This week in Latin Technique we ended up going through some Cha-Cha, and I got off easy during this class. Well, I should actually say that the gentlemen got off easy during the class, but I am among that group, so my first line was technically correct (the best kind of correct). The new lady that had shown up to both Latin Technique and Standard Technique last week was back for class again, and I’m wondering if this means that she may actually need a name at this point… so how about we just call her Merlot. Anyway, she came to class again, and this week she seemed to be a bit more confused about things than she was last week. Granted, last week in Samba we only looked at about two figures for the whole hour. This time we ended up doing a whole sequence of things, and I imagine for someone who had never done Cha-Cha before, it was probably somewhat confusing and frustrating. Merlot kept stepping away to just stand in the back and watch, which I think might have been due to embarrassment about messing up the steps so often. I wanted to tell her that really the best way to get better would be to get in as much practice with the steps as possible, but I never got that chance. Hopefully she continues to find things fun, even though she keeps coming to one of the hardest classes you could sign yourself up for, without even knowing the basic steps first. The actual step Lord Junior wanted to look at during this class was the Rope Spin. We had gone through the similar figure in Rumba at some point last year, so the couple of us that were around for that class had a leg up on what we were doing this time. As I mentioned though, the Lead’s didn’t have to have any prescience to get through what we were working on, since our part was fairly simple. The sequence we ended up building was: a New Yorker to the (my) right to start, then a basic chasse to the left, then we led the ladies to do an Alemana as we rocked back on an angle. Her Alemana would finish with a Forward Lock as I did a stationary chasse, which put her just in front of me on my right side if done correctly. We would then lead the ladies to do a Spiral Turn before going into the Rope Spin. As she would walk around us, the Leads would just do a left-side break and a back rock step and then stationary chasses while she did Latin Walks and Locks around us. As you can see, the guys didn’t really do much, and didn’t even really move around all that much during this whole sequence. When we finished up the Rope Spin, we brought the lady back to our right side where she started, bringing her back into dance position so that we could lead her into a Closed Hip Twist. That was as far as we got before class ended. Merlot managed to get through things pretty well for never having done Cha-Cha before – only getting her feet mixed up a few times when we worked through things. We didn’t get to try dancing the sequence up to tempo during this class, but there’s always next time, right?
The vote this week had us covering Waltz during Standard Technique, and Lord Junior was nice enough to let us go back and revisit a figure that I had a lot of fun with the first time I got to lead it a couple months ago. The pattern wasn’t too long, but if you really stretched your legs you could cover a surprising amount of distance if you wanted to. After a Prep Step to get us on the right foot, we went into a Natural Turn and then into an Open Impetus to turn us into Promenade Position. While looking at just that much, Lord Junior was talking about a recent coach he had in from up north who was telling him that if you watch most professional dancers now, the men no longer do a heel turn during an Open Impetus. Instead they do something more like what you would see in a Twinkle from American Waltz, taking three steps (one forward, one kind of to the side, then another forward) so that they could cover more distance. Doing the Open Impetus like that is not really by the book, so during a competition if you are dancing using the syllabus figures you could be marked for that, but if you dance in Open rounds you would have no problems. After the Open Impetus we went into a Weave From Promenade Position (that really is the name of the figure) travelling diagonal center. At the end of that figure, we would line up facing Line Of Dance, which would make us (the Leads) cross our right foot behind our left because of the amount of turn. Completing all of that, we went into a Fallaway Reverse next, which was our last real travelling figure for the night. Instead of doing a Slip Pivot at the end, this is where I got to revisit doing the Throwaway Oversway that I had seen a while back. I think this figure is a lot of fun, and now that I’ve seen it a couple of times, I think I should just start using it randomly when I am out and about. It could be a little unsafe, since you do stop travelling to make some shapes for a few beats of music, so there is a chance you could have people run into you or step on you if they aren’t paying attention, but it’s something nice I can keep in my back pocket for when the floor is mostly clear late at night and I want to try and impress my partner.
