Is anyone else slightly relieved that April is finally over? It feels like there was so much going on that I didn’t really get much in the way of breathing room during the whole crazy month! There were a lot of fun things going on, as I’m sure I mentioned, so it’s not like I didn’t enjoy most of the month, but there were enough non-fun things going on (i.e. work-related things…) that sometimes it felt like just getting through to the end of the month was a slog. Here we are though, on the other side, so we all made it. Hooray!
Last Saturday, being the last day of April, brought on the big thing that many of us here in the Dance Kingdom were preparing for all month: the big spring formal party hosted by the Royal Dance Court! The event seemed to be wildly successful, if I can base things on the anecdotal feedback that I have been privy to. My day on Saturday started around noon with heading over to the Endless Dance Hall to help set up everything for the event. As it turned out, I was the only male who showed up to help, so most of what I was tasked with doing could be described as ‘moving around heavy objects’ – a task which I am pretty good at, but isn’t all that exciting. There were about a baker’s dozen large tables to get setup, each with at least eight chairs needed around them. Once those were all out, they found all the table cloths and chair covers stored in bins in the back room of the endless dance hall (it looked like a warehouse for a catering company back there. The owners of the Endless Dance Hall seem to have collected a lot of things during the course of renting the space out for parties). The chair covers were the most tedious items to get situated. Each chair had to be wrapped in a black chair-bag and then needed a white ribbon tied around the back. Even with a half-dozen people working on getting the chairs in order, this took quite a while to finish. Once the decoration pieces owned by the Endless Dance Hall were all set up, I went out to help unload boxes from the back of someone’s car to bring in the parts that would become the table centerpieces, and much of the collection of refreshments that would occupy the tables at the front of the room. The actual dinners being served to everyone were being brought by a catering company, but there were a couple of boxes of sodas and snacks to bring in and lay out. Once all the heavy stuff had been moved around and the ladies who came to help set up were starting to get into arguments about the arranging of which centerpieces belonged at which table, I stood around awkwardly for another ten minutes or so to see if anyone needed my help with anything else before taking off. I felt like I was getting in the way even though I was standing in the middle of the room, since I didn’t have any preferences about which color of centerpiece should go at which table. At one point I tried to offer a suggestion about the order they use for the centerpiece so that they went in a logical, repeating pattern, just to make things easier. The angry death stares I got seemed to say they would take my input into consideration…
The dance itself was the more interesting part, obviously. We started the evening with a delicious catered meal, where I got to have some kind of lasagna. I can’t remember the last time I had lasagna, but it was really good. Then there was a lot of dancing to be done with the promise of dessert to be served later. Personally, I was a little sad that people didn’t keep their masks on longer while dancing throughout the evening. It’s not really much of a masquerade ball if no one is wearing a mask after the first ten minutes or so, right? About halfway through the evening there was a contest to see who had the best mask of the night, so we had everyone who had an interesting mask line up in the front and then go around the room in a conga line so that everyone could see them displayed while the members of the Royal Dance Court stood up front and judged. We picked the winner to be the lady who had a mask that was an elaborate white full-face piece with some kind of attached black hat (that resembled a witch’s hat in my opinion). My vote was actually for the young guy who had worn the Darth Vader mask to the party, which I thought was pretty funny, but that got outvoted by everyone else. Sigh… HotDog was also hard at work all night during the party. Merlot had brought her daughter along with her to the event, and she was this good looking brunette number that was a few years younger than me. HotDog sat at the same table as her all night, taking her out to show her how to dance as often as he could since she had never done any ballroom dancing before. Later in the evening, I went over to talk to Merlot and her daughter for a bit, and I was poking fun at the young lady because HotDog was putting the moves on her. She looked at me with this shocked expression and told me she had thought he was an older man in his forties, so she thought he was just being nice. Well that made me laugh a lot (HotDog is actually younger than me by a few years). Aside from the unexpected hilarity that night, I definitely got to dance off everything I had eaten at dinner before I went home. Being in formal dress is a lot more clothing than I am used to wearing for the average dance party, and the DJ also played a large number of Viennese Waltz tunes that I ended up out on the floor for, so I worked up quite the sweat over the course of the evening. Good times.
