As a person who loves to dance but isn’t a dancer, I’ve struggled to find spaces where I can shake it all out. Dance classes in gyms, or dance courses in studios, have always left me feeling overwhelmed by choreography that’s too complicated, routines that feel like work instead of fun, and incredibly toxic commentaries on bodies and weight. The few hippie dance classes I’ve tried out have been body positive, but far too cult-like for me; you spend half the time having instructors chant at you, and at some point or another you will be asked to get on all fours and embody a cheetah – which, surprise surprise, is not my idea of fun.

Your typical boliche, discoteca, or bar-turned-dance floor, usually doesn’t get going until 2 or 3 in the morning, and even if I drink enough coffee to try and be #joven, the places are usually full of drunk people and dudes who can’t quite grasp the idea of personal space. 

Luckily, every Wednesday night and one Saturday of the month, in the basement of a gymnasium that hasn’t been renovated since the 70s, you can find a collection of people thrustin’ and groovin’ to a live DJ. The rules are simple: no talking, no touching, just dancing.

A friend of mine who has an affinity for blue silk kimonos invited me to my first class. I was skeptical because she is a dancer, but as we headed down the stairs, the music became louder and my interest piqued. We paid at the door, my friend looked at me and said “nos vemos en un rato”, and disappeared into the crowd. At first it was incredibly awkward, my mind (enemy number one) started racing: “Why did you agree to this?” “Why don’t you own workout clothes that match?” “Why didn’t you start taking dance lessons at age two?” etc. etc.

After a barrage of self-criticism I closed my eyes and pushed myself to focus on the music. The never-ending loop in my head began to quiet and I started to dance. No one cared about my shaking and prancing because they were all doing their own thing. Time flew and as the dancing began to wind down, I realized how rare it is to be completely present in your body, to not have to think, analyze, or regulate yourself. From that point on, I was hooked. 

This space is the first place I’ve found with an awesome range of music, enough space to dance, and the perfect buena onda. The overhead lamps are turned off and replaced with two multicolored disco lights, so unless you’re trying real hard to check yourself out (valid), you can move and shake without being confronted by your reflection (more my style). 

I still find myself shocked at the motley group who show up. An older white dude in a suit (he’s a weekly regular), a woman in her 70s who I thought would commiserate with me about the techno beats but instead blew my mind when she said it was her favorite genre. People of all different shapes, ages, and styles strut their stuff. If you want to stretch, there are ballet bars lining each wall; if you want to take a break, there are benches; if you want to twirl, there is room.

As a queer woman there are very few public spaces where I feel like I can be totally free without consequence– and clearly I’m not the only one. So whether you’re wanting a few hours without a screen, a sober space to dance, to try something new, or to simply be in your body, come to Baile Liebre, the magical place where you can let it all go. 

Baile Liebre Costa Rica 4863 19:30-21hs AR250