Courtesy of Emma Herold

When third-year transfer, political science major and Gamma Phi Beta sorority member Sheila Lockwood walked into Seventh Dimension Dance for a sisterhood on Oct. 21, she felt nervous excitement as she glanced around the studio, counting eight silver dance poles while practicing walking in her studio-issued 6-inch stilettos.

Two UC Santa Barbara sororities, Gamma Phi Beta (GPhi) and Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) have hosted what they coin unconventional sisterhoods at Seventh Dimension Dance. AXO was the first sorority the studio hosted, with GPhi following closely after.

“When you think of a sorority sisterhood, you don’t think of doing that. We’ve had stereotypical ones, but this was out of the box and so worth it,” Lockwood said.

Sisterhoods, a common event within sororities, are hosted to unite the sorority and create bonding memories. Lockwood said common sisterhoods include picnics and movie nights.  

Seventh Dimension Dance is a dance studio located in downtown Santa Barbara that practices pole dance, bellydance, aerial silks, lyra and hammocks. The studio’s mission is creating a community of empowerment through dance while “getting fit and having fun at the same time,” according to their website.  

Studio co-owners Jezaira Knight and Harmony Varela reached out originally to AXO during the Winter Quarter 2023 in hopes of bridging the generational gap between their dancers. 

Their request reached Emma Herold, third-year English major and Vice President Membership Programming for AXO. Herold, who is in charge of planning the chapter’s sisterhood events, wasn’t sure what the reaction from the chapter would be. 

“I knew when we were given this idea that this was a pretty big deal, and in doing so, we would be putting our name as a chapter on the map for sisterhoods,” Herold said. 

She remembers the day she announced the sisterhood to the chapter during their weekly meeting and the flurry of excitement that followed. 

“Sometimes sisterhoods are hard to gauge attendance for, so I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go, but within the first 30 seconds of the sign-up form, the spots were completely filled,” Herold said. 

AXO held their second sisterhood with Seventh Dimension Dance on Oct. 13 with 24 girls.

“Specifically this quarter, what was really fun about it, [was that] we had the new member class come, and a lot of people that had been quiet came out of their shell,” Herold said. 

She noticed the class uplifted the girls’ confidence, energy and skills. 

“My big and my little, they both have dance experience, and they were both able to jump up on the pole and clap their legs together and then go right into a split, which I thought was the coolest party trick,” Herold said. 

During the class, many of the girls took to social media to post themselves on the pole or videos of their sisters trying out a trick while cheering them on. 

“It got recognized pretty fast the minute we started posting, which was so cool. But I was not expecting my name to be put out there like that, and I was happy the studio was getting the recognition they deserved,” Herold said. 

Other UCSB sororities reached out to her members asking how they could do the same. It was then that GPhi was able to connect with Seventh Dimension Dance and hold their first sisterhood event. 

Similarly to AXO, the sign-up for a spot was a frenzy for GPhi. Lockwood was intrigued with the concept and secured a spot. 

“My mom has done it before, and I have heard about it and how fun it can actually be, so I wanted to do this,” Lockwood said.

The session, taught by Varela, lasted around an hour and a half. They were split up into groups and assigned to a pole. The girls took turns mirroring her skills. 

“When they first come, they are giggly and nervous, and by the time they leave, they are whipping around the pole and dropping into splits,” Knight said.

Lockwood said that as a new member, this experience with her sisters was pivotal in feeling like she belonged. 

“I’d say it was a very good bonding experience. This is a slightly different [sisterhood]; it is out of the box and very fun and now we have funny memories,” she said. 

Knight also says there is a noticeable change in their demeanor after the lesson. 

“Just the joy on their faces as they try these new things. The happiness it creates, it’s intoxicating — you cannot not smile. I love the energy they bring in and the joy,” Knight said. 

Beyond sisterhoods, Seventh Dimension Dance hopes to continue to branch out to younger generations of dancers. They have created a student program where students can attend classes at a discounted price. Students can input promo code UCSB50 to receive 50% off their first class. 

This appeared in the November 16 Daily Nexus printed edition