Teacher Don’t You Fill Me Up With Your Rules

I went out this past Saturday night with the intention of going to a dance party at the Electric Dance Hall. Even more than that, I left my house a bit early to make sure that I got there on time for the event, since the last dance party I went to I ended up getting there a bit late. I was feeling pretty good about my ability to get my act together… until I turned down the street where the Electric Dance Hall is and saw that it was completely black inside the building as I drove by.

My first thought was ‘Oh crap, did the party get cancelled and no one told me?’ I really don’t spend any time on social media, so if no one calls to let me know that plans are changing I end up going along with whatever I was going to do in complete ignorance. Worried that this was going to end up being one of those times, I pulled around the back of the building to the parking lot with the intention of looking things up on my phone to see if it was time to drive home. There was one other car sitting in the parking lot in the closest spot to the entrance, and I could see heads in the windows as I pulled up. I figured I could say hi to whomever was in the cars and see if they knew anything, so I parked nearby and got out of my car..

That car ended up belonging to Apollo. He had also come out to the party (but he had his whole family in tow), and had the same shock that I did when he got there and found the place dark and empty. Since he had been there for ten minutes or so by the time I arrived, he had already made some phone calls to find out what was up. He had managed to get hold of Lord Junior, who told him that he had gone out to a function that evening so he had asked another instructor who teaches at his studio to start the party for him until he could get there after the event was over. Both Apollo and Lord Junior had then called this other instructor and found out that she was running late, and even though she was late she was still planning on stopping at the store to pick up snacks for the party before she came over, so it would be a little bit before she arrived. Oh no!

By this time a few more cars had shown up, and among the new people to the party we were quickly gathering in the parking lot were Bony and Sparkledancer. Now that a crowd was beginning to gather, I figured that we shouldn’t just hang out outside under the parking lot lights until the instructor showed up to let us all in. Luckily I knew the secret kitty way to get into the building (yes, it does involve a kitty. If you see me sometime, ask me about it and I will show you!), so I let everyone into the studio.

We had enough people by then to get the ball rolling, so we divided up the work. Sparkledancer decided to man the front desk and collect money from everyone coming in. I went around and began turning things on, like all the lights and the sound system. I even connected to the sound system with my phone and started playing some songs so that it wasn’t awkwardly quiet in the studio. Since I only use my phone for music when I am practicing, the only songs I had stored there were all for International Standard, but no one complained.

When the instructor finally arrived and saw that several of us were already there running the show, she handed off the snacks that she had brought to Apollo for him to arrange on the front table, and then started going around to talk to all the other people who had shown up. By the time she finished, we were a little beyond the scheduled time for the party to start but still doing pretty good. She called everyone to the floor and said that she was going to begin the pre-party lesson at that point.

The reason she had gone around to talk to everyone was to figure out what the crowd was interested in learning about during the lesson. From the feedback she had been given, the class was going to cover Waltz that night. Since a number of people who came to the party were relatively new to dancing, she planned to start things off pretty simply for their sake. Also, as luck would have it, the song that was playing quietly in the background was a Waltz piece, so that seemed fortuitous.

Of all the people who showed up at the studio that night for the party, the most unexpected one I saw was Seedling. He decided several months ago to move on and start taking lessons with a lady at the Prime Dance Hall, so I never really see him any more. I knew he was still dancing since he still talks to Sparkledancer fairly frequently and tells her all about what he is up to.

As you might guess, he is already in love with his new instructor from the Prime Dance Hall, so he has forgotten all about his crush on his old instructor. His goal in life is to be hired on as an instructor at the Prime Dance Hall so that he can spend all his time there and become the ‘Professional Partner’ of his new instructor so that they can practice together constantly and then he can do lifts with her (yes, that is super important to him for some reason).

At this party, Seedling had a friend who came out to dance with him. What I gathered from her was that she used to dance a lot years ago, but then she got into a relationship with a guy who didn’t like her going out and doing things without him, but he refused to go out and take dance lessons with her, so she ended up stopping. She finally realized how unhealthy that was a short while ago and got out of that situation, so now she is trying to get back into dancing. When she would rotate through during class.

Normally that wouldn’t be all that interesting, and would be something that I would encourage, but in between dances when she didn’t have a partner she would go sit at a table along the side of the dance floor and pull out her e-cigarette. I think in all the years that I have been dancing, I have only ever seen one other person who decided that it was totally cool to use their e-cigarette in the dance studio when other people were around, and I remember that guy because he was brought to the studio by his wife and clearly didn’t want to be there.

