Ain’t Got Time To Oil The Hinges, Nor To Mend The Windowpane

Here’s something that I have been thinking about that I wanted to throw out there to see if anyone else has some thoughts…

It’s been what now, something more than five years since the formation of the Ballroom Village? When the idea was originally pitched to me, I was told that the intention was to foster a sense of community among those of us who liked ballroom dancing enough to spend some time writing about it. Perhaps along the way that sense of community would potentially even evolve into friendship among us writers as we talked to each other and shared our journeys through this world of dance in the prose that we put onto the web. I was asked to join the Ballroom Village by the Beautiful Girl in the Ballroom, like many of the original members of the village were all those years ago.

These days, as some of you other long time residents of the village have probably noticed, a lot of the houses in the village have become abandoned. Only a handful of the sites listed on my Ballroom Village page are updated with any regularity any longer, and the few others that still seem to have the lights on are only updated once in a blue moon. I took it upon myself a couple of years ago to try and maintain the “master list” of sites because the village founder had seemingly abandoned her own home in the village. At the time, I mostly took it up just to prune out a few of the sites that had been taken offline, which is the majority of the maintenance that I have done to the list (though there were a couple of requests to be added to the list since I started maintaining it).

I’ve been wondering lately if it is time to let go of the Ballroom Village experiment. What do you think? At this point in time, I never really use the list other than to check whether the sites listed are still online every so often… which is not really what the original intention of creating the village was. The community that the list was supposed to help create seems to have gone by the wayside, and there really isn’t much of an ongoing conversation between the owners of any of the sites. The last person who asked me to add their site to the list never even copied the list and put it on her own site, which leads me to believe she merely wanted free promotion for her own site rather than to join the community in order to keep in contact with the rest of us.

If you happen to be one of those lucky people who know me in real life, or you have read enough of my writing to have an understanding of how my mind works, you can probably guess that I pulled a bunch of data before writing any of this down. I originally started by going through the list of sites in the Ballroom Village merely for the sake of seeing if any updates were needed, but then I opened up a spreadsheet and started noting other facts that were of interest. There are a few changes that need to be made – I haven’t finalized the changes yet in order to post them, but I can let you know that there is one site that is now offline since the last time I checked the list, and another site that has changed the URL they use. Those are the major changes I was going to make before I started down this path.

The rest of the sites are what I pulled the data on, which I’m going to share with you so that we are all on the same page. There are twenty seven links in total, but if I filter out all the sites that haven’t updated within the last year that only leaves eleven. That’s right, only eleven of us have had anything to say about ballroom dancing (or any other topic) that was worth writing down within the last year. Out of that eleven, only nine of those sites have updated within roughly the last month (that number is accurate as of Tuesday night when I wrote the draft of this post).

As for the sites that appear to have been abandoned for the longest periods of time:

  • Two of those sites last updated in 2014
  • Two of the sites haven’t been touched since 2015
  • Three of them last had something to say in 2016
  • Three more were last updated in 2017 – among those is the ‘Beautiful Girl in the Ballroom’ site

With these numbers in mind, I kind of want to open the floor up for a discussion among those of us still living in this virtual community. What do you think about this? Is the Ballroom Village idea still worth hanging onto, even though 60% of the ‘homes’ in the village appear to have been abandoned? Should I put in the effort to clean up the list again and post the changes for everyone? If I do clean up the list and let everyone know, should I leave the links for all these sites that have been abandoned for years, or do we prune out the sites that haven’t been updated for years? What about any sites listed as members of the Ballroom Village who haven’t posted a copy on their own site to promote the community themselves – should they stay or should they go?

Don’t feel like you need to answer all my questions, I am just throwing them out there as a place to start. If you want to drop me a comment, or send me a private message if you want to have a more one-on-one discussion, I would love to hear from you. I am hesitant to just close the shutters on the Ballroom Village idea, but I think that if no one cares about the community anymore, the village may just fall apart on its own anyway. I guess it would fall on the shoulders of those of us who remain active to help bring the Ballroom Village back to life as an actual community if we want to keep it alive.

I had other things that I thought about writing this week, but after reading through this post to edit things I feel like this should stand on its own. Hopefully I get some feedback. If not… I don’t know. Maybe that means the Ballroom Village is actually a ghost town instead of a community. Do we put in the effort to put it back together, or just take all the pieces and put them back into the bag?

