I did manage to go out to a dance party last Saturday. Funny enough, for the first part of the party, I actually got roped into working rather than dancing.
See, I was at the Electric Dance Hall for the event. Lord Junior was there when I showed up, but he also had his two young kids with him. His wife was out at some work thing that evening, and the instructor who was supposed to be there running the party in his stead was late, so he was getting everything set up until she got there. He had his daughter at the front desk signing everyone in. She was just learning how to write, so he would take the money from people and then spell out their names for her to write down. It was pretty adorable, I have to say.
But once the female instructor (who has been showing up enough lately but I have yet to think of a good name for) got there, Lord Junior had to run out to pick up a few things for the party, and then would only be coming back long enough to drop said things off before he had to take his kids home and put them to bed. Instructor lady started gathering everyone together on the floor, and weirdly enough there were several more men than women. I started off in the lesson that night, which was Jitterbug, but when Lord Junior got back he called me over since I was standing around doing nothing to tell me a few things so that I could tell instructor lady when the lesson was over, then when he was about to leave he also volunteered me to watch the front desk rather than stand around doing nothing in the lesson. Hooray…?
It was a pretty easy gig for me though. All I did was put the money into a drawer, and I let everyone write down their own names on the sign-in sheet rather than try to write them all out myself. Lord Junior was nice enough to give me a new sign-in sheet before he left. His daughter is still learning her penmanship, so everything she writes is still at that phase where the letters are all super-huge, and there wasn’t much room left on the already started page for anyone else to be added. Adorbs. Totes.
(On a side note, his kids are already both better dancers than I ever was. His daughter that I mentioned is only five or six years old, and has already been taking ballet classes for a while, on top of taking lessons in Latin dances at the studio her dad owns. Plus she seems to have endless amounts of energy every time I see her, so she will probably always be a better dancer than I am. The only thing I have going for me right now is that I’m taller.)
I did watch the lesson that was being taught from the front desk and let me just say… it was not going super well. Crazy lady instructor was having a really hard time with the Leads in class. Most of them were super new, having never danced before in their life, and were having a lot of trouble just getting the footwork for the basic movements down. Lady kept telling these guys more and more things about how to do what they were trying to do better, instead of just helping them take their steps on the right foot at the right time. That seemed to be really confusing a couple of the Leads.
I’m not entirely sure what her strategy was to try and teach this class, since I missed out on chunks of it when people came into the party and I was helping them. From what I did see, I felt like she was making things way more complicated than they needed to be for the movements she was trying to show people. Also, because so many of the guys were just not getting their footwork right, when she was having people rotate through the class to try out their steps with a partner, she would get hung up for long periods of time helping the guy that she was dancing with. Everyone else in the class eventually got bored because they either knew what to do already, or were also really confused and were waiting for her to help them, so they ended up standing around awkwardly and watching her. I mean, like suuuuuper awkwardly. Could feel how awkward it was from all the way up at the front desk.
Sparkledancer was there, and she tried her best to help out one guy who seemed to be having the most trouble with just the basic steps by pulling him out of the line and working with him on the side of the floor so he didn’t hold up rotation for everyone else. She spent most of the class just working with this one guy, mostly on just getting the footwork for the basic figure down. He seemed really out of his depth, but he was trying so hard. Hopefully he thought it was at least a little fun.
The party afterwards was silly for a number of different reasons. Crazy lady instructor was trying to do too much during the party, which led to some humorous situations. Let me break the part down in a Good Idea/Bad Idea kind of way:
- Good idea: going around during each song and showing the new dancers how to participate in the particular dance style that was playing.
- Bad idea: forgetting about the music while you were teaching, and leaving the songs running for extended periods of time. When a lot of dancers don’t know how to dance that particular dance style, it gets weird if you don’t change songs frequently to switch to things that they know more often.
- Good idea: trying to play a large number of line dances to give everyone a chance to get out on the floor and dance.
- Bad idea: choosing line dance styles that aren’t things that people would hear at normal parties – instead of going for things like the Electric Slide of the Cupid Shuffle, which there’s a chance some of these new dancers might already know, you go with our regional variation of the Samba line dance, which none of the new dancers would know. Then the line dance becomes something you have to teach, rather than something everyone can jump into to participate.
- Good idea: putting on a fancy dance style like Viennese Waltz so that new dancers can see what dancing would look like if they stuck around to take some lessons at the studio (yes, instructor lady actually told me she wanted me to dance in a Viennese Waltz she was going to play for this very reason)
- Bad idea: leaving the Viennese Waltz playing forever because you wanted to change partners halfway through, so most other couples who were dancing (except me and Sparkledancer and instructor lady with her second partner) dropped out because they got tired. That makes it look far less impressive.
I had a good time at the party, even with the quirks that this instructor seemed to have running the event. There were enough people going around and dancing with all the newbies that I didn’t feel like I had to do much more than talk to some of them, just to be friendly. I hope that they come back to do it all again sometime.