I’m On My Way, Just Set Me Free

HomeSweetHome1 Still no word from Sparkledancer. I’m sure she’ll make her way back home at some point, and then hopefully contact me to set up a time for us to practice together. Maybe we could even set up a couple of practice times to go over things together before stepping back under the watchful eye of Sir Steven. That way we can make sure we remember how to dance together so that we don’t end up looking like complete idiots the first time through.

Things going on at the Electric Dance Hall last Friday turned out to be rather quiet, as I’m sure you might have guessed. Since I had the day off of work, I got there a bit early for class, so I ended up sitting and talking with Lord Junior while the previous class was finishing up. He was waiting for his personal lesson to show up, and they had an interesting story he was telling me. It was this young German couple that was here in the States for work of some kind. They had gotten engaged, and had contacted Lord Junior about working on a wedding dance. He discussed things on the phone with them, as he told me, prior to their first lesson, and they had requested a Waltz as their dance. He spent a bunch of time getting stuff ready and thinking up the choreography for them, and then when they showed up for their first lesson and started reviewing things and talking about their song, it comes to light that when they said Waltz they really meant Viennese Waltz. From what I learned discussing this with Lord Junior, apparently in Germany (and I would guess also in Austria, where the city of Vienna is located), the word “Waltz” is used to describe what we would call Viennese Waltz, and what we call Waltz here they call “Slow Waltz.” Who knew? I’ve always thought that if I were to do a wedding dance, Viennese Waltz would be what I would go with. I’ve seen lots of people working on putting together their wedding dances in all my time hanging around dance halls, and it usually seems like they end up with something that is either Rumba or Hustle, or a combination of those two if they want to do the ‘surprise change from slow to fast’ style wedding dance that seems popular. For me though, with all that I have learned about dancing, Viennese Waltz seems like it would be the most impressive thing to do at a wedding. Of course, you would definitely need to have a dance floor big enough to pull it off safely, and a dance partner who already knew or could learn how to dance the style. It would be sort of dangerous to try and do that with someone who is a dance newcomer – the risk of falling down in front of everyone you know would be terrifying, I’m sure. Still, if you can pull it off, people would think that you are super awesome. I mean, if I went to a wedding and saw the couple do a Viennese Waltz for their first dance, I would think they were awesome. Then again, I understand the difficulty of that dance style. Maybe all the other guests wouldn’t care if they just did something simple like an awkward sway like kids do during slow songs at a school dance.

That kind of went off on a tangent I wasn’t expecting…

While Lord Junior worked with the young couple on their dance, Sir Steven was at the Electric Dance Hall teaching the group class that evening. I use the term ‘group’ loosely – the class turned out to be just Chanel and me, and we worked on American Rumba. It worked out nicely that we were doing a Latin dance that can be done in a confined place – that allowed the other couple to work on Waltzing across the floor without the rest of us getting anywhere near them. I give the couple kudos for choosing that dance style HomeSweetHome2to learn, but I felt safer giving them a nice wide berth since they had only had a couple of lessons. Maybe when they get more practice I would risk being closer to them. In our Rumba class, we didn’t end up covering much that was new to me. We looked at the basic box step and how to make sure we use the best technique possible while doing it. We looked at exiting the box step into a normal Rumba basic to perform different figures. Of course, once we got done looking at how to get out of the box to do things, we had to look at a couple of different ways to get back into the box. Personally, I’ve always preferred the fifth-position break to transition. The forward and back rock steps in Rumba just don’t seem as natural to me. We covered using them in this class as another way to transition, and I know I’ve done the same in other Rumba classes, but when dancing socially out in the wild I have never even considered using the rocks for that purpose. Maybe I need to force myself to do that sometime, just to see what it’s like.

I had another session this week of working with Sir Steven on techniques to clean up my own dancing without a partner. The first half of it we spent on Latin motions, and most of that was working on walking backwards. Apparently walking backwards is not a strong point for me (then again, I’m a guy, and so far I mostly walk forward). I have a habit of trying to take really big steps when moving backwards in Rumba, and that throws off everything else I’m supposed to be doing when moving backwards. Mentally I know that I’m only supposed to move my leg back until my knees line up, but for some reason I keep trying to push that further. I guess it wars with what I keep getting told when dancing ballroom dances, that I have really long legs and I should be using them to their potential. I lost count of how many times we walked back and forth across the dance floor with Sir Steven stopping me when I would do things incorrectly and making me fix them. The other thing I was told was that on my forward steps, I could make the triangular line my legs make when I draw my back leg forward look better if only I could bend my foot more. When I flex my foot and try and curl my toes to my heel, it doesn’t really create a very tight curve. He told me that I could work on that by taking a resistance band and using it to help bend my toes inward further while stretching the band with my leg. I have a couple of resistance bands sitting around, but they are much heavier weight bands than my foot really likes, so either I need to really work on strengthening my foot, or I need to find a lighter weight band to work on this properly.

If you’ve got a resistance band sitting around, try it out. It feels weird, trying to make your foot curve inward more. I don’t want to be the only person in the world trying to make that happen.

In the last part of our session we started working on what will become my Jive routine. A lot of that was spent trying to force me to change the way I move while doing Swing dances. It seems that I am not bending my knees and sticking out my butt enough while doing Swing for Sir Steven’s liking. When I’m down in the correct position, to me it feels a lot like dancing around while trying to hold the Yoga Chair pose – not exactly the most comfortable position in the world, if you know the pose I’m referring to. It made me wish that I had some kind of angle braces to affix to my knees and hips, because if I start thinking about the other things I’m working on in the routine, invariably I will start to stand up straighter without noticing. They would have to be flexible braces, ones that would allow me to stand up if needed, but provide enough discomfort to make me want to get back into the correct position. If I invented braces like that, maybe I could offer them to anyone learning to dance Swing… The first part of the Jive routine seems simple enough – large portions of it are similar to an old East Coast Swing routine that I had done previously. There is one weird double rock movement that is in there that I will have to be careful to keep my body rotated while doing, otherwise I’m liable to smack my knee into whomever is standing in front of me. Sir Steven walked through the first portion of the routine with me until I could do it from memory, but I will have to see what it looks like later when adding in a partner. Things are liable to fall apart on the first go when that happens.

I realized when taking this picture that I must not bend my knees enough because I really don't have knee joints...
I realized when taking this picture that I must not bend my knees enough because I really don’t have knee joints…

There’s a dance showcase going on this Saturday that people have been hounding me about going to. I know a bunch of the performers, so it would be nice to go and cheer them on. Unfortunately, I have some unavoidable work things that need to get done, so I don’t know if I can go. We’ll see what happens, I guess!

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