This Cat’s Shakin’ On A Hot Tin Roof

Last weekend was… exhausting. It was really good, but really exhausting.

The Princess came to join us first thing Saturday morning for Lady Q’s new fitness class. We spent the class stretching for the most part, HotTinRoof1which I think is a much better way to start the day than the Pilates class we had up until last month. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Pilates class, but I prefer working out later in the day (I’m really not a morning person), so stretching early in the morning helps wake me up in a much gentler manner. That is, of course, if you are actually gentle with the stretching you are doing. As all of us found out later in the evening, the Princess was a little… enthusiastic with her neck stretching during the class, so she ended up skipping the 1920s party later that evening to stay home and ice her neck. In her defense, she did show up after the class had already started, so she missed Lady Q’s introduction to the class where she implored us to feel the stretches, but not to overdo any of them and hurt ourselves.

At the behest of Lady Q and Lord Fabulous, everyone who was in the fitness class stuck around afterward for the newcomer-level class that the Princess was teaching. A handful of other people showed up to attend right as class was starting, but of everyone there only two people were actually what I would consider newcomers. The rest of us were there to experience a class taught by the Princess. And what an experience it was! That girl has so much energy and enthusiasm, it tired me out just watching her. I half expected her to break out into a song and dance number that would draw the rest of us and random passersby into it, like something out of an animated movie. During the class, she went over one style out of each category of dance, introducing the basic movements for fifteen to twenty minutes and then having someone demonstrate something more advanced for the class to see what the basics could evolve into with some practice. We started with the ballroom category, and went over the basic Foxtrot forward and back walks. When we finished up the basics, she personally demonstrated some more advanced steps, playing both the male and female parts by herself. She said that she couldn’t use a partner to demonstrate, since she couldn’t trust that the partner would do the steps that she wanted.

For the Latin category, the class was scheduled to go over the Rumba, but the Princess asked the King (who had come with her to photograph the morning events) if she ranked high enough within the company to change the schedule at whim. He told her no, but she decided to teach Cha-Cha anyway. After going over the basics, she made Lord Fabulous go back to the computer several times to change the songs for everyone to practice with until he found her a song that she deemed “fun enough” to dance to. Once we finished up rotating through partners, she actually singled out Sparkledancer and me to demonstrate some more advanced Cha-Cha for everyone. Not expecting to be put on the spot so early in the morning, I completely blanked on the International Cha-Cha routine that the two of us had been working so hard to perfect lately, so I reverted back to our American Cha-Cha routine from the September competition. It went more or less fine, but with everyone was standing in the middle of the room confining us to one side, eventually we covered enough ground that I accidentally caught my foot on the molding of the wall, and I couldn’t recover from that gracefully so we just kind of ended things rather abruptly. It was not one of my finer moments, I must say…

The last category she went over was the Swing dances, and so we HotTinRoof2went over the Hustle. Because she wasn’t paying attention to the time, the class was running well beyond when it was normally supposed to run, so we went over just the very basic steps. Before releasing the class, she convinced the King to come out and show off more advanced Hustle with her. Because Hustle is his favorite dance, he agreed, picked out a song that he liked (one that the Princess wasn’t too thrilled about), and proceeded to throw her around the room in a much more complicated manner than she had originally anticipated. By the time they finished up, the two of them were laughing and we were all cheering them on.

Class had run over quite a bit, intruding into the time that Sparkledancer and I had scheduled for our coaching session. As everyone who had attended the group class was gathering up their stuff and making their way out, Lord Fabulous turned the two of us over to Lady Q for a bit so that he could work with the King and the Princess on a few items before coming to join us. Lady Q asked us to show her the work that we had been doing with our Pasodoble routine. We went through it a couple of times with music, refining a few points here and there, adding in some shaping with a couple of the steps, and discussing what to do next. It turned out that she had some time open next weekend after our session with Lord Fabulous, so we had her add us to her schedule so that we could finally go over the second half of the routine. If there is time, she told us that we could also start work on our Samba routine that she was putting together.

