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Zumba Virgin Shake it, fake it, just don't break it

What happens at Jellybeans Family Skate

Center on Wednesday nights is difficult to explain. One minute, young mothers are discussing the woes of peanut allergies in a world of Reese’s Puffs breakfast cereal, the next, they’re gyrating in dizzying circles, whooping and shrieking like dance-crazed groupies. The gal in neon calls it Zumba.


Once the overhead lights have been cut, women of every imaginable shape and age make their way to the center of the roller rink like a vortex of brightly colored spandex. Some quietly begin practicing sensual salsa steps, hip swings, shimmies and the mambo (think Dirty Dancing, log scene). Others ponder over probiotic yogurt brands. When she thinks nobody is watching, a 20-something takes a “selfie” before putting up her smartphone. There are sixty-plus Babys, only three Johnny Castles. The gal in neon is called Wendy. “Y’all ready to get your Zumba on?” Wendy asks. The crowd responds with such fervent squeals and ululations that you’d think she was a pop star. Next, Wendy asks if there are any newcomers. 10

Salt • March 2014

Yep, one. “Zumba virgin!” shouts a voice from the troupe. Judging by the yips, claps and giggles from the others, the expression is intended as a friendly welcome. Before cranking up the Latin dance music, our neon leader offers guidance: “Shake it, fake it, don’t break it.” In other words: Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, or what direction to do it in, keep wriggling around with a smile on your face. Just try not to hurt yourself in the process. Despite the venue, roller skates aren’t part of the equation.


For Zumba virgins who haven’t a clue what the Z-word actually is, try to imagine a total body workout that incorporates various Latin American dance styles for a choreographed cardio session that equates to an hour of non-stop aerobic exercise with a generous smattering of squats, lunges, jumps, high kicks, oblique twists and abdominal crunches thrown into the mix. But that’s not what the neon people will tell you. They will tell you that Zumba is a fitness “party.” No matter which way you choose to look at it, you’ll be flushed and hungry afterward. Be warned, the neon people say. Zumba (i.e. “shaking it” with a roomful of people) is contagious.


When Wendy begins thrusting and gyrating her hips to hypnotic songs like “Sexy Bam Bam” and “Jiggle It,” the crowd responds with such fervent The Art & Soul of Wilmington

Photograph by Mark steelman

By Ashley Wahl

March 2014 Salt  

The Art and Soul of Wilmington

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