So much going on this past weekend! I hope everyone else was out doing as much dancing as I was. If you weren’t, then next weekend you can come out with me to make up for it. Let’s see, what did I end up doing…?
There was an open dance party being held last Friday night at the Electric Dance Hall that I decided to go to. Since I have a habit of showing up for events early enough to give me a few minutes to collect my thoughts (and put on my dance shoes), the group class that precedes the party was still in full swing when I arrived. As I was finishing up tying my shoes, Lord Junior called over to me and started motioning for me to join class. The group class held on Fridays is an all-levels class that doesn’t usually cover anything difficult, so I hesitated to jump into things because I didn’t want to make the people who had spent all hour in class feel bad if I could just step in and do all the things they just learned so easily. Lord Junior was having none of that though, and told me to just get my butt onto the floor. He paused class briefly and had me lead him through the Waltz pattern the class had spent all hour working on while he called out the figures so that I could see all the steps once. They hadn’t done anything I hadn’t seen before in other classes: after a prep step to get onto the right foot, we did a Natural Turn, then an Open Telemark that finished moving toward diagonal center, followed with a Basic Weave, and finishing everything up with another Natural Turn. Once I had gone through everything, I got put into the rotation in between the other men. I found out while dancing that the ladies had been struggling with the pattern since the men in class had been struggling with the pattern, and they couldn’t work out their footwork if the men were leading them wrong. I managed to dance through everything a couple of times with almost everyone before the class was over to help the ladies figure out what they should be doing.
The dance party itself after the class wrapped up was pretty quiet. Sparkledancer and I spent some time talking with Lord Junior about what was going on Sunday afternoon, so that we would know when we needed to be at the White Dance Hall before the upcoming showcase started. We wanted to get in a bit early to go over things on their floor, block out our entrance and exit, and warm up before the performance. Lord Junior was also excited to talk about how he’s looking at building a much bigger studio, and if things go as well as he hopes, next year he could be holding showcases in his own building rather than having to rent out a bigger space like the White Dance Hall for these events. As he was talking, I noticed that there were some white-chocolate covered pretzels on the snack table within arm’s reach of me that looked really good. I may have snagged four or five of those…
During my lesson on Saturday with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer, we actually went back and spent a lot more time looking over our showcase routine than I thought we were going to. He gave us some points on what he thought we could do to change our entrance onto the floor to fit things onto the layout of the dancefloor at the White Dance Hall, using the stage in the back where performers would be walking in from. Since there was also no plan to have any seating set up on the dancefloor like there had been at the Fancy Dance Hall for the showcase, we looked at how we could stretch out the Quickstep portions to use more of the available floor space. The Lindy Hop sections weren’t going to change, since we would keep those pretty much in the middle of the room so everyone could see us. We ran through things over and over again for about half an hour, allowing me to work up a nice sweat once again by picking up Sparkledancer several times during each run-through. Sparkledancer and I both got called out for going through the Lock Steps and Progressive Chasses in the Quickstep and taking a heel lead on the last step instead of a toe step that lowered as the other foot passed through. I wasn’t even paying attention to what my feet were doing there, so I didn’t notice when it happened. To correct us, Sir Steven made us stand next to each other in the back of the ballroom and walk side-by-side toward the front doing very slow Lock Steps, making sure we got the footwork right. Once we had finished up our ‘punishment’ to Sir Steven’s satisfaction, we completely switched gears and started looking at our International Standard routines. We ran through the Waltz a few times, and then finished up by going over the Foxtrot as time ran out.
Later in the evening, I went out to a dance party at the City Dance Hall to have some fun. They had advertised a Samba group class available before the party was to start, and even though I don’t really like Samba (it’s fine, but not my favorite), I was at the City Dance Hall early enough to take part in the class. The guy teaching that night had started things off saying that we would go through the Samba basics, so I was anticipating that things would be no problem for me, but as we were going I found that I had trouble in class because the instructor kept counting the timing for the figures in regular half-beat intervals – even for steps that should use the ¾ note, like the Samba basic and Whisk. It wasn’t until we were almost completed with class that he thought to mention to everyone that we were doing American-style Samba rather than the International Latin version. Ooooooooooh… suddenly I didn’t feel so bad for always being off time with his counts. The instructor told us that American Samba is much more relaxed and fun, and doesn’t have the quick irregular footwork that the International version uses.
