Shut Up and Dance

"Britney, Bruno and Beiber give our ears a hug all the time. Unfortunately, we don’t have their number to say thanks, so OneMusic helps us get that message to them instead."


We caught up with alt-exercise dance experience Shut Up and Dance to find out what makes them tick and the dancefloor pop.


What is Shut Up and Dance? Give us your elevator pitch

We teach routines inspired by films and music videos. No mirrors, no photos, no videos – we’re a dose of delusion for people who want to channel the best version of themselves through the power of pop and cheesy dance moves.

Every class is different and a surprise. The choreography is simple but super satisfying. With more than 80 routines under our belt, you’ll be as clueless as the person next to you in each session, every time! You make mistakes. You move on. It’s good for you.  

You learn the choreography over a 45 minute session to different music – and there’s no technical direction whatsoever, which suits all the wannabe backup dancers out there. You’ll finish having learnt about a minute’s worth of choreography that you’ll *probably* go home and perform to your partner/children/dog because it was so god-damn fun.

It’s about sweating and smiling.


How long has Shut Up and Dance been running, and what was the journey leading up to the first class?

There’s three of us – Abby, Lesa & Clair. We ran a 6 x week pop-up course in Wellington in 2016 because we desperately wanted to learn the choreography to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies, how to moonwalk, and ‘That-Thing-John-Travolta-Does-In-Saturday-Night-Fever.’

Abby & Lesa were clueless, uncoordinated, but very passionate, and Clair was the dance teacher that didn’t go pro ‘cause she didn’t want to give up bread.

We all got on very well.

We were looking for dance classes would make us feel like professional back-up dancers. Despite all having two left feet, we’re all suckers for that feeling you get when you turn on your favourite song and you just want to dance (and lip sync).

We’d choose a body roll over a burpee any day and apparently a lot of Wellingtonians thought so too – we were expecting a couple of our friends to join us but were surprised to be met with 60 people at our first ever course.

We had no intention to start a dance company. Now we have 9 weekly classes running across Wellington, with a growing team, and intentions to share SU&D with the rest of Aotearoa.

Ultimately, our classes were born out of a need for community and a passion for pop music. For the full blow-by-blow account of Shut Up & Dance’s birth story, you can check out our talk at Creative Mornings.


What is the best thing about running Shut Up and Dance?

Our mission is for people who think “oh, I’ll never be a dancer” or “I’m really clumsy” or “I hate exercise” to find power and joy in letting go in every class. To throw away their inhibitions. To lip synch to Britney Spears. Getting dirty, sassy, silly and sweaty because it feels good. Not because it looks good.

Fitness should be fun and dance should be accessible. If you can dance, feel free and not be embarrassed if you make a mistake or go the wrong way or are out of time, you can take over the world.

So the best thing about running Shut Up & Dance is seeing the realisation that people have when they come to their first class – “Oh! I can dance! I never have to run on a treadmill again!” And seeing the positive energy our participants express in our classes ripple out into their family, their work and their community.Oh yeah, and doing flash-mobs. A public pelvic salute? Sign us up.



Have you been operating during the various lockdown levels? If so, what changes have you had to make?

We sure have! When New Zealand went into lockdown, we knew that we had to keep supporting our community (and maintain some level of sanity for ourselves). But our classes were never designed to enjoy online – they’re designed to create community! We knew our music license wouldn’t cover us to record, synch and sell an online version of our classes, so we decided we’d do Instagram Live classes instead – for free.

When OneMusic offered us a temporary streaming license, we high fived in glee and very quickly got to work on livestreaming our offering.

To cut a long story short, it didn’t work. We couldn’t let our classes be reduced to tinny audio and sh***y internet, so we hit pause on livestreaming. Then when the country dropped alert levels, we were able to deliver our classes in-person again, but with reduced capacity and all the other government recommended precautions in place.

  1. Wheeew. Whatta time.

How do you choose the music?

We choose music that makes us feel good. It’s usually nostalgic bangers and pop music, both new and old. We’re always in touch with our participants and our team of instructors to gauge what songs and artists people are loving too.

We also consider the BPM when designing our playlists. Because you learn choreography for a song that doesn’t get played until the end of the class, all 11 songs need to be at the same tempo!



You hold a OneMusic licence, supporting the people the write and record music. Why do you think it is important for Shut Up and Dance to support music creators?

Britney, Bruno and Beiber give our ears a hug all the time. Unfortunately, we don’t have their number to say thanks, so OneMusic helps us get that message to them instead.

We wouldn’t want anyone to steal and repurpose the choreography and brand we’ve spent hours developing, so of course we’d pay the artists who make our classes the electric and energising experience that it is.

The music we grew up and use in our classes is really what inspired Shut Up & Dance in the first place. If we’re making money off their product – whether it’s directly or indirectly, there’s an associated cost.

Also, we really care about doing business right. We know how much work goes into making stuff happen; whether it’s writing song or completing a financial report; to be paid for the service you provide to others shouldn’t ever be up for debate.

People who work in the arts and other creative industries are still taken advantage of, and not recognised for the massive and essential role they play in connecting us with each other. They help us make sense of this crazy, incredible world.


What’s your desert island album? If there was only one album you could play all day, every day, what would it be?

This question isn’t fair!

Could we bring a playlist we’ve made?

*clasps hands together*

It’ll include chart-toppers from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, early 00’s and today…

*begs please*

Oh also just a heads up, we’re going to pretend the island is a set for a music video. The coconuts, the sand, the waves… So many props!



Where can people find out more about Shut Up and Dance?

Our handle is @shutupanddancenz on Facebook & Instagram for a vibe.

You can find out more about us on our website, get treats and sass delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our monthly newsletter, or flick us an email at anytime.

Newbies can grab our intro offer – 2 x sessions for $25. You can check out our timetable and book for a class on our website, or by searching for us on the MindBody app.


Thanks OneMusic for making it easy to support the artists we love!

*high five*

The Shut Up & Dance Team