The Secret Of The Fox, Ancient Mystery

Last Saturday afternoon I met up with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer for our regularly scheduled coaching session. We spent most of the time that day working on Foxtrot, with a bit of Tango thrown in at the end for a change of pace. I’m not going to lie – this lesson was particularly uncomfortable for me. Apparently my shoulders are just not bending the right way anymore, and the constant yanking of them to put them into different places is starting to get a bit painful. I’m not sure if I can rapidly increase the flexibility in my shoulders to avoid this. We may have to sit down and discuss that I have been enjoying the challenge of trying to build up the strength in my shoulders, so the sacrifice of some of my flexibility is just going to have be accounted for. If I can hold the position (uncomfortably) once you push my arms into place, that’s great and all, but if I cannot put my own arms into that position without help, then we’re going to have to work with what I can do. Sigh… anyway, things were good otherwise though. We continued working on improving our Three Step in International Foxtrot, and making sure that our quick movements in International Tango were very staccato, while the slow TheFox1movements were slightly more smooth. Near the beginning of our time, Lord Dormamu was running around the Endless Dance Hall, very excited to show everyone the pictures on his phone of his new studio that was finally completed. As he came over to show Sparkledancer and I (Sir Steven had already visited the place), he told each of us that we were more than welcome to come by and “join the family” there, as he put it. It is always intriguing to me to go to new dance studios, so when Sir Steven asked Sparkledancer and I if we would be interested in actually having our next session there to take a look at the place, I was excited about it, and she agreed. I’m not sure I would want to take lessons there all the time (it’s farther away from me than other dance halls), but getting a chance to go dance there before the grand opening party was just too good to pass up. So, that’s where I will get to be next week! Are you excited?

As a side note, there are only a couple of weeks left in this physical challenge I gave myself. Once over, I can change up my workouts again, and add back things like Yoga and agility training rather than just doing straight weightlifting if I want. That should help, though it will take some time. Also, getting my diet back to normal so that I am not just eating a very calculated, mostly protein diet with very little of anything else, is something I am really looking forward too. You really don’t know how much the carbohydrates you eat give you long-term energy throughout the day and also keep you feeling full until you all-but eliminate them from your diet…

Later in the evening, I went to help out at the dance party that my Royal Dance Court was putting on. We had chosen to do a Foxtrot-themed party this time around, and had convinced Lord Junior to come in and teach the lesson for us beforehand. When I got to the venue, those of us who had gotten there early spent some time putting out a few decorations and setting up a table with snacks on it for people to enjoy. I was surprised that some people who were not members of our Court also showed up super early, and then just sat around watching all of us TheFox2awkwardly while we worked. President Porpoise had shown up early as well, since he likes to come to these events to help out as a dance host, but he must have been super tired since he ended up laying down on a couch in the back of the room and taking a nap until it was time to get ready for the party. I’m surprised that he managed to sleep through all the preparations we were doing – the DJ was getting her equipment set up and tested by playing some songs fairly loud, and all of us were talking about things that needed to be done, and not being very quiet about it, but President Porpoise just slept through all of that. Just before we started the pre-party class was when the majority of the attendees showed up for some reason, so we had to hold the class up for a few minutes so we could get everyone checked in. The class didn’t cover any super-difficult material, and Lord Junior gave everyone plenty of time to practice at the end. He showed everyone the Quarter Turns, Three Step and Feather Finish figures. To have everyone practice, since there were so many people there, Lord Junior had the men line up in the back of the floor in three lines, and then had the women line up in one long line along the right-hand side. The women would then come out, three at a time, and go down the floor with the first guy in each line. When they got about halfway down, the next three women would go out with the next three guys, and so on and so forth. To keep the ladies moving (and avoid confusion), Sparkledancer positioned herself at the head of the line of ladies and directed them where to go. It reminded me of the time I got to direct traffic in the same way when we tried to do a mixer like this in the past. This strategy seems to work pretty well for a mixer dance, so long as someone’s directing people where to go. Left to their own devices, people start going about things chaotically, which causes people to run into each other while going down the floor. Madness!

