We Makin’ It ‘Cause We Make It Move

Sometimes I think that I must get some kind of enjoyment out of trying to exhaust myself. This was one of those weekends where there was a lot of physical activity. A LOT. Where to even begin…

Things were going much better on Saturday afternoon when I met up with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer to go over things again. Maybe it was because it was earlier in the day, so I wasn’t worn out yet from a lot of physical activity, or maybe it was because we were all having more fun that day. Either way, this was a better lesson than what we had the previous Tuesday night. Our time was used looking over Foxtrot and Quickstep again, which also helped to make up for what we did last time that left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t even have to use all the jokes I looked up to lighten the mood (I didn’t find any good dance jokes I liked, sadly). In Foxtrot we focused on the Three Step going into the Natural Weave, making sure that the steps were all precise and we got into outside partner at the right time. For Quickstep we spent some more time looking at my ability to ‘swing’ through the Spin Turns that we have (which also helps with Waltz, for that matter), and we also spent time going through the Running Finish into the Natural Rotation and Hesitation in one of the corners of the routine. It feels like we are spending more time now trying to run through things as larger pieces, rather than just one figure at a time. There had been a point a while back where both Sparkledancer and I had told Sir Steven that we felt like we didn’t really know anything beyond the first wall. Now when we go through and look at one figure to fix things, we put it into context by running several figures before it and several after it just for practice. We’re still not going through the whole routine start to finish, aside from when we start looking at the dance style during the lesson. Usually at the beginning he’ll have us do a quick run-through from start to finish so that we don’t forget the choreography, then go back and pick things apart that he sees us doing.

On Saturday night I helped host another singles dance party, since it’s getting to be so close to Valentine’s Day. It had been a while since I had helped out at one of these events, so it was exciting to get there and see a bunch of new faces in the crowd. The turnout was pretty good for a cold(-ish) winter night, and we ended up with almost an even number of men and women for the group class that we offered at the beginning of the night. Since we were a couple of men short before the event started, we did end up making some calls and convinced a few friends to come out. Lord Junior was one of those calls, and he was happy to be there helping and meeting new dancers (who may become new dance students), but during the lesson at the beginning he was funny to be around. Since the class was designed to be a beginner-level class for all the new people to pick up a few things and mostly mingle with each other, he and I were standing next to each other in the far corner away from the door, and he kind of wasn’t paying attention to what was being taught. Instead, somehow he got to looking at the ceiling, and asking me how tall I thought it was. He held up his hand and got close to the wall and said that should have been about eight feet or so, so he was estimating it was about sixteen feet to the top. I was told by Sparkledancer, who was watching us as we stood in the back corner staring up at the ceiling and laughing about things, that we looked funny being so interested in the wall and ceiling. The group class covered some very basic figures in Waltz, Rumba and Hustle, and the Rumba figures that were chosen were used specifically because you could speed them up and get a very basic Salsa. Once the class was over, I stood in the middle of the room and gave the same basic spiel that I gave at the last one of these I played host at, telling everyone not to be too worried about dancing like a star, to just go out and have fun and talk to the other people. I may have even wiggled around like a weirdo to demonstrate to them that they could dance however they want (I’m a champion wiggler, but don’t tell anyone). As the dance got underway, I wandered through the crowd, picking up women who were standing along the edge of the floor for a dance, sometimes talking with the guys to make sure they were doing OK, and just having a lot of fun. It was a good night, and by the end when we were cleaning up the place after everyone else had left, I was worn out and ready to go home to try to get some sleep.
PlayHard1  Then there was the workshop on Sunday – we’ll call it the ‘Cardio Latin Master Class’ workshop, because that’s pretty much what it was. Let me preface this by telling you that for the last month or so, I haven’t really done any serious cardio for any of my workouts. I really enjoyed all the kickboxing I was doing (and I’m sure I’ll go do it again in the future, because it’s so fun), but I decided that I wanted to go back to some serious weight training for a while. I’m hoping I can finally build up enough muscle mass to put my weight over that threshold number that I haven’t quite been able to crack yet in the process. To do that, it means that I have to eat soooooo much, almost to the point where it’s uncomfortable some days (so much fruit!), and it also means I have avoided cardio-style workouts so that I don’t just sweat everything out and have to eat even more to compensate. But this workshop sounded kind of crazy, and I wasn’t really interested in watching the same commercials that everyone else was planning on watching that night, so I headed over to join the crazy dance fun. A lot of what I’ve been lifting lately in my workouts has been much heavier than normal to help build more muscle, but it also wears me out a lot when I’m done, so I decided to go to the workshop before the gym instead of after so that my limbs would still be in a fairly responsive state.

