For a change of pace this past week, I spent my time at a completely different location for dancing than where I am usually found. This is not the first time I’ve gone out to this particular studio, but it’s been two years since the last time I was there based on my recollection, so it was definitely time for a return trip (That reminds me, I haven’t gotten out to the Star Dance Hall in a long time. I should find a time to go back there as well…). Looking through my list of names, I don’t see that I have already christened this particular studio with a name, or if I did, I didn’t write it down. So let’s refer to this place as the High Five Dance Hall.
Probably the most random thing that I ended up doing at the High Five Dance Hall was going to a class that covered Nightclub Two Step. I was looking through the list of classes that were offered during the week, and this one seemed like the most fun one that I could get to, based on the times that classes were offered and the distance I had to drive to get there. I have heard people discuss the various “Nightclub” style dances before, but I have never looked into learning any of them myself until this recent brief introduction. They offered two classes at the same time, one for Nightclub Two Step beginners and one for intermediate students. I will admit to going online and watching several videos on the basics of the dance style before heading out to the studio, because I was pretty sure that I could pick up the basic footwork pretty quickly and handle myself in the intermediate class, but when I got to the class I still ended up jumping into the beginner class anyway. Not exactly sure why I decided against moving up a level at the last-minute, but I did. That decision was probably for the best though. The intermediate class was huge, and it appeared as though they only covered one pattern during the hour. The beginner class I was a part of was small, and we got through a whole lot of different figures in our hour. The instructor actually mentioned that he was surprised at how fast we were picking things up, and the last couple of figures I think weren’t on his original plan for the evening, since he had to stop and think about how to do the footwork a couple of times.
The instructor began class talking about Nightclub Two Step the same way I often hear people talking about West Coast Swing. He stressed that Nightclub Two Step was a super-versatile dance style that could be used for almost any kind of music, but it works best with slower songs. He may have even referred to them as “more romantic” songs to try to get a laugh. A couple of the people in class were really young (early teens or younger, but I’m only guesstimating), so they didn’t really get the joke. We started the evening by covering the basic step in open hand hold, which was the same footwork I had looked up online before coming to class, except we were hand-to-hand rather than in a closed hold that looks similar to a Latin-style closed hold, just not as strong. Once we had gone through the basic footwork with every partner, we moved on to turns. We did both the Inside and Outside Underarm Turns for the ladies without pause, and then since we had no problems with those we added on the man’s right and left side turns as well. Coming out of that, we were shown how to get into Closed Position and then we looked at the Opening Out figure on both the right and left sides, which again looked a lot like an Opening Out you would see in something like Rumba, except not as strong. Once we finished those, the instructor seemed surprised by how much time we had left in class, so he showed us the Traveling Crosses to the Right. He only had us turn 90° in the figure, but as the name implies it’s a lot like a Cross-Body Lead like you would see in other Latin dance styles, so you could use it to turn a full 180° if you wanted I bet. We looked at the Traveling Cross on its own, and then later also with adding in a turn for the ladies as you did the little three-step to the right.
Overall, it was a fun change of pace to look at a dance style I’ve never seen before. I’m not sure when I would ever use this new knowledge, since A) I only know the figures I’ve listed above, B) the music choice and tempo makes me want to dance Bolero or International Rumba instead, and C) I don’t know if many people where I normally dance know the style, so finding a partner could be challenging. Still, it could be a useful skill at some point in the future, right?
Saturday night I went out to a social dance at the High Five Dance Hall as well, just to see what their social scene was like. It was a good thing that I managed to convince Sparkledancer to come with me to the dance party, because it ended up that there were more men than women at the dance. It wasn’t a huge delta, there were only a couple more men than women, but still… that never really happens at dance parties that I attend. This studio focuses on social dancing as opposed to training students for competitions, so the style of dancing that we saw most of the people dancing was a lot looser than we are used to seeing, even though the dances were familiar. It’s not really sloppier per se, just… different. No really strong frames, no worry about proper alignment, just people out having fun. So as you can imagine, when I did dance with Sparkledancer, we looked really different from everyone else on the floor. That difference attracted attention. There were several instructors that made a point to come talk to us to ask us about where we learned things and where we could normally be found dancing. If they saw me in the Nightclub Two Step class earlier in the week, they were also confused by my apparent skill level and had to ask why I was in a beginner class when here I obviously wasn’t a beginner-level dancer. One instructor was super excited when he was talking to Sparkledancer and she mentioned that she knew Viennese Waltz – apparently that isn’t something that they did at this studio very often, much to his chagrin, so he was going to make sure that one was put on for us (and for him and a student of his whom he was teaching the style to). There were a couple of songs played that night where I saw that most people were dancing Nightclub Two Step, but I opted to dance other styles I knew better during those songs rather than try out the things I had just learned. It was a really fun night!
The one other thing that I did at the High Five Dance Hall while I was in the area was set up some floor time to work with Sparkledancer on our showcase routine. The routine is meant to cover the floor, so it doesn’t fit so well in the little space I have for practicing in my own apartment or space that we can find in hers. We can sort-of practice outside, but a lot of the turns are hard to do on grass and impossible to do on asphalt. So, since Sparkledancer was going to meet me out at the High Five Dance Hall anyway, we just called ahead and asked them if we could pay for some floor space for about an hour to practice while we were in the area. There were a couple of private lessons going on at the same time as we were there, but they were sticking to the outside edge of the floor, so Sparkledancer and I just kept to the middle area to work through everything of ours. Let me tell you, it was really good practicing with an actual wood floor where I could stretch my legs for a change, and the cost for the hour of floor space was a lot cheaper at the High Five Dance Hall than it would have been if we had tried getting space at the other few places I know of where I’ve seen the rates posted. We ran through things quite a bit to make sure that we had everything down and could do the routine repeatedly without screwing anything up. Going though things so much leads me to believe that there are a couple of counts missing. I say that because the second Lindy Hop section doesn’t start quite at the same time as the second chorus, so either we’ve messed something up based on what we were practicing using the videos we made of the choreography, or Sir Steven counted something differently when he put the choreography together than we put on video. So we’ll have to make sure to look at it with him this weekend to re-review things. Just when I thought I had everything committed to memory, it turns out I may have to change it again. Go figure…
So, after the excursion this past week to a different location, this coming week the plan is to handle things more like normal. One exciting note that I will mention to anyone who is interested is that there is a dance party being held at the Endless Dance Hall on Saturday night, where admission is free but the hosts are selling off dances with local dance instructors throughout the evening to raise money for some kind of charity. Free admission probably means that there will be a big turnout for the party. Are you going to come along? I hope to see you there!