Are You Well In The Suffering?

This week in Latin Technique class we had a much better turnout than we did last week, as there were six of us in class compared to just the two of us who showed up last week. On top of that we had an even number of Leads and Follows, so Lord Junior got to just be a teacher for the duration of class. Which, incidentally, he said was great for him, since it was leg day for him that day, so he was more than happy to give his legs a break (I did back and biceps that day, so I didn’t have any complaints).

Because none of the students had any specific items they wanted to work on during class, Lord Junior decided that we should spend some time working on Samba. He said that there were two reasons we should look at that style: 1) for the two students in class that had been in a competition last weekend, Samba was a good style to work on, and 2) he didn’t have to dance during the class, so he could just sit and tell all of us what we were doing wrong from the sidelines. That last reason I think was supposed to mostly be a joke.

Also, as a side note, I have officially decided on the name for the female instructor that keeps showing up lately: Lady Peculiar. I keep referring to her as ‘the weird female instructor’ every time I talk about her, so this just fits. She really does do some weird things fairly often. I’m not sure if it’s just because she’s foreign and I don’t understand her mannerisms completely or if she really is an odd duck. But, that’s what I’m going to call her from now on.

So with all that said, we ended up with a short Samba progression by the end of the night. This started off with one-and-a-half Reverse Turns (like the ones from Viennese Waltz, but with different timing). After the first half of the second Reverse Turn, we did two Back Rocks, which is a figure I’d never seen before up until that point. It’s not too bad if you remember to keep your steps small. There was one girl in class who was super tiny, so when I did them with her I had to keep my steps extra super small. Once we finished the Back Rocks we did the last half of the second Reverse Turn to finish facing diagonal wall.

After that we did two Botafogos in closed dance position. That meant that the Follower was doing the mythical Traveling Botafogos Back, which is something I just never see too often. When we finished that we did a Botafogo to Promenade and Counter Promenade. This was a bit weird, because the first part to get into Promenade Position we were in closed frame, then we released one arm to go into the second part in Counter Promenade, then got back into closed frame for the last part. That section in the middle that was in open dance frame just felt out of place to me, but that’s my personal opinion.

Finally we went from the Botafogo in Promenade Position to a Side Samba Walk that rotated on the last step so that we were facing each other and released one hand. That set us up to do a Maypole to finish off our progression for the night. It was funny, at the end of the Maypole the Lead was just supposed to end with our feet in Cuban Cross position. At one point Turkish Towel ended with his feet separated and Lord Junior called him on it. He laughed and said that he was just sticking the landing. When we switched partners and did it again and Turkish Towel got his feet right, Lord Junior told him that he actually preferred it when he ended with his feet spread like the time before. From then on, as we practiced until the end of class, he was the only Lead that ended the progression with his feet separated.

Lady Peculiar was… peculiar. I danced with her quite a few times that night, and it seemed like she was having trouble either understanding what we were doing, or just remembering the steps. It seemed like half the time she would do something weird while we were dancing together, then when we got to the end of whatever section we were working on she would apologize to me and say “I don’t know what happened there.” That’s… weird, right? Is it just me that thinks that?

On to different topics… hey, have you heard the news? There’s this virus going around. Yeah, I found this out the hard way, since I don’t really pay attention to the news at all.

No no no, I didn’t get sick, so don’t worry about that. But the competition that I have been volunteering to help organize had to deal with it. One of the large national dance organizations sent out some mass emails to all their members earlier this week to let everyone know that they were “postponing” not one, but two of their major competitions that were coming up this month and next month because of the virus outbreak. Wow.

Naturally, a lot of the people registered for the competition I am volunteering to help with are also members of this organization (like me! That’s how I saw the notices), so those people started to call/text/email the organizers to ask if we were still putting on our event. I was copied on a mass of emails and texts between all those people the day the notices went out as they talked about what to do. They started contacting the venue for our competition and the hotels where our competitors were staying to ask questions, just to make sure there were plans in place to keep everyone as healthy as possible. Then we sent out a mass email to all the people currently registered for our event to let them know we were still planning on holding ours.

It seems a crazy thing to have to do that on some level, but on others I understand having to do it. After all, a large part of the ballroom dancing world is made up of people who fall into that high-risk pool for this virus, from what I have read over the last couple of days. So they are worried about being around large groups of people, like they would have to be if going to a dance competition. Finding out what kinds of precautions the venues we are partnering with are taking due to the illness and sending out a notice to let all our competitors know makes good business sense.

I know of at least one studio that cancelled their trip out to attend our competition despite our attempt to assuage fears. They even told us they were cancelling specifically because of the virus. This studio would have brought a group of ten young competitors. That’s a large chunk of change that the competition isn’t going to see now, all because of some illness that may be going around in the state where I live. Maybe it’s something to be concerned about. Or maybe not, since the only reported cases I can find are not actually anywhere near the city where our venues are located. But I can’t fault the dance studio for playing things safe with the kids they would be bringing.

Easy for me to say though. I’m just a volunteer. If the competition loses out on that money, it’s no skin off my back. I don’t have to foot the expenses. We’ll have to wait and see if any other competitors decide they would rather stay home and play it safe instead of coming to dance. I’ll keep you updated about what I find out. It’s kind of interesting to talk about it from this more administrative level, after all.

Addendum: OK, so I wrote that last bit yesterday night. Today you probably saw the edict coming down from the federal government that there would be travel restrictions put in place. That changed everything for us. Several of the judges for the competition that were going to be flown in from overseas are now no longer going to be able to come here. To make matters worse, one of the other judges who is from the US lives in a state that has shut down their airports, so that judge wouldn’t be able to make it here on time either.

Unbelievable. Just crazy. Let me tell you, trying to deal with all the text messages and emails I was copied on during the day while I was at work was kind of ridiculous. Late this afternoon, the organizers made the decision to postpone our event for a while. How long exactly? No decision was made on that. Without knowing how long this virus is going to be causing fear, no one wanted to put a timeline on anything yet. At this point, the official word is that the competition will be happening “later this year” and that’s that.

I saw the email that they sent out to all the accounts of people registered for the competition. The one thing that caught my eye was that they specifically said they were going to hold onto any money people paid already to dance at this event. Whenever it gets rescheduled, those competitors will already be signed up and paid to attend. I have a feeling that idea isn’t going to go over super well. Since no date, even an approximate date, was given as to when they were looking to move the competition back to, how are people going to know if their schedules will even allow them to go? I really, really, really don’t want to be the one having to deal with those calls and emails…

So, another competition that was killed by this virus. Do you think that will increase the perceived lethality? 😛

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