The Sane And The Insane Rivalry

Did you know there was a holiday last weekend? I completely forgot about it. Turns out, not a lot of stuff happens when a holiday falls directly on the weekend. My competitive partner Sparkledancer went off on vacation somewhere, so I had no one to practice with, and since I had just finished a competition the weekend prior I had no motivation to practice by myself. Instead, I stayed home and had a quiet weekend with my cat. That is rare for me – usually I am out and about most of the weekend. Being home was… nice.

I did finally drag myself out to go dance again on Monday night for Latin Technique class, and it turned out to be pretty funny. Let me catch you up with something that I didn’t write about over the last couple of weeks because there was so much else going on. Do you remember Seedling? He is bringing all kinds of weird things into my little corner of the Dance Kingdom. Do you remember last month when I talked about him being in love with his dance instructor at the franchise studio where he was taking lessons, how he danced in a showcase with her, and then later on another of the instructor’s students danced a showcase number with her and Seedling was convinced that the other student stole his thunder?

(If you don’t remember, no worries! Through the magic of the Internet, you can find that story here!)

A few weeks back, I actually got to meet the guy who Seedling swears stole his thunder. There was a dance party at the Electric Dance Hall that I went to. Seedling had talked a bunch of people from his franchise studio into coming out to the dance party so that they could see the place where he has been moonlighting and taking classes to learn non-franchise things. One of the people who came from his franchise studio was this guy, and I got to talk to him during the party. It turns out I had actually met him in the past, and I just didn’t recognize him in the video that Seedling had shown of the showcase performances because he was in costume. That was mildly intriguing.

More interesting than that though, is how Seedling talks about the guy. It seems that Seedling sees the two of them as rivals in dance, and he thinks that this rivalry is so intense for anyone to behold. To Seedling, the rivalry he is a part of is as great as legendary rivalries of old that you might know – ranking up there with the likes of Mario vs. Bowser, Naruto vs. Sasuke, Holmes vs. Moriarty or Rocky vs. Apollo. The only problem with Seedling’s assertion is that… this other guy doesn’t even know that the rivalry between them exists. That makes it a bit hard to believe what Seedling is saying about this other guy and the matchup between them.

Since it is unclear who is really ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in this imaginary rivalry, let’s call this new character to the story Apollo. That will give me a proper name to refer to him by from here on out.

So at the dance party I got to talk to Apollo for a while. He told me that he was starting to get bored with what he was doing at the franchise studio and was looking to move on to someplace that would challenge him more as a dancer. He had watched Sparkledancer and I dancing together a couple of times during the course of the party, and he said that we looked so different from all of the other dancers on the floor, and he wanted to know how he could improve his dancing to look more like mine. Obviously he didn’t say that to detract from how well Sparkledancer dances by any means – it’s just that he is a male dancer like me, so if he told me that he wanted to improve his dancing and look more like Sparkledancer, I might have had a few questions…

Of course, as you might imagine, I told him that a good place to start would be at the Electric Dance Hall. I mentioned that the way that the franchise studios taught people to dance was great for social dancing and just getting the confidence to get out on the dance floor, but when I dance with Sparkledancer we looked different because the two of us spend a lot of time practicing competitive-level technique, which not a lot of people do. I suggested that if he wanted to try out that kind of technique, he should start off by attending Lord Junior’s Latin Technique classes on Mondays and Standard Technique classes on Wednesdays. That would give him a taste of what I was doing for much less money than signing up for private lessons with a competitive instructor.

The next Monday night Apollo actually came to Latin Technique class, and he thought it was the greatest class he had taken in a really long time. Now he is hooked, and he has left the franchise studio entirely and has been coming on both Monday nights and Wednesday nights ever since, with plans to improve the way he dances so that he can start competing at some point in the near future. Hooray! Another male dancer in class with me!

What I didn’t expect was the kind of effect that this would have on Seedling. As you can imagine, Seedling was not exactly thrilled that his ‘rival’ was now in the same classes that he had been sneaking away from his franchise studio to attend. Whenever Apollo is around and talking to people before or after class, Seedling will hang around the outer edge of the room by himself, no longer participating in the conversations like he used to. I wonder if Seedling had been using these classes as a way to make himself a better dancer so that he could impress everyone back at his franchise studio, one-upping Apollo in the process? Now, Apollo is in these same classes and not at the franchise anymore, so if that was his master plan, it has fallen apart.

