Up ‘Til Now The Next Step Was A Question Of How

So the dude that has been joining us in Technique classes for a while now has finally earned himself a nickname. I didn’t actually come up with this one, but I thought it was pretty funny and I was there in the three different classes over last week and this week where this nickname was really cemented, encouraging the situations that brought about the whole thing. And thus, this guy shall now forevermore be known as Turkish Towel.

Let’s take a trip back to last week. In trying to keep my last post a reasonable length, I didn’t talk about what happened in that Monday’s Latin Technique class, which is where this all began. That day, after going through our warm-up exercises, Lord Junior said that he wanted to have us look at a figure from the Gold syllabus in International Cha-Cha – the Sweetheart. It’s not a difficult figure as he explained, some places actually teach the same figure as part of the Bronze syllabus for American Cha-Cha.

While he was walking through the steps of the figure though, he mentioned that the Sweetheart is basically the same as another figure in the Gold Cha-Cha syllabus, the Turkish Towel. The difference being that in the Sweetheart the Lead is going from side-to-side behind the Follow, while in the Turkish Towel the Follow is going from side-to-side behind the Lead. Hearing the name of the figure perked up the ears of the other guy in class, and he had to ask A) if ‘Turkish Towel was seriously the name of a figure in Cha-Cha, and B) if it was, why in the world they would call it that? Since none of us in class were dance history majors and Lord Junior had never heard of why this figure was named that, no answers to those questions were offered that night.

Lord Junior taught us a variation of the Sweetheart that night that had a more complicated way for the Follow to get into position, so it took us a bit to get to the point where we were going back and forth with our partner in front of us. Once we did manage to get there had done that action a few times though, as we changed partners at one point the other guy spoke up and said that he thought he had figured out why they called the figure that. He said that to him, it seemed like the Sweetheart mimics the motion of taking a towel between both hands and wiping it back and forth across your front side, so if you did the same thing with a towel to dry off your backside it makes perfect sense to call it a Turkish Towel.

Now, he gave us all this explanation with a smirk on his face, and complete with overly exaggerated gestures to demonstrate his thought process. None of us in class, including Lord Junior, could keep a straight face while he was doing this, so class pretty much ground to a halt for a few minutes while we all laughed really hard. The students in the other class on the far end of the studio were all looking over at us like we had lost our minds until we managed to get ourselves back under control.

We ran out of time in that class covering the variation of the Sweetheart, but Lord Junior promised all of us that if we came back the next week he would actually go through the Turkish Towel in class with us, specifically because he wanted to see this guy actually dancing through the figure for fun.

But the reference continued into Standard Technique class last week as well. Last week Wednesday we had been looking at some Viennese Waltz, and the same gentleman joined us in class that night as well. As we were going through class and working on some figures from both International Viennese Waltz and later American Viennese Waltz, Lord Junior noticed that this gentleman had problems executing some of the rotations properly with his partners because he was letting his body pitch forward as he moved, invading his partners space.

He tried to explain a different way to think about turning with a partner, picturing the two heads as being on the outside loop while the center spoke of the wheel was between the partners, but just thinking about it differently didn’t seem to help the gentleman fix his issue with pitching his body forward. Then he thought that it might be best to try forcing him to keep his head away from his partner to see if that would help. He went up to the front of the studio to look around for a pillow that he could put between the heads of the gentleman and his partners, but couldn’t find one.

What he did find that he said would work though was a roll of paper towels. So he brought that back and had the guy dance, with Lord Junior dancing the Follow part, while pressing the paper towel roll between their heads. That seemed to trigger a light bulb moment for the guy. Then he danced the same figures with Sparkledancer, still pressing the paper towel roll between their heads. Then he tried going through the figures without the paper towel roll, and viola! Magically he was able to keep his head in the proper place.

Apparently using towels were the way to help this guy figure out the correct way to do this. And thus, Lord Junior decreed that from now on he would be known in the studio as Turkish Towel, because thinking of towels helped him figure out the Cha-Cha that Monday, and now towels helped him in Viennese Waltz that Wednesday. In keeping with that official decree, I am going to also use it here when I refer to him.

Anyway, on Monday night this week we were all back in class, and all of us remembered that Lord Junior had promised to go over the Turkish Towel with us, so that’s what we did. And the hilarity continued, because it was hard to go over the figure without going back to picturing Turkish Towel’s fitting description from last week in class of how it looked like the Lead is using the Follow like a towel to dry off their backside. Plus, there were so many repeats of the gesture that described the figure, as you can imagine. We ended up having to halt class just a few more times than normal for joke breaks this week, but it wasn’t too bad. No one from the other class that was going on at the other end of the studio was looking at us like we were crazy this week, so that’s a step up!

