‘Round The Outside, ‘Round The Outside

My coaching session this past Saturday started out kind of rocky. I got to the Endless Dance Hall early and changed my shoes, and was just waiting around while Sir Steven finished up with his previous client so that we could get started. When Sparkledancer got there and got her dance shoes on, we started to go over some things against the far wall, out-of-the-way of everything else going on. Before we could get started with our session with Sir Steven, one of the organizers at the Endless Dance Hall said that there was an event that was scheduled to use the building for the rest of the afternoon, starting right when we would have otherwise started our work! Well, that kind of threw things off. Sir Steven made a quick phone call, and then came and told us that we could move over to the Electric Dance Hall instead, unless we wanted to reschedule. Both Sparkledancer and I were fine with making the trip to the other end of the Kingdom, so we dispersed and met there to start going over things.

We ended up spending much of our time on Waltz. There is a Spin Turn at the beginning of each of the long walls, and we worked on getting to the point where we are actually moving down the line of dance as we do the turn as opposed to staying in place, or even sometimes backtracking a bit. In addition to that, I also got picked on to make sure that I didn’t do any rotation at all on the first step of anything. This makes the rotation needed on the second step much more prominent, so sometimes I might have turned a bit too hard to make things work… this is an idea that we had been working on in Foxtrot previously, but now I’m told to start using it in Waltz and Tango as well. At the time, I didn’t think to ask if I should also apply this technique in Viennese Waltz, but as I write this all down I am curious as to whether it would even work, or if things are just moving too fast so that idea gets thrown out the window. I’ll have to make a note to remember to ask about it next time I see Sir Steven. We were only about halfway through things when Lord Junior had some of his students show up for a lesson. We had switched over to work on Foxtrot when they started out, and since we had music on Lord Junior had them start looking at Foxtrot as well. Based on what they were doing, it looked like they had just started learning Foxtrot, since they were still walking in a straight line down the line of dance. Lord Junior told them that we would be traveling around the outside of the floor WithoutMe1as we danced, so they would be safe staying more toward the middle of the room. I heard him tell them that it was good advice to remember if they started to attend social dance parties as well – the more experienced dancers would go around them easier if they stayed near the middle. To not prove him wrong, I made sure to give them a wide berth as we worked through things.

Sunday afternoon I had heard about a party being held at the White Dance Hall, so I decided to take a dance field trip up to that location. It has been a while since I have gone to that venue, so I made the trip to meet up with some people just like we did last time. There was no lesson being offered before the dance this week, so everything was just for fun. We ended up making a spot for ourselves in the back corner, right about in the same spot we were in last time we all came here (at “the kids table” as someone called it). There wasn’t a specific theme for this party like there was last time, but they were really pushing the idea of getting everyone to go out and meet everyone else during the dance. The DJ did several different things to try to promote this behavior – there was the expected Foxtrot mixer, which WithoutMe2seems to show up during every big dance party. There was also a Merengue mixer, where the DJ had all the organizers of the event come out to the floor and then go out to the audience seated on the outskirts and pull people in. Every time they called to change partners, the people on the floor were told to go grab someone from the outside until everyone was on the floor, and then they could grab someone else already on the floor. I got picked up really early for this one. I happened to be sitting in the seat at our table that was closest to the dance floor, so I was the easiest to grab of the four of us sitting there. They also did a mixer that ran similar to the Merengue one, but to East Coast Swing instead. Again, being the closest one to the dance floor, I was out on the floor long before the others were grabbed by someone. Next time I end up at the White Dance Hall, I am going to remember to have someone else sit on that side of the table to make up for them not being picked so easily this time.

