I don’t know about you, but it’s been a Power Metal kind of week for me… \m/
As I mentioned last week, due to Sparkledancer going on vacation I moved my normal coaching session with her and Sir Steven up from Saturday to last Thursday night. This was actually my first time having a lesson at the Fancy Dance Hall on a weeknight. It was late at night, and the sun was setting, but it seemed like the lights that were on inside drew people to the front windows like moths. There was one family in particular that stood around outside watching us dance for what felt like half-an-hour. Part of it they were standing there eating ice cream, but when they finished their treats they still stuck around to watch for some reason. I don’t think the guy was terribly interested, but the lady and the children seemed really engaged by what we were doing. That night Sparkledancer and I went through our routine piece by piece so Sir Steven could see how things were going. There were a couple of parts where, even though we had done them exactly as Sir Steven had originally wanted, he wasn’t happy with how the pieces fit into the style we were trying to portray. For instance, there were these circular turns in the first Lindy Hop section during the chorus that didn’t bounce as much as all the other Lindy Hop steps we were doing, so he said that it felt off when he saw them done in context. That led us to pulling those pieces out and swapping in different things to replace them with. We now have all sorts of kicks to do during the routine – if Sparkledancer is to be believed, there are 5014 kicks happening if you add them all up. It does make the choreography a lot more fun, but trying to get through them that night caused my legs to get all tangled up several times.
The last thing we spent time going over was the lift at the end, the one that caused Sparkledancer all that knee pain that I mentioned last week. Sir Steven ended up dropping the lift we had originally picked out in favor of the other option that we hadn’t chosen. While it lacks some of the ‘wow’ factor that you get from me literally throwing Sparkledancer, like I said last week I do not want to hurt my friend inadvertently by doing this, so going with something that is much nicer to her knees and back is the smart idea. The ending now has us leaping from side-to-side while holding both hands, and then after the last hop I jump and land in front of her and grasp her by the waist while she wraps her arms around my neck. Once situated. I pick her up off the ground, swing her through on my left side (under my arm but over my hip), then like a pendulum I bring her back in front of me and slide her over to swing through on my right side. As her legs come through I will slide my right foot back to give myself a strong base to stand on and then stop her swinging so that her back is mostly parallel to the ground. She was told to bring her legs up toward the ceiling as much as her core will allow (I imagine she will try to get them to point straight up, if I know her) as I hold her there. I will hold her like that, maybe make faces at the audience while they applaud for us, then bring her back up to put her on her feet so that we can walk off the floor. I have an idea about something that would make the ending funnier, so I might discuss that with Sparkledancer to see what she thinks about doing something crazy instead of me just setting her down on the floor. Within the context of the song and the costumes we chose, my idea could be hilarious, but I have to get her to buy into it.
Speaking of which – Sir Steven did finally ask Sparkledancer and I about what we were thinking for our costumes that night as we were finishing up. I tried to explain what I had picked out, but I couldn’t do a very good job with it, so I ran over to the computer that the studio uses to play music and pulled up a picture online to show him. Once I explained the idea to him, and Sparkledancer told him all about what her outfit looked like, he thought it was good. He admitted that he got a little scared when I stopped trying to explain things and went over to the computer, but seeing the pictures made him feel better, so now he’s on board. Hooray!
This past Saturday night I helped host another dance party with the Royal Dance Court. Going into the party, I was afraid that there wouldn’t be too many people showing up. It is the height of vacation season, and a lot of the members of the Royal Dance Court had told us they wouldn’t be able to attend the party, so I thought that other people from the dance community would be out-of-town as well. Luckily, I was wrong, and we had a pretty good-sized crowd come out to join us. As I mentioned last week, we had convinced Lord Junior’s professional dance partner Lady LovelyLocks to come out and teach the pre-party lesson. She wanted to go through some Cha-Cha to help get everyone feeling a bit spicy to match the heat outside. She didn’t cover anything overly complicated in my opinion, but she did want us to use some syncopated timing for a few of the steps and throw in some arm motions to get everyone’s whole body involved. Adding in those type of movements really seemed to screw up the older men in the class. They stopped to ask a lot of questions… A LOT of questions. Most classes I attend the men don’t ask any questions, but this time around the women were the silent ones while the men had her explain and repeat things over and over again. At the end of class as the DJ put on some music so everyone could dance through the pattern and switch partners, I watched a lot of men who had dropped the syncopated timing and kept their free arm glued to their side rather than try the things they had been shown earlier. I guess you can only try to teach an old dog new tricks.
