Meet Lesa MacLeod-Whiting

Founder & Director

Lesa is the founder and one of the directors of Shut Up & Dance.  We're at Goldings Free Dive, having a zingy (well that's how she described it) pale ale after a long day of work at the New Zealand Film Commission, where she is the Marketing and Festival Coordinator.  By night, however, it's pretty clear that she's one of those people you would rely on to deliver a seriously entertaining 21st speech.  Our entire conversation is coloured by an impressive display of imitations and accents.  The beer hardly makes it down my throat before she's cracking another joke that makes me nearly spit it out in laughter.  She likes Beyoncé and Harry Potter, so if you're a fan of one of those two things, read on; You'll get along just fine...

So tell me Lesa, how did you become involved with SUAD? 

I'd always dreamed about finding a class that would teach me the Single Ladies dance and had tried to start one with a group of friends at uni, but given I'm super uncoordinated, it unsurprisingly didn't really take off/slash no one came! Abby and I became friends a few years ago and are insane together. We always one-up each other in terms of being silly in public and I knew I loved her when she also mentioned that she wanted to learn the Single Ladies dance. I had recently met Clair at my husband's work Christmas do (he works with her boyf, it was meant to be) and within a couple of hours of knowing each other, we had a dance off (she won). I don't really know what else to say except that I knew she could make Abby and my dream come true. It was one of those 'waaaaaait a miiiiiinuuuute' moments.  It turned out she's just as insane as Abby and me which is a relief. 

What do you love most about being a part of Shut Up & Dance?

I love being a part of something that is the highlight of people's week. It's the highlight of mine too. I get to dance to all of my guilty pleasures with two of my favourite people surrounded by laughing, sweating (sounds creepy) and motivated women. At the first ever class (guess what, we did Single Ladies), Abby, Clair and I locked eyes across a room full of people having the time of their lives and we knew we'd just created something special. I get that feeling every single class and I'm so proud of it.

Whats your Guilty Pleasure dance track? 

Any time I hear disco, I have to start dancing. My guiltiest pleasure at the moment is Bootzilla by Bootsy Collins. I challenge you to listen to that song and not wet yourself laughing. You can't, that song is too. Much.  Speaking of too much, Never Too Much by Luther Vandross is my go-to car karaoke song.

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?

I'm always terrible at these types of questions and usually panic and say someone like Leonardo da Vinci/Ghandi/Gandalf or Dumbledore (RIP). In real life though? Actually, I'd still opt for ol' Albus.

Have you done anything in the past week that has made you proper cringe?

Hmm, what's more embarrassing...?  Making a period joke in a meeting (and only me laughing at it) or not being aware that I'm copying someone's accent to their face (I can't not do it, it's a bit of a problem, but then my accent repertoire is damn impressive...)

What would you say is your biggest achievement yet?

...learning the Single Ladies dance?

What's your favourite quote?

Yer' a wizard, Harry. Just kidding, um, how about "Life is short, don't be a dick" - Lesa MacLeod-Whiting



Vegemite: Yay or nay?  

Yay all the way!

If you were a cake slice what would you be and why?

Lemon meringue pie because my jokes are zesty and make people pull funny faces. 

If there was a film made about your life, what's the song that plays on it's trailer?

All My Life by K-Ci & JoJo.

Cats or dogs?

Traditionally, I've been all about the pussy because I've had cats my whole life but I just welcomed my first puppy into the family (Rudy, the light of my life, born via surrogate) so I can't actually decide. Sorry.

Something you're really good at?

Healing people through the power of pasta. Honestly, pick the right shape, mix it with the right sauce and it'll make your day/year/life.


Lesa is 100% hands down the absolute lemon meringue pie she was referencing. Want to spy on her life?  Follow her on Instagram.

Abby Damen