This one took a while.
Pineapple Studios is a building in Covent Garden, London, with several floors of dance studios, changing rooms and a café. The deal is that you pay a daily entry fee to the studios, and then pay the teachers whatever they charge for whatever particular classes you take. (You can join Pineapple, and not pay the entry fee, which works out cheaper if you visit more than once a week).
At the desk, they have A4 leaflets, folded twice, printed all over in very small print with the full weekly timetable, classified into levels along the lines of "Beginner", "Elementary", "Intermediate", "General", "Advanced" and "Professional", with mixtures and variations.
I picked up the leaflet recently, and on the Tube home, I started to count the different kinds of classes, got rather interested, and thought I would make you a chart.
To create the charts below, I typed out the name of each of the 266 classes offered in the timetable, and made a fairly vague, best-guess classification, first by looking at the words in their names and then by manually classifying the ones that didn't work for. I've totally ignored Pineapple's own classification on their website.
By "World" I mean anything characterised by a specific place of origin. Those dances have nothing else in common. This includes Brazilian Samba, Irish Dance for Performance, Island (Polynesian) Rhythms, Flamenco, Salsa, Bhangra Grooves, Bollywood Dance London, Capoeira and Egyptian Dance. It would include Argentine Tango if there was any, but in this particular leaflet there isn't a class listed. So the "World" bar in the charts doesn't tell you very much. It could equally reasonably be seen as a lot of little tiny bars - all these dances appear once or twice each.
"Street" is a very, very vague classification including Break Dance, Popping, Locking, Waacking, and a few things I'm not too sure about such as "New Skool". There are also two or three wild guesses in there.
You could dispute lots of things and do the classification lots of different ways. It depends what you're trying to do. Here, the only thing I am trying to do is get a general impression of how many people every week want to take what sorts of dance class, to see if I could learn anything from that.
A lot of classes fall into more than one category, like "Commercial Jazz" and "Ballet-Based Body Conditioning". That means double-counting, and it raises the total count from 266 to 296. There was one class, Singing, that only happened once a month - this is classified under "Music/Stage" along with a couple of other classes apparently designed for people appearing in musicals.
Here's the first pass:
Another interesting thing: Ballet is very popular. In fact, that's what inspired me to do this. I noticed how often the word "Ballet" came up, and wondered why we don't see more of it in mainstream culture. Many, many adults and children participate in a ballet class every week. It's popular. How come it's so invisible to non-participants?
Carole tells me that a lot of adults who are mainly interested in other dance forms, do ballet for body conditioning, and also to plug themselves in to the traditional European language of dance; if you work as a dancer, it's extremely useful to know, and to have other people know that you know, what a plié is. Those things still make it very influential; it seems strange to me that it doesn't somehow come up more often as a thing that people are interested in and do. But maybe I'm wrong, and it does; I don't really watch TV.
266 classes a week, with say 10-20 people in each class, is a lot of participation. This is just one place, Pineapple Studios - albeit a rather unique place, right in London theatreland, with an extraordinarily long, easy-to-analyse class list.
But I suspect there are many, many adults all over the country who regularly dance for their own enjoyment, and not that many of them ever have any intention to perform, professionally or otherwise. Even at Pineapple, 80% of the people in my weekly samba class (about 19 out of 20 of us are usually women) probably have no such intention and are doing it purely for fun and fitness. Why, I was wondering, does dancing for its own sake not seem that mainstream, plus-or-minus Zumba? Why is dance not something that people talk about at the water cooler, much, the way they do about their Sunday-league football adventures? Strictly Come Dancing has done a certain amount to change this, but it's essentially a ballroom programme, with a mindset that sees dance mainly as a stage performance rather than a regular mainstream recreation. And only about five of the classes listed are partner dances at all.
It made me think. But I don't have any conclusions for you.