The dance afterward was fun though. As you can imagine, since there was a Cha-Cha lesson beforehand, the DJ played a lot of Latin-type songs throughout the evening. During the course of the night, I did finally get to try out doing a Viennese Waltz with Ms. Possible as well. It was rough but passable, I have to say. She and I haven’t danced together often enough to be able to read each other as well as I can read my competition partner, but we didn’t run into anyone or fall down during the dance, and we stayed in time with the music for the whole song. That is a success in my book for a Viennese Waltz. As I got off the floor for the Viennese Waltz, Veep called me over to where she was standing behind the front desk and asked me if I would dance with her the next time a Quickstep came on. That also turned out to be rough but passable as well. Viennese Waltz and Quickstep are styles I have really only danced with either Sparkledancer or a female instructor thus far during social dances. I’m always afraid to ask random ladies to go through those dance styles since they take some practice with each person to get used to. Maybe this means I should be more open to trying things out with other people in the future. Maybe…
Also, it was super exciting that both of the Dance Robots were back on the scene. The last couple of months, during all the dance parties that I’ve attended, only the male Dance Robot has been out and about. I’ve been worried that something terrible had happened to his dance partner. As they both made a triumphant entrance just before the dance party Saturday night, I was really happy to see that they were together again. It made everything right in the dance world once more.
I didn’t get to go to class on Wednesday night, so Monday night’s Latin Technique class was all the other dancing I’ve gotten so far this week (luckily the weekend draws nearer!). Once again we ended up with a huge number of ladies and only myself and Lord Junior for men, so we worked on solo choreography that didn’t require a partner. Samba was our torture of choice that night. Picking Samba turned out to be problematic at first. The new lady who had been joining us the last couple of weeks walked into the dance hall just before class started and asked Lord Junior what we would be working on. She said that the dance style we picked would determine if she would stay for class or not. Apparently Samba was the wrong choice. Once Lord Junior said we were going to go over Samba, she told him that she was going to take off since she had never done any Samba before. I spoke up and asked about the Samba line dance that everyone in the area seems to know, and she said she had never done that either. What kind of craziness is that!?! Well, Lord Junior said that what he was thinking of doing was going to be mostly technical, but it wasn’t going to be any of the harder figures in Samba, and most everything was actually piece of the Samba line dance so it would be good for her to stay if she was interested. After some hemming and hawing, she gave in and went to go put her shoes on. Nothing like a little peer pressure to get people to do things, right?
We spent the entire hour on just three figures that night. First we looked at doing a Volta. Some of the newer ladies who haven’t been taking this class with us for very long had trouble understanding what a Cuban Cross was, so we spent a lot more time going over how to get your feet into the correct position for the Volta than I would have liked. After twenty minutes of Voltas, we moved on to Botafogos. The last ten minutes of class or so, for his own personal amusement, Lord Junior closed things up by having us go through the Batucada again. As much as he says that we all will get better if we start now working on getting the movements down, working on doing the Batucada really makes my white boy hips stand out brightly. I can kind of get things right just moving my hips laterally as I step backward, but the minute I try to add in any of the hip rotation on top of the lateral movements things start to look awkward. So of course Lord Junior keeps turning up the speed of the songs he is playing, and as we get closer to full speed he spends most of the time standing up in the front of the room just watching us. I can see him trying everything in his power not to laugh outright at how we look. It’s so encouraging…
This weekend I have heard of dancing going on at a dance hall that I haven’t gotten to go to in quite a while, so I am super excited to head there. Hopefully the rumors don’t turn out to be false. We’ll have to see what happens next week!