Behind The Curtain, In The Pantomime

It seems like winter keeps coming back to haunt me. No, it hasn’t gotten cold again here in my part of the world, but that short cold spell we did have has left a lot of things behind to remind us that it happened well after the date that the temperature got back above freezing. Like all the rock salt that is spread around my neighborhood, for instance. Also, when I went out this past Saturday afternoon to meet up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven for our normal coaching session, we found that the Endless Dance Hall was super busy. Apparently the previous weekend there had been a showcase performance scheduled that didn’t happen because of the snow we received. They moved the performance back a week, but didn’t tell anyone who wasn’t in the performance (like us) that they moved things until the day of, when they took over the studio. ShowMustGoOn1When I got there, I found all kinds of people wandering around in some state of costume, and groups of kids running through their choreography, and there were risers set up with seats for an audience. There wasn’t much room on the floor to do anything. When Sir Steven got there and also saw what was going on, he stepped outside to make some phone calls to find out what the story was. When he came back, we talked about it and the three of us decided it was best to not be underfoot while everyone was getting ready for the show that evening, so we rescheduled things for Tuesday night. Sigh… why do you have to play me like that Winter? What did I ever do to you?

Saturday night I did get to go out for some dancing, and I got a lot more dancing in over the course of the evening than I expected. There was an open dance being held at the Prime Dance Hall – not hosted by them, just held at the location. I didn’t even see anyone who is on staff at the dance hall there that night, which is kind of weird. Anyway, this dance was put together as an offering for everyone by the person acting as the DJ that night and a guy I call President Porpoise (he’s someone who I see play dance host at a lot of events). They had put together this dance not only because nothing else was going on for that Saturday night, but also as a fundraiser for someone in the dance community who had gone through some recent medical turmoil. I didn’t recognize the name of the person they were talking about, but I’m horrible with names so that’s not really surprising. I might recognize them if I saw them though. The story they were telling made me sad, so before I left that night I emptied out all the cash I had in my wallet and left it as a donation to the cause. Seeing as how I had to reschedule my normal dance lesson earlier in the day, that was probably a lot of cash (minus what I had to use to get into the dance party), but I didn’t count it before I turned it in. As the dance party got underway, I’m not sure where everyone else was that night. Since this was the only open dance party in the area, I would have thought all the regulars I usually see would have been around, but we had a lot of women show up and not a lot of men. So I got quite a workout that night. The DJ did lots of things to help make sure all the men rotated through dancing with everyone since we were so outnumbered. At one point they had each guy stand up and grab two ladies, saying that one of the ShowMustGoOn2ladies would be their next Foxtrot partner and the other would be for Cha-Cha, but even with each guy standing on the floor with two ladies there were still some ladies that were standing along the side of the floor all alone, so we ended up doing the Foxtrot first, then a Salsa where all the ladies who had been off on the side got to have first pick of a dance partner, then the Cha-Cha next. One of the ladies asked me if I danced Salsa during that middle number, and I told her before we started that I didn’t usually do Salsa, but I could fake it. Normally the things that I do for Salsa is all figures that I learned for Mambo, just starting on beat one, so I can fake Salsa pretty well. She was surprised by that, and after the dance was done she told me that she wished she could fake dances she didn’t know like I could. That was funny to me. I also ended up doing a Tango that night with a lady who was at least a foot shorter than me, so I had to take tiny steps during that dance otherwise I would have left her behind. It’s been a while since I’ve danced a ballroom dance with someone where there’s been that much of a height difference.

We had a couple join us for Latin Technique class on Monday night who had driven in from quite a ways out of town. Lord Junior was talking to them before class started and asked them what brought them to the area, and the guy told him that they had just come in for class. I guess where they lived they had spent a lot of time learning Club Latin styles like Salsa and Bachata, but they wanted to try something new. Because they hadn’t really done any ballroom dancing before, we went through Rumba that night, which is what we seem to go through whenever new people are around. We started out warming up just doing the basic step for a while to get everyone comfortable with things if they hadn’t seen Rumba before. Our pattern for the night started with one full basic in closed dance frame, and then we led the ladies out into Fan Position. From there we started to do a Hockey Stick, but after the first four steps we changed things and led them to do a loose Spiral Turn to line up facing one another so that we could go into a New Yorker to the right. I was told that a ‘loose’ Spiral Turn is just a Spiral that doesn’t turn a full 360°, which I had never heard before, but it seems like an interesting tidbit of information, so that’s why I’m mentioning it here so that I can remember it later. I caught Merlot and Sparkledancer spending some time that night discussing how ladies use their outside arms in New Yorkers, and somehow they got to talking about how it works best to pretend like you are giving someone a high-five with your outside hand. I’m not entirely sure if they were being serious about that, since they kept laughing about it while moving their arms around. Class is so entertaining sometimes…