It ended up that I was one of three men that showed up for the event. Even though it was still early when the workshop started and they probably could have got through most of it before the super ads started, I guess they didn’t want to run the risk of missing anything that might happen in the hours leading up to the big television event. Lots of ladies showed up though, so the three of us weren’t working out alone. This workshop was led by two different people – Lady Lovelylocks, who apparently is also a fitness class instructor as well as a ballroom teacher, and The Professor, someone whom I have taken a couple of his dance fitness classes before just for fun. We started with Lady Lovelylocks, and since she spends a lot of time on ballroom-style dancing, her dance choreography that went along with the playlist was pretty Latin-oriented. I could follow along pretty well, and recognized steps that I have danced with a partner before in Cha-Cha, Salsa and Samba, for instance. That half of the class I felt pretty good about, and if anyone was standing behind me and watching they might have even been able to follow along pretty well once I went through things the first time. There was one song she played where the choreography used was almost exactly what you would do in the Samba line dance that everyone in the area does, with a couple of figures added at the beginning and the end and minus the 90° rotation that the line dance uses to face each wall. That song I felt like a star since I had done those moves so many times before. Then Lady Lovelylocks bowed out and The Professor took over the front of the room for the second half, and I was glad I was in the back of the room where no one would be trying to follow me. A lot of the women who came to class knew all the choreography to the songs being played, so they were working it and shouting along, and there I was in the back just trying to keep up. Sometimes it felt like I was just flailing wildly, because I had no idea what was going to come next. The whole workshop was a marathon workout that spanned a few hours, and not everyone made it until the end. With about a half-hour left, some people just stopped and left. I’m not sure if it was because they were too tired out to continue or because they had to get somewhere to visit with family and friends, which is also a possibility with everything else going on that day. I had reached the point in that last half-hour that I just wasn’t sweating anymore, because we had been going so long that I don’t think there was any fluid left inside to sweat out. Fun times! You should have been there! Of course, then I had to go home and rest for a bit and drink a lot of water, since I still had another workout I had put off doing. Hooray!
PlayHard2  Standard Technique class this week focused on getting ourselves all the way down the floor while maintaining the best frame possible. We did Foxtrot, since that was what the song was that was playing in the background when we started, and Lord Junior used somewhat simpler choreography so that we could focus on holding ourselves up. “Simpler” is a relative term here, since we still used Gold-level and Open-level figures in the pattern, but it seemed like it was easier to get through than things we have covered in past weeks. What we did was to start with a prep step going into a Feather just to build some momentum. Coming out of the Feather we went into a Double Reverse Spin with a Feather Finish at the end. The Double Reverse Spin is a figure that has been coming up quite a bit lately. Maybe one of these days I will be able to say I’m pretty good at doing one finally. After the Feather Finish we were facing diagonal wall, then we did a Three Step that we curved slightly so that we ended up traveling straight down the line of dance. Then we went into a Curved Feather to Back Feather (this is the Gold-level figure we did), and to close things out we added in another Feather Finish at the end to change direction so that the men were moving forward again. So many Feathers! I’m going to call this the ‘Plumage Progression’ because of all the Feather steps that we used, and also because that sounds funny in my head. Once we had established the pattern well enough that everyone could get through it correctly, we all lined up in one corner of the room and went through the steps to music, making sure that by the time we were done we had made it all the way to the other corner of the floor (or even curving it around the corner if we really stretched our legs), all the while working on keeping our frame and posture as strong as possible. Lord Junior actually thought that all of us did rather well that night, and was impressed with how easy we were making things look as he stood on the far side of the floor watching us dance. There would be occasional critiques, but overall it felt really good. I didn’t even get yelled at about where my head was supposed to be, so yay me! With lots of repetition, we all spread our wings and took flight, leaving beautiful Foxtrot movement in our wake. Because of that, Lord Junior said that next week he would pick a super high-level, challenging figure for us to work on, and it will likely be in Quickstep. So we have that to look forward to now.
PlayHard3  I don’t know about you, but I am worn out just going back and thinking about everything I did this past week. Whew! Tomorrow night is my off night from working out (my first one in ten days), so I think I’m going to just spend twenty minutes or so getting in a good stretch to loosen up, and then if I don’t fall asleep immediately I may see what kind of dance party I can get myself into. Saturday night there is a special dance party that I’m definitely going to with a live band doing the music to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If you’ll be there maybe I’ll see you!

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