Competition Woes

So the realization that this next competition that we signed up to dance in is a month away now is starting to set in. I’m hoping that when we next see Sir Steven on Wednesday, we will go through and put the finishing touches on our last two routines, so that we can spendWoe1 the next month perfecting them rather than trying to memorize them. We have the five main routines already, and I suppose that we should focus on those, since that is what the competition will focus on. I don’t know where the other routines fit in. Will they just randomly choose to do one of these alternate styles and ask us to jump in? Or do you only do them if you pass a certain qualifying round?

There is a part of me that is sort of interested in looking up what a ballroom competition looks like. If I watch a video sometime, theoretically I would have an idea of what I signed myself up for. On the other hand, there’s something strangely enticing about walking into something like this blind and seeing how well you can do. I’m aiming high. I heard that top prize is a $300 scholarship for lessons, so I told my dance partner that’s what we are going to win. Reaching for the stars never hurt anyone, right? Other than that guy who overextended his shoulder, of course…

Sir Steven has a lot more faith in us, of course. Last week, when walking through the Mambo, he told us that if all we did was keep the rhythm together for the entire routine, starting on beat two like we’re supposed to, we’d do better than most of the people on the floor. Flabbergasted, I asked, “Aren’t most of the other people dancing with their instructors?” His response: “Students do what students want to do.” Things like that give me hope that we could actually do really well at something like this.

Woe2Then again, tonight I struggled through practicing our Waltz routine. It was a long weekend, and I’m exhausted, but I kept thinking that it shouldn’t have been so hard. That sort of thing is a major reality check, reminding me that we’re not professionals by any means.

It was nice getting back into the swing of things after taking the weekend off though. Next week my dance partner will be out of town for almost the entire week, so we won’t be able to practice. With the competition coming up, that puts a bit more pressure on us. Can we pull it off? We’ll see… the countdown to the Spring Fling is running down!


Two More Routines

This week we were finally taught the steps for our Foxtrot and Waltz routines for this upcoming competition next month.  If we can memorize these two, that means we almost have everything blocked out, so we can start refining these routines before performance day. I find it hard to believe that Sir Steven can really keep all these routines straight, since he always seems to be able to teach us our routines without looking at any notes, but he also manages to do that for all his other students that we have talked to who are participating in this contest. How does he remember so many of these? He must have had a Rolodex installed in his brain when he was young, where he writes out all of these routines in his spare time.

The thing that worries me the most about doing the smooth-style dances like that is the other people on the dance floor. I have the same worry when we are just messing around, dancing during the Friday night shindigs. Where do you gain enough experience to be able to Waltz around a room, especially one with a large number of couples in it, without running into anyone? I always have to plot out five or six moves in advanced so that I can dance without boring whomever I am dancing with, but then I have to alter it so often when people happen to be in front of me and aren’t doing things I expect them to. This has become even more problematic as the number of people attending the Friday night dances has greatly increased.

So what happens when that same sort of thing happens during a competition? I tried to ask Sir Steven about that, because it is a real concern of mine, but I kind of got laughed at. I Routine2guess I should have expected that, since these are not problems that Lords and Ladies in the Dance Kingdom have. When I watch the instructors dancing the traveling ballroom dances, they never seem to get caught by anyone. They always seem to have a plan to avoid getting caught in a corner by the other inexperienced couples. It is a skill I am jealous of.

As you can guess, this is why I prefer rhythm dances. They give me the ability to contain myself in a circle on the floor without worrying about running into anyone.

The Nobility, Part II

NobilityIIThere are a few other instructors of note that I have seen since getting in to this realm. As an aside, the notable ones are male. That’s not because the female instructors aren’t worthy of note – indeed, they are just as professional and talented as their male counterparts. I personally saw one of the ladies perform a high-energy lindy-hop routine after recently spraining her ankle.  No, it’s because there are just more male instructors than there are female. From what I have seen, the primary demographic that this sort of business attracts is older, middle-class women who have watched a lot of a-certain-dancing-reality-show-featuring-stars, followed by engaged couples who are learning a routine for their wedding dance. A male instructor can take on all these students: single female and couples of any sort. Female instructors can teach couples, but it’s not recommended for them to teach single women. Single men do come in looking for lessons, but it is much rarer. That’s why there are twice as many male instructors at our studio. And at the other lands in the kingdom, the Lords also outnumber the Ladies as well.

The first outside instructor we came into contact with was Tall Steven. He came to our studio one Friday night many months ago to do a performance with one of the ladies. Easily spotted out on the dance floor, he is fairly tall (if you hadn’t guessed). This man, though not Hispanic himself, has an incredible grasp of Latin dance technique. One time, during a Samba group number that they were teaching at the late-night dance, he and Sir Steven were both standing in front of the class by the mirror. When they both started doing the Cuban rock with their hips, I swear I saw a gravitational singularity forming in between them because of the power of their hip motions, and I feared for my life a little.

