It’s One More Day Up In The Canyon…

Let me tell you, this past weekend was much more exciting than the one before. Not being stuck in the office working really makes a big difference. I got to attend a couple of post-holiday dance parties and hang out with some fun dance people, and even learn a couple of new things that I hadn’t seen before, which is always nice to do. Where to even start…?

(Obviously we’ll start at the beginning!)

Right after the holiday was over and everyone else was beginning their shopping holiday, there was a party I was told about being hosted out at the City Dance Hall. The Heartbreak Kid had actually called around earlier in the day to verify that some of us would be going to the dance party. I guess that his lady friend who had come with him last time was out of town, so he didn’t want to go to the party if no one he knew was going to be there. There was a last-minute change in the party plan sent out to everyone to let them know that there would in fact be a lesson given before the dance party if people were interested – they would just have to show up an hour earlier to attend. This was where I learned my first new thing this weekend. The person who was teaching that night was one of the people on staff at the City Dance Hall (I think this was the first time I was able to see someone who actually worked at this place). He was going to teach a class on Rumba that night, but since the crowd turned out to be rather small, he decided to do something challenging and go with an advanced figure in International Rumba that he called ‘Three Threes.’ According to some quick research as I write this, it’s a Gold-level figure for Rumba. I could tell you all about all the turns and twists that we did during the figure, but what we did was pretty much by the book, so you could get all of that by watching videos online that would show things way better than I could describe. The most interesting part of this lesson was actually how he taught us the figure – I’m not sure if this is how he normally does his classes or if this was just something he did for that night. He broke things down how you would expect, going through the Follower’s part first with them before going through the Lead’s part, but once he got done going through the Follower’s part, he danced with each and every one of the ladies there two or three times to make sure they had their part down. After they were good, he came over to show the Leaders their part, and then did the same with us – letting each guy lead him as he danced the Follower’s part two to three times until he was sure we all had things down. Only after that did he have the ALongDecember1men and women dance together to try out the section to see if we could do it with each other. He did this with every section of the figure until we were doing the whole thing from start to finish, dancing with each of us personally (both men and women) before allowing us to dance with another student. I’ve never been in a class before where the instructor gave that much attention to every student there, so I thought it was a really interesting way to go through things, especially considering there were like fifteen people in class. It really ensured that each person was able to successfully pick up such an advanced figure. Have any of you gone through a class like that before?

Once we wrapped up class, it was time for dancing. Being the day after a holiday, and since I guess there were so many hot deals to be had, there wasn’t a huge crowd for the dance party. That gave me lots of room to stretch my legs throughout the night. There was one particularly tall woman (she was even slightly taller than me even) that asked me to dance at one point for a Waltz. I had asked her before we started if she wanted to do American or International Waltz, since I hadn’t met her before so I wasn’t sure what she knew. She said she could go either way, so I went with American style since that’s my usual default for things. She put a lot of upper body sway into her movements – not out of control body sway like you would see with a newcomer, but long, graceful body extensions like you would see from someone out on a competition floor. I wasn’t expecting that sort of thing to happen during a social dance, but it was fun. When we got done she stopped to thank me for taking larger steps. Apparently she doesn’t get to stretch her legs all that often with the average leader at parties like this, and since she also has long legs like I do, she really appreciated being able to do that. With the floor being less crowded that night, Sparkledancer and I also tried out dancing International Foxtrot socially several times. We did OK for the most part; it’s still not as comfortable as doing American Foxtrot, but we could manage to do laps around the floor without having to switch over and break frame, so that was nice.

When I met up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven on Saturday afternoon, we continued down our quest of looking at more International Foxtrot figures so that we would be more competent when traveling around the floor. This week he wanted to look at the Reverse Wave with us. Going through the whole thing was nice since we had used the second half of the figure in Standard Technique class earlier in the week. Sir Steven wanted us to do the Reverse Wave by having the Reverse Heel Turn start going Diagonal Center, but come out with me facing Center. The rest of the rotation would come while we were going through the reverse Three Step to turn us so that we ALongDecember2were moving more Backing Line of Dance. To come out of this, just like we had during class, we used a Closed Impetus. After finishing up our work in Foxtrot, we moved on to work on Viennese Waltz some more. Lately we have been spending a lot of time with working on turning corners using the Reverse Turn. Anyone who’s done Viennese Waltz before can probably tell you that turning a corner using a Natural Turn is so much easier than turning while using a Reverse Turn – the Natural Turn rotates counter-clockwise, so going around a corner moving counter-clockwise feels more natural (must be why they call it a ‘Natural’ turn…). Based on everything we’ve been doing, I have taken to sticking with just basic Bronze International Viennese Waltz any other time I am able to dance a Viennese Waltz so that I can practice these things. Viennese Waltz is hard to practice outside of a social dance because of the amount of space needed to really get moving, so I’ve been trying and make mental notes of what to work on every week we’ve worked on things so that I can put them into practice the next time I’m out at a dance party.