Once the royalty and Lord Fabulous finished up their housekeeping tasks, he and the Princess came over to work with us. With her, we spent the time looking at the Waltz, using it as a device to talk about the dance frame that we had been using and steps that we could take to improve on it. For me, the big takeaway I got was that I really need to stop looking at my partner while I am dancing. This is something I have a habit of doing no matter who I am dancing with or what dance I am doing. For some reason I always seem to glance over at my partner, to make sure they are doing alright, or to tell a joke, or something equally silly. The Princess told me that I really HotTinRoof3needed to turn my head even farther to the left than I had been and work on keeping my eyes that way to evaluate where I am going. My dance partner would follow me where I was going, she said, whether I was looking at them or not. She told me that if I wanted to look at my partner, I needed to be doing a more romantic dance like the Bolero, where it was part of the character of the dance to be looking at the girl – but not during ballroom-style dances when it was more important to see where I was going. So, that’s what I have to work on now. It’ll be a hard habit to break, but I’m going to try.

I got a few hours break after the lesson, and then I had to go out again to meet everyone from the Land of the Loft for dinner. As per our usual pre-dance field trip routine, we met up at a restaurant nearby the venue so that we could all get something to eat before the party, and then all arrive at the event together. People in the restaurant where we all met were rather amused to see us all wandering around in our 1920s-themed costumes; I’m guessing that’s something that doesn’t happen at that eatery very often, though you would think that with their proximity to the Great Dance Hall by the Lake they would have been used to dance people stopping in there frequently.

After leaving dinner, we were all among the first to arrive at the party. The party was billed as a friends and family friendly event, so people were able to bring guests with them if they desired. The evening started off with a huge group class that covered basic Foxtrot and Jitterbug steps, giving the guests who had no dance experience some knowledge to help them get through the evening. There were so many people that I danced with during that class, I couldn’t even tell you what half of their names were. On top of that, many of the girls were dressed in such a way that I didn’t even recognize them, though I had met many before that night. The group class was extremely entertaining to me for some reason. I’ve been a part of really large classes like that before, but never where we tried to rotate through partners quite like we did that night. One girl told me that I was by far the most animated person that she had danced with during the class, which made me feel good. Even though we were trying to keep all the movements contained because of the number of people on the floor dancing, I was trying to have a good time and get my dance partners into the dance party mood.

When the class was over, we all swarmed the floor and proceeded to dance the night away. The actual dancing part of the night went nothing like I originally expected. In the days leading up to the party, I had been reviewing Jive technique and had asked Lord Fabulous to teach me some fancy stuff so that I could feel cool while HotTinRoof4I was at the party, but it turned out that there were far too many people on the dance floor to really do anything. For all the swing dances, I mostly stuck with Jitterbug and a handful of simpler, more contained figures to avoid running into other people. Some of the more advanced students were out doing Lindy Hop every chance they got, but they had a tendency to go a little crazy with the kicking so it felt dangerous to be near them. On top of that, with all the fast-paced, energetic songs and the sheer number of people in the building, it got warm quickly. Every couple of songs I would go stand outside for a while, allowing the cold January air to refresh me so that I could go back in and dance a couple more numbers. Most of the evening I rotated dancing with people that had come with me from the Land of the Loft, but I also found a student who had come from the Great Dance Hall who had come with her friend and tried to dance with each of them a couple of times. Even with all the instructors collected in one place for the evening, we had far too few men to go around.

It was a good time though. There were two performances from the professionals, one Lindy Hop routine performed by a pair of instructors from the Great Dance Hall by the Lake, and a Foxtrot routine performed by Hot Tottie and his partner. Sparkledancer was really excited about the Foxtrot number, because a couple of times (once on each side of the room) Hot Tottie picked up his dance partner so that she could do these incredible kicks. Perhaps if I can get him to show me that technique, we could include it in our next Foxtrot routine. It would be a good way to get other people on the floor to give us some space. There was also a contest for the best 1920s-style costume, which The Heartbreak Kid actually won. I totally missed the judging for that contest. As the evening wound down, everyone from the Land of the Loft all got together for our usual after-party set of pictures as well. I haven’t seen them yet, but I’m sure they’ll show up online at some point.

Now, imagine if the girl figure actually had legs that could be kicking...
Now, imagine if the girl figure actually had legs that could be kicking…

At the end of the night, I drove home in the cold night, really sweaty and really tired. With this event over, next major event to look forward to will be the showcase. What kind of crazy dance adventures will happen between now and then?

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