Ten Minutes Ago I Met You

Maybe it’s been a little more than ten minutes… would you believe it’s been ten years?

That’s right! On this day back in 2013, I decided – for some reason that I still can’t entirely explain – to start this site.

Ten years! Can you even believe it? It seems hard to believe… except for all the proof that lies in the pages (and pages and pages and pages) of this site’s archives. There is so much in there that I’ve written over the last ten years! It’s almost enough to make me think that I am some kind of writer or something…

Don’t worry, I know all my writing isn’t that exciting. I won’t make plans to quit my day job anytime soon. Retire maybe, but not quit. 😛

Are you going to celebrate the past ten years? I have some cake! Want a slice? There’s no way Sparkledancer and I will be able to eat all of this by ourselves in one night, so there’s plenty to go around for anyone who wants some. Otherwise the leftovers will likely end up in the freezer, which will hopefully make them keep long enough for us to finish the whole thing (which could take a while…).


Nothing But Love For You And Anybody Coming Through

Hey! I have something to say again!

I managed to go out to a New Year’s Eve party last weekend, as you might have guessed based on the timing of this. It’s been three years since I last went out dancing for New Year’s Eve. Remember that night? If you weren’t there, you probably wouldn’t. It’s weird to go back and read through what I wrote in my post after that party – looking forward to what 2020 had in store seems hilarious in hindsight, doesn’t it? Ah, the bliss of ignorance…

Three years have passed since that last New Year’s Eve party, but I found that there wasn’t a whole lot that had changed during that time. Some of the faces I saw that night were new to me (and one was new to everyone), but I did recognize most of the people that showed up. The Electric Dance Hall is one of the most familiar locations I’ve been to in all my dance travels, so the setting was familiar as well. There was dancing, food, games, people drinking more than I would expect, some unintentional timing issues… everything you could love about a good party. Plus Sparkledancer! And I was there too! Yay!

The evening started off with a short American Rumba lesson taught by Lord Junior. The lesson only lasted about half an hour, and covered just the basic box figure (without rotation) going into three New Yorkers and a Spot Turn and then getting back into the basic box figure. Nothing super fancy, but it was good for me to see it again. As I’ve mentioned in my last few posts, I had a looooooong break away from the dance floor, and I’ve forgotten a lot of things in my mind. My body remembers how to do a lot of those steps if I see them done by someone else (like what I saw in the class), but my brain has a hard time remembering the steps before I see them. Muscle memory FTW, brain memory FTL.

When the class wrapped up there was a break so that people could mingle for a little while before the DJ took to the airwaves and started to play dance music. I didn’t actually do much talking as the mingling happened. People mostly wanted to talk with Sparkledancer instead of me, which isn’t really all that surprising. A lot of women wanted to talk with her about the amazing things she was wearing, and the people that knew why we stopped dancing wanted to ask her how she was healing (and also talk about her clothing choices). I was just kind of there in the background for all of that, hanging around like a weirdo. That’s my natural state though, so I wear it with pride.

The dancing was much more diverse than it had been during the Christmas party I had gone to a couple weeks beforehand, which was nice. No style of dance felt like it was favored more heavily than the others, though the tempos for a lot of the dance styles felt more relaxed to me than what I am accustomed to. That could just be me though, as there were a lot of songs played that I didn’t recognize from parties past. Maybe all the new music added to the rotation over the last couple of years that I was away favors more relaxed tempos? That’s possible, right?

There was one noticeable difference about the mix of dances at this party compared to the other two I went to over the last couple of months – there were a lot more line dances played. Maybe that was because the mix of attendees more heavily favored ladies over men, and line dances are a style that anyone is able to jump into without a partner, which helps keep all the party people entertained. Party people!

I liked having so many line dances that night because they give me a chance to sit out on the sidelines and cool down. It was leg day for me, and I finished my workout just a few hours before the party started. My body temperature hadn’t really come back down to normal in the intervening time between workout and party. During the line dances I got a chance to lean against the back wall in a spot where I could feel the cool breeze from one of the air vents overhead, which helped me keep my core body temperature in check a little.

