But Look At You Now, It’s Dark And You’re Gone

How much random stuff have you learned about sharks this week, all because there are shows about sharks on all the time in the background of every place you go? I’ve been enjoying it way more than the boring or depressing news shows that places normally have on in the background. I might even go out on a limb and say it’s been pretty… jaw-some.

Yup, I put that in writing, and I am not ashamed. 😛

Just like I said last week, I was told to go to a dance party on Saturday night. There was going to be a party at the Electric Dance Hall, but Lord Junior had to leave town so he wasn’t going to be able to attend the event at his studio. Last Wednesday night after Standard Technique class was over he told a bunch of us in class that we should go to the party for him and make sure that any potential newbies were taken care of. I couldn’t say no to a request like that, so that’s how I spent my Saturday night.

Prior to leaving town, Lord Junior had asked a different instructor that he knew to come in and be in charge that night – basically to teach a class before the party that would cover some simple steps, and then to stick around and run the music during the party itself. I had met this instructor a few times prior to that night, but this was the first time I had ever had a chance to take a class of hers. It was… well, it felt really disorganized to me. Like she hadn’t put in any thought into what she would be teaching before she started, and on top of that she seemed to lack any class management skills as well.

The class started really late. It was supposed to start on the hour, but she didn’t get around to calling everyone out to the floor until a quarter after. She had everyone start off by getting into a big circle and yelling out their names. I say yelling because that’s pretty much what you had to do – there were about forty people there for the start of the class, and several of them were just standing on one side of the dance floor and chatting as the class started rather than joining in, so you had to be loud for others to hear you over the din.

Once everyone had more-or-less introduced themselves, she asked everyone to vote on what dance style they wanted her to teach. This process took almost ten minutes, since she put no preconditions on what styles you could vote for. The first couple of rounds were just her pointing at everyone around the circle and having people call out any dance style they wanted to do. Then she took what she said were the four styles she had heard the most and went around the circle again, this time having everyone call out which of those four they wanted. You would think that we would have only needed four passes to pick a style doing it this way – from anything goes down to four styles, then down to two styles and finally a winner, but we ended up going around the circle six times for some reason before she came to a final verdict.

That winner ended up being Cha-Cha. The pattern she went through wasn’t too difficult to get down… that is, if you were paying attention. We started with a starter step moving to the Lead’s right, then did one-and-a-half basics, an Underarm Turn for the Follower, then three New Yorkers followed by a variation of the Solo Turns where the Lead held onto the Follower’s right hand and both partners went under their own arm. Coming out of that we did two Time Steps into a Hand-to-Hand, then normal Solo Turn where we weren’t holding on to our partner during the spin, finishing with a basic chasse to the right which would allow you to repeat the whole thing if desired.

There were two problems that were apparent during this class. One was the Solo Turns where she asked the Leads to hold onto the Follower’s hand during the turn. I heard several women complain that it felt like their arms or shoulders were getting all twisted or yanked awkwardly while trying to do this figure. Especially since some of the taller guys tried to do this variation with every lady they danced with, even those ladies who were not tall enough to make this comfortable.

I did it a couple of times with people I knew, but I ended up throwing the variation out and just settling for turning the Followers in a simple Spot Turn instead. Since I’m taller than most ladies, this just seemed like the safest thing to do. A few ladies asked me about it since I was doing it differently than everyone else, but I also had several ladies thank me and tell me that it felt so much more natural to turn like that.

The other problem with class was that the instructor seemed to have no control over the class, as I mentioned earlier. It wasn’t that she was being overly quiet or anything and no one could hear her, it just seemed that people didn’t care enough about what she was saying to listen. People kept wandering off to have different conversations, leaving the partners that they would have otherwise rotated to dance with high and dry. The people who still hadn’t joined class and were just having a loud conversation in a group were doing so in a spot that took up a large chunk of the dance floor, so they were blocking traffic during rotations. Both ladies and men kept dropping out of the class for some reason, so by the end it seemed like we had a third of the people sitting out.

I’m not sure what she could have done differently to keep a handle on the situation. Maybe everyone had gone out to dinner before the party and had too much dessert, so they were hyped up on sugar? Maybe it was because everyone knew that Lord Junior was out of town, so everyone could run wild while the studio owner was away? It was just noticeable to me that things were a bit out of hand, so that must have been pretty bad if even someone as dense as me saw this going on.

