Wellington Fat Girls Dance Club encouraging 'fat women' to dance

If you want to groove but you're intimidated by professional dance classes, you're not alone. Luckily, one Wellington initiative is trying to change that.

Fat Girls* Dance Club is a new class accommodating of bigger bodies who want to move joyfully. Classes coming up include hip-hop, contemporary, street jazz and vogue. 

Organiser Steph Soper spoke to The Project this week, saying it was borne out of a dislike of more traditional 'fitness'-based dance classes.

"I don't want to go the gym to go and be judged by a whole bunch of skinny people, I don't want to wear tights and active wear," she told The Project. 

"We wanted a safe place where people can move joyfully and express themselves and have fun - not feel the pressure and vulnerability women feel at the gym."

The 90 minute long weekly classes have been running for six weeks now, and Sopher says it's been "incredible".

"[There are] so many people saying it's helped them. One woman said it actually changed her life - now, she feels confident in her body."

Those wanting to lose weight are welcome, but Sopher says it's encouraged not to talk about that aim or focus on it during the classes.

"We're not a weight loss culture. If they're there to get more active, or more fit, that's sweet; but we don't talk about it in the class because three are people there to celebrate themselves and love themselves."

If you feel a bit wary of the name, Sopher says it's part of the process to reclaim the word "fat".

"I like to call it 'taking fat back'. It's not a bad word, it's a word to describe a type of person."

The Project host Laura Daniels says she's a huge fan of what the class is doing.

"I talked about it on Dancing With The Stars - I always wanted to dance when I was younger, but I never had a typical body shape of a dancer, so never gave it a go," she revealed.

"Having done dancing for about four months now; it releases so much joy in your body. Anything where you can find the love for it is great."

A similar Auckland-based dance class called'OK Now Ladies for all body types runs weekly.