Normally I don’t really care too much if people are using things like that on the other side of the room from me, but whatever it was that she was using in that e-cigarette had a pretty strong smell to it, and I could smell it as I traveled around the room during ballroom dances and danced through that general area of the floor. I didn’t think it was all that pleasant.

I guess that’s not all that interesting of a story from that party, but it sticks out in my mind, so I’m writing it down in my notes this week. Let’s move on to other more interesting notes…

I know it hasn’t been that long, but it feels like forever since I have written anything about Latin Technique class, doesn’t it? Last week I didn’t go to class, since I moved over that weekend and I thought it was more important for me to stay home and continue unpacking that evening. This week though I made sure to head out to class, and it was a lot of fun. Everyone was being really silly that night for some reason, and it was making me laugh a lot. I’m going to claim that the silliness was brought on by me being there.

Cha-Cha was the plan for that evening. The pattern of figures that we were given to work on wasn’t long, but only a handful of us managed to get through the whole thing successfully when we attempted it at tempo. We started with an open basic into a Slip Chasse for the men and a Forward Lock for the ladies, pulling them in closer to us before leading them into a Curl and then a Reverse Top. The Reverse Top went around for two measures before ending with a step to the left for the Lead. Here we gave the ladies a Spiral Turn before leading them into an Aida. Keeping it by the book, we did one measure of Cuban Rocks in the middle of the Aida and then came out into a Forward Lock, finishing everything with a Solo Switch Turn for both partners before squaring up back into dance frame.

On an interesting note, the same instructor who had shown up late to the party on Saturday night decided to join us in Latin Technique class this week. I guess she had taken a difficult test earlier in the day and had managed to pass successfully, so hanging around with us was what she wanted to do in order to relax a little bit after the stressful afternoon she had. Since we had quite a few men in class that night, she ended up dancing the Follow part to even things out, so I got to dance with her quite a few times.

After each time we danced together, for some reason, she wanted me to give her a double high-five. I don’t know if it was just her way of indicating that the attempt we made together was successful and it was time for me to move on, or if she just always does that in every class she takes part in. Usually during the classes where I see her (which aren’t too many), like the class on Saturday before the party, she is dancing the Lead part, so I would never rotate through and dance with her. I mean, I’m all for a good double high-five when something goes particularly well, but after every time we dance together? That seems like a bit much to me.

I want the double high-five to remain meaningful, and not for it to become blasé and commonplace.

Finally this week I went to Standard Technique class. During class we ended up with more men than women again, which surprised me. I thought for sure that a couple of other ladies would show up, but only Sparkledancer and Bony actually came. Back when it was only Lord Junior and I attending class regularly as Leads we seemed to have tons of ladies every week. Now that there are more men who are there regularly it feels like hit-or-miss whether any of those ladies come out for the class or not. I wonder why that is?

Earlier in the week Lord Junior had been working with one of his more advanced students on a set of figures from American Waltz that he was having a lot of fun with, so he decided to have us go over a slight variation to that set of figures during this week’s class so that he could do it again. The variation, he told us before we started, was just to give us a better way to get into things without him having to spend the whole class teaching us his student’s entire routine.

We started with an Open Natural Turn, and from there the Leads would do a rotating Progressive Chasse to the Right while giving the Follow an Outside Turn. This rotated us just enough to set us up to head toward diagonal center when finished, and we did just that using an Open Reverse Turn that closed us back into dance frame at the same time. But we didn’t stay in closed dance frame for long, as right away we led the Follow through half an Underarm Turn while the Lead faked a step in our Box Turn backwards, which put us into Shadow Position.

Now that we were in Shadow Position, we started things off much the same way as we did at the beginning, with an Open Natural Turn and then a rotating Progressive Chasse to the Right for the Leads while giving the Follower an Outside Turn. This Progressive Chasse rotated just a bit more so that when we finished we were back in Shadow Position facing down the line of dance. Next we did a Running Open Natural Turn, and to finish things off we led the Follower through a lot of turning over their next five steps and set them up to go into a Developé while we had to fake a step again at the end of our Box Turn backward to get back on the opposite foot as our partner once more.

I’m not sure if I will go out to any big dance events this weekend or not. There is another event going on near where I live now that I am interested in attending, but I don’t think there will be much dancing there. Maybe there could be, but I don’t know for sure. We’ll have to see! Tune in next week to find out what happens!

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