Ha ha! Lego joke!!

Welcome To Where Time Stands Still

The big event going on in the Dance Kingdom this past weekend was a charity dance to help raise money for youth ballroom dancing clubs. Since I’ve met a number of these youth dancers over the years – I see them around working with their instructors, and several of them have also ended up at the same competitions as I am attending frequently – I decided to go out to the party that night as well to support the cause. My support didn’t exactly involve me donating money to the cause like I thought it would before I got there. Once I saw how the event was set up, I ended up spending most of the night helping out in a very different manner than I originally anticipated.

Most of the money that night was being raised by a squadron of dance instructors recruited from all over the Dance Kingdom. The list of dance styles being played by the DJ had been decided on weeks before the party, and the organizers of the event were allowing people to make donations to the charities in exchange for getting to put their name on one of the instructors dance cards for a dance style of their choosing. There were also a few silent auctions going on in the background and some raffles where you could win prizes (which were the things I had planned on putting my donations towards), but the majority of money raised that night came from donations made to dance with all the instructors. I know this because I had a side conversation with one of the organizers of the event during the evening, and she mentioned it to me.

This setup changed the way I helped out that night because I was one of the few non-instructor male dancers who came to the party. The majority of the dance instructors who had been asked to help out at the party that night were male, so most of the people that attended the party were female. There were a few notable females who any men attending could sign up to dance with – obviously the Princess was there, since she loves children, and Indiana was sitting nearby. But I only counted three females, and there were ten to twelve males instructors, so you can see what kind of imbalance in the ratio of people attending the party there was.

I’m not entirely sure what about this setup kept the normal population of male social dancers away, but there was a noticeable lack of them out on the dance floor. When I talked with Sparkledancer about it later, she told me that she guessed it was because a lot of the notable older male social dancers who frequent ballroom social dances like to be seen as the best dancers on the floor (something something ‘gifts to all female dancers’ something). At a party of the kind I went to this weekend, where there were so many male instructors donating their time to help out the charities – and some of these male instructors have distinguished competitive careers – these social dancers would clearly not be the best dancers on the floor. In her opinion that would be enough to keep them away.

So most of my time that evening was spent filling the void left by all the missing male social dancers and dancing with ladies who hadn’t managed to sign up for one of the instructors dance slots during any particular song. Lucky for me, I wasn’t alone in this task. There were a couple of the older students from two different youth ballroom clubs (older meaning high school age) who were also working the crowd like I was to help prevent ladies from sitting out for too long. It wasn’t exactly how I had imagined the night going as I was driving out to the studio that evening, but it was pretty fun.

Monday was a holiday, but there was still Latin Technique class being held that night for anyone who had nothing better to do. Since I had gotten everything I needed to do out of the way earlier in the day, I decided to attend, and there was actually a fair number of others who came as well. Lord Junior was actually a bit surprised to see us all. He had planned on doing a bit of Samba, and just giving whomever came some exercises to work on during class that they wouldn’t need a partner for since he didn’t know how many people would show up.

Even though the ratio wouldn’t have been too bad (three Leads if Lord Junior joined in to five Followers), he still stuck with his original plan. The first thing he had us work on were Batucadas. Mine went OK that night – they still aren’t particularly great, and if I am thinking about shifting my hips from front to back it basically eliminates all the circular motion that should also be there, but otherwise they went OK. I can at least perform that version without the circular motion at tempo without tripping over my own feet most of the time… I think I only tripped myself up once that night. Yay!

We spent a large part of the class working through Cruzados Walks and Locks. It’s a figure from the Gold syllabus, but Lord Junior made sure to emphasize to his competitive students in class that once they move up to Gold the old Bronze-style Samba Walks basically get thrown out the window and no one ever does them again, so all his students should start practicing them early on to make life easier down the road. He had us do two different styles of Locks during this phase: normal ones like you would find in the syllabus book, and then syncopated ones to help some people work on their agility.

Since it was a holiday, we had the floor all to ourselves that night, so Lord Junior put the figure together in such a way that we could travel down the entire length of the floor, which is not something we usually get to do. First we did two Cruzados Walks and Locks, the first one starting on the right leg and the second on the left. At the end of the second we added on two of the Syncopated Locks. Once we finished up those he had us do a set of the Samba Locks just to change things up. Samba Locks require stepping on a straight leg to do them properly, so after doing all the other steps beforehand on a bent leg I think the first Samba Lock felt a bit awkward.

