Catching up with the Douglas Hip Hop Club
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
The Douglas Hip Hop Club isn’t just a place for learning how to dance—it’s a family, according to club president MJ Estores.
DHHC offers weekly dance lessons taught by guest instructors every Thursday evening, followed by freestyle sessions, with each class attended by a sizeable portion of its over 100 members. In addition, they also hold other gatherings such as post-meeting dinners, summer barbecues, group movies, and organized dance performances, all while providing members a welcoming community to make friends and stay active.
DHHC’s members include people of all ages and experience levels, from kids to professionals, according to Administrative Executive Krista Sirilan, who, along with Estores, spoke to the Other Press in an interview. As well as students, some of their regulars include Douglas College graduates, while some others have never even attended Douglas, as the club is open to all.
Part of DHHC’s appeal, say its executives, is its welcoming family atmosphere. This, according to Estores, is what sets their group apart from a regular dance studio.
“I think it’s the fact that we genuinely care,” said Estores. “It’s not even [just that] we genuinely care about dance, but we genuinely care about health, like your physical and mental health.”
Another aspect that differentiates the club is that they strive to make each session about more than just dance.
“What we want to give people is an experience. It’s not just a regular class, it’s an experience,” said Estores.
To achieve this aim, she tries to choose teachers who have values—who don’t just teach students dance moves, but who also impart life lessons and let students leave each session with a sense of deeper understanding. Sirilan said she’s learned a lot of her own personal life lessons from people in the club, such as the importance of perseverance through adversity, whether in dance or in other aspects of life.
“Being in an environment like a dance club is hard, especially when it’s your first time, but that kind of translates into your everyday life. You go through things that are hard, but there are people there who will support you, people there who care literally about you as a person, not just as a number,” Sirilan said.
The Other Press last spoke with DHHC in September of 2016. In 2017, Estores founded the DHHC Showcase Team for club members who want to train more and practice at a more professional level without having to do so competitively. The Showcase Team has been performing at a variety of local events, such as Douglas sports games, as well as charity and church events.
In addition to starting the Showcase Team, Sirilan said the club has noticeably expanded in the past semester. She’s especially seen more people staying for the freestyle sessions, which she said is a great time for bonding.
However, in some ways DHHC hasn’t changed, said Estores, who has been with the club since around 2011—it’s still the same welcoming community as always.
“What I’ve compared it to now is like it’s a sorority,” said Estores. “It’s not just a one-time thing. People do come back. They go experience life, they come back, it’s still the same family.”
If you’re interested in checking them out, the DHHC meets every Thursday for choreography sessions at 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., followed by freestyle from 8:30 to 10:00, in the Movement Studio, room N1313.