Everybody Open Your Mouth, Everybody Just Say Ah

Last Friday I went out to something rather unique. On the weekly dance calendar for the Dance Kingdom that gets sent out on Wednesdays, there was an option listed for Friday night called the ‘Line Dance Extravaganza.’ This was being taught by the legendary Sir Digler – someone I’ve mentioned several times in the past, who shows up every once and a while and then disappears mysteriously for long periods of time. With both an opportunity to see someone I haven’t seen in a long time and go to something new and entertaining, I made plans to attend this shindig.

While I did get to physically see Sir Digler while I was there, I did not get to talk to him all that much. It’s amazing how many people showed up for this line dancing event. The place was PACKED! I had managed to stake out a spot in the upper right-hand corner of the room, but while we went through the different line dances that night I had to keep everything I did contained to a pretty small area because there were so many people on the floor all around me. SO MANY!

Sir Digler went over the steps for four different line dances in the class that started off the evening. The class was only supposed to go for an hour, but people were having so much fun that he kept it going for ninety minutes instead. The last line dance we covered probably could have been done at a later date if they ever offer to host one of these nights again, but people really got excited when Sir Digler offered to show it to them, so it was like a special bonus round for everyone that came that evening.

The first one we started off with was one that I had seen before. I think I heard it called the Cowboy Charleston, or something along that line. In its simple form, it’s just sixteen beats where you step forward and back twice and then go side to side one time each before turning walls. If you were feeling fancier (and more coordinated), you could do more of a swinging low-kick action as you stepped forward and back, turning on the standing leg as you did so, which would give the line dance a more authentic Charleston look. The people who came to the class wearing sticky rubber soles couldn’t do it the fancy way very well, but if you had dance shoes on, or have worn down the bottom of your sneakers through turning so many times in them that they were smooth (like mine are!), then you could make it work.

The second line dance was a bit more complicated than the first, but still not too bad. I don’t know if I heard a name for it, but it involved a lot of kicking and some turning Grapevine actions. This one actually made me a bit afraid for my safety. The girl who was in line next to me was starting to get a bit wild in her movements by this point. Her kicks were done with much more force than necessary, and her turns would fling her from side to side, almost hitting me a few times. Even when I adjusted my position in line by taking a couple of steps back so I wasn’t directly to the side of her, she still managed to almost turn herself into me somehow. Was I wearing magnets that I didn’t know about or something? How do they work?!

The third line dance we covered took the longest to get through, because it was A) the longest sequence of figures before rotating to the next wall and repeating, and B) its movements were slightly more complicated. This was a Disco-based line dance, one that was made famous in a certain movie that you might be able to guess. While I’ve heard of the movie, I think I’ve only seen pieces of it over the years. I actually didn’t know that there was a line dance sequence done during the movie, but now I know how to do it! If anyone wants to hire me to come and be the life of their party and lead everyone through this, I can be available most weekends to come help you out, for the right price of course…

Finally, we did one extra line dance for fun as class was supposed to be over: The Biker Shuffle. You probably know it, I know it, it’s one of those things I learned a long time ago in the early days of my ballroom dancing adventures. I thought that most people would know it already. After all, the song tells you all the steps to do! Those are the best line dance songs in my opinion – songs with built-in instructions. There were a lot of people that seemed confused by the steps though, so we spent quite a bit of time going over it. After Sir Digler was confident that we were all pretty good with the choreography, he put on the song for everyone so we could give things a try. He must have had the extended remix version on his phone, because I swear the song seemed to go on FOREVER!!!

When the class finally ended, there wasn’t really a ‘dance party’ afterward. Instead they opened up the floor for everyone to stick around and practice what they learned. Sir Digler put on some songs that worked with the line dances he just taught, and then other songs that worked with line dances he had taught at a different event a few weeks prior that I had heard about but didn’t go to. After the first half hour, the party morphed into an all Country Line Dance shindig for some reason. I ended up standing along the side of the room watching for a while. It was rather amusing to me.

On Monday night I got a real treat in Latin Technique class. Only two of us stuck around for class that night – Apollo was at the studio when I got there, so he’s recovered enough from his injury to start dipping his toe back into dancing, but he didn’t stick around for class. Hopefully next time he will. The girl that was there with me for class said that she didn’t want to choose what style we worked on that night, so she differed to me to make the choice all on my own. I told her that was probably a bad idea, since I really only ever vote for one style, so she better be ready to do that if she was going to let me pick.

She had no idea what I was referring to, but Lord Junior overheard me and told her that it was actually a good idea for her to get some experience with the style, since he was planning on having her start looking at it soon. Thus, we got to look at some Pasodoble that night. Hooray for me! I’ll be honest here, it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to work on Pasodoble, so I was a bit rusty. Even Lord Junior said partway through the lesson that it had been a long time since he had had to think about the style, so he had to stop and really rack his brain to come up with figures we could do that weren’t too hard for the girl who had never done Pasodoble before to work on. Based on that, I think it was good that I got my way that night and we spent some time covering the style.

Nothing we looked at was super complicated, since as I mentioned it was the first time the lady in class had seen Pasodoble outside of a movie (you probably know which movie, since it’s the most famous ballroom movie that spends a lot of time on Pasodoble). For the first ten minutes or so, we talked about and practiced the important parts that make this style unique among the International Latin dances – the frame, taking heel leads for many of the steps, what an Appel is, shaping, and the like.

Once the lady felt semi-comfortable with all that, we started putting together a number of figures that could be done with music. Our progression held the first four beats of the song, then to cover the next four beats we did a Promenade Close that twisted at the end so that we were still facing wall rather than rotating. Then we did a Chasse to Right followed by a Drag to cover the next eight count. Next we did a basic Promenade to take up the next eight count, but we still had to burn an extra count of four after that to stay on time with the music, so we one more Chasse to Right to fill that time. That put us down the line of dance from where we started, but now facing toward center.

Now that we were back to a block of music where we could use some strict eight-count figures, we first did a basic Separation, which uses an eight-count. Following that up we did another Separation, but this time we added on the Fallaway Ending for the figure, which makes it use up a sixteen-count instead. Since those both moved us toward the center of the room, we did a Promenade and Counter Promenade afterward, which allowed us to first move back toward the wall, but then it rotated and moved on a diagonal toward the wall before finishing with us lined up with the Lead facing wall again. To finish for the night, we closed with a Grand Circle, which ended with us moving against line of dance a little, but since we weren’t really going to do anything more with this progression it didn’t really hurt anything to be moving the wrong way.

After we wrapped things up for the night, Lord Junior said that the girl in class had done really well, getting through a lot of the figures in the Bronze syllabus with no background in Pasodoble up until this class. The two of them were going to a competition together this weekend, and he told her that depending on how things went at that event, when they get back they would start putting together a Pasodoble routine for her to use. If things went really well, they could start building a routine using figures up through the Silver syllabus. If the competition went poorly though, they would stick with just Bronze.

He also told me that when he started working on that new routine with her, we could look at at least parts of it in the Monday night class, so I would have something to look forward to as well. Hooray for me! Here’s hoping that she does really well this coming weekend, right?

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