Free your nerd

Dancing stupid
By GEORGIANA COHEN  |  February 20, 2008

LIBERATED: Marianne Bayard hopes to inspire other women to be as ridiculous as she can be.

When “I’m Too Sexy” comes on, 28-year-old Rachel Marks has a flashback. “Oh my God,” she says. “My bat mitzvah.” It’s early on a Saturday afternoon, and while her peers sleep off the previous night’s partying, Marks and seven other women are gettin’ busy at Central Square’s Green Street Dance Studios with Right Said Fred.

Welcome to the Boston chapter of Dance Dance Party Party (DDPP), a 14-city international organization for women who love to dance but hate the dance-club scene. There are no rules and, notably, no men — just 90 minutes, 600 square feet, and an iPod full of cheesy dance tunes. The only instructions that 28-year-old organizer Marianne Bayard offers are, “Just have fun, feel free to sing along, be a fool, and do whatever.”

A Wayland native and Emerson grad, Bayard moved to Cambridge in July after studying at a clown school in Paris. It was there where she was inspired to pursue “nerdy freedom.”

“I think I’ve always been a closeted nerd,” says Bayard. “When I got through clown school, it was like, just be the nerd that you are. Life’s way more fun that way.”

Bayard attended one DDPP event when she lived in New York City a few years ago. Upon returning to Boston, she wanted to give other women a space to, as her 29-year-old friend Meredith Smith put it, “free their nerd.” The first DDPP get-together was held on January 5.

At the Green Street studio, some newcomers look a little unsure at first, but when Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You” comes on, all bets are off. Soon, people are jogging laps, bobbing heads, and doing the Robot. No one is shy about posing in the mirror, singing along, or breaking into the running man.

“It’s like being in your own music video,” says Smith.

While the studio lacks ambience, and the music could be a bit louder, energy remains high throughout the 90 minutes. When the vibe hits a momentary lull, Bayard briefly brings everyone into a dance circle. Then, mojo restored, it’s back to the free-for-all.

“My role is to be as ridiculous as I can,” says Bayard, “so that everybody else can be like, ‘Ah, she looks like an idiot, so can I.’ ”

Boston’s DDPP branch is barely six weeks old, and Bayard admits she’s been more focused on playlists than promotion. But it’s beginning to catch on.

“I love the idea of being able to come and do whatever you want and not follow any instructions,” says 32-year-old Ashley Strigle, who laughingly admits to her lack of dance skills.

And that, says Bayard, is exactly the point. “It’s not even dancing,” she says. “It’s just being stupid.”

Dance Dance Party Party is held every weekend at Green Street Studios in Central Square, Cambridge. Admission is $5.

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