In the fall of 2015, I had the immense pleasure of seeing an old friend, and joining her newest pursuits to invite the world to join the Soka Tribe. Soka Tribe is a dance fitness class inspired by the richness of Carnival and African pop music. After taking class with the Soka Tribe entrepreneur herself, Shermica Farquhar, I had to ask her about the history of Soka Tribe, and how she came to create a new outlet for it.
Soka Tribe is important to me because I get a chance to dance until I sweat, have fun, be free, and feel uninhibited doing something I love, especially as it relates to my Caribbean and African culture. I get so much life from dancing with my friends and helping people get fit.
What is Soka Tribe, and where does it come from?
The Soka Tribe is a group of people united by the love of music and culture from the Caribbean and African Diaspora. We make moves together creating the carnival vibe wherever we go.
When did you decide to use Soka Tribe to help others get fit, and why?
[Soka Tribe] started with a very personal journey as a “re-plant” to DC as an adult (I attended college in DC). It was really hard to find my “tribe”. Though I’m pretty good about staying connected to loved ones, the lack of proximity was wearing on me; in short, I was homesick. I tried doing a few different things around the city, and couldn’t find the right fit. I felt like a fish out of water. In search of community, I was introduced to the dance fitness world. For an hour, I got to forget it all, and connect with a room full of people who always came ready to “wuk” and de-stress! It was like my biweekly carnival fix. Everyone enjoyed the music, and I realized if [I] couldn’t find what [I] was looking for, [I had to] build it. So, [out of this] biweekly carnival rinse and repeat came a platform for cultural expression, working out, getting gains, and everybody wins!
What makes Soka Tribe so unique from other fitness and dance trends?
First, I’ll revisit its inception; I started teaching to reconnect with my culture and share it with others. I envision the Tribe will continue to grow in this manner. I’ve been trained in a variety of dance styles and constantly seeking more [training], which I bring to class to keep things fresh. It’s an experience to be a part of the Soka Tribe; it leaves you wanting more, and [I hope] that’s a lasting trend!
The music you use during Soka Tribe classes is very upbeat and requires a lot of movement. How can it be modified to fit any level of fitness?
I always instruct class [participants] to do as much as they can, not what they want to do. For those with injuries and other [health] considerations (i.e. pregnancy), I coach to replace any jumping with steps. As time goes on and the Soka Tribe grows, I can look into creating different levels for different classes. However at this stage, the intent [of the class] is for a high intensity, “road like” workout experience.
Why is Soka Tribe so special and important to you personally?
Soka Tribe is important to me because I get a chance to dance until I sweat, have fun, be free, and feel uninhibited doing something I love, especially as it relates to my Caribbean and African heritage. I get so much life from dancing with my friends and helping people get fit.
Get involved in the movement, and join the Soka Tribe journey to fun, fitness, and friendship as you learn the cultural richness of the music and the movement. Follow Shermica Farquhar and Soka Tribe on Facebook and Instagram. If you’ve taken her class before, give a shout out on Yelp! about your experience, or contact Shermica directly as she is passionate about making the class the best it can be. See you next time on the dance floor!