One of the instructors that came to the party that night tried to stay out front during the line dances to teach the steps to anyone who didn’t know, and others (like Sparkledancer) also stepped in to help out specific people that were struggling with the steps of the more ballroom-oriented line dances (like the Samba Line Dance).

There was one line dance that I watched them go through that was new to me, and it seemed like it was new to a lot of other people at the party as well. The instructor who was showcasing the steps for the line dance was doing all these crazy hip movements at the start of every rotation. While the other ladies on the floor were eager enough to go through these, those hip movements made the handful of the men who had initially joined sit down again. I thought that was kind of funny.

A few hours into the party we took a break from dancing to play musical chairs, which has become a New Year’s Eve tradition at the Electric Dance Hall. Just like the party three years ago, I didn’t play but I helped Lord Junior set up all the chairs and I removed one chair after each round. This year as the music started, none of the people playing wanted to walk around the circle very fast, each person trying to stay as close as possible to a chair as they could. It got so bad that after the third round Lord Junior had to step in and set the pace for everyone to force them to move faster and keep the game exciting. He was silly about it, which got all the players laughing while moving in time with the music finally.

All seemed to be going well and no one got too rough… until the very last round. The chairs we were using were just normal folding chairs with a back to them. That type of chair makes the last round, as you can imagine, all about luck. When the chair has a back to it and two people are circling, you are almost always guaranteed to lose if the music stops while you are behind the chair, because the back of the chair makes it much harder to sit down successfully without some kind of crazy acrobatic skills that most adults are incapable of wielding.

Two ladies had made it to the final round, and by my guess one of them realized this problem. She happened to be the person who got stuck behind the chair as the music stopped. Rather than graciously admit defeat and bow out, she grabbed the chair quick as lightning and lifted it off the floor toward her. The other woman was already in the process of rushing to sit down and claim the win, and when the chair was removed she fell down heavily onto her rear end. This was absolutely hilarious to see. Luckily no one was hurt, and once the laughter died down Lord Junior graciously gave the win to the lady who landed on the floor because she most likely would have won anyway.

I guess having someone nearly get injured during musical chairs is also becoming part of the New Year’s Eve tradition at the Electric Dance Hall…

During the “second half” of the party (post-musical chairs), I got roped into playing a game with Lord Junior. He really wanted to play this game that tested people’s reaction times. It required four people to play properly, and not many people wanted to go too many rounds with Lord Junior, so I got pulled in to play quite a few times. Overall that night I only lost once in all the rounds that I played. Normally being part of the winning set wasn’t that hard – the fourth seat was constantly changing people, and each time a new person sat down who had never played before, they almost always lost their first game, and usually they lost their second game as well. With those kinds of odds, it didn’t actually seem like much of a win all the times I didn’t lose.

A notable entrant to the game was our dear friend Indiana’s… boyfriend? Husband? I’m not sure of their relationship, actually, so I’ll just call him Indiana’s Dude. He joined the game and was quite competitive about it, while also seeming to be quite relaxed at the same time. It gave the game a much funnier energy. Only a couple of rounds were required for him to pick up how to play successfully, and then it was anyone’s chance to lose.

As the odds became more even, one of the ladies who had been playing decided to walk away and avoid losing. Rather than look around for another fourth, Indiana’s Dude just picked up the unused reaction tester in his other hand and said he was able to play both seats. The first time he managed to win using both hands was kind of fantastic, and there was lots of cheering and laughing for him afterward.

The climax of the party also got to be super funny. Before the party started, someone had set up the big TV hanging on the wall to display the countdown to the end of the year via a website opened on a laptop that had been plugged into the TV. I’m not sure if the person who set that up had just chosen wrong when it was opened or if someone deliberately changed the website at some point during the party, but as midnight approached and we all turned to watch the display we found that there was no countdown. The website was showing people already in the midst of celebrating, because the site being displayed had shown the countdown for London… where they had already celebrated ringing in the new year hours beforehand.

