When The Sardine Begin The Beguine It’s Music To Me

This past Friday I went to what should be the last Waltz class of the month, since it’s already almost May, if you can believe that. I mean, I know you can believe that – you probably have a calendar nearby telling you the same thing, so this is not news. But with April passing by, we move past the start of spring, taxes, and now Waltz. Being the last class of the month, we actually got to look at some things that were more fun (and more challenging) even though we had at least one student there who hadn’t been around for any of the previous classes in the month. The big one was the Developé. I love leading Followers to do a Developé during the Foxtrot, and once upon a time I had been shown how to do it in the Waltz, but I never went back to review the figure so I completely forgot how it went. Now I know (and knowing is half the battle, of course), so I will be able to start throwing one in from time to time when Waltzing with anyone who was in class that night. Hopefully they remember what to do, otherwise I will look strange stopping in the middle of the line of dance in an awkward pose, waiting for them to kick their leg up. We also got to go through Passing Twinkles, which (in my humble opinion) is an essential move that everyone who ever goes to or plans to go to a social dance party needs to know. Sometimes there is just no better way to get around or through masses of people than to use Passing Twinkles. In every Waltz and Foxtrot I do during a social dance I inevitably have to use the figure because someone on the floor in front of me is doing something that is barring me from traveling, so it’s easy to do a regular Twinkle that doesn’t travel anywhere to build a little bit of space and then go into Passing Twinkles to worm your way around people. I don’t know why, but that night during class I was really pushing the people I danced with to stretch their legs a bit farther so I could take more normal sized steps while I danced with them. Near the end, Bony and I got called to the front of the class to demonstrate things for everyone else because of how well we were covering the length of the floor with our stride together.
UnderTheSea1  Then on Monday night, for the first time out of all the times I’ve been in the class, we actually got to work on Jive in Latin Technique class! I had been asking to do it for a while, since I actually like Jive, but it’s one of those dance styles that any older people who might come to class will shy away from, and any relative newcomers aren’t prepared to do. That’s why when other people besides Sparkledancer and I are in class we mostly do Rumba and Cha-Cha, since those are two dance styles that even people who primarily do American Rhythm are able to grasp the basic figures of. The few times I’ve gone to the class and it was just Lord Junior, Sparkledancer and I, we have been able to talk him into going through some other random things (like the one time we did Bolero), and we did get to do Pasodoble for a few weeks with Bony in class with us. Well, now we got to do Jive, and I was really happy about that. There were only a handful of us in class that night, which may have been why we were able to do that style. Of those of us there, Points was the only one who had never done Jive before per se, but she had done East Coast Swing many times, sometimes even to songs with Jive tempo, so it was close enough. Lord Junior wanted to start with looking at the basic Jive movement to make sure we were all doing things correctly. What I got from him was that lifting your knee in the middle of the triple-step is as important as when you lift it at the beginning and end of the triple-step. To do this properly, he said we could use a bit of illusion by bending the knee of the standing leg to drop our body closer to the floor while the knee came up. That is actually a lot harder to do than it sounds, since you are moving so fast. When I was doing it, it felt like I was letting my standing leg collapse before catching myself and straightening it back up. We also spent a lot of time working on kicks since they are so integral to the look and style of Jive. Working on kicks made me happy because I got to pull out my joke about dance preparing us to combat ninjas again. I’m pretty frickin’ hilarious, if I do say so myself.
UnderTheSea2  So the big thing I did this weekend was go to Prom again. Apparently I was much more popular with the ladies going to Prom the third time around than I was the first and second times I went. There was one young lady who somehow got close enough to squeeze my arms a little uncomfortably for my taste before I could shoo her away, but aside from that I made it through the night otherwise unmolested. I was kind of disappointed with the dance floor that was chosen this time around. Back when I went to Prom originally, the event was held in a big room with wooden floors, so even though most everyone kept the dancing to a spot in the middle of the room, the dance floor could have been as big as people wanted it to be. Granted, at that time in my life I had not yet begun studying how to really dance, so I wasn’t as keen to really do ANY dancing that night, let alone try something fancier, but had I known a few steps I could have. Last year at the venue I helped chaperone at, they had the dance floor split in two – one square was a normal faux-wood floor made out of interlocked square tiles, and there was another square floor in front of the ‘wood’ floor that was made up of light-up tiles that would flash in varying patterns. Both floors were nice and smooth, and dancing worked well on either one. As you can guess, most of the night the kids tended to stay on the light-up floor. This year the venue only had a small dance floor that was about the size of the square faux-wood dance floor they had the last year, and looked to be made out of the same material as well. This floor was really sticky though – not in the way that would have been caused by someone spilling something all over it, more like it wasn’t waxed or something. I got there early before any of the kids showed up, and I was wearing my ballroom dance shoes, and when there were a few minutes free I walked out onto the dance floor. My shoes did not slide at all. It was actually easier for me to spin around in a circle on one foot while standing on the carpet than it was for me to do standing on the dance floor. On top of that, the tiles that locked to make the floor were not as seamless as you might hope – I caught the edge of my heel a few times just walking around. That was disappointing. I had been hoping to dance a lot before anyone else showed up to the party, but I could really only do steps that allowed me to pick my feet up off the floor.
UnderTheSea3  Aside from the floor sadness, it was a good night. Sparkledancer showed up wearing her dance shoes too, and had the same problem, so when we got a chance to dance together we just danced on the carpet off to the side. I may have worn the suede smooth on the bottom of my shoes doing that, but a good brushing the next day made them mostly good as new. There was one young couple that showed up early and caught Sparkledancer and me going through an East Coast Swing, and later on in the evening I saw them trying to mimic some of the movements that we had been doing. That was kind of adorable. This year it seemed like all the students had taken some time to even learn a few of the line dances that were played, so I didn’t grimace quite as much watching them as I did last year. Near the end, the DJ put on an older line dance that the kids didn’t seem to have ever heard before, so a bunch of us ‘old folks’ got together at the front and started doing it together. Some students were brave enough to jump in and try to follow along, but there were plenty just standing around the outside watching us have all the fun, or recording what we were doing with their phones. Then again, maybe it’s weird to jump in and dance with your teachers and random adults from the community when you’re a teenager, so that’s why they stayed on the outside. I don’t really remember things like this happening when I was that age (all those MANY years ago), so I’m not entirely sure why more of them didn’t jump in with us.
UnderTheSea4   I was also told that there were a couple of girls that ended up in tears throughout the night, so that means it turned out to be a really good party overall. High school dances aren’t really parties unless someone ends up in tears, if television has taught me anything over the years…

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