Welcome To Where Time Stands Still

The big event going on in the Dance Kingdom this past weekend was a charity dance to help raise money for youth ballroom dancing clubs. Since I’ve met a number of these youth dancers over the years – I see them around working with their instructors, and several of them have also ended up at the same competitions as I am attending frequently – I decided to go out to the party that night as well to support the cause. My support didn’t exactly involve me donating money to the cause like I thought it would before I got there. Once I saw how the event was set up, I ended up spending most of the night helping out in a very different manner than I originally anticipated.

Most of the money that night was being raised by a squadron of dance instructors recruited from all over the Dance Kingdom. The list of dance styles being played by the DJ had been decided on weeks before the party, and the organizers of the event were allowing people to make donations to the charities in exchange for getting to put their name on one of the instructors dance cards for a dance style of their choosing. There were also a few silent auctions going on in the background and some raffles where you could win prizes (which were the things I had planned on putting my donations towards), but the majority of money raised that night came from donations made to dance with all the instructors. I know this because I had a side conversation with one of the organizers of the event during the evening, and she mentioned it to me.

This setup changed the way I helped out that night because I was one of the few non-instructor male dancers who came to the party. The majority of the dance instructors who had been asked to help out at the party that night were male, so most of the people that attended the party were female. There were a few notable females who any men attending could sign up to dance with – obviously the Princess was there, since she loves children, and Indiana was sitting nearby. But I only counted three females, and there were ten to twelve males instructors, so you can see what kind of imbalance in the ratio of people attending the party there was.

I’m not entirely sure what about this setup kept the normal population of male social dancers away, but there was a noticeable lack of them out on the dance floor. When I talked with Sparkledancer about it later, she told me that she guessed it was because a lot of the notable older male social dancers who frequent ballroom social dances like to be seen as the best dancers on the floor (something something ‘gifts to all female dancers’ something). At a party of the kind I went to this weekend, where there were so many male instructors donating their time to help out the charities – and some of these male instructors have distinguished competitive careers – these social dancers would clearly not be the best dancers on the floor. In her opinion that would be enough to keep them away.

So most of my time that evening was spent filling the void left by all the missing male social dancers and dancing with ladies who hadn’t managed to sign up for one of the instructors dance slots during any particular song. Lucky for me, I wasn’t alone in this task. There were a couple of the older students from two different youth ballroom clubs (older meaning high school age) who were also working the crowd like I was to help prevent ladies from sitting out for too long. It wasn’t exactly how I had imagined the night going as I was driving out to the studio that evening, but it was pretty fun.

Monday was a holiday, but there was still Latin Technique class being held that night for anyone who had nothing better to do. Since I had gotten everything I needed to do out of the way earlier in the day, I decided to attend, and there was actually a fair number of others who came as well. Lord Junior was actually a bit surprised to see us all. He had planned on doing a bit of Samba, and just giving whomever came some exercises to work on during class that they wouldn’t need a partner for since he didn’t know how many people would show up.

Even though the ratio wouldn’t have been too bad (three Leads if Lord Junior joined in to five Followers), he still stuck with his original plan. The first thing he had us work on were Batucadas. Mine went OK that night – they still aren’t particularly great, and if I am thinking about shifting my hips from front to back it basically eliminates all the circular motion that should also be there, but otherwise they went OK. I can at least perform that version without the circular motion at tempo without tripping over my own feet most of the time… I think I only tripped myself up once that night. Yay!

We spent a large part of the class working through Cruzados Walks and Locks. It’s a figure from the Gold syllabus, but Lord Junior made sure to emphasize to his competitive students in class that once they move up to Gold the old Bronze-style Samba Walks basically get thrown out the window and no one ever does them again, so all his students should start practicing them early on to make life easier down the road. He had us do two different styles of Locks during this phase: normal ones like you would find in the syllabus book, and then syncopated ones to help some people work on their agility.

Since it was a holiday, we had the floor all to ourselves that night, so Lord Junior put the figure together in such a way that we could travel down the entire length of the floor, which is not something we usually get to do. First we did two Cruzados Walks and Locks, the first one starting on the right leg and the second on the left. At the end of the second we added on two of the Syncopated Locks. Once we finished up those he had us do a set of the Samba Locks just to change things up. Samba Locks require stepping on a straight leg to do them properly, so after doing all the other steps beforehand on a bent leg I think the first Samba Lock felt a bit awkward.

At the end of class Lord Junior had us work on Body Rolls just for his amusement. I wasn’t really having a lot of fun doing these that night – before class I had been out working on my shoulders, and I had pushed myself to use heavier weights on the exercises for my rear delts, so I could really feel it in the back of my shoulders all throughout class. Trying to do a Body Roll through that section of my back was pretty comical from what I could see in the mirror.

I thought I would be fine since it was Latin and not Standard. Oh how wrong I was…

Finally, yesterday night I got to work on Viennese Waltz in Standard Technique class. Since there isn’t much a person can do with International Viennese Waltz, and Apollo came to class that night and he isn’t quite ready to try out either of the Fleckerls yet, after we spent some time warming up with the Reverse and Natural Turns Lord Junior switched us over to American Viennese Waltz for the remainder of the class. That gave him a lot more options to choose from for figures to look at that evening.

What we ended up with wasn’t super difficult, in my opinion. We started out with one-and-a-half Natural Turns and then added on an Open Impetus to get us quickly into Promenade Position. From there we did two Promenade and Counter Promenade Runs while banking around the corner of the room onto the short side of the floor. An Open Natural Turn was used next to get back into dance frame with our partner, and a Running Finish was used to turn the next corner and put us on the second long wall. From there we did a Forward Run in place of a Change Step to switch feet and set us up to do Reverse Turns down the wall until the next corner where we stopped. Since everyone started out along the fourth wall of the room, Lord Junior had us end without adding anything on to keep the wall clear for safety.

I danced with Sparkledancer the most in class, since I had already have experience watching out for her injury.

It’s kind of exciting – I have tomorrow off of work. That means it’s only a three-day week for me. I have two appointments set up in the morning (which is why I took the day off), but then the rest of the day I can do whatever I want. That’s unusual for me. I haven’t figured out what to do with all my time yet. I heard that there’s dance parties going on at several studios that I could go to, so that’s always an option. My cat tells me that I should stay home the whole rest of the day so that she can fall asleep on my lap. That’s also an option. It’s a tough call, right?

What do you have planned? If you’ve got nothing going on, you could come sit here so my cat can fall asleep on you while I go out dancing.

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