Like A Rolling Thunder Chasing The Wind

Happy Turkey Day everyone! Despite it being a holiday today, I’m still posting something here! So, let’s see, what have I done this week…

Well I went to a dance party at the Electric Dance Hall on Friday night. That’s always fun. Lord Junior had recently brought on a new female instructor to teach at the studio, and she was there that night working the crowd really hard. It’s been a long time since I had been blatantly hit up by an instructor to try to get me to take lessons with them, but she was going around to everyone (mostly the males, but some of the females too) to dance with them and offer her services. For a long time I have done my best to avoid dancing with instructors during social dances because I just want to have fun and not be judged, also I’m a male so there are tons of single females that I can dance with instead, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer when she caught me for a Tango. As we took dance frame I politely asked her if she preferred to do American or International style, like I usually do when I dance with new people, and she opted for International.

I can’t say I am really proud with how that dance went. She took this super-serious frame with me, vaulting over my right hand so that her upper body looked to be almost parallel with the floor from my angle. She was also quite a bit shorter than me, so when she got into that position it really threw off my center of gravity. The only person I dance with who gets into a frame anything like that is Sparkledancer, and she is just a few inches shorter than me, so that is what I am used to. There were a few figures that I did that I thought were fairly common but she didn’t seem to pick up – I can’t tell if it was because I was doing a slightly different variation than she knew, or if I just did something wrong. When we finished, she said that she had a lot of fun before going into her spiel about how I should schedule a lesson with her to work on all sorts of things she said she could help me improve.

That was the only dance I did with her that night. The rest she came looking for me during I managed to get out of. She tried to grab me for a Viennese Waltz, but doing Viennese Waltz with a completely new person in the middle of a social dance scares me. Viennese Waltz is one of those dance styles that you have to be comfortable with your partner to pull off successfully. Luckily Sparkledancer was standing right there, so I just shrugged and said we were already going to dance together as I grabbed her hand and didn’t give her a chance to argue with me. At the end of the night, I did sit and talk with her for a few minutes. I mentioned that there would be a dance party that I would be hosting the next night with the Royal Dance Court, and said she should come out and join us for that. She smiled and said that she didn’t have any plans yet, so she would talk to her husband about going. Apparently he is also a ballroom instructor, so I lucked out there. Getting another male to come to a dance party is always a recipe for success. Yay me!

When I met up with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer this weekend, the first thing we had to ask him about was the changes to the corners in our American Waltz routine that we had made the previous week. Sparkledancer and I had tried to go through the routine the night before with awkward results. The corner with the Contra Check was supposed to come out heading down the short wall with a Curved Progressive Chasse to the Left, and then another Progressive Chasse to the Left with Lady’s Turn that followed the wall. Coming around Sparkledancer to go into that second Progressive Chasse was just weird, and after showing it to Sir Steven and getting him to step through it himself, he agreed, so we threw all that out. We now do a Contra Check, collecting into Promenade Position and going into a Natural Turn. We go into a Spin Turn (the only one in our American Waltz routine), coming out into two Reverse Turns. At the end we do a closed Natural Turn, which puts us in the other corner where we pick up using the figures as they were before. The whole short wall has us closing our feet on each figure, as opposed to the rest of the routine which has us passing our feet. Sir Steven said that we need to close our feet for part of the routine because if we pass our feet all the time, the routine starts to look too much like Foxtrot.

After finishing up making all those changes to our Waltz routine, Sir Steven decided that he wanted to look at Viennese Waltz for a while, starting with those spins and turns we had looked lightningcrashes1at last month. We also started to work on doing continuous Canter Pivots, which is something we had been shown how to do almost three years ago that didn’t go very well for me way back then. This time, Steven was surprised that not only were Sparkledancer and I able to continuously pivot, but we were able to do continuous pivots in a straight line down the line of dance. He had thought we would end up curving toward center the first couple of times we did it, so he was pretty happy with how we looked. That right there is some proof that we have managed to make some improvement in dancing after three years of blood, sweat and training (but no tears, since I am a real man). Hooray!

And then on Saturday night I attended a dance party hosted by the Royal Dance Court. I got there early again to help set up. Somehow I always get stuck with water duty – no one else wants to take care of setting up water for our dance parties, and I just take whatever job needs to be done, so I always end up doing it while everyone else takes care of the easy jobs and then stands around behind the front desk drinking wine and checking people in. Curse my youth and sense of responsibility!

