One of the big things that makes dancing fun, in my opinion, is doing it with other people. I know that sounds pretty obvious, seeing as how ballroom dancing is a form of partner dancing, which requires more than one person to even be on the dance floor, but I’m talking about this more broadly. I like going out to social dance parties with a group of people I know, so that we can all spend the night dancing together, and during those times when we take breaks from dancing we can sit and talk pleasantly. Some people like going out and meeting their friends for drinks at a bar, I like meeting with friends for dancing at a ballroom. Totally the same thing, right? Lately, a lot of the people who I used to go out dancing with have been dropping off the face of the planet for one reason or another. It used to be really easy to call up all these people anytime that someone found out about a dance party in the area and get everyone to come along for the night. Nowadays, it’s a surprise when more than four or five people who I know are at the same dance party. After talking this over with Sparkledancer, we decided that we should start really working on bringing in new people to join our group – kind of like being a Dance Ambassador on caffeine. Originally we thought that she would be best suited to bring new guys in, and I would be best suited to bringing new ladies in, but then we thought that if we both worked on bringing new men who liked dancing into our group, all the ladies who liked dancing would just naturally want to hang around with us because we would have partners for them to dance with. Sounds like a solid idea, right?
Why do I mention all of this? Well, I’d like to introduce the first guy that has taken to dancing with us the last month or so. I’m going to call him HotDog (note: yes, the name comes from the figure. It just fits his persona so well. I’m not going to even get into the quest that was undertaken to find this figure so I could use it this week…). This guy has really taken to dancing, and since Sparkledancer and I are actually near his age, anytime one of us goes out to a dance event somewhere he is more than happy to come along. He had signed up to take some private lessons with one of the Dance Ladies at the Electric Dance Hall, but she ended up having to back out for some unknown reason. Not wanting to lose an eager young male dancer, Lord Junior offered to step in and teach the lessons that HotDog had paid for himself, and Lord Junior also brought in his professional dance partner Lady Lovelylocks to assist so that HotDog could learn from him while dancing with a lady; he is pretty much getting lessons from two people for the price of one. This guy is about the same age as I was when I started learning to dance. If HotDog keeps picking things up at the rate he has been so far for the last month-and-a-half, he will easily surpass the skills I’ve managed to pick up in no time. Sparkledancer has been encouraging him too, telling him as much and letting him know that she is glad he is stepping up to the challenge. In our efforts to get people interested in dance as a long-term project, I think HotDog and Points are the most likely to stick around. There was another guy named OT that Sparkledancer was really trying to convince that dancing would be good for him, and he even went so far as to come out to class last Friday, but from talking to him it sounds like he is only interested in dancing as a way to meet women in the short-term, not as a long-term skill investment that he can use to impress the ladies the rest of his life.
And that’s one of the benefits I see to dancing, one that I tell men about all the time: women find it really interesting that I dance, and especially interesting that I have danced competitively. Granted, I haven’t done very much to use this skill to get myself dates, but still… I believe that other men could, potentially. It would work great as an icebreaker when meeting women, or at the very least it could be used as a very unique first date option. Last weekend I was out at an event, and there happened to be some single women there that I was talking to. I mentioned that if they were interested, I had been asked to host another singles dance party at the end of this month like the one I hosted back in November, and they should all go. Most of the women I was talking to were really excited about going to the party at the end of the month, and made me promise to dance with them if I saw them there. Before I knew it, talk about the dance party had spread all around the room, and more people (even some of the guys) were asking for information on the party. Now tell me, if you were a single guy and you had spent a few months learning how to dance, wouldn’t you be impressive showing up at this party and asking the single ladies to dance with you? It shocks me that more single men don’t do just that! The social benefits of dance are pretty astounding! Sure, because I dance I really can’t sit around at work and talk about whatever latest television show that everyone at the office is watching since I spend so much time dancing and never really watch TV, but is that really something to be filed in the ‘negative’ category?
That was an unintended tangent to go off on…
Let’s try this segue: Speaking of getting men interested in dancing, this month on Friday nights there are Hustle classes! After Pasodoble, Hustle is probably the most macho dance style one can do in the ballroom, since guys get to pretty much stay in one place while whirling the lady around them until she is breathless (and hopefully not dizzy). It is one of those dances that, every time I go out on the floor to do, I wish I knew more figures for. Since I have spent so much time working on competition styles, I’ve never really learned much Hustle outside of the moves that I picked up in the first six or seven months of my dance training. Because we’ve had some relative newcomers in class with us so far, the things that we have gone over for Hustle have so far been pretty basic in my opinion, so when I throw in some of the other figures that I already know, I look pretty impressive. I’m hoping to pick up a new thing or two by the end of the month, to keep my Hustle knowledge from being stagnant. This past Friday, we were going over open- and closed-position basics in both three- and four-beat timing, and a couple of alternating turns. Nothing earth shattering yet. At the end of class, Sparkledancer and Sir Steven were talking about a figure he had done with her during a social dance recently, and I watched him demonstrate what he called the continuous Triple-Spin with her. I think I can do that pretty easily, I just haven’t had a chance to try it out with a partner yet. If I manage to do it without screwing up, I’ll count that as one move to add to the repertoire.
Also this week I had a moment that really made me proud, for a pretty silly reason. A few nights ago I had met up with Sparkledancer to practice. I missed going to Lord Junior’s Latin Technique class on Monday night because I had things going on at work that I needed to attend to (boo… what a way to start the year), so while we were practicing things she was showing me what they had worked on during class. They had been working on Opening Outs in Rumba, and since she was one of the more advanced students in class, he was teaching her a new variation that she could practice. As she was showing me the fancy arm motions they had worked on, I just did what I normally do during Opening Outs (which is a Cucaracha, for those who don’t know the Lead part). Sparkledancer stopped what she was doing and told me that my hip motions looked really strong, and she was really impressed with that. I actually blushed at that comment, and had to confess to her what I had been doing to work on things. As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, I suffer from a debilitating case of WBMHD (White-Boy-Midwestern-Hip-Disorder), so I’ve never really been able to move my hips well in Latin dances. It’s one of the reasons I avoid Samba so much, unless I’m doing the line dance with everyone. Anyway, at work my office is several floors up. Being a health-minded individual, I try to take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. What I’ve been doing the last several months whenever I walk down the stairs is to flex my hip over as far as I can as I take my weight off each leg. I know that sounds like a silly thing to do, but I couldn’t find an elegant way to work hip flexibility training into my normal workouts, and I found that this is a pretty simple thing to do as you climb down several flights of stairs. I guess all the work I have been doing is starting to actually pay dividends. Yay for me!
…don’t laugh too much while thinking about me doing that. I’m sure that you’ve all done strange things to work on improving your dancing too. I refuse to believe I’m the only one.