The dance party was good though. Despite all the DJ’s comments about getting the crowd to meet each other, people sort of self-selected the groups of people they associated with throughout the afternoon. Since those of us at sitting at the ‘kids table’ were soooo much younger than everyone else, the older crowd kept out of our way both when we were on the dance floor and when we weren’t. I think that we terrified some of them when we were dancing together. Both Sparkledancer and Diane are fairly tall with long legs, so I am able take something more akin to my natural stride when dancing with either of them. My natural stride far outpaced what most of the older people were doing, so I could easily pass everyone else as we traveled around the floor. I probably could have pulled that back a little, but it is so much more comfortable for me to dance taking a more natural-sized step than it is for me to take tiny steps. I tried to WithoutMe3stay either on the outside or inside track of everyone else so that I could maneuver without worrying too much about running into anyone. At one point, just for fun, Sparkledancer and I danced a Cha-Cha where we purposefully took really tiny baby steps to keep things as small as possible, just to see what it was like. We didn’t do anything fancy during that dance because we were laughing too hard at ourselves. Lord Junior showed up after the party had started, and he had his really young daughter in tow. She really enjoys going out on the floor and dancing with him, which involves a lot of spinning on her part (and a lot of bending over on his part, since he is way taller than her). It’s pretty easy to see that she is already a better dancer than I will probably ever be, and she’s more than twenty-five years younger than me.

I wonder how much better I would be at dancing if I had started out at a much younger age…

Monday’s Latin Technique class went a lot differently than I expected. I got there a bit early to change my shoes and stretch a little bit. Sparkledancer and Bony arrived about the same time I did, so we were just chatting and stretching out before things started. Lord Junior came over and told us that there was someone new who had stopped by earlier in the evening, and said he was going to come back for the class, and that he wanted to work on Salsa. Since I generally avoid Club Latin-style dances, I wasn’t sure what I was going to be getting myself into. When the guy who had requested the Salsa lesson arrived, he came with an entourage – a girl (who was apparently his sister) and another guy. His two companions just sat in a couple of chairs against the wall and watched the whole time, sometimes laughing if one of us did or said something funny enough to warrant laughter. Not knowing much about this new student’s dance background, Lord Junior picked a couple of figures to work on that seem simple enough from the outset, but had some tricks needed to keep things from being crazy. We started with the Natural Top, a figure that I’ve done lots of times in Rumba and Cha-Cha, but never looked at in Salsa (or Mambo, I guess would be the place I’d actually WithoutMe4likely see it). We spent a bit of time working on the basic footwork because the other guy in class had never done anything like this before, but once he got that worked out he seemed to do okay. Coming out of the Natural Top, Lord Junior had us stop with the Lead’s right foot crossed in front of the left so that we could then move into an Opening Out. This was a closed position Opening Out, different from how I usually do things in Rumba, but a similar idea. I was more worried about what to do with my white-boy hips than I probably should have been at first, trying to force more motion from them than was necessary. Lord Junior said that it actually made me look like I had more of a white-boy hip problem doing things like that, so I had to take it down a couple of notches. I should get points for trying though, right? We ended things by closing the Opening Out with a Cross-Body Lead with an Inside Turn, allowing us to start over from the top.

At the end of class, Lord Junior kept talking to the guy about how the Natural Top figure was good for him to know because it worked for a lot of things. Before we could get off the floor and change our shoes, Lord Junior called Sparkledancer and me out to show how the same thing worked in Cha-Cha. I had thought he was just referring to the Natural Top, since that was what I had heard him talking about, so that’s all I did. He told me when I finished that I could have ended things using the same pieces we used to end the pattern in Salsa. I probably should have asked before I did anything to make sure I was on the same page as him, but I just did things instead. Ah well, it made the point well enough that I wasn’t asked to demonstrate anything else. Before leaving the dance hall for the night, I stopped to ask Lord Junior what was going on for Friday night. Lord Junior had mentioned that he will be at a competition over the weekend with a couple of his students, so I wanted to make sure the place would still be open before I showed up on Friday and was all alone. Lord Junior said that he would be leaving early in the evening, but there would still be classes and a social dance that night.

That was good to hear. Without dancing to do on a Friday night, I would probably just sit and be sad outside the door to the dance hall, not knowing what else to do with myself.

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