PICTURES: Satoutside Photography
IT’S A Thursday night at Base Dance Studios in south London and chunky-legged me is sweating and teetering in heels. What the hell am I doing? Rehearsing my Dick Emery tribute act? (Ask your mum.) No. I’m at Madam Storm’s Strut Masterclass getting ready to strut into my power. Or, you know, the wall.
Strut is the brainchild of confidence coach and international dominatrix Madam Storm (aka Desrine McClymont). According to the blurb, ‘Madam Storm’s Strut Masterclass is an intensely practical confidence-building session for women of all ages. Through an evening of fun activity based on mastering different walks and postures in high heels… [you’ll learn] how to strut with elegance, grace, sass and confidence’.
I grab Madam Storm by the flapjack counter (grow up).
Me: ‘Er… it’s walking. Just walking. How can walking empower you?’
Storm: ‘How can it not? If you’re unable to walk out of your house with purpose, then what is the point of being here? If you’re continually walking around with your head down, and feeling unappreciated and uncomfortable with yourself, how can you prosper in life?
‘Once you feel you’re worth something, you’re able to take control. I think that’s what Strut does: it’s that “ah, I am here. I am going to take up space” moment. It’s not about learning how to walk in heels, it’s about learning how to strut into your power.’
I like the sound of this. I’m ready! (I think. As I trip. Taking down two classmates.)
There are 17 of us here, aged between 20 and their mid-fifties. Everyone is friendly and smiley, with some of us looking a little nervous.
Madam Storm — dressed in a skimpy black leotard and over-the-knee black patent stiletto boots — gets us to follow her affirmations: ‘I am here!’ ‘I own my space!’ ‘I am woman!’ And then we all say why we’re here. Answers range from ‘to have fun’ to ‘to bring my full woman out!’
Affirmations done, we start with the struts. First is The Power.
‘This is you in your everyday,’ says Storm. ‘Walking down the street, walking into the office, being comfortable with who you are and owning your space.’
To Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman (nice) the two lines of women follow Madam Storm’s lead and walk slowly — heel down, then sole, heel, then sole — to the mirrored wall. We stop, pose, split off to the left or right and then strut back to the far wall.
Simple, right? Well, my ankle gave way twice. Thinking about walking is hard. But I like it…
This is a non-judgmental space and everyone is encouraging each other and loosening up nicely. Madam Storm turns the lights down, and the mood gets a little sexy and sassy.
Storm: ‘Who runs the world?’
Cue Beyoncé’s dulcets.
Now it’s The Storm Strut. Hands on hips, the Wonder Woman pose, we cross our feet over as we sashay to the mirror/hold/ walk back.
‘This is more assertive,’ says Madam Storm. ‘You’ve found The Power, now really embrace it.’
One woman is finding the walk especially tricky so Madam Storm gives her a one-on-one mini lesson in front of us. Boosted, the woman Storm Struts for all of us. There are whoops. There are cheers.
‘Whatever you think, your body will project,’ says Storm. ‘Are you ready to become the woman you want to be?’
Storm: ‘“Yes”?! It’s “YAAAASSSSSS!”’
During our prosecco and Pringles break, I ask two of my classmates why they came along to Strut. Lisa, 47, says: ‘This was a Christmas present from my friend Mel. We’re both ill so didn’t fancy coming out but I’m so glad we did. This is so empowering, giving me confidence to be sexy.’
Mel, 51, who has the best legs on Earth, says: ‘That’s the point. They never come out. I want the confidence to not stoop, to not be shy.’
This class is lovely. Fun, bonding and not a little special. Have women really found empowerment from Strut?
‘Yes!’ Madam Storm says. ‘And so many babies! From women having great sex to getting a new job, confidence is the key to success: to happiness and living your life fully.’
The next day, I saw a testimonial from one of the women, Camilla, aged 45, who had been emotional during the class.
‘I came to the class to learn how to walk — literally,’ she writes. ‘I had an accident that damaged my spine and have been in a wheelchair for several years. And only recently, a few months ago, I came out of the wheelchair. So I’m literally finding my steps and my strut. And this class taught me I can and I will do it. With style and in a sassy, sexy way. And I can feel empowered because of that. Now I, and people, will understand that just because I still walk with a stick, that doesn’t mean I can’t be sexy.
‘I was crying not just because of the pain but because I’m learning to live again.’
■ Madam Storm’s next Strut Masterclass: Learn How To Walk in Stilettos (Women Only), is on January 26, from 4pm to 7pm, at Base Dance Studios, London. See teachmestorm.co.uk