I went to a couple of dance parties this weekend. One of them I mentioned last week, and I’m sure some of you are interested to hear all about what happened there. So, obviously I’m going to start by telling you about the first dance party I went to.
Friday night at the Electric Dance Hall was their bi-weekly social dance. Earlier on that day, I didn’t think I was going to go out that night for the party. Due to some complications at work, I was under a lot of stress, having put in a whole lot of really long days trying to get some things fixed, and I was exhausted. A large part of me just wanted to stay home that night and curl up under a blanket to hide for a while. Sparkledancer convinced me to come out and join the party. If you asked her, she would tell you that she gave me a guilt trip until I caved, but it really wasn’t like that (so don’t listen to her). We really needed to practice some things, so she asked me nicely if I would come to the party, and I figured that going out and seeing people would take my mind off of everything else for a while. When I got to the Electric Dance Hall, the party was just about to start. As I got my dance shoes on and stretched my legs a bit, I realized that I wasn’t really interested in seriously practicing routines that night, so instead I just took to the floor and danced for fun. Sparkledancer ended up being all for that, and followed along with whatever I wanted to do. Some of the other women that were at the party whom I took out to the floor looked at me like I was a bit off since I was humming along with the music and trying to hold conversations with them while dancing steps that I’m not entirely sure they had learned yet. Lord Junior was excited that night because he had put out a bowl of salt and vinegar potato chips, and about forty-five minutes into the evening when he saw that no one had touched the chips yet, he plopped himself down on the couch and proceeded to go to town on them. That made me laugh for some reason. I like salt and vinegar potato chips as well, but I don’t think I normally eat them with as much enthusiasm as he was mustering. I danced for about an hour and a half, and then left to go meet up with other dance people for ice cream like we normally do on Friday nights. The party was a good way to inject some fun back into my life at the end of a hard week.
And then there was Saturday night…
As I mentioned, I had volunteered my services to be a co-host at a singles dance event. If you’ve followed along with my adventures in the past, you know that over the years I’ve been invited to attend singles dance parties with friends before (you can see that here, here and here if you don’t remember). Mostly I would go to these parties to dance with others from various classes I have attended – I’d never gone with the intention to pick up women, only to show off. Just as well too, since all these dance parties I’ve attended have been for single people in their 40s and 50s. What I learned from going to those singles dance parties is that not a lot of the people who attend actually dance. The group of people I would go with would take over the dance floor, feeling fairly confident that all the things we learned would impress everyone there. Most others in attendance would be huddled around the outside of the dance floor, and many of them would just stand there watching the people dancing, or would take to the floor after having enough drinks to work up the courage, which would make their movements very erratic. After attending a few of these sorts of events, I had thought that if someone put together a dance party for singles but also tried to teach them some dance moves beforehand, then you would have more participation out on the floor. This Saturday dance party I volunteered for was the experiment I had imagined to prove whether that theory was actually correct.
There were a couple of people I knew who were also volunteering to help out at the party. Sparkledancer and The Crank were there helping out and playing host like me, and Sir Steven was signed up to teach the class at the beginning of the night. We tried to get the Heartbreak Kid to come along since he was single and we thought it would be nice to have another male on hand who knew what he was doing, but he had another engagement he had to attend. Leading up to the affair we had tried to convince a bunch of men that we knew to join us, because we were worried that it would turn out to be all women who showed up and very few men. Guys that I talk to outside of the dance world seem to be loath to come out dancing, even though I try and explain to them that it’s a great way to meet women. Lucky for us, during the class at the beginning of the night, the gender ratio wasn’t too bad. The Crank and I both joined in, but even without us there we would have only been four or five men short of having even numbers, so things were much better than I thought. Sir Steven taught them the basics of four styles that night: Waltz, which he said would be the best travelling dance for newcomers with the least experience in floorcraft; Rumba, a nice slow dance to allow the singles to get close and talk; Salsa, which was picked because it was up-tempo and the basics are a lot like basic Rumba; and Hustle, which seemed like the best dance style overall for the age group that we enticed to come to this party since it would have been popular when they were younger. We lined all the guys up in two rows for the class, and I was positioned on the far right side of the floor to help the rotating women transition between the rows without getting lost along the way. You would think that people would understand how to rotate around a room, but that was probably the most challenging thing that we worked on all night!
After the class wound down, we turned on the music and set everyone free. The original plan was that the hosts would be there to answer any questions, help people out if they forgot steps, or help convince single men and women to talk to each other. Despite that fact, I ended up dancing a lot. Quite a bit more than I had anticipated before the night started. There were only a couple of times when I made a point to seek out someone to dance with, when certain songs came on that I just couldn’t stand still during or during dance styles that not a lot of people knew (like Tango). More often than not I was asked out to the floor by women who wanted to dance with me, or sometimes one of the other volunteers asked me to go out on the floor with a lady who was sitting by themselves off of the sidelines and talk with them. Later in the evening, I was told by one woman I danced with (who had had a number of glasses of wine by that point) that she had been discussing with her friend how they wished that I was twenty years older, because if I was I would be the best guy there for them. That little admission made me laugh nervously, and I was glad the song was over soon because I wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. Though it was exhausting, it was nice to cut loose and just dance and have fun like I did the night before, and see how well I could lead people who really didn’t know anything I was doing. Some dance styles were far more successful than others. For example, leading women through Hustle or East Coast Swing moves generally worked better than trying to lead them through Waltz moves outside of the basics they had been taught during the opening class. Rumba worked better if I stayed in closed position or gave them a warning before I did something they wouldn’t know. When Sir Steven or I wanted to do much more advanced moves, we would grab Sparkledancer and use her to show off. There was also a female instructor with us helping out during the night, but when she was on the dance floor she was working with the various men there, trying to land herself some new students. Because of that, we didn’t really get to dance with her.
Overall, the party was good. I have some ideas for improvements that I will recommend if someone decides to throw another event like this in the future, but it was one of the more interesting and amusing dance parties that I have been to in quite a while. I think people I know are working on putting together the next dance field trip for the ninth, so hopefully this last event will tide me over until then. Which would be good, because I’ve got to start getting serious about practicing things from here on out. Sir Steven has thrown down a gauntlet of doing another competition in October, and if that’s the case then I don’t have much time to get ready!