The dance afterward had much less madness involved. I made sure to do my best and wander around and dance with people I found sitting out if I could. There were a lot of people who showed up to the party that night, so I’m not sure if I even got close to dancing with all of the ladies who were there, but it seemed like I got to go out with a lot of them. It was nice to see Ms. Possible at the party too. I hadn’t gotten to see her in quite a while. She asked me during the evening if I would be willing to go out and do a Waltz with her, since Lord Junior had just started to go through the Waltz basics with her and she wanted to practice. I managed to get through the whole song using International Waltz socially without accidentally switching over to American Waltz, so I was pretty proud of not messing that up. I also worked the crowd to try to convince people to come to our formal party in April. I think I got a few people interested, so hopefully they sign up to come party with us. During the announcements in the middle they also surprised someone with flowers for her birthday, which was nice. The DJ didn’t make everyone sing for her – since this was a dance party, she put on a song and let the birthday girl choose whomever she wanted to dance with and dance for a bit by herself before allowing people to slowly join the couple on the floor. It was a much more thematically appropriate way to celebrate a birthday than singing, don’t you think?

This week’s Latin Technique class focused on Rumba again, since there were two people who hadn’t really done more than a few Club Latin classes joining us. They were a nice couple I had never seen before – the guy was rather quiet, and the girl was over-enthusiastic, and had really long hair that would whip me whenever she spun around. The pattern we covered was still rather challenging (for the ladies, at least), even though neither of the new people had any Rumba experience. To warm up, Lord Junior started with us looking at Rumba basics, to kind of gauge where he could go with things. Once everyone was comfortable with the closed Rumba basic, we switched things up to start with an open basic where we did one rock step before turning the lady to the left into Shadow Position as guys brought their feet together. Then guys then did a back rock step while ladies do an in-place basic before doing they did a full 360° turn to the right. This was the first thing that night that caused some trouble. The new lady didn’t have real dance shoes, so to turn herself all the way around in the heels she was wearing, she had to put a lot of force into her turn, often throwing herself off-balance in the process. After watching this a few times, Prez went looking through the spare dance shoes that Lord Junior TheFox3keeps in the back, found a pair that seemed about the right size, and let her try them out to see if they would help. The first couple of times with the new shoes on, she still put a lot of energy into the turn which managed to turn her even further around than before since now her shoes were suede bottomed, but she was pleased with the results. Once the shoes were straightened away, we went back to our pattern and added on an Opening Out action in Shadow Position, with the guys stepping forward diagonally to the left and the ladies stepping backward diagonally to the right. After bringing the lady back in front of us, the guys released them so that the ladies could do a Three-Step Turn (or Alemana, depending on what you like to call it) while the men did a back Cucaracha, and then we come back together into normal dance frame to finish up, or start all over if we wanted. After class, Lord Junior spent some time showing the new people how the same figure could be used in Salsa, since they had said that Salsa was one of the styles they had done before we started. Turns out they didn’t actually know Salsa too well, so everyone spent some time closing out the night by just dancing some basic Salsa for fun, without trying to throw in any more advanced figures.

And then at Standard Technique class we worked on Waltz. Lord Junior decided that night that we would have a workout day with our Waltz, to really spend time working on calf and ankle strength and balance to help everyone not lower from the rise in each figure we did earlier than we were supposed to. This meant that sometimes as we were dancing the steps, he would have us stop and hold the rise at the end of the figure for an extra three or six count before we could lower and go on to the next step. Our pattern that night started with a Prep Step going into a Natural Turn. From there we went into a Natural Spin Turn, coming out using a turning Change Step that crossed our feet at the end. The Leads crossed our right foot behind our left, while the Followers crossed their left foot in front of their right, which made us ready to travel forward straight down the Line of Dance. We next did an Open Telemark, coming out in Promenade Position travelling toward diagonal wall. The Promenade we went into Promenade curved to the left and used a Forward Lock just to make things more interesting. We finished things by using a right-side lunge, remaining in Promenade Position for a three count and then opening up into an Oversway line over the final three count. Mostly simple steps, but now imagine at any point you are told to stop while on your toes on the three count of a figure and stay there, without moving or shaking or dropping your heels, for another three beats before finally bringing your other leg through so that you could lower the heel. It was kind of a fun game in a way. Some people struggled with things more than others – one of the ladies in class, if she was dancing her steps on her own, wasn’t able to bring her feet together and keep herself up on her toes. She always had her feet spread in more of a horse stance to keep herself from falling over. It was an interesting thing to witness. At the end of the class we ran through the pattern to music just to get some repetitions in for practice. When everyone had gotten through the line to dance things a couple of times, the song had repeated again and was only about halfway done. TheFox4Lord Junior decided to finish the song by having everyone face the mirror, bring their feet together as much as possible, and then rise up onto their toes and just hold themselves there until the end. For the first minute everyone was OK, but as time wore on I started to hear the moans of everyone around me, and some people started to shake a little or drop their heels down and quickly pick them back up. I thought it was a lot of fun, so I was just wiggling in time with the music while holding myself up (I used to walk around more on my toes than on my whole foot, so standing like that for long periods doesn’t really bother me).