Other than the revelation that there was an American-style Samba to go along with the International Samba (who knew?), I didn’t get to go over anything else that was all that exciting in the class. We covered only the most basic of figures and technique in the hour. And by technique, I mean that we spent a good fifteen minutes or so on just the Rhythm Bounce. A lot of that time was just spent by everyone in class watching the instructor wiggle his hips back and forth, as he was “demonstrating” the movement. It’s uncanny how often my pursuit of dancing has me watching some guy I’ve never met before wiggling his hips in front of me, I must say. After he felt satisfied with our Rhythm Bounce action, he started to show us some figures, which felt a lot like a class on the Samba Line Dance, aside from the Samba Walks he showed everyone. We looked at the normal Samba Basic step, added on four Whisks with the last one turning us into Promenade Position, then he had us do two each of the Forward and Side Samba Walks, followed by four Botafogos, and finishing up with a brief introduction to the Criss-Cross Voltas. We were running out of time, so he didn’t cover the Volta step in detail for those who didn’t know the figure, but based on the number of people who just went ahead and started using the Voltas to travel down the floor, it seems like there weren’t that many actual Samba newcomers joining us in class.
The dance portion after class was amusing to me because the DJ wasn’t there. She got called to do two events on the same night, and since the other event was a grand-opening party at a different dance hall, she opted to head there in person. That didn’t mean that she wasn’t at our dance party in spirit though. I guess the organizers of the dance opted to have her do the music anyway, even if she wasn’t going to be there in person, so she had created a recording that would play until she could get there in person to take over. The recording was made specifically for that night’s party, since all the songs went along with the theme for this dance. The theme was ‘Safari’ or something like that. I have never even heard of a party using that theme before, so I don’t think the DJ would have had a recording that strung together songs related to animals or the jungle just sitting around on hand for when events like this happen. She was also kind enough to lace into the recording a running commentary of her voice between songs, so that we all felt like she was there on the microphone telling us all about the music she chose. It was a rather amusing way to spend the evening.
Then late in the day on Sunday was my last showcase performance of the summer. The structure of this showcase was markedly different from how they had run the event that was the week before. One major difference was that there were only thirteen performances scheduled during the four-hour event. One similarity I saw right away though I found by going through the schedule (there was one laying on the table I sat at to put on my dance shoes). It looked like there were only five men performing. Though there were more than twice the number of acts during the showcase last weekend, there weren’t that many more men in that show at the Fancy Dance Hall. In fact, the man who danced in the most routines last weekend was in the White Dance Hall this weekend performing again! Of the five men in this performance, I did one number, two ladies who also performed with me last weekend brought Lord Latin over to do a repeat of their numbers, Lady Humperdink brought her instructor up to go through a piece she had been working on for the last few months in front of an audience, and then there was Mr. Rubber-legs who did a unchoreographed Shag number with his professional partner to promote some near-future workshops that he would be running soon at the Electric Dance Hall. As an added bonus routine, a large group of ladies (I have been affectionately referring to them as the “Sexy Lady Formation Team Dance Club”) did a medley of Latin-style pieces. All the other performances that evening were Lord Junior performing with a number of his students.
The atmosphere for this event was also vastly different from last week’s showcase. We were much more relaxed, without having all the movements of every show number dictated by the act that went before or after your performance. There was also a lot of social dancing throughout the evening, compared to just a few songs in between the two acts at last week’s performance – several hours’ worth of social dancing, to be exact. Lady Lovelylocks had brought her two young daughters along with her to enjoy the show (one had just learned to walk a few months ago, they are that young), and they were following her around and dancing up a storm whenever they got a chance. They really liked to climb up on the stage that was at the front of the dance floor and ‘dance’ with their mother. Their form of dancing is mostly holding onto one of her hands and wiggling their little bodies, but since their mother dances professionally I’m sure the two of them will be ready to teach classes to me in just a few years. With everyone being so laid back that evening, there was no reason to feel nervous at all about going on stage this time.
So how did my performance go? Well, the crowd thought it was pretty funny when Sparkledancer and I finally walked down the stage steps to take the floor, which is exactly what I was going for. We had audience sitting on three out of four sides of the dance floor, so when we had blocked out the choreography beforehand we chose to make our ‘front’ the long side that had the most tables along it, which we assumed would be where most of the audience sat. That did mean that anyone sitting along the other side of the dance floor got to look at my butt during some parts of the Quickstep, but I didn’t feel too bad about that. After all, I do a lot of squats with heavy weights, so my butt can’t look all that bad (I can’t turn my neck enough to see it, but I’m going to believe it looks OK). The song we had been using is actually a pretty slow Quickstep, so it gave us ample opportunity to really stretch out the figures and cover the larger floor without getting off time at all. The crowd really seemed to like what we did too, which I believe is a good way to tell that we had a good performance. This time around, we didn’t have any mistakes that I noticed, so I’m pretty sure we did everything to the best of our ability. Hooray for us!
Well, now that all of that’s out of the way, it’s time to start figuring out what we should start working on next. I’ve had people at both the Fancy Dance Hall and the Electric Dance Hall tell me that they are looking at doing another showcase in the December/January timeframe, so that’s one option to think about. I also hear there’s a competition coming up at the end of September/beginning of October, but I might be out-of-town that weekend, so that option’s sort of on the table too. Then there’s always more work to try to improve my technique, so I will definitely be doing that no matter what happens. We’ll just have to wait and see what sounds like the most fun before deciding what to do next, now won’t we?