Let The Rhythm Move You

Well, Ballroom Dance Week ended for me in a rather spectacular fashion. I hope all of you managed to partake in some exciting adventures of your own to enjoy the event. As I mentioned, the Electric Dance Hall had a live jazz band come play for the evening last Saturday night. The crowd that showed up weren’t all dancers, which was unexpected. Sure, there were a lot of people out for a night of dancing, which is what I had originally planned on, but there were also a bunch of people there just hanging out at tables listening to the band play, partaking of the adult beverages that Lord Junior had available. There was a short lesson given to begin the evening, covering some basic American Rumba (which is weird, because Lord Junior is usually so against American-style dances in general). While the band was setting up. The band’s singer even jumped in to participate in the lesson with everyone else, which was fun. Afterward, they snuffed out most of the torches to set the mood in the room, and opened up the floor to everyone.

Somewhere during his introductory speech of the night, Lord Junior made an offhand comment about nights like that night being the reason that we all learned to dance in the first place, and I have to agree with him on that. There is a very different feeling, at least to me, dancing while a live band is playing as opposed to dancing along to music coming through a set of speakers. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy going out to a party where there is a DJ spinning tracks and spending the night dancing and sometimes even singing along with songs ranging from the classics to the latest in pop music (that much should be obvious if you’ve been following my adventures for any length of time). But there is something much more exciting about dancing along with a live band. Maybe it’s the minute changes in tempo that occur, causing you to need to keep your ears open to register such things and adjust the speed of your dance accordingly. Maybe it’s the different timbre of the music that can be heard as you dance around the room, passing closer or farther from the area where the band is sitting. Sure, they had their instruments playing through speakers, but you can almost hear what they sound like unplugged when you are standing right in front of them. There’s also a certain energy that a good band can give to a room that you just don’t get when listening to a prerecorded song, and that energy can be infectious. There was one Foxtrot that I danced that night with Sparkledancer that stands out in my mind in particular. We started out with the idea to practice our routine, but I ended up breaking that shortly after the first wall and started zipping through all the other people on the floor. There were Reverses we could cover almost the whole floor with, and whirling Run Arounds near the area where everyone was sitting so that I could grin at them each time I faced them, and a particularly risqué Developé that I EverybodyDanceNow1made Sparkledancer do really close to a couple that didn’t know much Foxtrot who had stopped in the far corner, surprising and amusing the pair. By the time the song finished (which also takes a lot longer with a live band, since they will play through a whole song unlike your average DJ who will fade out a song after a few minutes to start another), I was breathing heavily and grinning like an idiot, feeling overly proud of that run. I can only hope that in a couple of weeks when I go to that party where they have the whole orchestra playing that I will have just as much fun.

Even though there’s a competition coming up, sometimes the best thing to do is just to let go and enjoy what’s going on. Sure, not every step I did that night was perfect, Sparkledancer and I didn’t always stick to practicing our routines when dancing together, and as the night wore on I wore myself out and that’s when the technique started to suffer. But I don’t know if I could be one of those students that only does competitions, spending hours on end drilling technique and limb position until I’m the best technical dancer out on the floor. With the competition I’m about to do, I would much rather walk away being one of the dancers everyone remembers because I was interesting and fun to watch than walk away with an award because I came in first. Trophies and medals would sit on a shelf in my house gathering dust, but being memorable and fun for other people to watch would win me friends to go out and dance with later on when the competition is over. I promise that I’ll still try to become a better dancer from competition to competition so that maybe one day I could get first place at something, but I’m not going to work so hard at that at the expense of having fun while dancing.

Besides, all my pictures would get boring if they showed nothing but me training in front of a mirror at home, don’t you think?

The cat spends more time in front of the mirror than me...
Being unemployed, the cat spends more time in front of the mirror than I do…

Twice this week Sparkledancer and I have met up with Sir Steven to go through things as a final check before the competition. Tuesday we ran through everything – we started with all of our International Latin routines, and then finished with all of our American Smooth routines, including finally running through the Viennese Waltz right EverybodyDanceNow3at the end. We’d really only done that style lately during dance parties the two of us have gone to together. Overall, we only looked at a couple of minor tweaks. There was the ever-present note to make sure that our posture is better. I don’t think that will ever go away. I’m sure that professionals who have won buckets full of awards are still told by their coaches to work on keeping their posture in the best shape possible. Sir Steven even told us that our Samba looked really good, which was rather surprising. I still don’t feel like my hips are moving all that much, but I guess it’s not as bad as I thought. The Rumba was still giving me trouble with the arm movements. Apparently my arms are not very graceful and flowing like they should look while doing Latin Walks; most other places they were OK, or at least they didn’t look bad enough that Sir Steven made a comment about them. We made it through everything at least twice before the end of our session, most of our runs we even got to do with music, though there was another lesson going on, so the music didn’t always fit the style we were working on. Walking away that night, we were feeling pretty good about things. Tonight we did more of the same, running through everything a few times and pointing out some minor things to look at. We started going through our Latin dances just after a group class had finished, so there were a lot of people sitting around the outside of the dance floor just watching us work while they awaited the next class. Near the end, as we finished up our Smooth dances, the big thing Sir Steven said we really have to focus on was what he called C.B.M., or Contra-Body Movement. It is something that ties into C.B.P. as you could guess (Contra-Body Position). He gave us pointers to keep in mind for this competition, but once this one’s finished apparently that’s going to be a major technique we work on.

There’s also a good chance that we’ll switch back to American Rhythm after this competition is over as well. That’s something to look forward to…

So the competition is this weekend. Have I mentioned that yet? The judges should all be in place, getting ready to wander around and pass their judgment starting tomorrow. I heard a rumor that Lord Basil, whom I got the chance to meet not that long ago, was going to be a judge at this event. I’m fairly certain he won’t remember EverybodyDanceNow4me, especially if I’m dressed up, but it will be nice to be able to pick out at least one person whom I’m supposed to impress. Other people I know have been saying that they are volunteering at this event rather than dancing, so I may see them wandering around throughout the day. Well, except for Enthusiasm and The Crank – somehow they pulled the short straw so their volunteer shift is going to be from nine to midnight, which is long after the rounds I’ll be in are over. Will we do well? Will I accomplish my goal of being at least a memorable presence on the dance floor? I’ll tell you all about it next week!

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