It Doesn’t Matter What You Wear, Just As Long As You Are There

Last Saturday was probably the silliest dance-related thing I’ve gone and done in a long time. I was in a parade as a ballroom dancer.

Getting to the parade all started at some point back in November. I got a couple text messages from some dance friends telling me that Lord Junior had signed up to have the Electric Dance Hall in a spot in some holiday parade. His idea was that he would find a fancy car, dress it up for the holidays, put some advertisements for the studio on the car in big letters, and then play music from the car while a bunch of people from the studio danced to the music down the parade route. He assumed that it would be like parades he has watched in the past, where everyone is going down the road at a crawl, with occasional stops along the route that allowed the various performers to entertain the crowd, so he thought that this would be a neat way to promote ballroom dancing and his studio.

When I got the messages about this crazy idea, I was intrigued, so I told them that I would be all about it. As it turns out, it wasn’t just my friends that wanted me to be there – I also got a personal request from Lord Junior at a later date to be in the parade, because he needed more people who could dance Lead. I was one of the first people he thought of to ask. So since I was in such high demand for this dance field trip, I just had to put it on my schedule to be there.

One of the people that had also asked me if I would go was actually Sparkledancer. I was a bit concerned early on with her wanting to be in a parade dancing along a multi-mile stretch of road with her injury still not fully healed. She assured me that she had signed up to go, but would be making a game-day decision about whether to be in it or not based on how she was feeling that day. That morning she showed up when we all met to get ready for the parade, saying that she was feeling pretty good. Lord Junior told her that if it got to be too much that she could take a break and ride in the car for a while, just in case.

That morning when we all met up, it felt like we were waiting around FOREVER for the parade to actually start. We met up so early because the parade organizers wanted everyone to be there by a certain time, but that left all of the people who had spots in the parade standing around for hours along the side of the road, waiting for someone to come along and let us start moving. To pass the time, a bunch of the ladies in our group were taking pictures, some of us wandered around looking at all the other floats that were nearby, and we also watched the huge group of kids who were going to be in front of us in line doing acrobatic moves in the grass near where we were lined up.

Just as a side note – the float that was behind where our group had gathered had a large light-up plastic statue on top of it that was Rudolph, who had a huge bubble butt for some reason, standing in front of Santa with his butt facing forward. I really have no idea where someone would have gotten a Christmas decoration like this, but it was… something else. Just… wow. So weird. Bubble butt. I can never unsee that.

Anyway, eventually we got to the point where we were allowed to start moving down the parade route. This is when the hilarity of how unprepared we were for the situation became evident. It turns out that, if you are sitting along the side of the road and watching a parade go by, everything appears to be moving in ultra slow motion, but if you are asked to dance through the streets and keep pace with a car that is just idling forward, it’s moving a lot faster than you would think.

Lord Junior had spent the last few days programming a playlist for the music that we would be dancing to as we walked the parade. Because he had thought that we would be going really, really slow, the playlist was mostly Latin-type dance styles, with a few Christmas songs thrown in the mix that you could do a Swing or a Ballroom style to. The first song that came on as we were on the route was a Samba, and Lord Junior told us we should start off by doing the line dance that we all knew to help us get used to dancing in the street.

So we did, modifying the figures slightly so that we were always moving forward as we went through the steps. But as we completed the first pass through the line dance and started over for the second pass, we found that the car was already so far ahead of us that it was getting hard to hear the music, so we had to stop and run down the road to catch up. And once we caught up, we found that the song had already changed and now there was a Salsa playing. We tried to pair up and dance to that, but the car kept going at that pace, and we fell behind again and had to run to catch up.

To call this a ‘running joke’ would be a hilarious understatement. It wasn’t long before most of the people who were in our group gave up trying to dance with every song. Sparkledancer and I thought that we could keep up with the car better if we switched over to dancing mostly ballroom styles. Because we had been taught to move a lot, this definitely made things better for the two of us. I basically ignored the music that was playing and kept time in my own head as the two of us danced down the road. I decided to  use a combination of figures from American Foxtrot and East Coast Swing – I would use the Foxtrot to catch up to and then pass the car, and then I could do a few in-place Foxtrot or Swing figures while we let the car catch up and pass us, and then switch back to traveling Foxtrot figures again to start the process all over.