At the end of class Lord Junior had us work on Body Rolls just for his amusement. I wasn’t really having a lot of fun doing these that night – before class I had been out working on my shoulders, and I had pushed myself to use heavier weights on the exercises for my rear delts, so I could really feel it in the back of my shoulders all throughout class. Trying to do a Body Roll through that section of my back was pretty comical from what I could see in the mirror.

I thought I would be fine since it was Latin and not Standard. Oh how wrong I was…

Finally, yesterday night I got to work on Viennese Waltz in Standard Technique class. Since there isn’t much a person can do with International Viennese Waltz, and Apollo came to class that night and he isn’t quite ready to try out either of the Fleckerls yet, after we spent some time warming up with the Reverse and Natural Turns Lord Junior switched us over to American Viennese Waltz for the remainder of the class. That gave him a lot more options to choose from for figures to look at that evening.

What we ended up with wasn’t super difficult, in my opinion. We started out with one-and-a-half Natural Turns and then added on an Open Impetus to get us quickly into Promenade Position. From there we did two Promenade and Counter Promenade Runs while banking around the corner of the room onto the short side of the floor. An Open Natural Turn was used next to get back into dance frame with our partner, and a Running Finish was used to turn the next corner and put us on the second long wall. From there we did a Forward Run in place of a Change Step to switch feet and set us up to do Reverse Turns down the wall until the next corner where we stopped. Since everyone started out along the fourth wall of the room, Lord Junior had us end without adding anything on to keep the wall clear for safety.

I danced with Sparkledancer the most in class, since I had already have experience watching out for her injury.

It’s kind of exciting – I have tomorrow off of work. That means it’s only a three-day week for me. I have two appointments set up in the morning (which is why I took the day off), but then the rest of the day I can do whatever I want. That’s unusual for me. I haven’t figured out what to do with all my time yet. I heard that there’s dance parties going on at several studios that I could go to, so that’s always an option. My cat tells me that I should stay home the whole rest of the day so that she can fall asleep on my lap. That’s also an option. It’s a tough call, right?

What do you have planned? If you’ve got nothing going on, you could come sit here so my cat can fall asleep on you while I go out dancing.

Till I Find My Hero’s Welcome Waiting In Your Arms

I got out of the house on Saturday night to go to a dance party at the Electric Dance Hall. While I was tempted to stay home and just relax after taking care of a bunch of stuff all day long, I figured that going out to see people was important. Besides, next weekend is a holiday weekend, which will give me an extra day to either accomplish things or relax. I like options!

A couple of people I wasn’t expecting to see decided to come out to the party that night, which was great. Sparkledancer was one of them. She wasn’t there to dance so much as to get out and see all her friends whom she hadn’t seen in a while, but she told me that she had taken some painkillers so that she could dance a little if she wanted.

The other person who came that night whom I hadn’t seen in ages was Lord Junior’s intern girl. I had heard that she got a different job, so I had assumed that she was just never at the studio anymore. It turns out that she does still come pretty regularly, but now she is around on nights when I’m not at the Electric Dance Hall so I haven’t seen her because we just haven’t crossed paths. I guess I can chalk that one up as being my fault for not hanging out at the studio all the time. Silly me…

She had brought her boyfriend with her to the party that night. I bring that up because of a bit of a funny side note – at one point during the evening, Intern Girl was out on the floor during a line dance. Boyfriend was just hanging around up front without her, since he didn’t know the line dance… or really any dances. During that line dance, I had wandered up front to snag a few things from the snack table. He stopped me as I was walking by and wanted to ask me if I was in the military, because he was and he thought that it was cool if he had found another serviceman at a party like this.

Now I have no military background, but believe it or not, this wasn’t actually the first time that I have been asked that question. Intern Girl’s boyfriend told me that he had thought I looked military because I was standing so straight and I was in good shape. I’m not sure why people assume that if you are in shape and know how to stand up straight that there must be military discipline underneath that. For me, I just like being in shape, and the posture stems from a combination of all the dance training I’ve undergone plus the body confidence I have from years and years of working hard on my physique. I just thought it was an amusing side note, which is why I am writing it down.

