Whatever Makes You Happy

Let me drift a bit off topic here today to tell you about the continued misadventures of Seedling…

I last saw him during that Pilates class I went to the Sunday before last, and since that day he has been doing a lot of things that I have heard about vicariously through Sparkledancer. When I have met up with Sparkledancer for practice several times this past week, she has had all kinds of things to tell me about his strange way of muddling through life. A few times she has even forwarded me messages from him that she received because she was having such a hard time figuring out if he is serious about what he is saying. It’s become pretty clear that Seedling lives in a very different headspace, where he thinks that he can make all kinds of stuff happen in his life without actually putting in much effort for it, which is why Sparkledancer questions what he says a lot of the time.

Previously I mentioned that Seedling was asked to leave the franchise dance studio where he was a member. The story that I got was that he was asking some questions of one of the female students at the studio who he thought was his friend, and when his questions toward this other student got weird somehow, one of the studio owners got dragged into the mix.

Seedling was unhappy with how the conversation was going, and even though he claims that he was ‘discussing’ the situation with the owner in a level-headed manner, somewhere along the line the owner threatened to call the police on him if he didn’t calm down. A few days later Seedling called to confirm his scheduled lesson with his instructor, and whoever was on the phone from the studio told him that his lessons had been cancelled, his money refunded and he was no longer welcome on premise. That was the end of his franchise studio membership.

He moped about this situation for a few days, sending Sparkledancer mean-spirited words about the studio owners and claiming that he was going to figure out some way to get in touch with his former instructor there. Because he was convinced that he and his instructor had a ‘connection’ and were meant to be more than just a teacher and student, he was going to ask her to start teaching him independently at one of the other studios in the Dance Kingdom. He knew in his guts that she was going to jump at the chance as soon as he asked her. Apparently Seedling had never heard of a non-compete clause before, and as soon as what that kind of clause is was explained to him, he had all sorts of choice words about how stupid that sounded.

Without a dance home, Sparkledancer pushed him to explore some of the other studios in the Dance Kingdom and see what other instructors were out there before doing something crazy like stalking his former instructor online and sending messages that might start trouble. He did take that advice and spent a few days going to some group classes and a Friday night dance party at a couple of the studios. Somehow in his search he ended up at the Prime Dance Hall of all places. This studio doesn’t really offer much in the way of group classes that Seedling could use to evaluate the studio, so he just called and signed up for one of their low-cost introductory private lessons instead.

That call was a life-changing event for Seedling. Holy cow. The minute he met the new instructor that had offered to give him his introductory lesson, all of his thoughts of his old instructor (including his crush on her) disappeared. After the first day at the Prime Dance Hall, Sparkledancer says that Seedling told her all about how the new instructor said that she was surprised that Seedling knew so much, and how he agreed with her that he “just had to” stay for another lesson after the introductory lesson was over (at full price, of course) because they had so many things to look at together.

…I’m sure the fact that this new instructor was shorter than average, blonde, also a fitness instructor, also a Yoga instructor, etc. etc. had nothing to do with him wanting to stay and hang around with her for longer. It was all purely about the dancing. Obviously.

So here we are, two-and-a-half weeks after that first lesson with the new girl. Seedling has dropped SO MUCH MONEY at the Prime Dance Hall in just two-and-a-half weeks, it’s crazy. He doesn’t make a lot on his job (he’s not afraid to tell people how much he makes per hour), but somehow he has managed to find over $5,000 to spend at the studio in just that short amount of time. Yeah. And at the rate he seems to be using his lesson packages, the amount of money he looks to drop at the studio will exceed what he takes home annually. But he doesn’t seem to care.

On top of that, because the Prime Dance Hall has an open studio policy for all current students, he is spending ridiculous amounts of time there. He claims that he is using all the extra time for practice, but he has also admitted that he was spending large chunks of time there before he had even been given routines or exercises to practice from his new instructor. What he was really doing there is anyone’s guess. He talks about watching dance videos to learn new things, but then he also spends large amounts of time sending messages to people outside the studio, one of them being Sparkledancer. It’s hard to watch dance videos to learn, and also hard to practice when you are constantly typing things on your phone, isn’t it?

Working hard, or hardly working?

The amount of money Seedling has already dropped at the studio is really surprising to me. The times I have talked to him, he always seemed to mention that he never had money to do the things he wanted and he was always looking for ways to earn more money without having to put in any effort to get a real education or an actual career. Since taking up dancing, he has been living paycheck-to-paycheck to pay for dance classes and lessons. When he forcibly left the franchise studio he claimed that it would save him money because he wouldn’t be paying for access to low-level classes he didn’t want to take anymore, but moving from unlimited group classes and one private lesson a week to nothing but private lessons several times a week is certainly negating any savings in cost he imagined.

