By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Who needs electricity when you’ve got style. Gangnam Style, to be specific.
And you’d need to be. Specific, that is.
With so much passing for “style” these days, it’d be easy to get a little lost in all of it. But even for people who don’t really pay attention to a lot of the pop culture nonsense, it’d be difficult to at least not be aware of Gangnam Style — the now-iconic song, dance and viral video from Korean-born artist Psy.
The Gangnam Style dance is a curious thing. Based loosely, it would seem, on horseback riding, it involves a series of motions mimicking the holding of the reins, the swinging of a lasso, and the shaking of a booty.
“You’d have to be living under a rock to have not seen the video,” one participant says.
So it makes sense, then, that at some point in the days following its release — days that included, in case you don’t know, world-wide acclaim — the phenomenon would find its way to a dance class near you.
That brings us up to Sunday, where the proprietor of the Satori Violet School of Dance offered what, we’re guessing, was the first Gangnam Style dance class in the Mankato area.
“I thought the video was hilarious, and I thought somebody in Mankato needed to do a class,” said Violet Kind, owner, speaking of the music video for the “Gangnam Style” song. “Besides, everybody needs to dance more.”
In the moments leading up to the noon class time, though, the downtown area lost power, leaving the 16 people gathered for the class at the Fine Arts Ballet School wondering if they’d be doing any dancing at all. Kind made a few quick phone calls to see about getting the class moved to an emergency back-up site, but got no answers, and no returned calls.
But, alas. The power of Gangnam Style, it seems, transcends all, including the need for electricity in a dimly lit dance studio.
With the lobby window providing a few beams of light, the determined young women (and one dude) pressed on. With no electricity to light the place or to allow for music to be played — which, in this case, is kind of a big deal; the dance craze is based on a single song — they made do.
Kind forged ahead, and within an hour and 15 minutes, they’d memorized half the dance. She taught them the basic dance sequence made popular in the video, which includes a few group moves, individual moves, galloping, hip swiveling, booty shaking and, in this group, a lot of laughing and singing along (except for the Korean lyrics … no one in the group spoke Korean.)
Then, two hours into the three-hour class, the lights came on. And even though the women (and one dude) had been working hard since noon, the glow of illumination seemed to inspire them to hit a higher gear.
Instead of listening to the song on someone’s phone, it now blasted from the speakers. And these folks who two hours ago didn’t know much about Gangnam Style were galloping like extras in a Psy video.
Then Kind threw them a curve ball.
“All right ladies (and Greg),” she said. “Let’s do this one more time. But this time, without me.”
Kind had been leading the group through the routine each time, with the class participants watching along to make sure they were galloping or lasso-ing at the right times.
Didn’t matter, though. They’d been through the routine 20, maybe 30 times and had all the moves down. Even without Kind.
Afterward, the one-time class proved to be a one-of-a-kind experience.
“I loved it,” said Maria Pappas. “Three hours of Gangnam Style!”
Pappas said Kind has a certain flair about her that makes her classes fun.
Abree Royce agreed. She said she’s been coming to Satori Violet since Kind began offering classes more than a year ago. She’s been taught by Kind dozens of times.
“This was my favorite class,” she said. “It’s a ridiculous song, but today was so laid back.”
The dude had a good time, too.
Greg Kasten came because he’s a friend of Kind’s. It was the first time he’d ever come to a dance class.
“It’s not my favorite song by any means,” he said. “But I thought it’d be entertaining.”
Anne Mehltretter, when asked if she was a fan of “Gangnam Style,” replied diplomatically: “My 5-year-old is,” she said.
Mehltretter is a fan, however, of Satori Violet and its instructor.
“She makes it fun,” Mehltretter said.