So Tuesday night I had my rescheduled coaching session with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer. As was promised the last time we met to go over things, we worked on Foxtrot and Quickstep this time around. I will admit, I was not feeling very good about how things went that night. It seemed like I was getting picked on a lot for things going wrong. It probably wasn’t any more frequent than I normally get during these sessions, but I just wasn’t having much fun with things that night, so it was hard to laugh things off at the time. We went back to talking about how, during natural rotations in Quickstep, I am to help Sparkledancer extend her body away from mine by pressing forward slightly with my right hip. This is something I still struggle with. Part of the problem I was having that night was that we kept breaking away from each other right before I would do that, so as I attempted to push forward with my right hip, there was nothing there, so I had to push forward even more to make contact with her, and that kept throwing me off balance. It sounds like a simple thing to fix when I write it out here, but something about hindsight and 20s or something… you know. As we were working through the Foxtrot that night, a couple of people came into the Endless Dance Hall to talk with Indiana and one of her students who were working on things on the other side of the floor. They left after a brief conversation and then came back with a video camera. This camera had a really bright light attached to it, and it seemed like no matter where we went on the dance floor, that light was always shining straight at me, ShowMustGoOn3burning bright light spots into my vision. They were filming what Indiana and her student were doing on the dance floor for some news program or commercial or something, I’m not quite sure, but they always seemed to line up their shots so that we were also in the background. At one point we even went over to stand near the mirrors, which I thought would prevent them from pointing the light at me since it would reflect off the mirrors back at them… but I was wrong about that, they still did. In the end, things were good, and there are some parts I will have to go back and work on. Hopefully when we get together this coming Saturday to cover things it will be more fun. Maybe I’ll look up some new jokes to tell before I go, so that if things get to be too much work I can just randomly insert a joke to lighten the mood. Maybe I’ll even try to find dance jokes, so that the material is relevant. That seems time spent on a worthwhile investment.

This week in Standard Technique class we got to go back to the pattern of figures that I went through with Lord Junior back in the beginning of December. I was the only person in class that night who had seen this amalgamation before, so I kind of had one foot up on everyone else when going through things. To prevent you from having to go back and read through my old notes, the pattern is as follows: we started off with a Chasse from Promenade Position, and then into a Quick Open Reverse with a Reverse Pivot at the end (interesting note: the Quick Open Reverse is actually a Quickstep figure that has been adapted for Waltz). After the Reverse Pivot we are facing line of dance and we go into a Double Reverse Spin that also has a Reverse Pivot at the end, which puts us backing line of dance for the Leaders, and from there we ended by going into a Throwaway Oversway. It’s a cool set of figures, with a lot of stuff that will really challenge you if you want to do things right, so I would recommend this pattern to anyone. I will say though that it’s really hard to do this sequence by walking through things slowly. In order to get the correct amount of turn, especially with those Pivots, you need to have some momentum to work with. Lord Junior actually told us that night while we were stepping through things slowly that he didn’t expect us to make it all the way around at the speed we were using, so he didn’t mind if we had to use our other foot to sort-of paddle ourselves around the full amount of the turn. Once you get going at speed, especially with music playing, turning becomes less of a problem, it’s actually stopping the turn to keep from overturning that becomes hard. My big problem during class as I danced through things with people was ShowMustGoOn4that I kept forgetting about what my head was doing as we were doing all the turns, so there were times when it looked like I was looking at my dance partner. I didn’t feel like I was doing it at the time, and I’m fairly tall so I might have been looking over the lady’s head instead of at her which would explain why I didn’t notice it, but I got called out for that a couple of times during the evening. By the end of the night I managed to keep myself from making that mistake again, but I could only do that by concentrating on what my head was doing, so all the other things I should have been working on probably got left out in the process. I was having a lot of fun in class though, which helped make up for not having much fun the night before. Hooray!

Look at this, we’re already in February already! Can you feel the love starting to permeate the air as Valentine’s Day approaches? I can. That’s why I’m volunteering to help out again at another singles dance party this weekend. Yay me! I can be a good dance host sometimes, and there’s always the chance that there might be interesting single ladies my age who show up that I can talk to. But the event was billed for singles over 40, so probably not. There’s also an interesting workshop planned for Sunday which I think I might end up going to, just for fun. We’ll find out what happens when I tell the stories about it next week!

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