Immediately someone took the laptop and tried to fix that issue, but they weren’t going to be fast enough. Luckily the DJ stepped in and offered a countdown that was close to the right time, so some of the people got to start cheering when the year flipped over. The person working with the laptop did manage to fix it and bring up the countdown for our time zone after that, but it was like we were watching it with a delay. According to the time on my phone, that countdown ended a little over two minutes after midnight. Despite being two-ish minutes off, the rest of the people in the room started cheering. 

So at the party I attended we had two different countdowns to midnight which were a couple of minutes apart. That allowed us to start the new year with twice as much fanfare as normal. Huzzah!

So those were the highlights of my night out at the dance party for New Year’s Eve. How did your night go? Did you dance the night away as well like I did this year, or did you spend a quiet evening celebrating at home like I did last year? Either way, I hope that it was amazing for you, and it kicked the year off to a good start. 

Fingers crossed that the good start to the year continues to hang around for the rest of it, right?

Ba De Ya – Dancing In December

Once again, Sparkledancer and I decided to make our way out to the dance floor. As you might imagine, based on what time of year it happens to be, this past weekend we opted to go to a Christmas dance party that was taking place at the Endless Dance Hall.

I want to get this out of the way before I talk about the party. There was one other dance event I went to earlier this month. Remember that one time when I was in a parade? Well… because of someone (*cough* Bony *cough* *cough*… excuse me, something must have gotten caught in my throat) putting a major guilt trip on Sparkledancer, I ended up being in another one. I wasn’t particularly thrilled about being in this parade, because I didn’t think that Sparkledancer was healed enough for this kind of event. It’s one thing to be dancing on a decent floor with proper dance shoes on that will assist her in spinning, it’s another thing completely to be dancing on blacktop for a couple of miles.

It turned out that being in the parade was actually not a good idea for her at all. Even though I tried to keep everything as simple as I could while we were dancing, and it was raining lightly almost the whole time so the blacktop was slick and helped with turning, she ended up being in pain for a number of days afterward. I felt so bad about that. SO. BAD. I hate seeing her in pain like that, and it made me feel like I should have tried harder to talk her out of giving in to the peer pressure to be in the parade.

We had already gotten tickets to this party before the parade fiasco, and they were much more expensive this year than in years past when we went. Even so, after what happened after the parade, I was still hesitant about going, even willing to call the tickets a sunk cost and just stay home to keep Sparkledancer from ending up in pain again. There were many promises from her that she would be careful and we could take it easy, and that helped but I still was nervous about the risk.

Luckily, everything turned out OK. We went to the party, danced much more than I expected we would, left when Sparkledancer said it was time to go, and the next day she wasn’t in pain at all. Hooray! That’s a good sign! I don’t think it’s going to completely eliminate my nervousness about going to any other dance events in the near future, but it will ease it slightly knowing that we were able to get through this one without her suffering any consequences afterward.

The night started off rather strangely. The evening was billed as a ‘Dinner + Dancing’ event, and we didn’t want to participate in the dinner portion. So we arrived fashionably late, thinking that the dinner portion would already be over.. but it wasn’t yet. All the participants who had bought tickets were given assigned seats to make serving the meal easier for the catering staff. We headed to our assigned table, thinking that we could just stow our coats, change into our dance shoes and (since dinner was still going on) make awkward small talk with the others there while we waited for the music to start.

There were two seats still open at our assigned table, which seemed good to us since that was how many chairs we needed. We sat down and started to settle in, but then a guy across the table from us whom I had never met before quite angrily told us that Sparkledancer’s seat was already taken by someone else. We were surprised, since that meant there was only one free chair at our assigned table that we had bought tickets for. 

After looking around for a bit, we found that there was a row of spare chairs set up at the back of the room against the wall next to a rack that coats were hanging on. Rather than deal with the angry guy at our assigned table  who wouldn’t stop glaring at us, we left the table and staked out two of those chairs as our designated spots, and then just sat there looking around waiting for the music to start while everyone else ate food and talked.

