This week’s assignment was to perform a fanlike activity for something that we are not a fan of.
I chose Jazzercise. Jazzercise is group aerobic dance to popular music. I am not a fan of any of those things, but my girlfriend is a jazzercise instructor, and I am a fan of her, so this seemed like a good excuse to see what Jazzercise is all about my participating in a 60-minute session. Otherwise, I would’ve felt very awkward because I was the only male in the room. Also, Jazzercise has a different reputation than when it was founded in 1969, for example here is an example of another aerobics fitness group—Jazzercise’s target market—making fun of “the 80’s fad.” I think there is a lot of potential to make Jazzercise cool again, I also convinced my Fandom classmate Tessa to join in this activity, and here’s some evidence that we were there:
Jazzercise involves many different fanlike activities rolled into one. The class copies the Jazzercise instructor (impersonation) as she does a mirror image of the moves to each song. Some of the moves are traditional dance moves like “plie”, “chasse”, and “double lunge,” while others are specific to the Jazzercise brand like “attitudes.” The instructor has a microphone to call out the moves/instructions, while the rest of the participants sometimes chime in vocally by singing along or musically by clapping. Jazzercise is a ritual/tradition, and the specific moves are part of that ritual. You could tell who was familiar with the moves, and who wasn’t (me). Jazzercise is a pilgrimage because it involves going to the Jazzercise studio. There are also elements of performative consumption, cos-play (wearing Jazzercise-style colors / branded merchandise) and socialization as the Jazzercise community becomes a way to talk about non-aerobic aspects of life.
The playlist included music by popular artists like Pit Bull, Christina Aguilera, Janelle Monae, Taylor Swift, Daft Punk, Rhianna, Britney Spears, Black Eyed Peas, Kesha and Daft Punk. I’m not a fan of any of these artists, but it was hard to resist dancing along and I did my best to follow each move. I was in the back of the room hoping that nobody would notice me. At one point, we all picked up weights, but I was the third-to-last person in line for weights and there were only two pairs left. I yielded to the “real” jazzercise participants because, though the atmosphere was very inclusive, I still felt like an outsider.
At first, I was embarrassed to tell people that I was even considering going to Jazzercise. But once I decided to go for real, I felt like I had to tell people. The more people I told, the more into it I became, and now I’m proud to say that I gave it a shot. I might even go again some day—I am on my way to becoming a fan of Jazzercise.