WHAT YOU NEED
Shoes: runners, or any kind of comfy flat shoes
Any clothing that’s comfortable for you to move in, some do loose and baggy straight out of a music video, some do yoga gear. Your preference.
The Underground Dance Centre is literally an underground dance centre, located below street level and busting at the seams with talent, energy and some of the funnest and most impressive choreography that we’ve ever seen. The studio that offers drop-in classes to all levels of experience, is also home to some of the best dancers in Toronto, making this a must-do fitness class even if all you do is gawk at the advanced hip-hop and contemporary dancers. They are SO good, that they’ve recently taken over space from their neighbours and expanded to another massive building, which quadruples their size and allows for triple the amount of classes offered. The classes are reasonably priced, run all-day everyday until 11pm and what can’t be forgotten is Underground’s niche; their dance videos. Every class, whether you like it or not, is filmed and available to watch afterwards on their website, with their best talent often featured on their social channels and a stacked youtube channel that posts new choreography every month. With new combinations taught in every class, over 30 dance instructors including So You Think You Can Dance alumni and major artists as frequent guest instructors, we can completely understand why this studio was voted #1 by BlogTO.
You’ve probably walked by this place actually. Almost every time we describe the sunk-in window off Richmond that peers into what looks like a music video rehearsal, people always go “oh yah that place!” Just west of University Avenue on Richmond Street, Underground is a two-minute walk from Osgoode station and close to plenty of transit options on Queen. If you’re driving in crazy downtown traffic, there is paid street parking and parking lots along Richmond. The new building is just two doors west from what used to be the main entrance.
Underground has a full schedule of drop-in classes that focus mostly on contemporary, jazz, and hip-hop. With well over 30 classes offered every week, all levels of classic styles like hip-hop and contemporary are on the roster, but where Undergound really stands-out is with specialty classes like Beginner Beyonce, Street Jazz, and Bollywood. Our personal fav?! Beginner hip-hip throwback Thursday, where we get to tap into our high school thugness and live our best life. No matter what style you choose, almost every class has a beginner option available so it’s a great place to try something new. Ever wondered what a Vogue class really entails?! Pop-in to the Beginner Vogue at 6-7pm on Thursdays and make like Madonna until your heart’s content. Here’s a little guide to help decide what level might be the best for you:
Beginner – “I’ve never danced before!” + “I’m a little rusty.”
Beginner/Intermediate – “I’m looking for a little bit more challenge”.
Intermediate – “I’ve been trained in dance before”.
Intermediate/Advance – “I’m ready to dance with the best”
Advance – “I slay”
Private classes are available for special events, wedding prep or just because you want more one-on-one time. Underground also hosts workshops on the regular, often featuring well-known choreographers that make time for Underground when they’re in town. August’s edition was an hour and a half master class with Alexander Chung, a famous choreographer that has worked with booty babe Nicki Minaj and Sean Kingston. Classes often hit capacity, so a wait-list is usually a thing. They’ll either email you before class if a spot becomes available, but your best bet is to hang around IRL as a few spots usually open up. It’s recommended to sign-up online before class and either pay online or when you arrive.
As far as price, Underground is super reasonable at $17 for a drop-in before tax. It’s a tad more expensive than City Dance Corps, but dance as a category is the cheapest compared to yoga, spin, pilates and barre. As always, the price will continue to drop as you buy in bulk, with the best deal being the 30-class pass, which drops the price to $14 per class and don’t expire for 6 months. Memberships are also available and make sense if taking over 15 classes per month. They have a pretty sweet rewards program too. As a way for you to earn free classes and get discounts to their product and a way for Underground to maximise word-of-mouth marketing, you can earn points by sharing on social, referring friends, providing feedback, registering for classes online, and even just going to class. It’s a fun lil’ motivator in our super social world.
- Drop-in: $17
- 5 Class Pass: $79 ($15.80 pc)
- 6 Class Pass: $89 ($14.84 pc)
- 15 Class Pass: $219 ($14.60 pc)
- 30 Class Pass: $419 ($13.90 pc)
- Unlimited Monthly Membership: $225 (min 2 month commitment)
- Unlimited Monthly Membership, Pay-As-You-Go: $275
- Discounted gift cards available for a limited time
The atmosphere at Underground is no fluff, no fuss, all dance. The layout of the original main building (building b) isn’t particularly conducive to hanging around or storing your things, because it’s a fairly tight squeeze. Hence their massive recent expansion. The original building contains the The View studio that can be seen from street level on Richmond and The Grande studio that used to be their largest studio. At the back of building b are a few benches, a coatrack, a large screen TV showing past classes, a kitchen and men’s and women’s change rooms. The change rooms aren’t huge with 3 showers (but no towels), 3 washrooms and a bit of mirror space. There isn’t any locker space either, everyone just brings their belongings into class and line them up along the walls.