We sat there for about ten minutes before one guy from the table we had vacated came over and told us that he wasn’t at his assigned seat, he had just been hanging there with a friend and didn’t realize he had displaced us. We told him it was fine, and we would be good hanging out in the back. That mystery was solved!

The lady who had checked us in at the party and gave us our table assignment was very concerned that we opted to sit at the back of the room as soon as she noticed us over there. We tried to tell her it was fine, and that we hadn’t come to eat anything anyway so sitting in chairs at the back was just perfect for us. She offered to bring us some snacks or desserts, but since we had already eaten dinner before we arrived we declined every time she offered.

Eventually she came back to us and said that since we had paid full price for the tickets and we weren’t eating anything, she was going to give us some of the ticket price back. I tried to back out of that, telling her it was really alright and she didn’t need to make a fuss and they could keep the money to help cover the costs of the party, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. So she wandered off and came back a bit later with a wad of cash and gave it to me. Sigh…

The weirdest part of that whole interaction, and the reason why I am even mentioning it in the first place, was that the lady felt the need to touch me every time she came over to talk to Sparkledancer and I. Specifically, she would stand in front of the chair I was sitting in and lean over so that she could put her hand atop my forearm, and then gently squeeze it as she spoke to us as if to emphasize her talking points. This didn’t just happen one time she came over. She had to put her hand on top of my forearm every single time. Every. Single. Time. Why would she do that? It was super weird!

Another weird thing that happened, which was related to the table I had been assigned to sit at, came during the raffle drawing that they had right before the dancing started. The raffle was simple – everyone who had bought a ticket to the party had been assigned a table and could choose any available seat there. Each seat had a plate in front of it that could be used for getting food from the dinner buffet. There were at least eight plates at each table, and underneath two of the eight (or more) plates a sticker had been affixed. The two people from each table with the plates that had stickers won the raffle and were able to go up to the Christmas tree at the front of the dance floor and pick a present.

As everyone was laughing and picking up the plates to look underneath, I glanced over at the table where I had been assigned to see who won. Everyone there was laughing and pointing at one lady, so she had found one sticker. But no one found the second plate with a sticker until they picked up the empty plate in front of the empty chair – which happened to be the chair I had sat in before moving to the back of the room. So I would have won a prize had I stayed at the table. Yay me!

With that all out of the way, the dancing finally started. The music that night, as you might expect, was all Christmas songs that the DJ called out various styles of dance for that mostly fit the music. Because of the song choices, there were a lot of Foxtrots, more so than any other dance style that was done that night. Second place went to East Coast Swing. And then everything else kind of fell way behind those two styles and were done in pretty even numbers.

The dancing I did that night went alright. I still didn’t remember a whole lot of figures, but I remembered more this time than I did at the last party I went to, so that was an improvement. Maybe if I go to a half-dozen more events, I will be back to remembering everything that I knew before I stopped dancing. Either that or I will have to start looking at dance videos on the Internet to remember things. Hmm… one or the other would probably help.

At some point, Santa emerged from the men’s bathroom. I didn’t see him go in there or come in through the front door, so I imagine that he must have come down the chimney, and since this was a dance studio and there was no fireplace… the chimney must have dropped him in a weird place. Santa wandered around for a couple hours, dancing with people, taking pictures whenever asked and spreading Christmas cheer wherever he went. Then the DJ announced that Santa would be leaving after the next dance so everyone had to say goodbye to him as he danced by. After the song was over, just as mysteriously as he appeared, he wandered into the men’s bathroom and was never seen again.

Another weird thing that happened that night was that there was a guy who came to talk to Sparkledancer and I a couple of times. He looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t put a name to his face. I’m not exactly sure what he was talking about half the time because of his accent and the amount of noise in the room, but at some point he told me that it was nice that I was so young, and that he had a son my age. Now this guy didn’t look that old to me – maybe in his early fifties tops, so I wanted to ask him how that was possible since he would have had to have had the son in his very early teens for that to be possible since I’m forty. But I opted to let that go and just smile and nod instead. I guess I still look young.

