This past Friday night I went out to the bi-weekly social at the Electric Dance Hall for fun. The dance party that night was full of excitement because Jem was back on the scene. I haven’t seen her for a long time… maybe New Year’s Eve is the last time I remember seeing her? I can’t remember, and I’m not going to go back and look at all the pictures I took to figure things out, so we’ll just say it’s been a long time. Apparently she had been traveling a lot for work lately, so she hadn’t been able to get out dancing much. It sounds like she will have a couple of weeks off from all that travel, so she wanted to come dance a bit, but that won’t last long and soon she’ll have to hit the road for work again, sadly. Also funny that night – for some reason, Lord Junior had brought in some ‘snacks’ for the dance party, but it was just a plate full of pepperoni (like bite-sized, pizza topping pepperoni) and some cookies that looked like they came from a gas station convenience store. He had put everything out on the table up front, and was happily eating the snacks all night, while the rest of us just thought it was kind of funny. I like when dance parties are laid back and silly like that. I got to dance with a lot of people, but I also got to socialize with them as well so I didn’t have to be constantly moving.
When I got together with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven this past weekend, we did manage to finally get all of the choreography for our routine in place. Hooray! There still may be some changes, since we have just a couple of weeks left to go before the performance, but at this point I am hoping that most of the work will just be surface things to make the routine look better as opposed to actually changing the steps that are being used. For the choice of lifts to use at the end of the routine that I mentioned last week, we went with the first option. Sir Steven wanted to make it a bit more complicated than having me just pick her up and spin around while holding her. He told Sparkledancer that after I picked her up and used the momentum to spin with her to my left, he wanted her to actually leap out of my arms as I tossed her gently. It was explained to use that it would be a lot like jumping off a swing, like you would see children doing on the playground. He wanted her to land with her knees bent but her body pitched backward, so that she could pitch her body forward and take off running right away. After a brief pause I would take off running after her, and we would both just head off the ‘stage’ in the process. That’s how our performance would end and transition into the next act that would be coming on after us.
In theory this move sounds fantastic. Right up my alley, even. Sparkledancer and I got together a couple of times this week and worked on our choreography, making sure everything was down in memory. One night we specifically spent almost the entire hour working on just that figure at the end. I can say that it is a real testament to the strength gains I’ve put so much effort into over the last six months. Sure, Sparkledancer is tall-ish and thin, so she can’t weigh a ton (I’m too polite to ask what she actually weighs, but I would guess it’s not much more than 120 based on other things I lift regularly that I can compare her to), but there was no real struggle for me to pick her up and toss her around over and over again as we practiced for an hour. The real problem we ran into comes from her landing after I ‘toss’ her. Since I’m not eight feet tall, I’m not really tossing her from very high off the ground, so the landing is pretty abrupt. Jumping off of a swing gives you a lot of time to prepare for the landing the higher up you swing yourself, but I can’t just grow taller to give her a longer trip down to the floor to prepare herself to land. Needless to say, her knees and lower back were very unhappy the next day after spending an hour working on this final movement trying to perfect it. We may have to go back to Sir Steven and modify things slightly, because as cool as it would look, I don’t want to hurt my friend by throwing her around repeatedly. During the performance it would only happen once, but there’s no other way to practice to make sure we do it correctly than to… well, just throw her around repeatedly.
As a side note, when trying to teach us this figure, Sir Steven would not let me pick him up and throw him. I thought it would be the best way to demonstrate to Sparkledancer and I what he wanted us to do. He had no problem with me picking her up off the ground, but when he was showing her what to do he stayed far enough away from me on purpose so that I couldn’t pick him up.
