Marketing & Operations Director
Sitting at Prefab (Abby's favourite place to have meetings and coffee if it's not Maranui), I managed to grab a quick 5 minutes with the americano drinking, spinach loving, endearing Abby Damen. Abby is one of the Directors at Shut Up and Dance and takes full control of their marketing, communications and operations.
So tell me Abby, how did you become involved with SUAD?
Ok, so I had decided to discipline myself physically, after a 5-month long Europe trip where I indulged in a lot of pastry, and a lot of kebabs. There I was, doing burpees in the hallway, and on this particular day I was so over it; jumping jacks were becoming the absolute bain of my life. I decided to blast something from my spotify playlist to keep my interest levels piked. Because the first song that came on was I Want to Break Free by Queen, I gave up on the concept of exercising entirely and suddenly I'm standing there with the god damn vacuum cleaner, pre-empting a punch zoom post head-turn-in-kitchen (if you've seen the video clip, you'll know what I'm talking about - 1:04) and working up more of a sweat than I ever would doing crunches. That's when I started my search in google for "80's dance class Wellington" or "learn the single ladies dance." The combination of being unemployed and not being able to find anything in Wellington that would allow me to 'break free' led me to several conversations with friends (and Lesa in particular) about the idea. The more we started chatting to people, the more we realised how much everyone has a soft spot for nostalgic music (don't try and tell me Aqua doesn't make your heart sing), but also that there was either ballet classes or zumba, and nothing in between. Lesa and I met Clair at Goldings one night through our mutual friends. She was this bubble of sunshine and energy and when we found out she was a spin instructor and loved dancing (she genuinely thinks she could give Nick Carter a run for his money), we looked at each other and thought: Dayum. This is our girl. The rest is history.
What do you love most about being a part of Shut Up & Dance?
I feel so lucky to work with two strong-minded, creative, funny, totally weird gals who happen to be my closest friends. They're the best team mates I could hope for and listening to 90s pop all day as 'research' is pretty amazing. The other most rewarding thing is receiving messages from people about how much our classes are making them feel like the epic individuals they are. I'm in love with my job! I have the excitement of a child when I wake up every morning as I love the prospect of meeting new people, sharing positive energy and reinforcing this feeling of being totally unapologetic about who you are and what you love.
Whats your Guilty Pleasure dance track?
Oh... Please don't make me do this. There's way too many. Ok. Let's narrow it down to my most recently played guilty pleasures... Uh, Getting Jiggy with It by Will Smith. No wait hahaha, Mambo No. 5. YES! Mambo No. 5 is my final answer. That track is so god damn good.
If you were to be stranded on a desert island and you had to take one person with you, who would it be and why?
Cameron Diaz for sure! Should I have said someone like my mum or Rose? (my best friend). Sorry guys, I'm going with Cameron because I think she'd make me laugh and would educate me in the ways of our new island life, but she'd also be tall and strong enough to obtain food from the hard to reach branches. Fun and practical.
Have you done anything in the past week that has made you proper cringe?
Haha. Again. Where do I start... I was singing in my car really loudly on the way here, and then I saw the person next to me watching me? So I thought I would turn and sing to them (cause it's soo much worse when you pretend you haven't seen them and then try to tone it down), but then they took a photo of me and I regretted everything.
What would you say is your biggest achievement yet?
Serious answer is learning to moonwalk. Non-serious answer is learning to moonwalk.
What's your favourite quote?
Serious favourite quotes would be either "only in the darkness can you see the stars,” "there is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly" and "show up for yourself. Do not wait on yourself for a second longer." My favourite non-serious quote would be "thaz TIGHT son!"
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Vegemite: Yay or nay?
Vegemite yes! All the way. And I know I'm not being original when I say it requires the perfectly controlled setting of lightly toasted vogels and butter. Everyone knows how to make the perfect vegemite toast. And that's how you do it. Any other suggestion is wrong. Avocado and vegemite: Also a winner.
If you were a cake slice what would you be and why?
Definitely a beetroot chocolate cake because I’m all about the practicality of including vegetables into sweet things in order to simultaneously improve the nutritional value of naughty treats but not having to taste the vegetable. Beetroot cake does this on a phenomenal level for me. Also, it's the richest, most simple and delicious cake and I happen to see myself like that. Strong, simple and (probably) quite tasty.
If there was a film made about your life, what's the song that plays on it's trailer?
Cats or dogs?
Dogs. Dachshund, Dalmatians. Or, anything with longer hair than me, basically.
Something you're really good at?
Finding a good parking space, and then parallel parking into it.
Abby is a go getter and loves getting sh*t done! Want to spy on her life? Follow her on Instagram.