He also told Sparkledancer that she looked like she didn’t eat enough during that same conversation. Yeah… that happened. When he came by later during a Quickstep that Sparkledancer and I opted to sit out and asked her to dance, she turned him down – and only partially because I was the only person that she was dancing with that night. He looked really confused when she said no to him, like he had never had that happen before.

There was another guy that stopped by to talk to Sparkledancer and I while we were sitting in the back waiting for the dancing to start, and he for some reason was intent on trying to make a joke about what we were wearing. Imagine if you would a Christmas dance party, with everyone dressed up in Christmas-colored formal wear (and one person in Christmas pajamas)… and then there was Sparkledancer and I, wearing all dark colors.  So the man, whom I didn’t know, decided to stop by and ask us… if we were going to rob the place. Whaaaaaa? He thought it was super funny, and was laughing about it and said that he only had a minimal amount of cash in his wallet, even offering to give it to me if we would just leave the place alone without sticking anyone up.

Both of us were really confused by what this guy was saying to us. Even after he tried to explain the joke was in reference to my all black getup, I just couldn’t find the same humor in it that he obviously was. Sparkledancer gave him a super-fake laugh to try and humor him, and then he went away. I’m not sure if he thought the joke was successful or not when he left, but I really didn’t. Which is weird because usually I think everything is funny!

The last funny person I have a note about was the older gentleman who had his even older mother there with him. He was pushing her around in her wheelchair throughout the night, positioning her in various places around the dance floor. I didn’t see him dancing at all, and they weren’t dressed in formal attire like everyone else at the party (except Christmas pajama person),  so it seemed like the two of them were just there to be spectators for the evening.

What was funny to me was that at one point, during a brief intermission in the dancing, the gentleman took his mother up to where the Christmas tree was at the front of the room. Then he spent a long time positioning her next to it… around the back of the tree for some reason. He had pushed her so far back behind the tree for a while that I wondered how she was even able to see the dance floor! It was super weird. Why did he do that? Luckily he only left her back there for several minutes before going back to retrieve her. 

I know I’ve been away from dancing for quite a while while Sparkledancer has been healing, but it kind of seems like dance people got sillier while I was gone. Will people be this silly at the next dance event I go to? I will keep my fingers crossed and hope so!

Instead Of Screams I Swear I Can Hear Music In The Air

What… is… this…?

Surprised, aren’t you? 

I was asked by Sparkledancer to go to a Halloween dance party this past weekend, and after a lot of deliberation I ended up agreeing. She has been on the upswing lately in terms of dealing with her injury, and since she promised that she would stop immediately if anything felt off, I thought it would be OK.

So, throwing together some costumes, we headed out to the event at the Electric Dance Hall. Due to some things that I had to deal with for work, we got there a bit after the pre-party dance lesson started, but no one said much of anything to Sparkledancer or I as we jumped in at the far end of the rows of other dancers on either side of the floor.

No one said anything, but they did stare at us a lot. The costumes that we had thrown together did a far better job of hiding our true identities than I thought they would when I put it on before leaving the house. Plus the color choices of what we wore really stood out, even in the dimmed lights. So until people figured out who we were, they kept sneaking glances over at Sparkledancer and I.

…I mean, they tried to sneak glances at us, but I saw a lot of people doing it so it wasn’t actually that sneaky.

There were sort-of two lessons given during the hour before the dance party started. The first was a lesson in basic Cha-Cha taught by Lord Junior. This is the one I missed the first part of, where I assume they covered the basics of Cha-Cha based on what they were discussing by the time I joined in. While I was there Lord Junior was going over how to do a Triple Lock forward and then back again (or back and then forward again for the followers). Nothing too fancy… which was actually really good for me, since as you can imagine I was REALLY rusty when stepping out onto the dance floor for the first time in so long.