Ok, enough about dancing on the floor. Time to talk about dancing through politics. The really interesting and fun thing that I did this week was… my first meeting as a member of the Royal Dance Court! Hooray! I was super excited to go to this (I don’t know if you can tell that I am excited or not)! It allowed me to do something that I have a lot of experience doing when at work (A.K.A. going to meetings), but to talk about something way more interesting (A.K.A. dancing) at the same time! How could you not love that? Plus, someone brought oatmeal raisin cookies to the event and I got to have one! Yay me! Anyway, I will dial it back a bit now to be more objective when writing about things. When everyone arrived at the meeting place at the designated time, we started off with a small ceremony so the King and Princess of the Dance Kingdom could officially induct those of us who were new members of the Court into the fold:
Once us three newbies were all officialized (yeah, I’m going to use a fake word), we were allowed to start discussing real business. Dance business. The first item we talked about, and one of the two things we spent most of the time talking about, was membership. As with any group, many people feel that membership numbers are a key indicator of the strength of the group. As we discussed various ways to try and increase our membership, my mind trailed off to wonder about what the point of the membership was for some people. Sure, I have to have a current membership in order to be on the Court, and if people want to compete in events sanctioned by the Court you also are required to be a member, but for people who just want to dance socially I couldn’t really figure out what the benefits of membership were? You get a few dollars off of your entrance fee to our monthly dance parties, and the monthly dance parties sponsored by other Dance Courts across the globe, I guess. But if you don’t go to enough dance parties so that the amount of money you save on entrance fees is greater than or equal to your yearly membership fee, is it really worth the cost? Wouldn’t we want to use the attendance numbers for our social dances as a true indicator of the strength of our social dancers, as opposed to just the list of names on our membership list? This is something I have been putting some thought into for discussion at our next gathering. We came up with some ideas to try and promote membership for new people, but I told the other people in the room that we should look at the people who haven’t renewed their memberships in a different light. I have lots of things to think about for membership drivers to implement after this, and that’s kind of fun. After we got done talking about that, we looked at the calendar for 2016, and specifically all the dance parties we would be hosting for the second half of the year. The first half of the year was agreed upon and set in stone by the previous members of the Court (which is good because the next dance party is this Saturday!). For the second half of the year, we rearranged some of the dance styles that we wanted to have lessons on before the dance and talked about which Dance Lords and Ladies in the area would be fun to convince to come teach these lessons. Several names were thrown out, so some phone calls will be made now to see if those individuals are interested and we can get their time on the nights we have planned.
The second thing we spent a lot of time talking about, and something that really perked my interest, is that the Dance Kingdom was chosen to host a gathering of all the leaders and many of the members of all the Dance Courts throughout the nation coming up soon. This is a huge honor for our kingdom, and also apparently a big cause of stress since they didn’t give us much lead time before telling the Dance Courts in the area they were doing this. They want each of the closest Dance Courts (which includes the one that I am on) to be the hosts of the event – which includes volunteering to help with things, putting together the dance parties in the evenings, bringing in some food, and assisting in or attending many of the workshops that will be going on (I did ask about this – these are not dance instruction-type workshops. Rather they are more like lectures where people will try and teach you things about the non-dancing aspects of dancing). There was a whole list of expectations sent over as to what the national leaders are hoping we could provide for them. Now, hosting the dance parties sounded like a lot of fun. This got the project management portion of my brain working (I’m not a Project Manager, but I am part of enough projects that I have had to do a lot of reading on how to make them work best). While the members of the Royal Dance Court who had been there longer than I were skeptical about being dragged into this at the last minute, and wanted to get more information about the number of attendees and the expected quality of items they would have to procure, I thought that if our group picked one of the days to do everything – from volunteering at the workshops during the day and putting a great dance party at night – and it turned out to be the most fun day all of the big-wigs had, it would give our group some serious street-cred points with dancers throughout the nation. Plus, with Sparkledancer and Indiana and I making ourselves visible and letting our ideas shine, we could really show everyone what youthful enthusiasm can do for the world of ballroom dancing! I am totally for this part of plan! I agreed that we needed to get a few questions answered, but I am already writing down ideas about what we should do to make our day of hosting better than everyone else’s, because I am pumped about this. But (there’s always a but, right?) the other non-dance-party related things the national people are asking for are kind of crazy, and they are not providing any resources to help offset the costs for any of this. Those parts make it seem more like a list of demands they are imposing on us than anything else. For instance, one of the head national ladies wants a personal chauffer to drive her around while she’s in town, in case she needs to go places. They also wrap up the conference early on a Sunday, but some of the people won’t be leaving town right away, so they want someone to give those who hang around tours of the area in the afternoon, and find them a dance party to go to at night. Aside from some bars downtown, I have no idea of anyplace that is open for dancing on a Sunday night, and I’m not sure how much a group of older people want to go out dancing at a bar.
So, crazy stuff! Some of us had to work the next morning, so we kind of had to leave things at that and head home for the night, unfortunately. Not that we would have been able to learn any of the information we needed so late at night anyway. One of the retired members of our Royal Dance Court said that she would try to arrange a conference call with other retired members of the nearby Dance Courts and the national lady who gave us this list of demands to discuss what is going on, and let us know what information she can find out so we can decide on the next steps to take. I’ll see her on Saturday night for the dance party that we are hosting then, so hopefully I’ll know whether I can start drawing up plans for things or not by then!