It Was So Exotic… But Just One Pogo Stick

Wanting to get out of the house a bit this weekend, I ended up heading over to the Endless Dance Hall early Saturday afternoon to attend the monthly workshop that Judge Dread teaches when he comes into town. This month he had planned to work on some Foxtrot with everyone. There were two sets of figures that Judge Dread showed everyone. Originally he kept them separate and distinct, but at the end of class he finally showed all the attendees how he recommended attaching the two together.

The first piece was one that I have seen before somewhere, but I can’t put my finger on where. My best guess is that it was in Standard Technique class, but I didn’t put in the effort to go back through my notes to confirm. The combination in question was a set of three Curved Three Steps with a Feather Finish. Judge Dread mentioned that the pattern had a different name in American Smooth, but I can’t for the life of me remember what he called it. My memory must be on the fritz tonight, since I can’t remember things!

A Curved Three Step is just what it sounds like if you’ve never done one before. To make the amount of curve needed easier at the beginning, Judge Dread said that people could start out facing down the line of dance if they wanted, but for more advanced dancers you would generally see this starting off facing diagonal wall. There are three of these in a row, although the middle Curved Three Step is actually going backward, which would technically make it a Curved Reverse Wave… but that doesn’t sound as cool.

After the Feather Finish, you would end up moving toward diagonal wall again, which would set you up to go through the whole thing again if there was enough room left on the floor. Partway through class I ended up moving so I could start off in front of everyone else while we were working on the pattern with partners. I had gotten sick of being stuck behind people who weren’t moving as much as I was trying to. Because of that, I wasn’t able to do the whole thing twice in a row with some partners who were able to move more, since we ran out of space and I didn’t want to run my partner into the far wall.

The second set of figures that Judge Dread had us look at was a bit more complicated, since we didn’t repeat the same figure all the way through. Starting out facing diagonal center, we did the first half of an Open Reverse Turn, and then the men went into a Progressive Chasse while the ladies did a Three-Step Turn (this one inside) to put us into Shadow Position. Here we did four Shadow Passing Twinkles. If you were fancy, there were options that you could do with your outside arm while keeping just one hand on your partner’s waist or shoulder, but the times I let go and just used one hand I ended up leaving my free hand at shoulder level behind the ladies arm so that I could take hold with both hands again at any time if needed.

After the fourth Shadow Passing Twinkle the men did another Progressive Chasse while leading the lady through another Three-Step Turn (this one outside) to get back into closed dance frame in Promenade Position. To finish we did a basic Feather Ending moving toward diagonal center. If you wanted (and had enough room) you could repeat the same progression a second time from that point, just like we had repeated the first progression twice in a row. Much like before, it was rare that I got through the progression completely on the second time through because that silly wall was in the way.

At the end of class Judge Dread told everyone that his recommendation for doing both progressions linked together was to do the second progression first, under turning the Feather Ending at the end so that you came out heading straight down the line of dance. That would set you up so that you could do the first set of Curved Three Steps easily enough, assuming you had the space left along the wall to fit both progressions in. After class was over, just before I put my street shoes back on, Sparkledancer came and found me and asked me to try the whole thing with her. I ended up having to short a few of the steps to fit it in successfully. Since this was the Endless Dance Hall, which has a much bigger floor than any other dance studio I’ve ever been in, I don’t think I could take steps small enough to fit the whole thing in anywhere else…

Weirdly enough, as Sparkledancer and I were dancing through the two patterns at the end just for laughs, someone along the side of the room was holding up his phone and tracking us with it as we danced down the floor. I’m fairly certain he was recording us dancing. What’s strange about that is that Judge Dread had given everyone the opportunity to record him doing the pattern, along with a brief explanatory narrative, at the end of class. I wondered why someone would feel the need to record a couple of Amateurs like us doing it when Judge Dread had allowed everyone to do that. The guy never came and said anything to the two of us after we stopped dancing, so hopefully what we had done will be helpful to him.
Monday night’s Latin Technique class was one of those classes where we did more repetition of basic technical points to help people rather than go over a bunch of difficult choreography. I think that might have been because we ended up having a lot more people in class than usual, including a new male who has only come to this class one other time, plus his female instructor who opted to dance Lead that night. We thought there would be even numbers, but then one lady showed up right before class was to begin so we ended up with one extra Follower, which wasn’t too bad. Lord Junior decided that we were going to work on Rumba that night.

