The week prior, I had gotten asked several times by Lord Junior about attending the Friday night dance at the Electric Dance Hall. The event was mentioned a couple of times, and he was really interested in starting to do social dances every other week. They were also going to have an intermediate-level class on International Rumba just before the dance, so I thought I could head there for the class, work on some Rumba things, and then stick around for a while. I told Sparkledancer that I was going, and she in turn sent word out to her list of other dancers that they should all come too, just for a change of pace. In the end, it was only Sparkledancer and I that showed up, along with a number of newer students from the Electric Dance Hall whom I had never met before. Because the majority of the people there had never done any Rumba before, the class turned into an hour of basic International Rumba figures like the basic, getting into fan position, the Rumba walks and a spot turn. Since all but one of the ladies I danced with were people I’d never met before, I tried really hard to set a good example and assist people who were struggling a bit with the concepts, but I couldn’t hold a serious dance face for long, so often times I would end up making jokes and laughing. It took some work, but I eventually got some of them to even laugh with me. I get the impression that they were a bit put off by all the other men being all serious and working hard to learn the steps, and me being silly and telling them to flex their massively strong shoulder muscles (like mine, obviously) to keep their arms from being all floppy while I turned them.
When class was over, we had a few minutes to collect ourselves before the dance started. Some people went to go get a glass of wine (the parties at the Electric Dance Hall are nothing if not classy), and I started talking to the others. Eventually, Sparkledancer and I had all these newer students gathered around us as they listened to us prattle on about all the dance things that we do, like where else we’ve gotten training, the competitions we’ve done together, and our dance field trips we try and take. As we learned, it turns out that Sparkledancer and I have been dancing together for longer than all of these other students have been dancing combined. Some of them had been dancing for longer than she and I had danced alone before we met, so a few knew some things. A couple of them seemed particularly intrigued by the fact that we would just go out in big groups to random places and just dance the night away. I wonder if that is just something that most people don’t really think about – that if you go somewhere and take dance lessons, then you can go other places and attend dance parties and invariably use the skills that you picked up in your lessons. It seems like such a simple concept, but it seems to surprise people to find that I go out dancing at events not hosted by the studio where my instructor teaches, just for the fun of it. It’s not that strange, is it?
As we were talking, a few other random people who hadn’t come for the group class showed up to take part in the dance party. Mister was actually one of those people to show up, but I didn’t get to talk to him much since he spent a lot of time going back and forth between dancing with Sparkledancer and dancing with some young blonde girl who had come alone to the party. Because most of the people who were there were people who hadn’t been dancing too long, the few times when I managed to grab Sparkledancer and dance looked really impressive since no one else on the floor (except the Dance Lords who were wandering around) knew as much as we did. Every now and then, being in a situation like that is helpful to make you feel good about all your dancing and practicing. It also worked against me that night though, since I would try and go grab someone else to dance and they would look really intimidated, because as they told me they were afraid of screwing things up while we danced. For the first dances with each person, I tried to explain that the only way to really improve is to practice what you’ve learned, or I just talked about random things to distract them and did the basic steps just to keep them at ease. It was a good night. Even though the dance was scheduled to go late into the night (and promised to get crazier, as more people had more wine throughout), Sparkledancer and I ended up cutting out early to go meet some others from the Land of the Loft for ice cream, as we usually do on Friday nights.
This trip for ice cream though gifted me with an unexpected surprise. Lord Fabulous had handed out the scores from the last competition that night, and Jack and Diane had been kind enough to grab the papers for me and Sparkledancer so that we could have them that night. I tried to glance at them briefly and make some sense of them, but it was dark outside of the ice cream parlor so reading them was difficult. I decided to take the data sheet over to my friend, the greatest leader of our time, so that he could interpret the numbers and help me figure things out. After all, he is a robot and is quite good at computational analysis. Here is what he showed me after evaluating the data:
- Our worst was the first American Viennese Waltz of the day. It was the second heat I did, and only the 13th heat of the whole day. Why they decided to do Viennese Waltz so early is beyond me. The next time we did American Viennese Waltz was one of the highest scores I got all day, so I’m going to chalk it up to being early morning.
- The highest score received was a four-way tie for heats in American Cha-Cha (it’s a surprise to me as well), American Viennese Waltz (as mentioned), Samba and then West Coast Swing. As you can probably guess, the West Coast Swing heat we scored the highest in was the one where we wore sunglasses.
- If you take the average of the scores for each style of dance, overall our best style was… West Coast Swing. I know that this is a mathematical average based on only two heats, but I feel good placing it at the top regardless. What strikes me about this most is that we were the only ones out there, so the judge would have had lots of time to watch our style and technique to see any flaws. Since he still scored us so highly in both heats, it must actually mean something.
- Since I’ve said so much about West Coast Swing, I will mention that our second best average score was in Mambo.
- Our worst average score was in International Tango. I definitely called that one earlier, if you remember…
He was also nice enough to compare these new results against the results I got back from competing in this same event last year (last year was actually the first multi-dance competition where Sparkledancer and I danced together). At that time, we only did routines for eight styles of dance during the competition. Of those eight styles, we scored better on average this year in East Coast Swing, Foxtrot, Mambo, Waltz and West Coast Swing, but we got better average scores last year in Bolero, Cha-Cha and Rumba. The comparison is not exact he told me, since we did all our heats this year in a higher rank than we did last year, but that is how the numbers look when compared side by side. “Do not rely solely on the numbers to tell you how you did.” he said to me. “Keep in mind that this year you also did almost twice as many heats and almost three times as many routines, so that is a major improvement by itself. If you continue to work hard and practice like you have been, next year you will be able to do even better. I’d bet my titanium torsion bars on it.”
It’s great when someone you look up to believes in you (even if they’re imaginary), isn’t it? So inspiring!
This weekend there are talks of taking another dance field trip to a dance hall that we all went to back in March. I don’t know if there will be a large turnout since it is a holiday weekend, and some people I have heard actually go on holiday (non-dance related things? That’s crazy!). They are offering a class in Hustle before the social dance though, which is really exciting because I haven’t learned many new things for Hustle in the last year. If I can find them between now and then, I’ll make a point to invite all of the people I met at the social dance last weekend at the Electric Dance Hall so that they can come along and experience for themselves those things they listened so intently to me describing. That’s what dance friends are for.