Anyway… before the party kicked off, Lord Junior gave a lesson on Cha-Cha, and the material he chose to cover at the end was a bit of a stretch for a lot of the people in class. He said that his goal was to go over some things that were pretty basic for all the new dancers that were there that night, then do something a little harder for the more experienced dancers, and to finish with something that was pretty challenging. Well the challenging portion of the class was the kind of advanced movement that I usually only see in Latin Technique class, so many of the purely social dancers in the room thought it was way over their heads. A lot of people ended up dropping out and going to sit on the sidelines instead when they couldn’t get it right after a few tries.

Lord Junior started off by showing everyone the basic chasse going left and right, as that’s where all newcomers tend to start. There were a handful of brand new people in class that night, so he wanted to make sure they got a chance to practice the most basic of steps. Then he moved on to doing chasses going forward and backward (i.e. Lock Steps). He told everyone that as they advance in Cha-Cha the basic left and right chasses tend to fall away and people do the forward and back versions more often. Moving up from that he had everyone do the Three Cha Cha Chas going forward and backward.

Sounds easy enough, right? Even most of the newcomers to Cha-Cha were hanging with us still at this point and getting by just fine. For the most challenging part of class, Lord Junior had us add two 180° pivot turns between each Lock Step. Since the first Lock Step started with the Lead’s right foot going forward, the first two pivots turned both partners to the right, and then the second Lock Step has the Lead’s left foot going forward so the pivots turn to the left. Going backward obviously requires you to do the opposite, turning left then right.

This was what messed up a bunch of people and a lot of them decided to step out of class rather than work through the pivots. A few of the newcomers stuck with it and tried their best, so that was nice to see. When Lord Junior tried to help people out by saying that they could switch hands during the pivot so that you could push off for the second set of pivots to make those easier, that just messed a lot of people up so he told them to stick with doing everything with the same hand the whole way down. I switched back and forth between the two hand options, depending on what hand my partner was offering me. I thought it was fun.

During the party afterward, I ended up having quite a few snacks. This is only a sort-of dance related note – I’m currently going through a ‘cut’ phase in my diet, and because of Sparkledancer’s injury I have cut back a lot more calories than I usually do because I am not out practicing most nights of the week. I think that I may have under-estimated what I was doing that night, because about an hour into the party I was RAVENOUS. That’s what led me to the snack table during the line dance when Intern Girl’s boyfriend decided to ask me about being in the military. Or maybe the snacks were just calling to me all night just to set me up for that funny moment… I suppose that could be the case as well. Those crazy snacks and their sense of humor!

In Latin Technique class on Monday night the ladies got to work on some Rumba. Yes, I am saying it that way for a reason. The first figure that Lord Junior wanted to look at when we started class was a challenging figure for the Followers, but relatively easy for the Leader to get through. From what Lord Junior said when class started, we were going to do that figure to challenge the Followers and then afterward look at a figure that would be a challenge for the Leads, but we ended up spending so much time on the first figure that we never got to any other challenging steps. Because of that, like I said it was pretty much a class that was just work for the ladies.

There were three ladies that joined us in class that night. One of them was a brand new person whom I had never met before. I could tell by how she responded to my leads that she had done a little partner dancing before, but she definitely hadn’t done any International Rumba. When we started off in Fan Position and then I led her to close, she knew that she was supposed to do something with her legs, but the way she moved them to close from Fan Position wasn’t quite right. Since Fan is one of the first figures you are normally taught in Bronze Rumba, I am fairly certain this was all new for her. That was cool though – more new friends in class is always fun!

The figure that we started with that we spent all the time on that night was the Three Alemanas, something from the Gold Rumba syllabus. If you’ve ever seen the figure, you know that the Leads don’t really do anything – we check forward as we close the lady from Fan, check backward as we lead the lady through the first Alemana, do a Cucaracha to the left as we lead the lady through the second Alemana, and then a final check backward as we lead her through the third. Being a leader does have certain advantages sometimes. 🙂

What caused most of the grief for the ladies in the figure that night was the transition from the first Alemana to the second. Basically the ladies end the first Alemana on the man’s right side, then we lead them to turn to the right quickly so they can take a step forward away from us, and once they arrive on that leg we then lead them to do a Spiral Turn to the left. That quick change of turning one way and then turning the other way was where we spent a lot of our time repeating things slowly to give the ladies a chance to get the feeling of the quick turns down.

