This past Friday night there was a free party thrown at the Endless Dance Hall to celebrate the anniversary of their opening many years prior. Based on the calendar that I saw, it looked like most of the other dance halls in the area closed down for the night so that they could all go attend the celebration. After all, most people know that it’s hard to compete with free. The one exception I think I saw was the Prime Dance Hall, but they sort of live in their own little bubble… Anyway, I went to the free party, because I like the Endless Dance Hall and it has lots of floor space to use for practicing even with many other people on the floor. I got there a bit late due to some things going on at work, so the free group class they were having that night was already over halfway done when I got there. There were a lot of new faces I had never seen before in the class – I’m sure that the lure of a free party, with free food and a free dance class, appealed to many – so rather than jump in the line and try and fake my way through the steps and possibly mess everything up, I just sat things out in the corner and watched as Indiana finished teaching her Cha-Cha class. She disappeared into a back room for a while after the lesson was over, but came out about an hour later and came over to talk with Abracadaniel, Sparkledancer and I who were all hanging out in the corner where I had been sitting during the lesson. It was nice to catch up with her for a while. She was telling us how exhausted she’s been lately because she took up a job during the weekdays teaching ballroom dancing during gym class at some small school, for classes of children ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade. As she described things, tiny children like that have endless amounts of energy that never seems to be directed in the way she wants them to go, except for brief moments of fleeting cooperation when she can get them to dance for her. It was funny listening to her describe her trials and tribulations with them. It’s so different than what I have to do on a daily basis, I have no comparison to think about for what she does.
Dancing that night was a lot of fun. The music choices were a bit of a challenge – I think they just had some guy’s laptop on a table hooked to the sound system, and it was playing things at random. No one was calling out any dance styles, so a lot of people would hesitantly take to the floor when a song started, waiting to see what someone else would do before starting themselves. There were a couple of Dance Lords floating around, and after a while they made sure one of them took to the floor first with an appropriate style so that everyone else could follow suit. I managed to get through all of my routines with Sparkledancer at least once except for the Quickstep. There were a couple of songs that came on that I heard as being Quickstep, but no one seemed to want to dance that style, so I decided I didn’t want to attempt to live dangerously and be the only person choosing to do Quickstep around or through them. They did do a couple of Viennese Waltz songs, and I was eager to get out there and do those. I’d forgotten how exhausting it can be to do a Viennese Waltz on a floor that large for a full four or five minute song (they weren’t cutting the songs off around two or three minutes, like they do at some dance parties I’ve been at). Sparkledancer also won a nice prize at the raffle they had that night. That girl wins a lot of dance raffles for some reason. She told me that she’s not really that lucky since she never seems to win anything else, but I asked her if she actually plays anything else (like the lottery) and she said no. To me, that seems like a pretty good reason why she would never win anything other than dance raffles.
I went to an open social dance Saturday night, and I actually got to go out and do my new Quickstep routine for the first time with other dancers on the floor, and it went really well. They played a Quickstep as like the third or fourth song, so it was a really good early shot of confidence for all the other dances I decided to try that night. But I’m getting ahead of myself… at the beginning when I got there, they had a free dance lesson for everyone like they usually do. I was surprised to find out that the guy I had seen so many months ago who had the spine like a ferret was teaching an American Rumba class that night. He was ambitious, and wanted to have everyone do some rather advanced open-level figures for fun. I thought it was a good time, but I could see a lot of people fumbling through the pattern as we worked on it. Especially when we added in a Spiral Turn for the ladies at one point, and several of the ladies I danced with as we rotated partners were faking their way to get the entire 360° turn in time with the music. I started out in the back corner of the room, like I usually do, but the pattern would make you shift back and to the right a few feet if you did it right, so everyone else kept coming closer to where I was every time we went through things. I ended up coming close to running myself into the mirrors on the back wall, and running my dance partner either into the person standing to the left of me or the chairs on my right side. The other men seemed to like doing the pattern, and then starting over from the top again right where they ended up instead of resetting themselves back to where they started on the floor to give me space. After a couple of rounds of that, I decided I didn’t want to deal with that anymore, so the next time we went to dance with partners I got out in front of people and went all the way up to the front of the room where no one else was. Most of the others stayed in the back behind the instructor so they could watch what he was doing while they attempted things, so the front half of the dance floor was almost completely empty, allowing me to even stretch out and use my arms as I moved side to side. It was nice.
As I mentioned, the dance after the lesson was good for me. I managed to work with Sparkledancer on going through our International Standard routines early on, and we got through them with only a few minor hiccups, so that was good for dance confidence. I was already feeling pretty good about how they were coming along that day since Sir Steven had told us earlier that he had initially been a bit worried about teaching us all these new routines so close to the competition date, but since we already managed to get them memorized and now were just cleaning up little things in them, that worry he had is all gone. Hearing that felt like getting an A+ on a test in college, which I think might have helped boost the confidence I had, making doing the routines with people on the dance floor feel easier (interesting note: I read about that study they did that said success breeds success a few days after I initially wrote this. Seems fitting now that I reread this). The International Foxtrot is still the routine that seems the most challenging. American Foxtrot just feels so much more natural to do, especially as I get stuck weaving through crowds of people who are doing whatever they like. Changing the International routine up for floorcraft reasons is difficult since I often accidentally use American-style figures like Reverse Turns or Passing Twinkles instead of things that use heel turns and stay in frame. I will have to keep working on that.
Monday night in Latin Technique class, we had a much larger group of people than normal. There were a few new people who were there to see how things were run at the Electric Dance Hall, and they decided to stick around for the class and see how it compared to classes at their previous home studio. It was requested by someone that we do Samba that night. With a ratio of eight women to five men, Lord Junior asked if everyone wanted to work on partner patterns for Samba, or continue with the theme of the last few weeks and go through a pattern that would work without a partner. There was a vote, and most people voted for the solo pattern (I wanted to do partner work, but I got outvoted by a lot). Because we had people who hadn’t done much International Latin before (they did mostly American Rhythm) in class, we started looking at some simple moves: Lord Junior spent time going over the Cuban Cross position for everyone, stressing how important that position was for many moves in Samba, before launching us into looking at the Whisk and the Stationary Samba Walk. The guy standing near me kind of faked his way through the walks – he normally only dances Club Latin styles, so his ‘dance shoes’ were a pair of sneakers that had been worn smooth on the bottom. Doing the Stationary Samba Walk, you are supposed to have that minor slipping action with the front foot as the other leg gets thrown back. As you can imagine, rubber bottomed shoes don’t really slip all that well on a floor without putting a ton of energy into the movement, which would make it dangerous. When everyone seemed to master those steps, we started looking at Cruzados Walks again. It really seems like this figure comes up a lot when we do Samba in this class. I guess they are pretty important. Lord Junior had everyone line up in four rows with three or four people per row, and then we did Cruzados Walks going down the floor to the other side of the room. Eventually we changed that up to be four normal steps followed by two syncopated Lock Steps, giving us a full eight count. The entire pattern ended up being (for those who want to try it themselves): starting by standing on your left leg in a Cuban Cross, do two Whisks, then two Stationary Samba Walks, followed by the four Cruzados Walks and two syncopated Lock Steps. You should finish on your left leg with your right leg pointed out behind you if you got through it correctly so that you can start over from the top.
This coming weekend should be exciting! I may or may not make it out to the Star Dance Hall tomorrow night. I want to go, but there’s lots of stuff going on I’m having a hard time getting away from lately. Saturday night I did get tickets for a dance event though, and I’m excited about that one. I hope your weekends are filled with just as many dance adventures. Maybe I’ll see you on the dance floor!