And I’ve Been Working Like A Dog

When I look over the things I posted last week, I realize that, while it’s funny to think about, the context behind my weird floorcraft path picture is missing. It is actually a funny story (at least, to me it’s funny). The idea for it came up during the last competition I was in. There was one young couple that was out dancing in both a junior and adult level age group, so I saw them out on the floor quite a bit during the course of the day. At some point during the morning ballroom heats, the young man put on a pair of glasses. Normally, I’m sure this would seem like a mundane thing that isn’t even worth mentioning, but as Sparkledancer and I were sitting along the sidelines watching, I made a joke about how those probably weren’t really normal eyeglasses, but were actually a pair of those “smart glasses” (you can probably guess the ones I was actually talking about), and he was using them to run an app in front of his eyes that was a lot like the mapping application you would use on your phone while driving, except it was showing him floorcraft tips to navigate around the floor through AHardDaysNight1the other dancers. Can you imagine how useful that would be? Well, if you’re a lady, you might not be able to, since normally you leave the floor-management to the guy leading you around, but as a guy I bet it would be fun and useful. Just imagine dancing and getting real-time updates right in front of your eyes about the state of the dance floor. I picture useful messages coming up like “Slow traffic ahead” or “Use Natural Rotation to merge into line of dance.” If I had the free time, and knew how to write computer code, maybe I could design a program that would actually do that. Since I spend most of my free time actually dancing, it probably won’t happen, but I’ll think about it. So, that’s the original seed that started the idea that became that picture I used last week.
AHardDaysNight2 I have no idea why I felt the need to explain that, but now you have a glimpse into my average train of thought when I create the pictures I use. There’s a lot more thought and effort that goes into the photographs than I would ever admit to using in public…

Last Friday I attended group class and the biweekly Friday night dance party at the Electric Dance Hall. In class this month we are going through East Coast Swing. I have always really liked East Coast Swing – not as much as I like West Coast Swing, but I don’t know as much in West Coast as I know in East Coast, so I look and feel much more confident and impressive when dancing East Coast Swing. Looking back on my dance adventure, learning to Swing dance was one of the big reasons I took up dancing in the first place. Way back then, I thought I could be one of those cool Swing kids who would go to clubs and dance all night, picking up and twirling ladies around in the air and all over the floor. In hindsight, I realize that if that was all I had learned to do, I would be very limited in the style of music I would be able to dance to at any given dance party, so I think I chose the better path. It also helped that Sir Steven told me I was capable of doing much more than just Swing dancing when I met him, and encouraged me to learn at least the basics of many different styles of dancing, which has since become much more than just basics. There are still some things I don’t know, and I don’t know when I will get the chance to devote much time to learning them. The styles that you could consider “Club Latin’ (like Salsa or Merengue) I tend to not pay much attention to, since I don’t compete with them. But during the dance on Friday they put on a Bachata song, and some lady ran over to me excitedly to ask me if I would dance it with her. I really didn’t know what I was doing, since I’ve only seen the very basic steps of Bachata, so that dance did not go very well. Everyone standing and watching me fake my way through that number thought it was really funny. Sigh… maybe someday I’ll ask someone to show me something fancier in that dance style, just to be prepared.

Lots of hard work has been put into dancing this week. Latin technique class this past Monday was particularly grueling. Only three of us showed up for class (Sparkledancer, Bony and I), so Lord Junior decided that he wanted to do Rumba, and he wanted to work on a Gold-level figure he referred to as the Three Alemanas. We didn’t do that figure for the whole hour, since Lord Junior kept getting distracted by more and more things that we needed to fix to make it look better. By the time the hour was up, we had gone from working on that Gold-level figure to doing basic New Yorkers over and over again. I’m still not quite sure how we ended up getting there – we were jumping from one thing to another so tangentially that I might have to sit down and work out some kind of process diagram on the computer just to make sense of the progression. It was a good class though, even though when we finished I felt like I was terrible at Rumba because of how much I got picked on for allowing my knees to bend.

I also got a lot of work done on Tuesday night when I met up with Sparkledancer to go over things with Sir Steven. We took what we had gone through last weekend for our American Rumba routine and added in a Natural Top with a fancier ending at the end, and attached that back to the beginning so that we could run the whole routine in a loop as many times as needed to practice. The routine is long enough that, if we used it during a competition, we shouldn’t need to repeat anything unless they used a Rumba song with a high tempo, but it now loops so that we can be prepared for any scenario. By the time we finished working on that, I was feeling much better about doing Rumba. Being able to use bent knees in American-style seems to help me screw up less. After Rumba we also looked at the East Coast Swing pattern that we had worked out last week. The pattern we had done ended up being the whole of the routine, I had just somehow missed going over the last bit that connects the end back AHardDaysNight3to the beginning to loop the thing around. Now that I know, our East Coast Swing can also be considered complete. Two of the American Rhythm down, and three left to go. We also went over our old Tango routine and began to change some of the pieces up. One of the things that Sir Steven noticed during the competition was that our Silver-level routines seemed simple compared to the other people out on the floor, so he is going to go through some of them and increase the complexity without really changing the order of the figures used. From what he mentioned, we’ll be doing this for our Foxtrot routine soon, but our Waltz is good as it is for the time being, so we probably won’t change that unless we feel really, really ambitious.

The last thing we started in on was one of the three American Rhythm styles we were missing – the Cha-Cha. We started working on the basic piece that will become the foundation of everything else that will be built into the routine, and going through that sequence was kind of blowing my mind. Did you know that you can actually do Cucarachas in Cha-Cha? You probably did, but I didn’t before Tuesday. Our Cha-Cha routine is going to use right- and left-side Cucarachas with a strange alternative chasse in between to build the base of the routine. The alternate chasse doesn’t seem all that difficult, but it wasn’t something that we reviewed during that workshop I went to where Lord Basil outlined all the different chasses he thought we would ever need to know. I guess these ones that I’m doing now are only for American-style Cha-Cha, which might be why they weren’t in Lord Basil’s classt. Most of the workshops that occur at the Electric Dance Hall only cover International-style dances, after all. So, I think that the majority of my practice time this weekend will be used to get the Cha-Cha down so that next week we can actually build up from there. Can you feel my excitement? Oh man, Cha-Cha is my favorite…

I hope my sarcasm doesn’t injure anyone as it comes across. That would be tragic.

This coming weekend, we start one of my favorite times of the year: Halloween Party Time! There are a couple of parties that I plan on attending this coming Friday and Saturday night. The first will be a big costume ball at the Endless Dance Hall, and the second is a smaller, also costumed gathering at the Electric Dance Hall. And since Halloween is still over a week away, there is always the potential of finding yet another other costume dance party going on that actually happens Halloween night! Isn’t that exciting? Are you excited? I’m excited! So much excitement! I hope you already have your costume all picked out, and you’ve already tried it on to test things and make sure that you can dance while wearing it. When I was younger, it feels like it used to be so much easier to pick out a costume to wear every year, since I didn’t have to put a lot of thought into the costume to ensure that wearing it wouldn’t restrict my freedom of movement. I have a couple of ideas for this year that I might go with, depending on if I can get everything I need in time to put things together. Hopefully whatever I go with is fun and doesn’t bring the costume police down on me. If you are going to be at either of the dance parties I’m going to this weekend, maybe I’ll see you there! Then again, even if I did, would you know it was me if I’m wearing a costume…?

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