Once Lord Junior felt like the ladies had gone through the Three Alemanas enough, we added on two things before finishing up that night. The first was a Natural Opening Out Movement on the man’s right side, and we over-rotated the lady as she closed back to dance frame with us so that we could start a Reverse Top. The Reverse Top was only done for three measures in the music, and at the end of the third measure we would just release the lady and allow her to roll out back into Fan Position. There would have been more after that, but we only had a couple of minutes left in class so instead Lord Junior had us each try the whole thing once with each partner to music at full tempo just to see how everything went.

I thought that Standard Technique class this week was entertaining. We had more men come for class than women this week, which makes my heart happy to begin with. There was a brand new lady who joined us for class too, someone whom I have never even seen around before, which was also fun. With the lady that I got to meet on Monday night in Latin Technique class, that’s two new ladies I’ve had the chance to dance with this week, which also makes me happy. There was a new gentleman who came to class as well. I think I’ve seen him around before at some dance event, but since I don’t usually dance with other men it’s hard to know for sure. Also Sparkledancer came to class as well! Yay! So many happy people!

We decided to look at some Tango that night. As soon as we chose that dance style, the new gentleman asked Lord Junior if we could look over the Four Step, because that figure had been giving him trouble recently in a lesson he had with his normal instructor. Lord Junior said we could definitely look at that for him, then spent a moment mentally picking out a couple of figures that would go together for us to work on through the whole class.

To honor the request made, we started off with a Four Step – doing it as if we were moving toward diagonal wall in a corner so that we would come out in Promenade Position ready to travel down the new line of dance. Next we added on the Fallaway Promenade, taking the Fallaway steps on an angle toward diagonal center so that we would be moving down the floor the whole time. Finally we did something more challenging, which was a variation on the Natural Twist Turn.

This variation started off using the same first three steps like a normal Natural Twist Turn, but as soon as we put weight on the leg for that third step we did two 180° Natural Pivots before stepping back and slightly side and then hooking our right leg behind for the actual Twist Turn. Because we had added on extra steps and we didn’t want to extend the figure too much, the twist was sped up a bit, requiring syncopated steps from the ladies as they went around us before we settled back into Promenade Position. Maybe doing this variation in class was inspired by the pivots he had the class work on the previous Saturday night.

Since we had four men and three ladies when class started, Lord Junior danced the Follower’s part throughout the whole class. This actually turned out to be a good thing, because the other three men in class were newer to the more advanced concepts of Standard, so this gave Lord Junior an opportunity to feel what they were trying to do and help them work through the figures as he danced with them. It was funny though – with me it was a different story. After the second or third time he rotated through the line and we danced together, when we finished he punched me in the shoulder and laughed, saying “You’re forcing me to work on being a better lady.” That’s quite a compliment in my opinion!

What do you have planned for this weekend? I know that there’s a big dance event going on Saturday night that I am thinking about going to, but it depends on how things go earlier in the day. It is a holiday weekend, after all, and I have a bunch of stuff on my to-do list for this weekend. What kind of labor do you have planned for this weekend to celebrate the holiday? Slaying a golden-furred monster lion? Cleaning out some filthy stables in a single day? Collecting an Amazon Queen’s girdle for fun and profit? Or maybe just a bit of light shopping? Whatever your labors may be this weekend, I hope that they are all successful for you.

From The Ashes Of The Dawn I Arise

Fairly quiet week this week for me. I took care of a bunch of stuff for a project that I have that isn’t work-related or dance-related (I know that’s hard to believe). Eventually the fruits from that project should bleed over into even this realm, believe it or not. I would say in about a month or so everything should be apparent, so if you keep an eye out you’ll probably be able to guess what happened.

There were only two dance-related things that are worth note to talk about this week. The first one was Latin Technique class on Monday night. Besides me, there was only one other student who came that night who I’ve given a name to (Gatekeeper), which is out of the ordinary. Two of the other ladies have been in the class, but haven’t done anything noteworthy enough to call them out individually yet. There was one girl who was brand new, with this being her first night visiting the Electric Dance Hall ever. She had to be young, like early high-school age or so. I’m guessing that because her parents (both of them) brought her to class, and then they took up seats in the back of the room and watched what we were doing.

