Many workout studios claim to be just like clubs. Have a DJ? Wow, just like a club! Have a dark room? Look at you, giving Marquee a run for its money. A place where people dance? Consider us sold.
Despite every best effort to create a space where people can let loose, a lot of dance studios are still fitness studios first and foremost. People show up in workout clothes and instructors say things like “reach for your summer body.” That last one fools absolutely no one—and also just sucks.
Forward Space is a newcomer to Nolita, and while it’s definitely still fitness, it’s the closest fitness-y thing we’ve found to a proper night out. The kind of night out where you had so much fun dancing that you forgot all about your outfit or who you were (or weren’t) going home with.
When you walk in, the staff greets you with high fives and smiles that make you feel like they were waiting just for you. Everyone here has a perma-smile and it doesn’t even feel that cheesy. The studio sports lots of black, white, and concrete, with nods to disco and street style cool. It’s a laid back and gender inclusive vibe—men dance, too!
The room itself is dark with lots of strobe lights. The instructor is on a platform so you can actually see what they’re doing. Most importantly, the music is consistently really good, which makes it a million times easier to move.
All of these components create a space where you’re really happy to be, and that seems like a major pre-req for *dancing like nobody’s watching.*
Forward and Forward+ are structured so that you’re doing easy-to-follow repetitive motions to the beat for most of class. But, you can really get into it and add flair if you want to. The last portion of class is dedicated to learning a super short “routine” and then “performing” it over and over again to the beat. It’s definitely beginner friendly, but if you’re just looking to move and hate being told what to do you might like it less. It’s only about 10 minutes though, so no harm, no foul.
Our favorite instructors are the founder Kristin Sudeikis (yes, sibling of that famous actor) and Rachel Warren, but you can’t go wrong with anyone here. And despite Forward+ being the slightly more advanced version of Forward, both are beginner friendly. Some people who come here clearly have some serious dancing chops, but it’s just as cool to come as you are and flail around.
Forward Space is a great escape that’s more like your best night at Paul’s Baby Grand, and their ethos matches that as well. We attribute this partially to their decor but mostly to their language and energy. It’s subtle but powerful when a dance studio is more focused on the dance then the cardio. Tuning into the beat and the energy rather than the particulars of a move or the reasons you might be dancing is possibly the best escape of all.
— Photo Credit: Active Spaces.