Insider’s Guide 2011

Forget Philly (for once). There’s more than enough to love in your own backyard, from hidden-gem boutiques and restaurants to home services and health-boosting activities.

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Movers & Shakers

Main Line School Night
Choose from MLSN’s “Social Dancing” category for classes in ballroom, Latin and swing. Or take a terpsichorean trip to the Ivory Coast for some African dance—or to Spain for a flamenco fling. Six-week classes: $70-$80. Park at Arnold Field (across from Lower Merion High School), 245 Montgomery Ave., Ardmore; (610) 687-8201,

Bellydancing at Najia.Aloha Style on the Main Line
Hula isn’t just an elegant island dance. It helps relieve stress while increasing flexibility and confidence for women of all ages, sizes and abilities. Go for the more energetic Polynesian dances if you want a low-impact, aerobic workout to trim and tone the waist, arms and thighs. One-hour group classes: $48/month and up. Private lessons: $25/hour. 105 Forrest Ave., Narberth; (610) 667-HULA,

Najia: The Magic of Bellydance
Think you’re not built for bellydancing? Najia says, “Nonsense!” Every woman can get “bellylicious” at her weekly classes, which burn 350-400 calories an hour. Try a “Goddess Night” for a lesson, henna party, performance and vegan potluck. Six-week beginners’ packages: $90 and up. Private lessons: $50. First Position Dance Arts, 10 E. Athens Ave., Suite 204, Ardmore (and various other locations on the Main Line); (610) 449-7201,

Talk the Talk

Ding Hao Chinese School
Children ages 2 1/2 to 15 can learn the basics of Mandarin and explore Chinese history and culture through games, music, festival celebrations and calligraphy. Tuition for the 15-week, Saturday-morning program is $265. Adults are encouraged to participate in preschool classes and, later, sign up for their own. Radnor Township Middle School, 150 Louella Ave., Wayne; (610) 527-2548,

Experiencing Chinese culture at Ding Hao.Main Line Chinese Culture Center
From September to June, programs and clubs allow participants as young as 4 to discover the history, culture and language of China (Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world). A summer immersion camp is also offered. Tuition varies. Weekend class at Great Valley High School, 225 N. Phoenixville Pike, Malvern; summer camps in Wayne and West Chester; (610) 308-2624 or (610) 513-2442,

Japanese Language School of Philadelphia
On Saturdays, JLS offers introductory classes in modern Japanese for age 6 to adult. $315-$405/trimester. 1445 City Ave., Wynnewood; classes held at Friends’ Central School, 1101 City Ave., Wynnewood; (610) 642-1202,

French International School
In July, this institution opens its campus to children ages 4-9 for a three-week “French for Fun” immersion day camp that includes activities in language, games, art, computers, sports, cooking, singing and field trips—all with counselors from France. Campers may enroll for one, two or three weeks. $310/week. 150 N. Highland Ave., Bala Cynwyd; (610) 667-1284,

Peaceful Paths

Tucked away but easy to find are two outdoor labyrinths, where you can relax and reflect as you walk their intricately patterned routes. Set among the campus gardens, the labyrinth at Bryn Mawr College (101 N. Merion Ave.) is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and the one at the Church of St. Asaph (St. Asaph and Conshohocken State roads, Bala Cynwyd) is always open.

Main Line Cycles
No matter what shape you’re in, hit the road and make some new friends on one (or more) of the free weekend group rides hosted by this well-connected shop’s staffers. Excursions along the Main Line average between two and three hours, and range from calm to competitive. 717 Montgomery Ave., Narberth; (610) 664-1970,

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