That night we were lucky enough to talk our friend Indiana into coming by and teaching a class on East Coast Swing to everyone. I got to partake in the class since we always need more men to dance. What she taught during the class didn’t seem particularly challenging to me, but some of the older men had some trouble getting around (literally). The steps used in class were: starting in two hand hold, we did one normal basic, then a Underarm Turn for the ladies, rotating 90° to the right in the process and changing hands to end up in Handshake Hold. Then lightningcrashes2we did an American Spin, with Indiana emphasizing that the men should not push the lady too hard while turning her. After she spins, we’d link up again with only our right hand, grabbing onto the lady’s left. Here we would do Fallaway Rock Step (which is a rock step where you open out to the left if you’re a Leader) into a Tuck-In Turn, with the man’s second Triple Step rotating around the lady 180° so that you both end up facing the opposite wall. To complete the sequence you repeat the Fallaway Rock and Tuck-In Turn with rotation, linking back up in a two-hand hold and returning to a normal East Coast Swing basic as you finish.

After class finished up, we danced the night away. My new friend the female instructor I had met on Friday night did actually show up with her husband after Indiana’s class finished up, which was nice in a way, but also a bit scary. The two of them danced together quite a bit, to show off I suspect, and they seemed to be a bit out of control when they did. They would do a lot of overly fancy figures in super close proximity to a lot of the other dancers, forcing them to pull up short with whatever they were doing with terrified looks on their faces. The two of them were also working the crowd trying to pick up new students, in much the same way the wife was doing on Friday night. Still, having the extra male on hand who knew what he was doing more than made up for the sales pitches that some people were hearing throughout the night, so overall, I’m going to mark that down as a win.

Monday night I got to go out to Latin technique class, the only technique class I got to go to this week. Lord Junior was leaving Wednesday morning to go visit family for the holiday, so sadly there would be no Standard Technique class for a while. We looked at Rumba that night to keep things simple. Ms. Possible has an injured left shoulder, and despite the warnings against dancing from medical professionals, she is continuing to dance even with a left arm that is less than useful. There were only a few parts in the sequence that Lord Junior put together for us that required her to use her left arm, most of those at the end since we were side-by-side with the ladies on our right. I could see her grimacing during those sections when I got to dance with her. She probably should have stayed home if the shoulder was that bad. Sigh…

So what did we do? Well we started with the ladies out in Fan Position. After getting them to close and step forward, we led the ladies through an Alemana. During their turn we would take a slight step to our left so that when the ladies finished their third step they were over on our right side. Here we collected them back into dance frame and turned them into an Opening Out action. Closing them back in front of us, we then helped the ladies go through the slowest Spiral Turn I have ever seen done. This one covered three beats of music, and for many of the ladies we had to keep both hands on them to help them hold their balance while they turned. With one beat left in the measure, we had the ladies take two steps back out into Fan Position while the guys took one step to our right.

Back in the same position we started in, we added on a second half to the progression. Closing from Fan Position, we led the ladies through a Hockey Stick, but rather than coming out on a diagonal path, we overturned the lady so that she came moving parallel to us, going out into a Crossover Break to the right at the end. As we completed that and took a step to our left, we lightningcrashes3went into Solo Turns, releasing the lady so that we could both dance down individual lines along the floor. At the end of the Solo Turns we both did a Spiral Turn and then a Three Step Turn to continue traveling. We made a point of bringing our outside arm (right for men, left for women) up as we did the Three Step Turn so that at the end we could lower it and reconnect our hand with our partner, going into a Hand-to-Hand on the right side. Coming out of that, we did one set of syncopated Latin Walks heading back in the direction we just came from, collected our feet over to the left and took one step to the right (collecting to the right and stepping left for the ladies), and then did one set of syncopated Cucarachas, ending with our weight on our left leg and our right leg pointed (opposite for the Followers).

I had heard that there would be a Hustle class at the Endless Dance Hall Wednesday night, and I was excited to go out to it since I wouldn’t be going to Standard Technique class this week. I lightningcrashes4even talked Sparkledancer into meeting me there for fun. When I got there though, the gate was pulled down in front of the door and there were no lights on inside. Sparkledancer and I sat around in the parking lot for a while, until about five minutes before class would start, and no one showed up to open the door. So that was a bust, which made me sad. There were no cancellation notices to be found online to let us know (I checked while we sat in the parking lot, just to be sure). Sigh…

Lucky for me there will be plenty of dancing available after the holiday is over. The Fancy Dance Hall is having a party on Friday night that I think I will end up attending, and then the Cherished Dance Hall will have an open dance on Saturday night. That should make up for my disappointment at missing Hustle class. Maybe I’ll see you at one of those events!

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