The newest studio that just opened a month ago, studio a, is 3 times the size and still very much under construction. With 4 more beautiful studios in the newest building separated on 3 floors (The Penthouse, The Bridge, The Dark Room, and The Tower) there is plenty of space for waiting room outside each studio, more washrooms and a larger reception desk. There is still a mini reception desk in building b that you can sign-in from, but the majority of the traffic will soon be flowing through building a. Also, all studio’s are equipped with cameras at the front of the room, as they record the final combination for all classes. Although some may find it incredibly intimidating (us cough cough), it’s also super fun and an awesome way to be embarrassed, improve or brag depending on your skill level. You can visit their site here to see your video after class ($1.99 fee). Although under construction and a bit crammed in certain areas until their new space is working for them, the atmosphere is energetic, contagious and feels like a tight-knit community exploding with dancers, commotion, and tons of kisses and bro-hugging.
Our fellow dancer friends in our beginner hip-hop class were mostly all beginner. One chick, who was so clearly not a beginner, was taking the class to support the instructor and give us another person to follow (thank god). Our class was pretty full, with about 20 people. Although class capacity is much more than that, and they could cram as many as 35-40 dancers in The Grande studio, our class size of 20 was perfect so we still had enough room to see the teacher and move around. Average age was pretty young, with mid-30’s being the old people in the class, but there’s no judging whatsoever and they welcome all ages and experiences. We guarantee no matter what your age or experience level, so long as you take the appropriate class for you, the instructors will go as slow as you need to and the other dancers in the class will help each other out. Everyone’s in it together because after all, the final dance looks way cooler if everyone is together.
- The Gear Shop – features Toronto branded hoodies and T’s
- Men’s and Women’s washrooms with showers
- Partial kitchen (fridge, sink, microwave) that all students can use
Underground’s instructor roster is so damn impressive. With over 30 teachers that range from So You Think You Dance alumni to major artists, every instructor is a killer dance themselves. Because of Underground’s video capabilities, you can easily browse their Youtube channel to sus out who might be your favorite or who you want to take a class from. But suffice to say, every instructor you could possibly take a class from will blow you away.
JP we looooved! Not only was JP so patient and clear with the major newbies (us) but he was full of energy, kept us engaged and, of-course was so cool and goal worthy when he had the chance to do the choreography full-out himself. JP watched every student closely and was very supportive if he saw someone not quite getting a step. Not in an obvious way, but he would go over a particular section more times until he could tell that everyone was comfortable to move on. He made it fun and easy by constantly shouting out encouragement to every individual in the class which allowed everyone the opportunity to shake-off any reservations or insecurities they might have had coming in the door. Full pineapple JP, full pineapple.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
We’ll give this guy a Middle of The Roadsies considering it was a beginner class but still challenged us enough in certain quick-footed choreography we couldn’t call it Chill. The class started out with an easy enough warm-up. Simple choreography that JP led us through with body rolls, transferring weight from side to side, basically anything that let us loosen up, get comfortable moving in our bodies, feel the beat and get low. Because that is the key in hip-hop; any classically trained dancer will tell you, the hardest thing about hip-hop is letting go of what you think of as technique, and get looooow. After about 10 minutes of warming up and everyone was feeling loose, we started the choreography. For the rest of the 50 minutes JP taught a few steps at a time, would have us practice a number of times and then add on. Eventually it built up to a 2 minute routine with some sections repeated and even a little freestyle. By the end we split the room in half and took turns so we had space to spread out and give it everything we had. For anyone that might feel nervous about performing in front of your classmates, we promise you the fear will dissipate as soon as the music is on and your fellow classmates are encouraging the hell out of you. It was such a fun, supportive, and boss atmosphere, we honestly can’t wait to go back.
To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Underground’s contact info below.
The Underground Dance Web: www.theundergrounddance.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org PHONE |647.349.9477 Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Pop and lock-it, babes