Then again, now that I think about it, in some ways it’s really not surprising that he spent a sum like that. The owners at the Prime Dance Hall are best described as ‘slimy’ based on conversations with many of their former employees, which is why I so rarely go there. They keep a tight leash on their instructors while still trying to maintain a label as an ‘independent’ studio, and are always telling the instructors to have their students sign up for all kinds of expensive packages and outings to bring in more money for the venue. A lot of instructors have been brought in from other states or other countries to teach at the Prime Dance Hall. Many left there on short notice because they no longer wanted to be under the thumb of the owners of that studio. So the instructor that took on Seedling convincing him to part with large sums of money fits in with that kind of studio culture that I have been told about.

His original plan when going to the Prime Dance Hall was to start working on becoming a high-level International Latin competitor like he has talked about before. He is planning on competing in an upcoming Pro/Am competition in September, and has already started working on learning routines for that event. Seedling was quite insistent on telling Sparkledancer during one of their chat sessions that his new instructor is so much better than two other high-level female dance instructors in the area. I’m not sure how he knows the names of these two ladies, but they are two instructors whom I have met, who both have been competing since they were very young and have a whole bunch of dance titles under their names from various countries around the world.

I thought his claim sounded a little fishy when Sparkledancer told me that he had said that, and yet the rates to take lessons with his instructor are significantly less than what I know these other two ladies charge for their time and expertise. At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe I had just never heard about his new instructor before. The Sparkledancer told me that Seedling had admitted that he has never seen either of these two ladies dance before, which makes any comparison he tried to make sound really dumb because he only knows one side of the equation.

But now… a few days ago one of the managers at the Prime Dance Hall was talking to Seedling about how exciting it was that he was going to be doing his first competition in September, and also unexpectedly told him that this will also be his instructors first competition ever as well – Pro/Am or Amateur. Hearing that now leads me to believe that Seedling is saying that his new instructor is so good for other reasons. Now I believe that he thinks that his instructor is so much better than ladies he has never seen before simply because he is watching his new instructor dance with hearts in his eyes.

I talked with Sparkledancer about it at practice one night, telling her that I thought it was likely that he has already developed a crush on this new instructor just like he had on his old instructor. Sparkledancer just laughed at me and told me that if I read the things he wrote about this girl, I would be able to see that very plainly. Sparkledancer said that she told him early on not to develop feelings for his instructor because that could lead to him making poor decisions, but he never replies to her when she brings it up to try and confirm that he hasn’t done that. Avoidance often implies that someone is too embarrassed to say that the thing they were told not to do has already happened.

To take the weirdness of his crush on this lady up a notch, ever since Seedling started going to the Prime Dance Hall’s Friday night dance lessons and parties, which are mostly attended by newcomers, he has become convinced that he wants to become a dance instructor. I know that sounds like a noble pursuit and all, brought about by his love of correcting the mistakes of newcomers during class, but when pressed about actually following through with his goal to be a dance instructor, his reasons for wanting to do it are the kind of reasons that sound just plain creepy. He wants to become a dance instructor because A) he wants to be his new instructor’s Professional partner, so they can practice together all day and then compete together at big Pro events, and B) he wants to be paid to spend all day hanging out at what he calls his “happy place,” which is now the Prime Dance Hall.

If you try and tell him that he would really only get paid if he is at the studio teaching students, that just goes in one ear and out the other. Teaching is not what he focuses on as what you do when you’re a dance instructor. He thinks that his days will be filled with practicing with his Professional partner, and mentions very little about the concept of finding students and convincing them to give the studio money or actually teaching students how to dance. In fact, when it was mentioned to him that he could become an independent instructor at any time once he knows the female side of the figures so that he could teach students, he was surprised because he had never considered that he would have to know both the Lead’s and the Follow’s steps. Did he think that he would lead the figures so well when he’s an instructor that his students would be able to figure out what to do all by themselves?

Apparently he already asked one of the owners of the Prime Dance Hall if he can be trained to be an instructor. She gave him what I would call a ‘soft no’ by saying that they were currently training two instructors who were already working there, then had another three waiting in the wings to be trained, but maybe after that they could look into it. He thinks that means that he is already in, and one day in fact he had been telling Sparkledancer how he was researching apartments that are near the studio that he could move into that area in the next few months… except that these apartments are a little over an hour from his current job, which would add time (and cost) to his commute to make money every day so he could spend it on dancing. Does he cart-before-the-horse much?

So… yeah. Seedling may never come back to the Electric Dance Hall. It sounds like he is already spending four- to eight-hours a day at the Prime Dance Hall Monday through Friday, so he has no time to do anything else. Yup. Four- to eight-hours a day, with only part of that time used for taking lessons, and only a little bit of practicing on his own. What else is he doing there? Who knows. Most days of the week they don’t have group classes or parties, so he is… just hanging around? Sitting at a table and chatting with people over various messaging apps? I don’t know. He said that this week he has moved up to taking two lessons a day, so that’s some more of his time at the studio accounted for, but that still leaves at least two-and-a-half hours or more that he only half-explains how he fills.