We worked on a little Samba that night at the request of Gatekeeper. Starting out we spent some time warming up by going over the Whisk – breaking it down and doing each individual movement painfully slow before we tried to do the figure at something closer to tempo. Lord Junior wandered around the class quite a bit during this warm up to adjust the leg positioning of most of the ladies in class. He never adjusted mine, which I can’t tell if it was because my legs were in the right place whenever he looked or because I don’t dance Latin competitively like the others so he didn’t think it mattered. I like to believe it is because I was doing it right, so yay me!

Once we finished up working on the Whisk we looked over the Promenade and Counter Promenade Runs, which is a common figure from the Gold syllabus. The younger new girl and one other lady in class had never seen this figure before, so Lord Junior spent more time breaking down the Follower’s steps for those two as needed. We did three of the runs in a row. Since there was a group of people at the studio that night taking a class on the other half of the floor, our Promenade and Counter Promenade Runs were done down the width of the floor with a curve so that once we finished we would be facing down the line of dance of the long wall on the other side of the room.

With a bit of extra time Lord Junior had us try adding on three Natural Pivot Turns and come out into one more Promenade and Counter Promenade Run at the end. These went… OK, for the most part. Not great, but not terrible. While we did them slowly everyone seemed to be doing good, but in the last few minutes of class Lord Junior had us try them out to almost full tempo music (like 90%). I think he does these things mostly for his amusement.

I wasn’t able to get through the Pivots with everyone successfully. Lord Junior and I rotated through each partner twice at this tempo. There was only one time I had to bail on the Pivots and stop rotation with the lady for safety reasons, because I could feel her sliding the wrong way and I didn’t want to get our legs tangled and fall over. Most other times I had to slow the Pivots down to do them without worrying about the music so we could get through them safely. It was only with Gatekeeper (who has done this figure before a bunch of times) that I was able to get through the whole thing in time with the music successfully both times we danced together.

Safety is rule number one, after all!

Wednesday night I didn’t go to Standard Technique class, because I went out to a meeting instead. Remember that competition that I helped out with back in March? I am being asked to help out with the event again for next March, and the people in charge sent me a message Wednesday afternoon saying we needed to get together as a group to discuss some important items concerning the event.

By the time we finished discussing everything, I was sitting there wondering why no one had just called me to ask my opinion on the matter over the phone before making the decisions. Or just sent a group email to ask about it, I suppose that would have also worked. Either option would have taken up way less of my time and would have ended up with the same result, I bet. But, without knowing what was to be discussed ahead of time, I drove all the way out to the Endless Dance Hall to meet. They other organizers wanted to meet up there because Lord Dormamu is part of the team, and he was teaching that night. To make sure he could be included, they opted to meet at the studio between two of his lessons to have the discussion.

The issue that brought on this meeting was that the competition had been given the go ahead to run some events that are governed by one dance organization this year. In the last two years the competition had already been running events under the umbrella of a different dance organization, and the plan was that these new events would be run in addition to the events that they had the last few years. However, the dance organization that had granted the rights to run the events in those previous years now wanted to know what the schedule would look like as we added in these new events. Even though that first organization had nothing to do with the second dance organization, for some reason this was super important to them.

So… basically this meeting was just to figure out some kind of rough schedule for what sessions each organizations events would be held during. Like I said, the whole thing could have been done with a couple of phone calls or emails. There was no reason that everyone had to get together in person to figure this out (and thus make me miss Standard Technique class that night). It took about fifteen minutes to work out an outline of the schedule to send back to the person requesting it. That was about the same amount of time it took me to drive to the Endless Dance Hall, so if you count my drive back home I spent twice as long in the car for this meeting than I did actually talking things over. Grrr…

I may not have been totally paying attention…

Anyway, the other organizers are hoping that by adding these new event types a lot more people will be interested in competing at our competition, so they have already decided to make this a multi-day competition for this year. I am much more conservative in my thinking on this, since it was only through agreeing with a suggestion from Sparkledancer last year to reduce the price considerably for one age group that we had all the people that we did come to compete last year, which was exponentially more than the year before. Even with that increase in competitors, the competition still fit neatly into just one day.