Funny note – it was actually Lord Junior who figured out who Sparkledancer and I were behind the costumes, and all because of me. Since I was all the way on the far side of the room when I joined the lesson, the first time I had to rotate partners after covering all the steps I had to go all the way across the floor to the other side of the room. As I was walking, Lord Junior called out “Is that you, <My Name>? I don’t know anyone else with that goofy walk when they rotate partners…”

So yeah. Apparently I have a… very distinct walk that I use when I rotate partners in a dance class. This was news to me.

After the Cha-Cha lesson finished, the DJ for the party that night came to the floor to show everyone a Halloween-themed line dance. Because the cat was out of the bag for my identity though, I didn’t join in for that lesson and instead went to the front of the studio to catch up with Lord Junior for a while. It was nice.

Then the party started. I have to say, I was surprised by how much I remembered, but even more surprised by what I had forgotten. Strangely enough, my competition routines in International Standard that I had put more hours than I care to even think about into practicing… gone. There are pieces of them that I remembered, but I couldn’t even remember one complete wall out of any of them. But there were lots and lots (and lots) of random figures from American Smooth and Rhythm styles that I managed to pull out of the back of my brain and lead successfully. Super weird what things my brain retained, right?

Admittedly, there were a lot of figures that I did remember that I threw out before trying to lead Sparkledancer through them. I was worried about doing anything that might twist her the wrong way, so anything that twisted her more than a basic spot turn to me felt like it could be too much risk for the first party back on the dance floor.

Also, all of the traveling dances we did (like Waltz, Foxtrot, etc.) I tried to keep her in practice hold while we went through them rather than in a normal dance frame. I did that partly to help keep her safe by having a more secure hold on her, but I also did it because I wasn’t entirely sure how well I was going to be dancing that night. Being away from it for so many years made me nervous about being back on the floor and trying to handle floorcraft. 

In hindsight, I feel like I was mostly successful that night in that regard. After all, I didn’t run into anyone, or let anyone run into us. That sounds like a win to me. Yay?

Sparkledancer and I didn’t dance every dance at the party. Not even close, in fact. As I mentioned, I didn’t want to risk twisting her body too badly the first night back on the dance floor, so as you can imagine dances that involved a lot of twisting (like Merengue) we did not do. Faster dances we also took it easy on – for example, the East Coast Swing songs we danced to we did more like a slow Jitterbug by taking out the triple-steps.

After about an hour of dancing, Sparkledancer told me that she was starting to feel all the movement, so it was time to leave so she could get off her feet for a while. Overall, I was fairly confident about the choices I made that night, but I was still nervous about it until I was able to see if she still felt anything from the party the next day or the day after that. But I am happy to report that it all turned out well! She was feeling it a bit at first, but it wasn’t anything unmanageable, and after a couple of days that went away for her. Hooray!

Even though Sparkledancer was able to shake off all the soreness from being out dancing after a couple of days of rest, I was not as quick to recover. I think I mentioned at some point in one of my past posts that after all the constant practicing that I had done while working on being a competitor, I must have done something to my right foot. For a long time after I stopped dancing when Sparkledancer first got injured, the heel of my right foot would either throb painfully at weird times of the day, or feel strangely numb at others.

I chalked it up to all the time spent standing at the start of every routine with my weight entirely over my right foot, holding that position while waiting to begin. During my break from dance, it took a long, long time, but eventually that feeling in my right heel went away and my foot started to feel normal again. Sadly, after being out on the dance floor again this past weekend, when I got home and sat down on the couch with my laptop to look at some stuff for work my heel was throbbing painfully, just like it had done before.

That made me really unhappy. I thought I had been away from dancing long enough for that injury to permanently heal, but I guess I was wrong about that. And the next day it was back to throbbing at random times of the day and then feeling numb at others, and feeling fine in between those points in time. That has continued up until this point as I write this. I think it’s slowly going back to normal, but still… I’m now getting the impression that this issue may be more permanent than I originally thought. That’s a bit disconcerting.

So that’s about it! This does not mean that I am going to return to dancing at any regular intervals at this time, but it does open up the possibility of going out occasionally every now and again. I don’t think competing will ever be back in the cards, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more adventures in the Dance Kingdom at some point in the future!