Tall Steven is a great guy though. From what the female subjects I know have TallSteventold me, he is a bit intimidating to dance with (though they say that about most of the male instructors), but he is very polite and kind. However, I have been warned that he is a ruthless competitor. Sir Steven told me that if I ever got stuck next to him during a competition heat, and I was too close, he would just bowl me over to continue his dance. That just shows you that you can never let your guard down in this world.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to tell you about Lord Bradley.

This man rules over the Great Dance Hall, which would seat him squarely underneath the royalty. For good reason, too. Let me tell you what I have personally witnessed – the last dance show that the realm put on, Lord Bradley personally danced his way through over a third of the acts. So not only was he dancing in front of people with a large number of his students for hours, but he did it without breaks, since he took the time between each of his dances to change costumes. All without getting the routines mixed up, and after having done almost the same number of dances in the morning during the rehearsal. That is what made him the leader at the Great Dance Hall.

It is rumored that his days are often spent like this, pushing his body to such limits to excel in his craft. As he tires, and heads home for the evening, he lays himself down on a bed made of all the young maidens hoping to be selected to be female instructors in the kingdom. Since he rules over the main portion of the Dance Kingdom, he has power to choose whom he wants at his side to lead the subjects. So, the lasses stay close at hand for him, practicing their own dances while he is working, and soothing him to sleep every night, in hopes that by assisting him he will move them up from the rank of mattress-girl to blanket-girl, and then to pillow-girl, and finally they are allowed to graduate to be a dancer under his charge.
BradleySo there’s that! That concludes all the major figures in the Dance Kingdom that I think you should be aware of right now. Along the way, we will meet other students, and practice our skills, and maybe someday be decent dancers ourselves. So join me, and let’s see what happens in this crazy world!

The Nobility, Part I

Our own quest to learn to dance is based out of the Land of the Loft, which is the closest studio to where we live. It has much better lighting than the usual dungeon that people quest in, which makes for a more pleasant learning environment. The studio is the home of three of the nobles, the ones I promised I would tell you about yesterday. These individuals are: Lord Fabulous, the man in charge; Sir Steven as his head instructor; and Lady Q as the female lead.

Lord Fabulous is the most recent addition to our troupe. He originally hails from the Great Dance Hall by the Lake, and still goes back there every-other week to maintain a relationship with some of the subjects he formerly worked with. Some time back he became ruler of our area, through some kind of dealings that involved either promotion or monetary exchange with the King, I’m not quite sure which. Now he rules over the roost with a glittery fist, welcoming almost all the new students, encouraging people to participate in the events or the kingdom, as well as taking on his own set of people to teach throughout the day. Currently, he is often seen in the company of his prize pupil Flexy, whom he uses as a demonstration prop and a gossip buddy. I often wondered how Flexy knew so much about the other students, until she confessed one day that Lord Fabulous told her everything.

LordFabulousThere is an air of mystery that surrounds this young lord. Rumors fly about, speaking tales of how he once danced professionally for Celine Dion, or he owns a few nightclubs in greater Charlotte, or he was 40 years old (we found out later that he is actually younger than we are). Whatever the truth may be about this elusive figure, I don’t think I’ll ever know.

The second instructor whom we met after joining the studio was the harsh Mistress. Hailing from the northern lands overseas, she was very intent on teaching perfection for every move. So much so that her dance style was technical and functional, but sometimes… not beautiful. She did not stay long, and was replaced by Lady Q.

LadyQThis girl is what most boys dream about when they want to start dancing: tiny, flexible, sweet, good looking, and talented. She also has this almost magical ability to make everyone feel like they are doing awesome at everything they do with her. As expected with that kind of power, Lady Q is the one who taught all the fitness classes that were offered at the studio. That is, until Lord Fabulous arrived. He now takes on some of those classes for her, since he taught them while at the Great Dance Hall by the Lake. One other noteworthy thing that Lady Q told everyone during a class once was that she hasn’t really had feeling in her big toes for years, due to wearing the high-heeled shoes for dancing all the time.

But the first instructor that we met when we decided to start this journey was Sir Steven. Sir Steven, as I see it, is really the embodiment of dance. This man is younger than us, we have calculated, but seems to have this old soul – preferring a more classical style of music more like rock opera to the popular new tunes that are played by Lord Fabulous and Lady Q. He seems to know so much about dancing and dance technique, and though he is Caucasian, his hips can wield this Latin rhythm in a style that would make Ricky Martin do a double take. Sir Steven was the lord of the Land of the Loft before Lord Fabulous came into the picture. He is also our personal instructor, so I’m sure he will come up a lot.


So those are the three nobles that we know the best, the three that will probably come up the most. There are a few other notable nobles in the land, people we have seen at the great gatherings that are hosted in the kingdom or have heard about while talking with our nobles. I will tell you about a few of them next time.