The price of the tickets to compete did come up briefly. Because this second dance organization has strict requirements about what needs to happen to run these new events that fall under their umbrella, adding these events is going to add a number of expenses that we didn’t have last year. The other organizers talked about needing to raise the price of tickets to cover those costs. They still aren’t looking for the competition to turn a profit quite yet, since it is still a young competition, but they didn’t want to be too far in the red because of these added expenses.

I had to lodge my disapproval for that idea, though I was the only one there that night who did so. I still don’t think that the competition is well known or well regarded enough to absorb the kind of ticket prices that were being thrown around. I thought that the best way to attract more people to this event was to still try and offer substantially lower prices than other similar competitions throughout the country. After all, trying out that idea last year really seemed to improve the number of people signing up, so I thought we should continue down that path and see if we could attract more people, offsetting the costs through a higher number of competitors tickets sold.

No decision on price was made that night, thankfully. If they had gone ahead with me being the only voice of dissent, prices would end up being higher this year. There’s still time between now and when we have to open registration to look at what the expenses will amount to and do some math to figure out the lowest price we can offer that will cover everything and still be appealing to the cost-conscious dance competitor if they really don’t want to operate at a loss this year. That would be at least a small victory for the side of ‘budget ballroom’ proponents like me. I hope I can recruit a few people to my side before the next time we get together to discuss this competition.

Speaking of Sparkledancer… she wasn’t there for the meeting since she had some work things she was doing, but I wanted to give a quick update on how she’s doing (as far as I know). I really haven’t seen her on the dance floor much lately, but I do check in on her to see how things are improving.

So that you’re on the same page as me – the injury that she has been dealing with is centered at the top of her left leg. That spot is kind of terrible for her as a dancer for a couple of reasons: 1) it makes it painful for her to arch her back too much, so creating volume is kind of terrible, and 2) it also makes it painful for her to reach her left leg behind her, so moving backwards taking the size steps that the two of us normally take while dancing is also terrible.

She has been told by several medical professionals that the only way to get past the injury is to stop doing any activity that inflames the issue more, and just give it time to heal. The good news is that taking all this time off has really helped her, and she is starting to see noticeable gains in how much she can move her left leg before it hurts. She was told that if she continues to improve at the rate she’s going, she should be able to start doing light physical activity a couple of days a week again soon. Not next week, but the week after that. Maybe. It all depends on how she is feeling.

Of course, that means that I really don’t get to practice with her again for a long time. Just because she is allowed to do light physical activity doesn’t mean that we will get to start doing the kind of practice that the two of us usually do together when we meet up. The way her leg is required to move and the way she would arch her body to get into frame for us to dance our International Standard dances correctly is still outside of her comfortable range of motion. So we’ll have to see when we can get back into the swing of things.

Interestingly enough, one of the things that she told me was that the fact that she was in shape was actually making this harder for her to recover from than it would be for other people. I don’t really mention this because I don’t want to sound like I am objectifying Sparkledancer, but she is in really good shape. To give you an idea of how well she takes care of herself, she is actually one of the few women I’ve ever met that has visible abdominal definition (fitness is an interest we have in common, so we have talked about it a lot over the years – that’s how I found out). A lot of female dance instructors I have met are really thin and tiny, but unless they are high-level active competitors they don’t have a lot of muscle tone you can see. Sparkledancer has had that kind of muscle definition since even before she decided to take up competing seriously.

I mention this now because one of the things that Sparkledancer works on a lot when she works out is her flexibility. Because she can bend so much under normal circumstances, stretching out this muscle that has been giving her issues is hard for her. For normal people that have this issue they can get a lot of relief just through simple stretches of that area of the body, but that hasn’t been the case for Sparkledancer.  Because of this, she told me the other day that she has had to invest in all kinds of tools that sound a lot like torture devices in order to help her get a deeper stretch that she can feel helping. It sounds kind of horrible.

So yeah, that’s what’s up with her that I know of. Hopefully her recovery will continue and we can get back to dancing together soon. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I had to try to find a new competitive dance partner… so I’m not going to. She’d better get better, or else I’m going to make her find a dance partner for me so I don’t have to deal with auditioning a bunch of ladies I’ve never met before.

That’s a good incentive to help her heal faster, right?