Pssst. Hey you, beautiful lady, wanna take a peek backstage?
Like a butterfly, Hipline has metamorphosed into an established dance fitness destination spanning two thriving and popular locations in Oakland. So it’s definitely possible, in the flurry of growth, that you may not have yet met the two original wizards behind Hipline’s hot pink curtain. Surely, first wave Hipliners from 2008 have seen sisters Gabriela and Samar Nassar take that winding yellow brick road to Oz (or Oakland). Their true-blue journey to that shimmering, sweatastic, and fabulous place we know and love today seems nothing short of completely inevitable and so wholly natural. However, as Hipline continues to grow and welcome new additions, it may be a little less obvious where the dream of Hipline began…
And no, not exactly in Kansas!
Born in Dublin, California, Gabriela, Samar and their youngest sister, Alexandra were raised in an immediate and extended family steeped in culture and tradition. Their father, Adib, steadfast, strong and supportive, hails from across the globe in Lebanon. Having instilled in his daughters a loving connection to the Middle East and Arabic culture, from dance to food, the spirit of their Arabic background has always been a significant part of their lives. Of course, many Hipliners know their mother, Patricia, from her smooth dance stylings that can be spotted at either Hipline studio. Originally from Peru, when you meet Patricia, it’s plain to see where Gabriela and Samar get their equally warm, interested and welcoming demeanors. Gabriela will give you a wide smile and tell you when she’s instructing a class and sees her mom shaking it out of the corner of her eye, she’s quickly reminded where she gets her own moves from.
But well before Hipline became Hipline, both sisters always knew that the power of the shimmy was meant to be shared. Having always wanted a space to workout that empowered women and made them feel good from the inside out, they went ahead and tried their hands at creating one themselves. With a long history of dance training and the support of their community they buckled their seat belts as they set out as sisters who have always been the best of friends into sisters who are partners in business. Launching a unique brand of fitness and unsure of the road ahead, they took that leap together and have been working it out every step since.
Homegrown in every sense of the word, both sisters can be found participating in all the elements of running a local business. Embracing creativity, change and growth in the name of supporting the women who have let it into their lives, Hipline is rooted in the concept of sisterhood through and through.
Samar, an Arabic dance professional with 15 years of learning, performing, teaching, and mentoring experience has an undeniable passion for shimmying with the women of Hipline. Move and get moved is a guaranteed byproduct of one of her classes. Her commitment to creating a safe environment for women to dance and express themselves is as real as her infectious laugh. Her bold vulnerability has a fearless quality that inspires a sense of openness and ownership of one’s strengths, weaknesses and experiences alike, making her classes nothing short of a personal triumph.
Gabriela’s intentions for Hipline started with her strong sense of sisterhood as the eldest of the Nassar girls. Having a family business was a lifelong goal of Gabriela’s who had big dreamy hopes of being Paula Abdul’s backup dancer when she was younger. Gabriela’s dedication and determination is as rich as her fiercely sassy routines and super huge spirit. Her sincere interest in each Hipliner, from new to the roster to the seasoned shimmy popper, is true. Her unwavering warmth is a constant reminder that you are in a place where women can faithfully go to build each other up and seriously let their hair down.
Born out of such sincere desire and honesty, it’s no wonder that Hipline is a space where any women can go, dance, laugh, and be themselves. And it’s no surprise this dynamic duo is direct extensions of that powerfully unique and inspired feeling on the dance floor.
Not to mention the extended Hipline Crew, a carefully cultivated group of talented, vibrant and creative women, reflecting so faithfully the spirit and culture of Hipline. Each instructor generously contributes, like light through a kaleidoscope, to what it already is, and helps to develop what it continues to become.
If you build it they will come is not lost on the Hipline story. However what has been built is more than a place to go. Hipline is a way of life, a movement, a sanctuary, a place as much about wellness as it is silliness; the origin of which is as pure as its manifestation. And while Hipline grows each day, Gabriela and Samar still nurture it as an intimate community where women can come sweat, dance, laugh, share, learn, grow, let go, and even cry.
So on one Friday morning Samar taught a Shimmy Pop class and Gabriela worked in the office that opens onto the dance floor at the Lakeshore studio. Gabriela joined in every few songs despite being in her “going to a meeting” clothes because she just couldn’t help herself. As a revolving and steady group do every day, a range of women of all kinds collectively took that hour to dance together and for themselves. And as the class came to a close they each stretched out their arms and legs, feeling a little bit taller and a little bit clearer. And as they all poised for their final spin and pose, Samar turned to them before they dispersed back into their respective days and worlds and said something off the top of her head, as she often does. Poignant and organic, her loose words containing in their obvious message the true meaning of Hipline:
“If you have something to give, share it with those around you.”
So click your heels three times cuz Hipline puts the giving in sharing, and Samar and Gabriela put the Hiplina Bellina in Hipline; and when you’re there, you know you’re home.
written by Ali Lawrence, October 2012
Ali Lawrence is a professional writer whose work focuses on strategically developing creative copy for the individual, small business owner, as well as corporate companies. She volunteers with the WriterCoachConnection in the Berkeley and Oakland Public Schools and believes that, “writing is the new talking.”
Ali received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University in 2007, her first book of poetry, Anatomic, was published by Small Desk Press in 2008. She has been published in Transfer Magazine, Big Bell, Bang Out, among others and is a contributor in an upcoming anthology featuring a collection of pieces written by women writers called Shadowed: Unheard Voices out in 2013.
Ali is a native of Berkeley living in Oakland. She is committed to her work as a writer and writing coach helping others, both personally and professionally, to get their good word out there.
You can read her blog and learn more about her services at www.alilawrence.com