Well… that rambled on for a bit longer than I planned. I guess I’ll end things here by talking about Standard Technique class last night. I thought it was a lot of fun, and it was just last night so it is fresh in my memory. We didn’t have anyone new in class last night so we could actually work on Quickstep for a change, which was great! As promised, Lord Junior looked at the Running Right Turn for both Sparkledancer and I, since that was the specific figure that we asked him about which brought up Quickstep in the first place two weeks ago.

Because Sparkledancer and I had figured out all our issues with the figure during previous practice sessions this past week, we were able to work with Lord Junior on refining our sway and Sparkledancer’s head movements during the figure rather than just focusing on the timing and footwork. The other students in class spent most of the hour just trying to get those pieces right, sometimes in pretty hilarious ways. It made the class pretty amusing to be in.

We started off the Running Right Turn in the first corner along one of the short walls of the studio, and used that figure to cover the whole short wall before going into another basic Natural Turn to turn the second corner. From there we did a few Open-level figures to close things out: an Open Impetus into a Promenade Lunge followed by an Oversway, and then to finish we did a series of bunny hops in place while holding out one leg before coming out into an Open Natural Turn. The hopping action was to bounce on the right leg for two beats, then the left leg for two, then one on the right leg, one on the left, and a final bounce on the right leg before settling and pushing out onto the left leg on the eighth beat so that we could go into the Open Natural Turn.

Wait a minute… when did that guy get here?

Class that night started out with myself, Apollo, Sparkledancer and a young lady who was home on break from college, but ten minutes into class Lord Junior’s intern also decided to join us once she finished up all the front desk stuff she had been working on. It was a good group of people to be around, because while all of us were willing to work hard to get what we were doing right, none of us took things so seriously that we couldn’t laugh when we messed things up. And trust me, we messed up enough to be laughing pretty consistently throughout the class.

After class was over, Apollo was hanging around and talking with Sparkledancer and the college girl. I got pulled into the conversation just before I took my shoes off. Apollo was asking about why he had so much trouble at the end of the Running Right Turn with the ladies rotating to go into Promenade Position. He had asked the ladies there if they had any thoughts, but also wanted to see if I could help out since I had gotten through the figure without anyone opening to Promenade Position for me.

After watching him do the Running Finish (which is what the last three steps of the Running Right Turn are), I saw him doing the same thing that I saw him do a couple of times during class when I was able to watch. As he was dancing with Sparkledancer and she was helping him feel what it was like to have his body in Contra-Body Movement Position (CBMP), I saw that he was also letting his left arm push forward. That turned out to be the key once I pointed out what he was doing.

Neither Sparkledancer nor the young college girl weighed very much (they are both really tiny compared to Apollo, and super small compared to me), so as he was rotating his body to be in CBMP, when he also brought his left arm forward the ladies couldn’t do anything to fight back and their bodies would open up away from him like Promenade Position. As soon as I had him pull his elbow back and keep it in line with his shoulder, the next time he tried the figure he was able to get the lady into Outside Partner without causing her to open all the way out to Promenade Position. Look at that! Group problem solving! If all four of us worked together, we could probably teach a class and be almost as competent as an actual instructor!

Maybe we all should look into career changes, just like Seedling. Do they allow “team teaching” for ballroom instructors? 🙂

The next few days are already pretty full of dance items for me. Lord Dormamu got back in town yesterday after his overseas excursion to some big training camp and competition. He had a friend of his, who also happens to be a high-level dance coach, meet him in town today so that they could discuss some business. Because he was in town for today only, I was signed up to meet with him for a coaching session before even meeting up with Lord Dormamu again so that he could look at my new routines to begin polishing them. So yeah… that was weird, but I’ll talk more about that coaching session next time.

I do have two lessons on the book for Friday and Saturday with Lord Dormamu to make up for not being able to see him over the last couple of weeks. Hopefully by the end of this weekend we will have our Tango routine completed and will be able to start looking at the other three to get his feedback on how we’ve been doing with them so far. So much to do!! I hope my brains survives the influx of information I am expecting…

2 thoughts on “Whatever Makes You Happy

  1. Can we take a moment to appreciate the herculean feat that I accomplished by successfully directing Seedling towards the Prime Dance Hall rather than our Electric Dance Hall? It was several day of trying to reason with a particularly unpleasant, obstinate brick wall that fixated on “facts” that were, well… made up, yet held tightly as truth.

    It was… a lot. My eye still twitches just thinking about it. Gold star to me, and all the other ladies of the Electric Dance Hall–we’re the true winners here. The Prime Dance Hall doesn’t really have group classes, so I don’t have to feel bad about foisting him onto the ladies there outside of their weekly socials. To his new instructor–my bad, but you’ve also weaseled over $5000 out of him in 2 weeks, so… I’m going to consider us even.

    On one hand, I feel a little sorry for the Prime Dance Hall for inheriting this trainwreck of an individual, but then again, the Prime Dance Hall has some highly questionable characteristics. In the battle of Seedling’s…. seedlingness… vs. the Prime Dance Hall’s sliminess, I’m currently giving a slight edge to the Prime Dance Hall. All things considered, it’s a fairly even match.

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