I got out of the house on Saturday night to go to a dance party at the Electric Dance Hall. While I was tempted to stay home and just relax after taking care of a bunch of stuff all day long, I figured that going out to see people was important. Besides, next weekend is a holiday weekend, which will give me an extra day to either accomplish things or relax. I like options!
A couple of people I wasn’t expecting to see decided to come out to the party that night, which was great. Sparkledancer was one of them. She wasn’t there to dance so much as to get out and see all her friends whom she hadn’t seen in a while, but she told me that she had taken some painkillers so that she could dance a little if she wanted.
The other person who came that night whom I hadn’t seen in ages was Lord Junior’s intern girl. I had heard that she got a different job, so I had assumed that she was just never at the studio anymore. It turns out that she does still come pretty regularly, but now she is around on nights when I’m not at the Electric Dance Hall so I haven’t seen her because we just haven’t crossed paths. I guess I can chalk that one up as being my fault for not hanging out at the studio all the time. Silly me…
She had brought her boyfriend with her to the party that night. I bring that up because of a bit of a funny side note – at one point during the evening, Intern Girl was out on the floor during a line dance. Boyfriend was just hanging around up front without her, since he didn’t know the line dance… or really any dances. During that line dance, I had wandered up front to snag a few things from the snack table. He stopped me as I was walking by and wanted to ask me if I was in the military, because he was and he thought that it was cool if he had found another serviceman at a party like this.
Now I have no military background, but believe it or not, this wasn’t actually the first time that I have been asked that question. Intern Girl’s boyfriend told me that he had thought I looked military because I was standing so straight and I was in good shape. I’m not sure why people assume that if you are in shape and know how to stand up straight that there must be military discipline underneath that. For me, I just like being in shape, and the posture stems from a combination of all the dance training I’ve undergone plus the body confidence I have from years and years of working hard on my physique. I just thought it was an amusing side note, which is why I am writing it down.
Anyway… before the party kicked off, Lord Junior gave a lesson on Cha-Cha, and the material he chose to cover at the end was a bit of a stretch for a lot of the people in class. He said that his goal was to go over some things that were pretty basic for all the new dancers that were there that night, then do something a little harder for the more experienced dancers, and to finish with something that was pretty challenging. Well the challenging portion of the class was the kind of advanced movement that I usually only see in Latin Technique class, so many of the purely social dancers in the room thought it was way over their heads. A lot of people ended up dropping out and going to sit on the sidelines instead when they couldn’t get it right after a few tries.
Lord Junior started off by showing everyone the basic chasse going left and right, as that’s where all newcomers tend to start. There were a handful of brand new people in class that night, so he wanted to make sure they got a chance to practice the most basic of steps. Then he moved on to doing chasses going forward and backward (i.e. Lock Steps). He told everyone that as they advance in Cha-Cha the basic left and right chasses tend to fall away and people do the forward and back versions more often. Moving up from that he had everyone do the Three Cha Cha Chas going forward and backward.
Sounds easy enough, right? Even most of the newcomers to Cha-Cha were hanging with us still at this point and getting by just fine. For the most challenging part of class, Lord Junior had us add two 180° pivot turns between each Lock Step. Since the first Lock Step started with the Lead’s right foot going forward, the first two pivots turned both partners to the right, and then the second Lock Step has the Lead’s left foot going forward so the pivots turn to the left. Going backward obviously requires you to do the opposite, turning left then right.
This was what messed up a bunch of people and a lot of them decided to step out of class rather than work through the pivots. A few of the newcomers stuck with it and tried their best, so that was nice to see. When Lord Junior tried to help people out by saying that they could switch hands during the pivot so that you could push off for the second set of pivots to make those easier, that just messed a lot of people up so he told them to stick with doing everything with the same hand the whole way down. I switched back and forth between the two hand options, depending on what hand my partner was offering me. I thought it was fun.
During the party afterward, I ended up having quite a few snacks. This is only a sort-of dance related note – I’m currently going through a ‘cut’ phase in my diet, and because of Sparkledancer’s injury I have cut back a lot more calories than I usually do because I am not out practicing most nights of the week. I think that I may have under-estimated what I was doing that night, because about an hour into the party I was RAVENOUS. That’s what led me to the snack table during the line dance when Intern Girl’s boyfriend decided to ask me about being in the military. Or maybe the snacks were just calling to me all night just to set me up for that funny moment… I suppose that could be the case as well. Those crazy snacks and their sense of humor!
In Latin Technique class on Monday night the ladies got to work on some Rumba. Yes, I am saying it that way for a reason. The first figure that Lord Junior wanted to look at when we started class was a challenging figure for the Followers, but relatively easy for the Leader to get through. From what Lord Junior said when class started, we were going to do that figure to challenge the Followers and then afterward look at a figure that would be a challenge for the Leads, but we ended up spending so much time on the first figure that we never got to any other challenging steps. Because of that, like I said it was pretty much a class that was just work for the ladies.