We managed to keep that up through almost the whole parade route. I did stop a few times to give Sparkledancer a break, hoping to keep any issues with her leg injury from flaring up. She made it through the whole parade though without any pain, so that was great. I think that it helped that we were doing American Style, we weren’t being all that serious, and because we were on a street we also had to avoid any tight turning figures. Whatever the reason, it worked out for the best, so that made me happy.

About halfway through, at one of the points when the rest of the group had also caught up to the car (and thus also caught up to Sparkledancer and I), I had stopped to talk to Lord Junior. He made a joke about how we must have chosen to be in the fastest parade in the world, so I laughed and told him that he should have swapped out the Latin numbers in the playlist for Viennese Waltz songs so that we could all keep up. He got thoughtful for a second and said that since the music was being played through his tablet connected to the car stereo, he actually had some Viennese Waltz music if we actually wanted to dance one. Well, how could I say no to that since it was my idea?

So for the next several minutes everyone in the group paired off and we did a Viennese Waltz together, traveling down the street. This probably looked really cool to the audience, but I didn’t realize that we would be going over several small hills while doing this. Doing Viennese Waltz while going up and down hills is an experience I never thought I would have. It’s kind of a weird feeling.

By the time we made it to the end of the parade route, most of the people in our group were exhausted. I was still feeling pretty pumped and excited though, except for the fact that my right foot was killing me. I had opted that day to wear an old pair of sneakers that I thought would work good for doing turns and such while dancing, but I probably should have tied them tighter before we started that day. I found out later when I got home that I had given myself a blister on my right foot, which wasn’t very pleasant. Ah well, live and learn, right?

We had a few hours break after the parade was over, and then Lord Junior had planned to throw an after-party at the studio that evening. The party was open to the public, which was good because only five of us who were actually in the parade showed up that night. The rest of the gang apparently had used up all their dance energy in the streets earlier, so they didn’t come join us.

Before the party started, Lord Junior decided at the last minute to offer a short class covering Salsa for everyone who was there. There were a couple of brand new dancers who had come out that night, so he spent a few minutes covering the basics. After that, he showed us all something that he said a lady whom he used to dance with years ago used to surprise him with from time to time when they danced together. What it was was essentially a basic Underarm Turn for the ladies, but instead of going under our arm the lady would put her right hand up and stop herself from turning by pushing off the Lead’s chest/shoulder to go right back to where she started. Surprise!

We had a lot of laughs in class going through this. Some ladies took to the idea right away and thought it was great to finally get the option to do what they wanted. Bony, who was in class with us that night, decided that if she was going to do it, she wasn’t going to use her arm to push off of the Lead. Instead, she just stopped herself turning any further and went back with no warning. One lady in class tried to push against me really hard when she stopped herself – I think she was trying to be funny, but I don’t think she realized how much I weighed since I didn’t really budge when she pushed me.

Sparkledancer, on the other hand, took the concept and then applied it at various points during the dance party later in the evening, in dances other than Salsa. There was one time when I had opted to dance with her, just screwing around with an American Waltz, and when I tried to lead her through an Underarm Turn she surprised the heck out of me by stopping the turn by pushing off my chest and going back to where she had started. Of course, when she did that it kind of backfired on her because we both started laughing so hard that we had to stop dancing…

Of course, the funniest thing (in my opinion) that happened that night was when Sparkledancer and I happened to be standing up in the front of the studio and Lady Lovelylocks came up to talk to us. Since she is Lord Junior’s Professional Partner, she had been part of our group in the parade earlier in the day. She wanted to thank us for being in the parade. She told Sparkledancer and I, and I’m quoting here, that she was glad that there were “a couple of good looking people” in the parade group that day.

What she said was… odd. I’m taking it as being really funny, because that’s how I normally take things. It’s entirely possible that it wasn’t meant to be though. Lady Lovelylocks does have an accent, so English might not be her first language. Maybe it was just a bad translation of words chosen? She could have meant that Sparkledancer and I looked good while dancing, meaning that we were a great promotional tool for the studio during the parade. That would make a lot more sense. I think it’s funnier to think that she was calling me good looking. I don’t know why that makes me laugh, but it does.

I’m going to leave it at that this week, even though there were several other things I did. I rambled on about the parade and the party afterward longer than I thought I would.

Can you believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away? Geez, the year is almost over! Have you got your holiday plans all worked out yet? Are there any New Year’s Eve dance parties on your calendar? I’ve already got mine picked out. But there’s still time for more dance fun before that point, so stay tuned and we’ll count the rest of the year down with some more fun adventures on the dance floor!

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