This Monday night at Latin Technique class, we had a couple of new ladies join us. Both had done some dancing before, but from talking to one of them it sounded like she had only ever worked on American Rhythm styles, and the other had only done basic rudimentary steps, so the technique was new for her as well. Because the women far outnumbered the men again (it was a three-to-one ratio that night), Lord Junior decided to take it easy on the newcomers and work on some figures that could be done without a partner for Rumba. The pattern wasn’t overly complicated, and if you’d like to try it out yourself, what we did is as follows: start with your weight on your left foot and your right leg back. Begin with Latin Walks, two sets of them covering eight counts of music. Add on two Cucarachas, one to the right and one to the left. Next comes a Three Step Turn to the Right. Coming out of that turn, go right into a New Yorker. As you finish that with a side-step to the left, turn to the right and take a step forward to go into a Spiral Turn on the right foot, and come out with a Three Step Turn to the Left. If done correctly, you will need enough room on the floor to cover what amounts to a big ‘T’ shape, moving forward and then side-to-side. We practiced the steps for a while on our own, starting with really slow music and working our way up in tempo. In the last few minutes of class, Lord Junior decided to start at the far end of the floor with the ladies down there and dance through the pattern with them, one at a time. I was over on the other side of the floor, second to last in line based on the direction he was moving. As he got done with the lady standing to my right, he told me he didn’t need to dance with me and skipped over to the young lady on my left side. I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or be offended. I’ve certainly danced together with him in class lots of times before, so I don’t know why he wouldn’t have gone through it with me that night, unless I was doing OK on my own. So that’s what I’m going to believe. Yay me!
The last thing I did this week was Standard Technique class. We ended up going through Viennese Waltz. I guess Ms. Possible is doing a showcase performance coming up (at the second event I am performing mine at), and hers is going to be a Viennese Waltz, so she had requested to cover that style during class so that she could work on things. We were just about ready to start class when one of the new ladies who had come on Monday night showed up, and this time she brought along two friends from her home studio as reinforcements. That put the ratio a little off (there were only two males, myself and Lord Junior, and now seven ladies), but he stuck with his plan to work on Viennese Waltz. Only one of these three ladies who came together for class had spent much time working on Viennese Waltz before, another had only covered it briefly with her own instructor, and the last one of them had never tried it out at all. As you can imagine, we started with the basics. There was no blue tape put on the floor like there was the last time I had a class on Viennese Waltz, so I just used the floorboards to keep myself in line for this class as I danced. We started by looking at the Reverse Turn, and halfway through class we switched over to look at the Natural Turn, and that’s all we spent time on. Personally, I think Viennese Waltz is much easier to do when travelling faster. Doing the steps super slow feels way harder to me – you would think it would be a bit easier, more like a slow Waltz, but it doesn’t seem like that at all. We worked on the two types of turn mostly solo, since there were seven ladies to the two men, but we did spend time dancing with partners for the last fifteen minutes or so. I know the ladies might have been bored, all lined up in the back of the room waiting their turn, but I was working up a sweat by the end since I would take one of them, dance a lap around the floor, and then return them to the end of the line and take the next one for a lap, without getting any breaks in between. It reminded me of the one dance party I went to a long time ago, where there was an orchestra playing the music and late in the evening they decided to play a Viennese Waltz medley, and it just kept going and going and I was dumb enough to dance for the whole thing. That was probably the longest continuous Viennese Waltz I’ve ever done, and this class felt like it was the second longest.
I will be out late tonight meeting up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven to look over our showcase routine. Sparkledancer said she was going on vacation this weekend, so we had to move up our normal weekend get together so that we could take a second look at the ending. That’s why I’m putting this up so early, rather than waiting until late tonight like I normally do. There is also an open dance party hosted by the Royal Dance Court that I am a member of going on this weekend. That should be fun. If I remember correctly (I’d have to go look at my meeting notes to be sure), we are having Lord Junior’s professional partner Lady Lovelylocks come in and teach a class before the party starts. She’s always fun to work with, and I’m sure I’ll be stepping into the lesson since we always seem to need extra men. Are you going to come out to the party? A little hot dancing on a hot summer night, perhaps? I hope I’ll see you there!