As I mentioned last week, this past weekend I went with some dance friends on a dance field trip to the Cherished Dance Hall. This was only my second time ever being to this location (the first time being back in March). The coordinators started out the night teaching a lesson in Hustle. Everything that we did wasn’t terribly difficult, but I was really thrown off by the way that they did the basic in Hustle. Back when I first learned the style, we started by doing it in a four-count, with both guys and girls doing a rock step on beat one. When we moved up to the syncopated version of Hustle, the rock step was taken out entirely for both men and women and we put in some more complicated turns, like triple spins and hammer locks and head loops, but the basic for the male part involved me just pointing my left leg to the side and holding for beat one before moving on beats two and three. At this class, they spent some time reviewing the basics of Hustle in syncopation, but they had both men and women doing a rock step half a beat before beat one. Even when moving to closed position, they would have the men do what was essentially a side break, rocking to the left on that same half beat. After going through all of that, I’m really confused as to which version is the correct way to do things. To be honest, Hustle is one of those dances I never really spend time studying. Before the class this weekend, I can’t remember the last time I went to any specific Hustle lessons. Even when putting together the routine I used in the last competition, we spent all of about twenty minutes on things and then I just practiced the routine on my own or with Sparkledancer to be able to do it without messing up. Perhaps I just hadn’t made it to the level in Hustle where they would have added in that rock step. I guess I’m going to have to do some independent study to learn more, since I don’t think I will be competing in that style again anytime soon. Sure, anything new I learn will only serve to help me when I have that fever at parties I go to on Saturday nights (see what I did there?), but I would look cool while doing it. And really, isn’t that all that matters in the end?
The dance following the lesson was pretty relaxed. Being a holiday weekend, it wasn’t terribly crowded, so during most of the dances there was enough room to pull off maneuvers that were a bigger than I would have normally done during a social dance while dancing with some people I knew. The strangest thing I noticed about this particular dance was the music – it seemed like they would play a song for only about two minutes before moving to the next. It felt more like dancing in competition heats rather than dancing socially. Sometimes, especially when dancing with a partner that I didn’t know, it felt like I was just starting to get into the groove when the song would begin to fade out and the next song would start up. There were two particular women whom I had never danced with before that I spent some time talking to on and off throughout the night. Both women were recent transplants to the Dance Kingdom – one had never been to any sort of dance event before in her life, so the lesson and the dance were her introduction to the world of ballroom dancing. Her friend was a bit more experienced, having taken some lessons in the past when she had seen them offered for free or extremely cheaply at nearby colleges or community centers, had always loved it, and was looking for a place to get back into dancing now that she lived in the area. I danced with each of them a few times, trying my best to both lead them through and explain the basics of the dance style at the same time. During Rhythm or Latin songs, they were willing to go out onto the dance floor with me, but neither of them felt comfortable dancing during a traveling style. If I was nearby when a song for one of those styles came on, we would stay off to the side so I could explain the basics without worrying about running into people. I also made sure to introduce them to the people I was with and tell them where it was that we all took lessons so that they could come join us if they were in the area.
Working with Sir Steven this week, we managed to completely finish putting together the new American Foxtrot routine we had started working on at the beginning of the month, adding it to the Samba routine we finished putting together a couple of weeks ago. Two down, and who knows how many more we’re going to do. We had talked about doing routines for American Smooth and International Latin dances, so that would leave us with seven more if that’s still the plan. Anyhow… the Foxtrot routine is kind of hurting my brain a bit. There are large pieces built into it that are essentially Waltz figures done in Foxtrot timing. I will admit that some days I have enough of a problem already switching between Foxtrot and Waltz, but now if we decide to add in a bunch of modified Waltz figures, I imagine that confusion’s just going to get worse (I believe the technical term for that kind of mix up is ‘Waltztrot’). The routine we finished is big though, built for a competition-sized floor. It works well in the Endless Dance Hall, but I question whether I will be able to condense it enough to make it work on a smaller floor (which is like… anywhere else I go). This may end up being one of those routines I have to practice outside, either in the street or in a park somewhere. Good thing the weather’s gotten much nicer, right? On sunny days I will be able to practice my dancing and work on my tan at the same time! I can be crazy efficient that way. The big thing to do the rest of this week is to study the pattern of the routine. This coming Saturday night I can practice it with other people on the floor when I attend the Spring/Summer formal at the Endless Dance Hall, assuming I can memorize the pattern of course.
This week we also finished up the Viennese Waltz class I have been attending this month. Lord Junior told me that I’ve made great strides in keeping my head in the right spot for the whole time I am dancing, not just starting with it in the right place and losing it somewhere in the middle, and also getting rid of the rise and fall that he caught me doing during the first week of class. For the last class of the month, after a brief warm-up we spent the most of our time just dancing laps around the room in order to practice what we had been working on. There was one more girl than there were guys in class, so we would just rotate through the partners on each lap, occasionally pausing so that Lord Junior could offer some more advice or correct something he noticed the people dancing do wrong. The other big thing that I felt a lot better about tonight than I did during all the other weeks of class was staying relaxed while dancing. Weirdly, the more I was able to eliminate the pressure and just let the Viennese Waltz happen, the slower the music seemed while dancing. Even toward the end of the class, when moved up to a rather brisk tempo song, if I kept my body in place but didn’t tense up it felt like there was plenty of time to make each movement that I needed. Now that the class is over, I feel better about Viennese Waltz than I ever have. Hopefully I can keep the feeling until he next time I have a chance to really practice during some social dance I attend. Viennese Waltz is troublesome because it is that it’s just too dangerous to practice at home (I run into walls when I try), so without classes like this I can go for long stretches between the times I get to really practice. Maybe this weekend they will at least play a couple of songs and I can apply everything I’ve been working on with a larger number of people on the floor. Hopefully I can keep my cool even with more obstacles to worry about. Next month Lord Junior said he would be teaching a higher level Pasodoble class and he’ll be giving out tips he learned on how to make the dance look even manlier, so I’m definitely going to be there for that.
There’s only a few days left until the formal being held at the Endless Dance Hall! I’m pretty excited about the event. There are all kinds of things to look forward to that night. I get to have spinach ravioli for dinner; it will be a good chance to practice my completed Foxtrot routine (assuming I have it memorized); I can do some Viennese Waltz, maybe even with some random people I’ve never met before to see if my lead is really any good; and people I know (including Sir Steven, Indiana and Lord Junior) are going to perform! Are you excited? I hope so. I’ll tell you all about it next week!