Later that night there was an open social dance at the Electric Dance Hall that I ended up going to. There were a couple of other dance parties on the other side of the city, but I hadn’t spent much time over at the Electric Dance Hall lately, plus that seemed to be where most of the people I knew were going to be, so that’s where I chose to go. There was a short lesson offered before the dance that night by Lord Junior, covering American Rumba. The most fun thing that we went over in that class was how to do the Grapevine figure in Rumba. It seemed really familiar, seeing as how only a couple of weeks ago I was shown how to do a Grapevine in Cha-Cha. My theory about all dance styles merging together is really starting to gain traction! Anyway… The party after the lesson was super fun for me. Most of the people who came out that night were us young kids who needed to escape holiday family activities, so we all banded together to entertain each other. There was a couple of people whom I had never seen before who came out to dance with us that night. Some of those new people turned out to be a mother and her two children – a son and daughter. The son was an interesting character: he had started dancing just three months ago, but made it a point that night to stop and tell the ladies he danced with what they were doing wrong. Even some of Lord Junior’s seasoned competitive students who have been dancing for ALongDecember3years apparently were not doing things correctly for him. He really reminded me of a certain chicken-suited student that I haven’t seen in quite a while (but I’ve heard has actually made it to be a full-fledged dance instructor himself somewhere). Partly through the night, this boy was off sitting by himself in the corner, and only occasionally went out to dance with his mom or his sister. Several of the other women there told me that while they were a little jealous of his level of dance confidence after only dancing for three months, they didn’t like being told that the way they were doing things was completely wrong. Especially since, as many of them told me, his lead wasn’t very strong, so they weren’t entirely sure what he was trying to get them to do a lot of the time. So that was fun. I also got to lead one of the line dances that night. Yay me! I’m not sure why Lord Junior asked me to do it, but I wasn’t going to say no, so I ran from side to side to try to stay in front of everyone, and waved my arms around to make sure people were moving in the right direction. That was even more fun.

I missed out on getting to Latin Technique class this week (sad), but I did manage to get to Standard Technique class to get some work in this week. There were only a couple of us there that night, myself and two ladies. Since none of us had anything in particular that we wanted to work on, and none of the ladies were too excited about my suggestion of working on Viennese Waltz, we did slow Waltz. Lord Junior was excited about this, because earlier in the week he and a few of his students had worked with some high level coach that was visiting the area, and the coach had given him some good notes on a complicated Waltz pattern that he wanted to impart on us. As you could probably guess, a lot of the technique that we talked about to make this pattern worked properly involved staying to the left, because everything in Standard Technique seems to devolve into “how far left can you stay” or “how much can you push off your standing leg” in the end. This was one of those stay-left kind of nights. We got into the pattern using a Chasse from Promenade Position, which for some reason was the figure that everyone seemed to mess up on throughout the class. From the Chasse we went into a Quick Open Reverse, and then followed that immediately with a Reverse Pivot so that in total we had turned almost completely around. Once we were done turning and were facing Line of Dance, we went into a Double Reverse Spin ALongDecember4and finished things up by rotating into a Throwaway Oversway. I had never done a Throwaway Oversway before, but I thought that it was pretty cool looking. Lord Junior said that the entirety of this pattern would not be something he recommends leading for a social dance, unless the person you were dancing with had done it with you before, but there were parts you could easily use with just about anyone and be successful. He took the Quick Open Reverse, and rather than going into the Reverse Pivot afterward, he went right into the Throwaway Oversway. He told me that if I were strong enough in my lead, those two figures in that order would be easy to get someone through, since there is really no other way for the lady to move if I do things right. That sounded like a challenge that I may have to try out sometime!

I can’t believe that it’s already December! I’d ask where the year has gone, but I have notes about what I did every week, so I can just go back and see. Hopefully December takes a while to get through. I’m not ready to go out and buy a new calendar quite yet.

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