Since Apollo has made a clean break from the franchise studio, he has even signed up to take private lessons with Lord Junior for a while so that Lord Junior could help him fix the way he dances to be more technically correct. Lord Junior offered to set him up to take lessons with a female instructor at the studio, but Apollo thought that learning from a male instructor would help him get where he wants to be faster. After all, in theory a male instructor knows the male part more intimately, since they default to dancing that part all of the time. Plus, he and Lord Junior are both really tall men, so they are a better height match for working together than many of the female instructors in the area. I’m sure at some point Lord Junior will bring in a female for Apollo to work with, but for now this pairing seems to be working.

This Monday in class we actually ended up with more men than women, so Lord Junior spent much of the class dancing the Follower’s part. What we worked on was actually a bunch of simple figures from the Bronze syllabus in Rumba, focusing on the important technical points needed to make the figures look right. Because I have been going to the Latin Technique class for many years at this point, I actually did really well here, even when dancing with Lord Junior. He didn’t have any corrections for me afterward, like he did after he finished dancing the pattern with either Seedling and Apollo. I guess that I’m a better Latin dancer than I give myself credit for!

The pattern that we used started off with both partners facing one another. The Lead would go into a forward check before bringing the Follower through a Left-side Pass, over-rotating the ending slightly to take the Follower out into Fan Position. From there we did a basic Alemana, ending with the Follower on the Lead’s right side so that we could do a basic Closed Hip Twist that put the Follower back out into Fan Position. This time around we started doing a basic Hockey Stick, but at the end we overturned the lady an extra 1/8th of a turn to line the Follower back up with us before going into three New Yorkers to finish.

Interestingly, Lord Junior said that it was good that he got to dance with all the Leads in class to really feel what they were doing, and that if more guys keep showing up to attend class he would try to do this once in a while to help the guys out. He made some pointed comments about the way that the other two guys in class were leading him through the pattern when they danced together. For Apollo, he said that he needed to back off because his lead was really forceful at certain times during the pattern. Seedling was the opposite though – there was one time where Lord Junior ended up just standing there without moving because Seedling was giving him no pressure at all to tell him what he should be doing.

Class on Wednesday night was quieter. I think that someone mentioned that a lot of schools in the area are on Spring Break this week, which is why there were a lot of people who normally come to class that were missing. It wasn’t just the Standard Technique class that I was in that was small – the group classes going on elsewhere in the studio were also smaller than normal that night too. Hopefully vacation was treating everyone kindly.

With only a handful of us in class, all of whom have been dancing for quite a while, Lord Junior was going to let us work on some more difficult figures this time around in the Foxtrot. At least, that was the plan… Bony ended up having a lot of trouble on the Fallaway Reverse and Slip Pivot, so we didn’t actually cover as much as Lord Junior had planned on when we started class because he kept going back to work on the pivots in that one figure with her. That was alright though, I still had fun.

The little progression that we used in class started out with a Three Step. It was a bit of a strange place to start, but we all made it work as best we could. From the Three Step we went into a basic Natural Turn and then an Open Impetus with Feather Ending. At the end of the Feather Ending we added on the aforementioned Fallaway Reverse and Slip Pivot, and took that right into a Double Reverse Spin, which is not a figure that is in the syllabus for International Foxtrot. Continuing with some Open-level choreography, we added on a Viennese Cross after the Double Reverse Spin and finished with a Left-side Lunge into a Oversway.

Are you excited for this weekend? I totally am! Like many other men you probably know, I am super pumped to see a movie tomorrow night. As I mentioned three weeks ago, my dance coach Lord Dormamu and I had been talking about this movie, and we were worried that if one of us saw the movie first we might accidentally spoil it for the other, so the two of us are totally going to see the movie on opening night together. It’s cool though – he and I are practically the same age, so it should be entertaining to go watch this movie together. Also the movie theater we are going to has a super fancy flavor of popcorn that I rarely get to have (I don’t go out to see movies very often), so I’m really excited for that as well.

Other than the cinematic excitement, there is another show that I am also going to see this weekend. There is a big dance showcase performance happening on Sunday evening that I got a ticket to go to as well. That should also be a lot of fun. I am pretty sure that I will know a lot of the people performing in this show, which always makes the performances more entertaining to me. Are you going to go? Let me know soon if you are, and that way I can save you a seat! I was told to get there early because they were expecting a lot of people to come out and watch, so it might be standing room only if you get there too late!

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