We spent the first ten or twelve minutes just working on Rumba Walks back and forth down the length of the short side of the floor. These weren’t too bad for me, since I’ve done enough Rumba Walks over the years to know what I need to do. One comment that Lord Junior directed specifically at me was that he thought I was taking too big of a step as I traveled. When practicing the step by myself like we were, this wasn’t necessarily a problem, but if I had been dancing with a partner I probably would have been running her down.

Obviously I blame this on my focus on International Standard, where I have been trained to move as much as possible. My default steps are just naturally bigger, even during times when I have to adjust slightly to straighten my leg before I put weight on it. It’s hard to turn that off!

After Lord Junior got sick of watching us walk around, we switched to spend a bit of time looking at Turning Walks instead. While all of us practiced the Turning Walks, this was mostly important because he wanted to work with the Followers on Fan development next, and getting out into Fan Position requires the Follower to do a Turning Walk. These were done simply by stepping forward and turning, and then shifting weight to the other leg so we could step forward again and turn on the other side.

The new guy in class who has only come to Latin Technique once before did manage to somehow turn the wrong way in the Turning Walk a few times. That’s impressive considering that the position of your legs shouldn’t allow you do that, but somehow he managed. All of us, including him, had a good laugh about that once Lord Junior pointed out what he was doing.

There was a little choreography given at the end to let us (mostly the Followers) combine those ideas into something that could be used for more than practice. Starting in closed dance position, we led the Followers through a Cross-Body Lead and out into Fan Position. From there we went into a Hockey Stick, but on the second half we led her through a Spiral Turn and over rotated her so that at the end of the Hockey Stick she was facing away from us. As we checked forward we turned her back around and brought her toward us, linking up with our right arm as she got close so that we were in something close to Promenade Position. Finally we went through a Telespin, ending when we finished rotating 360° and were back in that fake Promenade Position.

Finally this week, I got to look at a little bit more Foxtrot on Wednesday night in Standard Technique class. There were a larger number of people than usual in class that night, much like there were on Monday night for Latin Technique class. No one new came, but there were some old familiar faces who hadn’t attended class in a really long time who decided to come back and join us for at least that evening. I’m wondering if word is starting to get out that we have recruited some new Leads who are showing up fairly regularly. That could be a strong draw for all those Followers who have come to class over the years when it was just Lord Junior and I dancing Lead, and then disappeared. That seems logical, right?

The figures that we covered weren’t new to me, but they were new and challenging to two of the other male students in class who had never seen them before, so we didn’t actually cover a whole lot that evening. We started with a basic Feather and then added on the Bounce Fallaway. For the first half of class we finished the Bounce Fallaway with the Weave Ending, as you would find in the syllabus version of the figure, but for the second half of class we replaced the Weave Ending with a Tumble Turn to increase the difficulty level.

Most everyone did pretty well in class. Lord Junior was giving Bony a hard time, telling her that she could move more if she just gave it a little effort. When I danced with her I ended up shortening my stride a lot after the first couple of attempts we made together, which helped her to get through the figures successfully. I know that’s probably not what Lord Junior wanted, but I felt it was better to succeed than to push too much and bail out early.

Apollo was having a hard time with getting the ‘bounce’ in the Bounce Fallaway on the right time. If he bounced too late, the ladies couldn’t turn properly back to dance position and the figure got all jammed up. If he bounced too early, sometimes then he would try to bounce again to compensate, so he kind of looked like he hopping down the floor. Luckily Sparkledancer went over to be his partner while Lord Junior was explaining something to the other ladies, and the two of them seemed to be able to sort through his issue together. By the end of class he had managed to get everything smoothed out, but I could tell that he had been getting a little frustrated. Poor guy!
There is a party on Saturday night that I have been told to go to already. The party is going to be at the Electric Dance Hall, and Lord Junior said he was going to be out of town this weekend, so he asked some of us at the end of class on Wednesday night to go to the party and dance with everyone for him. I didn’t have anything else planned yet, so I said that I would. So that’s where I’ll be. Are you going to be there too? If so, I’ll save you a dance. 🙂

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