Kings And Fools Die In Ridicule

Well, restrictions are relaxing around where I live. There are slightly more cars on the road than I had been seeing, which is the first real sign I have noticed that people are trying to get back into the swing of things. As for me, nothing much is changing yet in my world. I’ve already been going into the office for work everyday for a while now, so my day-to-day routine didn’t change when they announced that places could start opening back up.

Personally, I don’t worry too much about being at work as opposed to being at home. I have my own office, so if people are being weird I can always just close my door and communicate with everyone I need to via phone or email. If my cat were sleeping on my desk next to me while I was in the office, would I even know that I had left the house in the morning? Probably not.

But while some places and people are chomping at the bit to break free from their houses and return their lives to some semblance of what things looked like before, the world of ballroom dancing in my area is not stepping up to be a part of that. I don’t think anyone knows what ballroom dancing will look like in the post-restrictions world quite yet. From what I have read, most dance events in the area are already cancelled for the month of May, and events in June are not a for-sure possibility either.

The email sent out to all dancers in my area this week really outlined the issues with opening studios back up for dancing, making the issues plain for all to see. Dance studios aren’t one of the places included in the first phase of opening, so we would first have to wait until one of the later phases to start going. Once they are allowed to begin operations though, there will still be a need for people to maintain six feet of distance between each other. Gatherings at the studios will have to be limited to ten people in enclosed spaces, which makes holding parties iffy. The instructors and studio owners may have to convince anyone who shows up that they need to wear a mask, which a fair amount of people are against. There is also the logistics of so many people constantly washing their hands, not to mention the utility bill increases because of all that washing that the studio owners will have to cover. So many things to consider!

With so many stories about how people are not really following the recommendations to keep themselves safe, as well as stories about people who are actively going against the recommendations because they feel like the measures are denying them their rights, I wonder how dancers in my area are going to feel about the situation should dance events resume with all kinds of safety precautions required. Will they be totally on board with them, because they feel that dancing with proper precautions taken is better than no dancing at all? Or are they going to think that having any of these requirements is going too far and they will either show up and attempt to defy the rules or not attend events until the rules are removed? Like the masks – do you think a lot of dancers are going to want to wear one while at a dance party?

It’s hard to say. I could see people that I’ve met through various dance functions falling into both extremes, either totally adamant about the safety precautions recommended by experts, or convinced that the precautions are an attempt to take away their freedoms. Then there are lots of people I know who would be hanging around in the middle, not really on board completely with one side or the other. Those people will be in the majority, but are less likely to step up and make their voices heard to let the others know what it is they want to see as dancing starts back up.

What would I want to see? Dancing in anthropomorphic costumes. Like a full-on furry convention with ballroom dancing. That would keep everyone both safe and entertained, don’t you think? What animal would I be? Well, a cat costume does appeal to me, but I think that everyone would expect that from me, so maybe I should be something else. Maybe a dragon? Then I could show up with a cat also dressed like a dragon. That would be my dance partner for the evening.

Twins!

I’m rambling now. Probably time to end this.

No One Knows What Lies Behind The Masquerades

Today’s the last day of the month. Do you live in one of those states that is planning on opening things back up starting tomorrow?

Me, my life has already started to show signs of getting back to normal. Since I am one of those individuals considered ‘essential’ at the company where I work, I have already had to start going into the office to do work rather than just working from home. By the time my state decides to begin the process of relaxing their stay-at-home guidelines, I will have already been going into the office like normal for weeks. Crazy, right?

But dancing won’t be coming back to my life for a while. I got this week’s weekly dance update email, like the one I talked about last week, and everything on it says (essentially) ‘closed for the foreseeable future.’ Nothing but virtual dance classes that can be done from home is available. So even if I had an itching to get back out on the dance floor, there is no timeline I can point to for when that will happen yet. No one knows.

One interesting thing that was included in this week’s dance update that I didn’t see last week was a list of a bunch of dance-related people and companies that are now selling face masks. Do you need a fancy face mask to protect yourself? What if I told you that you could get one with rhinestones all over it, would that make you want the fancy mask even more? I know! Rhinestones! I guess it was really only a matter of time before someone did that with a mask. You can even get one that is covered in those super-fancy crystals to make it extra sparkly. That is, if you’re willing to pony up like $100 for the mask.

I’m sure somewhere out there someone’s going to get one of those. They wouldn’t offer to make them if no one was going to buy, after all.