There were three ladies that joined us in class that night. One of them was a brand new person whom I had never met before. I could tell by how she responded to my leads that she had done a little partner dancing before, but she definitely hadn’t done any International Rumba. When we started off in Fan Position and then I led her to close, she knew that she was supposed to do something with her legs, but the way she moved them to close from Fan Position wasn’t quite right. Since Fan is one of the first figures you are normally taught in Bronze Rumba, I am fairly certain this was all new for her. That was cool though – more new friends in class is always fun!
The figure that we started with that we spent all the time on that night was the Three Alemanas, something from the Gold Rumba syllabus. If you’ve ever seen the figure, you know that the Leads don’t really do anything – we check forward as we close the lady from Fan, check backward as we lead the lady through the first Alemana, do a Cucaracha to the left as we lead the lady through the second Alemana, and then a final check backward as we lead her through the third. Being a leader does have certain advantages sometimes. 🙂
What caused most of the grief for the ladies in the figure that night was the transition from the first Alemana to the second. Basically the ladies end the first Alemana on the man’s right side, then we lead them to turn to the right quickly so they can take a step forward away from us, and once they arrive on that leg we then lead them to do a Spiral Turn to the left. That quick change of turning one way and then turning the other way was where we spent a lot of our time repeating things slowly to give the ladies a chance to get the feeling of the quick turns down.
Once Lord Junior felt like the ladies had gone through the Three Alemanas enough, we added on two things before finishing up that night. The first was a Natural Opening Out Movement on the man’s right side, and we over-rotated the lady as she closed back to dance frame with us so that we could start a Reverse Top. The Reverse Top was only done for three measures in the music, and at the end of the third measure we would just release the lady and allow her to roll out back into Fan Position. There would have been more after that, but we only had a couple of minutes left in class so instead Lord Junior had us each try the whole thing once with each partner to music at full tempo just to see how everything went.
I thought that Standard Technique class this week was entertaining. We had more men come for class than women this week, which makes my heart happy to begin with. There was a brand new lady who joined us for class too, someone whom I have never even seen around before, which was also fun. With the lady that I got to meet on Monday night in Latin Technique class, that’s two new ladies I’ve had the chance to dance with this week, which also makes me happy. There was a new gentleman who came to class as well. I think I’ve seen him around before at some dance event, but since I don’t usually dance with other men it’s hard to know for sure. Also Sparkledancer came to class as well! Yay! So many happy people!
We decided to look at some Tango that night. As soon as we chose that dance style, the new gentleman asked Lord Junior if we could look over the Four Step, because that figure had been giving him trouble recently in a lesson he had with his normal instructor. Lord Junior said we could definitely look at that for him, then spent a moment mentally picking out a couple of figures that would go together for us to work on through the whole class.
To honor the request made, we started off with a Four Step – doing it as if we were moving toward diagonal wall in a corner so that we would come out in Promenade Position ready to travel down the new line of dance. Next we added on the Fallaway Promenade, taking the Fallaway steps on an angle toward diagonal center so that we would be moving down the floor the whole time. Finally we did something more challenging, which was a variation on the Natural Twist Turn.
This variation started off using the same first three steps like a normal Natural Twist Turn, but as soon as we put weight on the leg for that third step we did two 180° Natural Pivots before stepping back and slightly side and then hooking our right leg behind for the actual Twist Turn. Because we had added on extra steps and we didn’t want to extend the figure too much, the twist was sped up a bit, requiring syncopated steps from the ladies as they went around us before we settled back into Promenade Position. Maybe doing this variation in class was inspired by the pivots he had the class work on the previous Saturday night.
Since we had four men and three ladies when class started, Lord Junior danced the Follower’s part throughout the whole class. This actually turned out to be a good thing, because the other three men in class were newer to the more advanced concepts of Standard, so this gave Lord Junior an opportunity to feel what they were trying to do and help them work through the figures as he danced with them. It was funny though – with me it was a different story. After the second or third time he rotated through the line and we danced together, when we finished he punched me in the shoulder and laughed, saying “You’re forcing me to work on being a better lady.” That’s quite a compliment in my opinion!
What do you have planned for this weekend? I know that there’s a big dance event going on Saturday night that I am thinking about going to, but it depends on how things go earlier in the day. It is a holiday weekend, after all, and I have a bunch of stuff on my to-do list for this weekend. What kind of labor do you have planned for this weekend to celebrate the holiday? Slaying a golden-furred monster lion? Cleaning out some filthy stables in a single day? Collecting an Amazon Queen’s girdle for fun and profit? Or maybe just a bit of light shopping? Whatever your labors may be this weekend, I hope that they are all successful for you.