There’s A Place In The Caribbean Sun

Last Friday night I went to an American Rumba class. This was the same class that I went to on the 4th, but it was my first time back to the class since then so I was a bit unsure how much I had missed. With all the work I had put in lately on International Latin styles of dance the last couple of weeks, it was nice to switch gears to something I have spent a lot more of my dance time working on (by that I mean good-old bent leg American styles). Chanel was there in class with me, just like when we were there on the 4th, but this time we weren’t alone in the class as Sparkledancer and one other girl whose name I didn’t catch joined us. Because even though this was now the third week of the month, only CubaCubaLibre1Chanel and I had been to more than one of the American Rumba classes this month, so for the other two he started back to review much of what we did back on the first week. That means that we went through that weird rocking step transition from the Rumba basic to the box step, the transition figure I’m not too fond of. Does anyone else use that figure to transition from the basic to the box? Or do you all use the fifth-position break like I do? I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone use that at any dance parties I’ve attended, but I also can’t say that I pay too much attention to what other men are leading at those parties during the social dance portion of the night, so I really wouldn’t know for sure.

The International Rumba workshop over the weekend was also a good place to be. There was a lot of Rumba this week for me… maybe I had mysteriously ended up in Cuba or something. It was a little weird at first, since the night before I had been in the American Rumba class, so I started out taking steps with bent knees, but I managed to get over that. The makeup of the people in the workshop was a bit lopsided (there were actually twice as many women as men), so being among the few gentlemen in attendance meant that I didn’t really get any breaks while we were working. The sequence that we went through during the event wasn’t all that difficult, and in fact it was actually a lot like the International Rumba routine that Sir Steven put together with Sparkledancer and I, but there were some unique points to the workshop’s sequence that made it difficult for some people. The part that really seemed to confuse many of the ladies I danced with was the hockey stick figure. Lord Junior wanted to do a variation of the hockey stick that was syncopated, holding the rock step for beats two and three before moving on. The women who had learned the normal hockey stick figure previously had a hard time with this, often starting to move a beat before they should. I had one women even lead herself through that CubaCubaLibre2figure using the standard timing, and then proceeded to tell me when we were done that my timing for things was all off. The few ladies that had never done many of these Rumba figures we put into the sequence seemed really confused by the time we finished the workshop. One of the men there asked me at the end if I could step through the second half of the sequence in front of him so that he could shadow me with his lady friend and figure out what he was supposed to be doing. Luckily Sparkledancer was nearby so she could explain the female part of the sequence, because I wouldn’t have done a very good job. The best part of the workshop for me though was Lord Junior telling me a couple of times that I was doing great. After being told last week about all the things I didn’t do right, having someone say that I was doing things well worked wonders for improving my dance confidence. Yay!

The Samba class from this week went much better than last week. Part of the reason for that, I’m fairly convinced, is that there were more people in the class than just Sparkledancer and I. Having more people makes it so that you’re not being watched the whole time while you’re dancing, so if I screwed up then there was less of a chance that I would get called on it. That made me feel more secure in being there. We spent the entirety of the class working on cruzado walks with lock steps in them. There was a lot of stepping and rotating of hips and some CubaCubaLibre3stumbling as we tried to work in a syncopated set of locks. Once we learned the pattern, we practiced by splitting into two groups, and we would walk the pattern from one side of the room to the other, first on our own timing, and then with music. As we got better at running the pattern with the music, Lord Junior would turn up the tempo of the song (we started off using the same song but at 60% of normal tempo). At the end, as a challenge we finally paired off to run as a couple with the lady in shadow position. This was hard at times because some of the girls forgot about the syncopated lock steps, so when I stayed in place with most of my weight on my front leg, if the girl started moving before I did I would almost fall over. The second time that happened I had to squeeze my right hand tightly on the lady’s shoulder to hold her back and maintain my balance at the same time. She got the hint that she shouldn’t move before I did that time. Sometimes, I am so good at being subtle, aren’t I?

During coaching lesson with Sir Steven we made some modifications to the Rumba and Cha-Cha routines that I am hoping that I actually remember. We switched out some of the normal rock steps with the cucaracha step, just to change up some of the lines that are formed during the routine. If I break to the side during some of those figures, it rounds the look of the figure out instead of stretching it forward. Some of the cucarachas work better than others – in the Cha-Cha, there is one where I go right into a slip chasse next, and that makes for a weird transition between figures. It is probably just me thinking the transition is weird, but it feels weird moving my legs from one to the next. The forward lock to the slip chasse is much more natural I suppose, so this one may just need some practice to get used to. In Jive, I seem to be completely incapable of doing the continuous tuck-in figure while staying in place and rotating to the left. There’s something in my brain that just doesn’t seem to want to do that correctly, and it looks funny enough when I attempt it that it causes both Sparkledancer and Sir Steven to laugh at me. I’ve been told it looks much better than the first time I did it, but you would think that after three weeks I would be capable of accomplishing the movement successfully with it looking hilarious. Maybe it’s like one of those ‘rub your belly and pat your head’ kind of things for me (strangely enough, I can actually rub my stomach and pat my head with very little trouble). Someday I hope to master the movement. I can pray that that day comes before next week so that I don’t get laughed at again, but things have been busy for me outside of dance lately, so I don’t know if I will accomplish that goal.

I didn't think it looked that funny.
I didn’t think it looked that funny.

That’s been dance life for this past week! This coming weekend I am going out for a very different sort of dance field trip. I will be at one of those singles dance parties again like I’ve gone to in the past, but I’m volunteering to help out this time rather than just showing up to show off on the dance floor. This singles dance will actually be using my idea of teaching a dance lesson at the beginning of the party so that no one has the excuse of not knowing how to dance to stay off the floor. I don’t know if I’ll get to do much dancing while I’m helping out, but I am looking forward to it. Hopefully love will be in the air that night (not for me, obviously, since it’s another dance for people over 40 and I’m way too young for that), but if it’s not I will try and do my best to pester the men there to ask the women to dance rather than just stand around talking the whole time.

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