What I don’t understand though is how you would clean a mask that is covered in rhinestones. From what I’ve been told, you are supposed to submerge your face mask in boiling water to clean it properly. Is it even possible to do that if the mask has rhinestones all over it? All I can think of is that the glue would boil away while the mask is submerged, leaving you with a bowl of rhinestone soup when all is said and done. Yummy? Probably not. Only my robotic vacuum seems excited to eat rhinestones. The meal doesn’t really sound appealing to me…

I will say that one nice thing about having all this extra time and money while I’m not dancing is that I am able to get other things done. For example, there was this huge project that I had been putting off for years, something that had been super important in my life when I was younger that had gotten neglected and needed work. Now that’s almost all taken care of! Progress stalled a bit last week because finding a component needed to finish up one of the last parts of the project is being difficult at the moment. If I was still dancing, I don’t think I would have been able to afford to get this all done, so in some ways this break from dance has been nice.

What have you accomplished using all the free time you have now that would have otherwise gone toward dance? When this break is all said and done, will you have something to show from it? Or a new talent/skill that you took up to keep your mind occupied? I hope so! I’m looking forward to showing off my project when it is complete. I will probably even take pictures of what has been done and send them to my parents, because I was still super young and lived at home with them when I got the thing all those years ago, so they might be surprised to see that I still have it so many, many, many (many) years later. 🙂

We’ll keep going and see if next week brings anything different. Even if everything in my area opens back up, I don’t know if I will be eager to go out and try and pretend like nothing has changed, like some people want to do. I may just keep doing what I’ve been doing the last several weeks – staying at home unless I need to go out, and avoiding people when at all possible. I haven’t gone crazy from doing that yet, so it won’t bother me to do it a while longer.

How about you? Are you eager to get back out there and start living your life as close to the way you did before as you can? Will you be back out on the dance floor amidst all the people as soon as the studio doors open? Or are you more like me and want to take a wait-and-see approach to make sure that things really will be OK before you get back out there?

Maybe all you need is to get a fancy rhinestone mask…

My mask, however, will let me transform my car into a tank, just like any child of the 80s would want!

There Was A Little Drawing Of A Heart Next To That

I know that I keep talking about less-than exciting dance things lately, but those are the kinds of dance things that are going on right now that are on my mind. There’s not much else happening in the world of dance, as I’m sure you know…

I can’t remember when I’ve mentioned this in the past, but there are two large ballroom clubs in my part of the world. They each (used to) hold events every month for their club members and any others interested to attend. For the purposes of my writing today, I am going to call the slightly larger one Ballroom Club A (BCA), and the other Ballroom Club B (BCB).

Also in my area, we are fortunate to have one person in the ballroom community that has taken it upon themselves to accumulate all the ballroom events that go on every week into one email that would get sent out to anyone that wanted to be on the mailing list. That person has been doing this for years, and almost all of the studios in the surrounding area, and even a bunch in more distant areas up to ninety minutes away would send this person their list of events each week, which would then get compiled into a single email and sent out. This helped to keep all the dancers in the area informed of all sorts of events where they could go out and get their dance fix filled.

As you can probably imagine, those dance update emails over the last few weeks have been considerably smaller than they used to be. This person still sends them out to let everyone know about all the virtual dance classes and gatherings that are available to help people do at least some dancing at home, but the volume of classes and events included in the latest weekly dance calendar emails is significantly less than it used to be. Still, good on this person for sticking with it to keep all of us in the loop!

Two items that are included in these emails every week are updates from the leaders of BCA and BCB. It’s interesting to me the different strategies that the people in charge of both clubs are using during this situation. I don’t know what your stance is on how best to keep people safe during this time is, so we won’t talk about whether one of these paths is better than the other. I just find it interesting, knowing the leaders of these two groups like I do, that they would choose to take each of these routes.

(Also, yes, I do know the current people in charge of both of these clubs. I met them all many times during my tenure as a member of the Royal Dance Court, and have had many discussions about dance and dance politics with all of them during those years.)

BCA has a repeating note in the weekly update email that tells everyone that all of their events are cancelled all the way until August, and they will evaluate whether it is safe to start holding events again at that point. Basically they said that they aren’t going to hold anything until things are deemed safe, and August was just a month chosen as a starting point for the next decision.

I’m pretty sure that they knocked out four months right away without hesitating because of one of their key members. See, this club is headed by a guy, but all of us know that most of the decisions about what happens are basically made by his wife behind the scenes and he is just a figurehead. Usually that’s all well and good, but his wife falls into several of the most serious ‘high risk’ categories for this virus. She has made statements online that even I have seen in the little time I spend on social media, all urging people to keep away from her so that she doesn’t risk catching anything. I can imagine that a big part of the reason that BCA chose to stop all events for four months right away when this all started was because of her urging.

BCB, on the other hand, is keeping the option open to start going back to holding events as soon as they can. They have a regular event scheduled every month, and for the last two months they didn’t put out the word that the event was going to be cancelled until the very last weekly email before the event would have been otherwise held on that coming weekend to let people know not to come. In those notices of cancellation, a note was included saying ‘we hope that we will be able to hold our party next month, and that we’ll see you all there!’

