Dancing Queens

 Chronic wallflowers, rejoice! There’s a solution for those two left feet thanks to a full roster of dance classes now underway at OutCentral.

The brainchild of dance instructor Patricia Lefler, who is the choreographer at Play Dance Bar, the classes cover tap, jazz, salsa, and swing, with a monthly get-together for students thrown in as well.

For Lefler, who also teaches at Dance World when she is not traveling out of state to choreograph shows and other events, the GLBT community is ripe for some floor work.

“I hung up my competitive shoes about 12 years ago, so this is really more of a calling for me now,” Lefler says of the salsa classes she leads. “Dance helps people become happier, to enjoy life. I know there have been studies that show how it helps us both physically and mentally, plus it’s fun. And for the GLBT community, where so many people are struggling to be free, to be themselves, I think it can be a really liberating experience.”

Not quite like the shows at Play, however.

“I take out my alter ego on the drag queens, so they do suffer a little bit,” she admits. “I don’t think our classes out OutCentral will be quite so involved — or as racy.”

The tap classes are led by Lon Hurst, a semiretired professional dancer and a New York transplant to Middle Tennessee, who, like Lefler, was looking for a way to give back.

“I danced in New York, Los Angeles, and Europe, and then began teaching when I quit dancing professionally,” Hurst says. “I wound up in northern North Dakota and quickly realized that it was not the place for me. My family is in Nashville, and so I moved here to be near them.”

Teaching beginners is near to his heart, Hurst explains, because they are eager to learn and have some fun at the same time.

“It really is about enjoying yourself, and there are so many people who think tap dancing is neat and something they want to try,” he says. “I wanted to blend teaching with community, and this offers a great chance to do that. I’m meeting a lot of people and also connecting with community organizations. I’ve gotten a lot in terms of freedom and support over the years, so now I can return some of that to the gay community in Nashville.”

The tapping continues with Tiffany Stahl, who also heads up the monthly dance parties on Friday evenings. A dancer since her toddler days, Stahl also works out of Dance World as well as teaching ballroom and hip-hop classes in Columbia, Clarksville, and Pleasant View.

“The social aspect of dance is so important, because public dancing is the second-largest fear we have after public speaking,” Stahl says. “By creating an atmosphere where everyone is having fun, and it’s relaxed, we can overcome that fear.”

For her, GLBT students are the same mixed bag of latent talent and klutziness she finds everywhere else.
“I am used to pairing with men and women from a teaching perspective, so it's really just about leading and following, not male and female,” she said. “We really are gender-neutral in our classes.”
Tiffany Norfleet, another local instructor, will lead the swing classes, which are set to start in March. While she’s plenty busy with her other gigs, Norfleet says the OutCentral classes give her another opportunity to take dance to the masses.

“If you’ve had a stressful day and want to get out of yourself, dancing is a great way to unwind,” Norfleet says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay; just getting out there and meeting people is the thing. Dancing is a whole different world, and I’m thrilled that we’re getting to introduce it to so many people in this community.”

For more information on the dance classes at OutCentral, click here.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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