At the end of class, just for fun, Lord Junior had us connect the two figures we looked at over the last two weeks together. Once we got through the Turkish Towel and rolled the Follow out in front of us, we took them back in handshake hold so that we could go right into the variation of the Sweetheart that we had worked on in class the week before. You know, to make sure we were completely dry, both front and back.

Last thing for this week – I went out to Standard Technique class last night. Because those of us who came out that night were all quite familiar with dancing Standard, we decided that it was a good night to work on some Quickstep. Usually when there are others around that do mostly American Smooth, or are newer to dancing, we avoid Quickstep, but last night we got a chance to play around a bit.

We looked at some figures in three different sets before trying to put them all together in one big amalgamation. The first section had us looking at a Half Natural Turn, a Natural Spin Turn and a V6, doing the V6 as written in the book a few times to make sure that we had that down. Once Lord Junior felt good about how we were doing that, we threw out the ending of the V6 and used just the Back Lock that the figure starts with and attaching that to a Six Quick Run, which is a figure from the Gold syllabus. At the end of that we did a Fishtail, though this Fishtail had no turn in it. We just did a check at the end of the Six Quick Run, hopped back for two steps and then continued toward diagonal wall on the same path.

When we felt pretty good about that section, we added on one last set of figures for the night. There was another Half Natural Turn followed by an Underturned Natural Spin Turn that allowed us to go around a corner and come out backing diagonal center on the new wall, and then we finished up by doing two Backward Locks in Pepperpot timing. With this section done, we spent the remainder of class trying to do the whole thing from start to finish without stopping, starting out with slow music and then gradually speeding things up.

You would think that the Locks in Pepperpot timing would be the most challenging part as the music got faster, and they certainly were a place that caused a few mistakes for some of the ladies in class, but weirdly enough what caused the most issues for both Lord Junior and I was actually the Fishtail with no rotation. For some reason that figure was easy to forget while going through things.

Half the time when Lord Junior was dancing through the whole set of figures, choreography that he had put together that night, he totally forgot to go through that Fishtail. When he did miss it, someone would usually call him out on it, usually either his partner or the lady watching from the sidelines. He joked that the only reason he was missing it was because before class he had had a lesson with Veep and she had messed up on a lot of things during the lesson, so that must have rubbed off on him off for class.

Because he was starting off to my left so that we could both dance through the configuration at the same time, I could see what he was doing as I was dancing. The first time he left out that figure and just went straight from the Six Quick Run into the Half Natural, it threw me off because he was suddenly doing different steps than I was, and I ended up stopping because I thought something was up. Later on in the evening, whatever was causing him to miss that figure must have been contagious, because there was one round where I totally missed the Fishtail myself, so I stopped and started over with my partner… only to totally miss the Fishtail again!

But those of us who take classes at the Electric Dance Hall aren’t quitters, so Lord Junior and I found that if we totally ignored everything else going on and focused on thinking about that Fishtail we could get through it just fine. That was our small Christmas miracle. After class, we all had some Christmas cookies to celebrate. Hooray!

That’s it for this week. As for next week… I’m not actually sure if I will have anything dance-related to say. Because it is a pretty major holiday, a lot of the stuff that normally happens during the week is canceled due to travel plans and celebrations. There are a few things going on this weekend, but some of my family is going to be coming down to stay with me over the holiday and I need to clean my house, so I’m not sure if I will have time to go out dancing. My family members heard that it was going to be in the 50s and 60s here where I live over Christmas, so they thought that sounded better than staying up north with all the cold and snow that they have been having lately.

So we’ll see what happens. Maybe I can talk my cat into doing most of the cleaning for me if I give her some tuna fish or something. Then I can sneak out and go to all the dance parties this weekend! But she is also pretty sleepy, so getting her off of the wadded up blanket she’s been constantly laying on top of the last few days would be a challenge. Sigh… I’m probably going to have to do it all myself.

One thought on “Up ‘Til Now The Next Step Was A Question Of How

  1. Well when we got to the Turkish Towel at the Famous Franchise, they also mentioned that it was like toweling off your backside. But I don’t know if that is really true or just Famous Franchise lore. I love how some steps have long names that are actually descriptive and others just get names like someone just randomly thought of something because they couldn’t figure out how to describe the step.

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