This dance club is run by a board, and pretty much everyone on that board is up there in those high risk age categories, so you think that they would be keen on shutting things down to keep at least the board members safe, let alone all of the elderly members of their club that usually attend their parties and events. However, the person that heads this club currently is one woman who rules with absolute authority. There is a board, but the board is essentially just a set of people hand-selected by her to be yes-men (and women), rubber stamping her every whim.

This woman is in that highest-risk age category, but is desperately trying to cling on to her youth. Have you met someone like that? Knowing her, she probably doesn’t think that she is at much of a risk for this virus, which is why the club keeps putting off canceling their events until the last minute in hopes that they could still hold them. I imagine that this group will be one of the first to start offering parties for people to come dance when the government relaxes their stay-at-home orders.

Is one group’s choices during this strange time we are living through better than the others? I don’t really know. I have heard some voices from our community who are cautious and won’t be going out to anything dance related any time soon even if restrictions are relaxed, and others that are asking why everything has to be shut down right now because they don’t think it’s that big of a deal. So, it looks like each of those competing ideas has one ballroom club in the area that will be catering to them in that regard. Everybody can win, right?

Me, I don’t know how I feel about going to dance events any time soon. I mean, I heard that this virus can be passed on to cats, and that has me really worried! My cat is older, and I really don’t want her to get sick with anything. If she got sick from something that I gave her, I would feel super terrible about that! So there’s a big part of me that strongly considers staying away from people anytime I go out for her sake. I mean, getting sick myself would probably suck too, but that’s not as important!

We’ll see what happens. From the sound of things, restrictions are possibly going to start easing in my area of the world sooner rather than later. I will be curious to hear how dance studios respond when they are allowed to open their doors to the public again, and how the public will in turn respond to them being open.

Baby You’re The Boss At Home

Let me ask a question here: what do you think about virtual dance classes? I’m guessing most of you have tried at least one by this point. I’ve tried a couple, and also sat and just watched one without actually doing any of the movements at the time. Did you like the experience?

I’ll be honest here… I can’t say that I did. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with picking up new things for dance from video, or during a virtual class, but I can’t say that the experience is something I would actually look forward to if I thought about doing it again. I wish I would, because there are all kinds of virtual dance classes going on that I have been told about – some of them are free, and others require me to sign up and pay for. But it’s hard to muster up the desire to actually sit and watch more classes like this based on how the others I have done have been.

Part of what I liked about dancing was that it was a hobby (yes, I still call it a hobby even though it had been consuming so much of my time at one point) where I got to see other people. Even during the times where I was at some studio just to practice, there were always other people around to say hi to, or exchange occasional jokes with as we all danced. There was… camaraderie.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been doing fine while locked up at home without much camaraderie, but trying to have a dance class without that element just feels wrong. Virtual classes don’t really give me that. I mean, that seems really obvious, and I shouldn’t have to say it, but there it is.

Part of me feels bad for not taking more of these classes, especially the ones I would have to pay for. I know that there are people out there who I know rather well who make a living teaching others to dance, and taking these virtual classes (and paying for the privilege) would be helping to support someone whose primary livelihood has basically been cut off because of this situation. That’s something that has been hanging over my head when I look at the list of virtual classes being offered and just don’t feel compelled to sign up for them.

But then there is the dancing in my house part of the problem. Dancing in my house is not so easy. It also kind of hurts. I don’t like that part. So I thought that sitting and watching the class one time without dancing would be OK, since I didn’t have to worry about doing anything that might hurt. Nope, that just made things weirder. Watching without doing is weird. It wasn’t like times in the past where I was having trouble remembering something that I did in a class or a lesson, so I looked up a video of someone doing what I was trying to remember for review. Just watching videos like that without dancing never seemed weird to me. But videos of actual classes while just sitting and relaxing in a chair is a strange way to pass the time. I don’t like it.

On top of all of that, it’s also so much effort to share any hilarious jokes I have with the other people in class! In a real class, if I think of something funny I can just say it out loud to anyone within range of my voice to share my thoughts and let people in on the joke. In the virtual classes I have taken, I would have had to stop whatever else I was doing, make sure that my cursor is in the text box, enter in my comical musings, and then try and go back to paying attention to the class while trying not to pay attention to the rest of the chat to see if anyone has anything to say in response. That’s not as much fun!

I know that’s a really inconsequential thing to be worrying about during this time, but it’s an issue I had that is related to the topic I am discussing, so I wrote it down. It’s nice to get things off my chest.

Those are my thoughts on virtual ballroom classes. How about you? Have you been enjoying taking classes from home? Has anyone tried doing a private lesson from home? I’m curious what that would be like.

Just keep on keeping on, I guess. There are at least a couple more weeks of things being shut down scheduled in my area, so ballroom classes won’t be back for at least that long, and probably longer if people are afraid to go out and be in groups so not enough people attend the classes to make them worthwhile for studios to offer. We’ll have to see what happens. Until then, let the virtual instanity continue, I guess.