Moving on… OK, this section will probably sound a little cryptic to anyone who wasn’t there, but I have to make a note of it anyway so that I can look back on this in the future and either laugh or cry, depending on how things work out in the months to come…

Sunday night I got invited to a dinner meeting with a couple of people I dance with frequently so we could discuss a couple of dance-related topics. The first topic was a competition that I have volunteered to help out with earlier this year in a semi-administrative perspective. The people I met with wanted to talk about some new ideas and changes that they were going to make to the competition for next year that they were really excited about, and they thought would bring in a lot more people to dance at the event. One change that they were already in the process of making could possibly even bring in dancers from outside of the country to the event.

I think I was being told all this information because I’m going to be asked to help out with this event again in another semi-administrative position. There are still quite a few months to go before I would be asked to do anything major, but it was good to know that if I get pulled into the mix that all of this new stuff would be on the table. Now I can keep this in the back of my mind so that I’ll know what needs to be changed in my approach by the time I would start my part of the event preparations.

But all this information about the competition was just pretext for another discussion that one guy was really excited to share with the rest of us. And that discussion involved asking me if I wanted to get back into the world of dance politics as an active player. I haven’t had any say in the world of dance politics since I resigned my position on the Royal Dance Court, but this potentially would require a lot more of my time than that role ever did.

So, as you can imagine, I was a bit hesitant to just agree and throw my hat in right there while I was still working on finishing my cheeseburger. Between my actual job, my cat’s demands for my attention and my competitive dance training, I don’t know if I have a ton of time to put into something like the position that was discussed would require. Still, I tentatively offered to take a look at things to see what I could figure out. Even if I don’t sign up for an official role in this new political dance venture, that doesn’t mean I can’t help this guy achieve the role that he wants.

So… yeah. I’ll just leave it there, and come back to it later when details become more concrete. It could be hilarious. Or stressful. Or both is also an option, I suppose. We’ll have to see what happens.

The last thing I’ll talk about this week was Standard Technique class last night. Somehow we ended up with more men than women in Standard Technique class for the first time that I can really think of. During some rounds Lord Junior actually stepped in to dance the Follower’s part to help one of the newer guys out, rather than letting them dance through the figures by themselves.

There’s one newer guy who came to both Latin Technique and Standard Technique this week, as well as last week. If he keeps this up, I will end up having to think of a name for him. I’ve known him for a while, having seen him on-and-off at various places for dance parties. Since he comes from a social dancing background and is just starting to dip his toes into the world of competitive dancing, some of the things we did in Standard Technique class were really over his head. For instance, at the end of class he asked me if I could explain to him what CBMP means, since the term has come up several times in the Technique classes and he still wasn’t quite grasping the meaning.

I think he’ll stick around though. Much like our other recent male addition Apollo, this new guy also seems really motivated to improve. He does have a job that requires him to travel quite a bit, so there will probably be weeks when we won’t see him in class because he is out of the area, but he did tell me that he has gone to random ballroom studios in cities he was visiting for work. That tells me that he is pretty serious about learning to dance. Hooray!

The set of figures that we looked at in class that night were pretty familiar to me. Many of them are used in similar combinations in my current Waltz routine, in fact. We started with a Half Natural Turn, went into an Open Impetus, then a Quick Open Reverse, followed by a Reverse Corte and a Back Whisk and came out into a Chasse from Promenade Position. There would have been more, but we ran out of time so we ended there to give everyone a chance to practice the figures with music a bunch of times.

That’s all I’m going to go into right now. I did end up having a coaching session with Lord Dormamu tonight as well, but this post already seems long so I will hold off on writing about that until next time. Doing dance things on Thursdays always seems to throw me off a little. It feels like whatever I did should be part of the notes I post that week, but since I usually have my posts all written before Thursday night and I just proofread them and take pictures before I upload them, I usually end up leaving out any Thursday night activities. If there is anything noteworthy that happened, that information ends up at the beginning of the next week’s post instead.

So, until next week, keep on dancing, and enjoy the last few days of shark knowledge. Until then, I will leave you with  this joke:

What do you get from a bad-tempered shark?

As far away as possible…


Goodnight folks!

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