt fairly full when I still had two more sections to learn. D’oh!
Although each class is different, attendees normally have about an hour to pick up 50 seconds of choreography with time to practise at the end. If your choreography pick-up skills are rusty, arrive early to snag a spot in the middle. You can see what’s going on in any direction from this unique vantage point.
If you get stuck in the back, you’ll find that some of the dancers don’t actually switch lines; and you will have no clue what the dance looks like from the front because the mirror view is completely obscured by other bodies. (For example, you wouldn’t be able to tell if arms were crossed at hip level or chest level from behind.) Regardless, Louise splits the class into two or three groups after she teaches a new section, which gives you space to spread out and strut your stuff.
High energy coursed through the jam-packed room, and while we were encouraged to mark the dance to conserve energy, it served the dual purpose of preventing us bashing our neighbours. Fun analogies helped dancers to achieve certain movements (“It’s just like taking off your coat,” explained Louise), and the class even included short lessons on dance skills, like improvisation and performance quality.
To learn the whole song’s worth of choreography, you must typically attend four classes. Then, you can review each of the four large sections in an additional session before assembling them into the entire music video-length choreography. However, the schedule does vary, so it’s best to check the (L):KDL dance timetable. (See details in the “If You Go” section below.)
I didn’t become a K-Pop princess, but I did get to experience a smidgeon of the hard work that goes into perfecting K-Pop dance routines. I also saw some ladies that looked like real K-Pop divas and learned to appreciate the style and movement qualities a bit more. The final bonus of floundering my way through the choreography was burning quite a few calories during the 85-minute class.
If I were to go again, I would definitely watch the official K-Pop music video a few more times before class. Even if I didn’t pre-learn the choreography, I would try to memorise the strong structure so that I could correctly attach the choreography to each phrase. But, oh well, I can’t beat myself up too much. After all, “I love myself… I’m dalla dalla, yeah.”
PS. If you are new to K-Pop, make sure to join the first class session when a new song begins or a standalone workshop. That way you’ll be on the same page as everyone else. Even a second class session would be OK; but I attended the fourth class, and lost the plot during a section other dancers had already learned during a previous week.
PPS. I don’t like being stumped, so I repeated the choreography in my head over and over; and in retrospect, the section I learned isn’t actually thaaat long or thaaat complicated – even though I felt a bit overwhelmed at the time. But now the choreography is cemented in my brain, I may have to record and upload my solo attempt at the “Dalla Dalla” choreography… ☺
Louise also teaches a K-Style Commercial dance class at BASE Studios,
which combines K-Pop influences with commercial dance choreography.
Love K-Pop Dance London Class Summary
Level: Beginner – Intermediate – the moves aren’t technically difficult, but there is a lot of choreography to learn
Physical intensity: 2.5 / 5 – however, the choreography was quick and the intense hair flipping manifested in a sore neck the next day
Best moment: Smiling together and taking a cheesy group photo after class
Most challenging moment: Remembering the choreography and recovering after I slushed it up… repeatedly
Three words to describe class: Upbeat, cutesy, silly
This is the K-Pop dance class I attended.
Click to see the entire Love K-Pop Dance London “Dalla Dalla” video playlist.
If You Go to a K-Pop Class with (L):KDL
Anyone can go to pick up a few new moves, but it does help if you’re a K-Pop fan!
Thursdays & Fridays, 7:00pm – 8:25pm.
Price: £9 for Thursdays & Fridays (1.25 hours).
Monthly Saturday workshop, 4pm – 6pm.
Price: £14 for the monthly Saturday workshop (2 hours).
Address: BASE Dance Studios, 4 Tinworth Street, London, SE11 5EJ.
See the Love K-Pop Dance London timetable for more information.
You can also check out the latest dances on Instagram at @lovekpopdancelondon.
All information correct and up-to-date at time of posting.
Disclosure: Dance Dispatches received free class admission to write an open and honest dance class review about our experience with Love K-Pop Dance London.