Things are starting to get back to more of a normal schedule now. That means that Monday night I was back to Latin Technique class, which also means that I got to go back to Samba to finish up what we had started last week. Since a couple of the ladies who joined us that night weren’t a part of the class last week (and one person who was in class admitted to forgetting everything we had gone over), we started back at the beginning and reviewed the first few pieces of the pattern to get everyone onto the same page. The review actually ended up taking much of the class period, since Merlot hadn’t done much Samba in her dance career, so there was some work needed to get her through the first part of the pattern successfully. Once we got to the end of all the figures that we had covered last week, we ended up once again in Shadow Position with the ladies slightly off to our right. From there Lord Junior wanted to add in an open-level figure that was something of a cross between doing Voltas and pointing your toes. This is actually a figure I have seen before, something that I first learned almost two years ago now that I think about it (really, now that I go back and look it up) when I went to a workshop that covered the figures used in the Samba line dance that you would know if you danced at almost any party in the Dance Kingdom, and some variations to those figures to make the line dance more interesting. Since the toe-pointing portion of this figure could be easily confused with something more akin to a kick, we started by working on getting the figure down on our own, spread out enough so that we didn’t have to worry about anyone’s legs hitting someone else. You do the figure by starting with your weight on your left leg, then cross your right in front like a Volta, step out with your left leg then turn your body and point your right foot forward, then step backward on the right leg and cross your left foot in front like a Volta, step out with the right leg and then bring the left foot across to point that toe. These are done very quickly, and the set of points can be used to replace two of the botafogos in the Samba line dance. Once Lord Junior felt reasonably comfortable with our ability to get through the step without injuring anyone, we went back to standing in Shadow Position and did things again with the men placing their right hand on the lady’s right shoulder so that we would stay about an arm’s length apart. A couple of times through this way, and we were ready to move the figure to the end of the pattern we had started with and go through everything from start to finish, with music and everything!
Yesterday night was I got to go back to Standard Technique class. At the beginning of class, we were discussing what we wanted to cover that week, but since I didn’t know what they covered last week (because I had a different lesson going on at the same time class was), I was only so helpful. We decided to look at Tango, and Lord Junior immediately thought of a figure to challenge us with. Things started innocently enough by looking at a Gold-level figure called ‘The Chase’ with the hope of upgrading it to an open figure known as a ‘The Double Chase’ by the end of class. To get into position to do The Chase, we began in Promenade Position, taking the first step straight down the line of dance and the second curving toward the wall and turning the third step into a Pivot that went into the first step of the first Chase. To make this into a Double Chase, at the end of the first, rather than go into the Progressive Chasse to the Right as normal, we rotated slightly more to take the next step between the lady’s legs traveling down line of dance, which turned into the same steps we took at the beginning of the first Chase and continued from there. This Chase ended normally with the Progressive Chasse to the Right travelling down the line of dance. Since we managed to get through everything with some time left, we decided to keep going and add some more on. So we went back and curved the Progressive Chasse to the Right a bit toward the right while it travelled so that the figure would set us up facing diagonal wall of the short wall. Next we put in a Whisk to turn us into Promenade Position to travel straight down the short wall. You could have done the same thing using a traditional Progressive Link, but who likes to be traditional if you can avoid it? Once in Promenade Position, to progress down the short wall we did two of these open-style step and tap things in Promenade Position where you would take the first slow step on beat one with your left foot, then on beat three you step across on your right foot, on beat four you tap the toe of your left foot on the floor ahead of you before putting the foot down on the ‘&’ beat of beat four, and repeat as desired. We only did two to keep things moving along with a normal Promenade Close at the end to get back into dance frame.
It should be a quiet weekend up next. I’m hoping to get to sleep in. I heard there was a dance party Saturday night at the City Dance Hall, so there’s a good chance I will end up there. Next Wednesday for Standard Technique class, Lord Junior said he has a special coach coming into town who he may talk into teaching something during class, so that could be fun. It will make the class more expensive, since these big-shot coaches charge more per hour, so plan ahead for that if you want to come to class and join us. We’ll see what he decides to cover next week!