Well, it’s sort of a holiday weekend coming up. I don’t have to go to the office tomorrow (hooray), and I think there are some dance parties to choose from on both Friday and Saturday night. Should be fun. Plus, there’s the excitement of getting to go to that new studio on Saturday afternoon, which I’m looking forward to. What will it be like? I’ll tell you all about it next week!

Behind The Curtain, In The Pantomime

It seems like winter keeps coming back to haunt me. No, it hasn’t gotten cold again here in my part of the world, but that short cold spell we did have has left a lot of things behind to remind us that it happened well after the date that the temperature got back above freezing. Like all the rock salt that is spread around my neighborhood, for instance. Also, when I went out this past Saturday afternoon to meet up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven for our normal coaching session, we found that the Endless Dance Hall was super busy. Apparently the previous weekend there had been a showcase performance scheduled that didn’t happen because of the snow we received. They moved the performance back a week, but didn’t tell anyone who wasn’t in the performance (like us) that they moved things until the day of, when they took over the studio. ShowMustGoOn1When I got there, I found all kinds of people wandering around in some state of costume, and groups of kids running through their choreography, and there were risers set up with seats for an audience. There wasn’t much room on the floor to do anything. When Sir Steven got there and also saw what was going on, he stepped outside to make some phone calls to find out what the story was. When he came back, we talked about it and the three of us decided it was best to not be underfoot while everyone was getting ready for the show that evening, so we rescheduled things for Tuesday night. Sigh… why do you have to play me like that Winter? What did I ever do to you?

Saturday night I did get to go out for some dancing, and I got a lot more dancing in over the course of the evening than I expected. There was an open dance being held at the Prime Dance Hall – not hosted by them, just held at the location. I didn’t even see anyone who is on staff at the dance hall there that night, which is kind of weird. Anyway, this dance was put together as an offering for everyone by the person acting as the DJ that night and a guy I call President Porpoise (he’s someone who I see play dance host at a lot of events). They had put together this dance not only because nothing else was going on for that Saturday night, but also as a fundraiser for someone in the dance community who had gone through some recent medical turmoil. I didn’t recognize the name of the person they were talking about, but I’m horrible with names so that’s not really surprising. I might recognize them if I saw them though. The story they were telling made me sad, so before I left that night I emptied out all the cash I had in my wallet and left it as a donation to the cause. Seeing as how I had to reschedule my normal dance lesson earlier in the day, that was probably a lot of cash (minus what I had to use to get into the dance party), but I didn’t count it before I turned it in. As the dance party got underway, I’m not sure where everyone else was that night. Since this was the only open dance party in the area, I would have thought all the regulars I usually see would have been around, but we had a lot of women show up and not a lot of men. So I got quite a workout that night. The DJ did lots of things to help make sure all the men rotated through dancing with everyone since we were so outnumbered. At one point they had each guy stand up and grab two ladies, saying that one of the ShowMustGoOn2ladies would be their next Foxtrot partner and the other would be for Cha-Cha, but even with each guy standing on the floor with two ladies there were still some ladies that were standing along the side of the floor all alone, so we ended up doing the Foxtrot first, then a Salsa where all the ladies who had been off on the side got to have first pick of a dance partner, then the Cha-Cha next. One of the ladies asked me if I danced Salsa during that middle number, and I told her before we started that I didn’t usually do Salsa, but I could fake it. Normally the things that I do for Salsa is all figures that I learned for Mambo, just starting on beat one, so I can fake Salsa pretty well. She was surprised by that, and after the dance was done she told me that she wished she could fake dances she didn’t know like I could. That was funny to me. I also ended up doing a Tango that night with a lady who was at least a foot shorter than me, so I had to take tiny steps during that dance otherwise I would have left her behind. It’s been a while since I’ve danced a ballroom dance with someone where there’s been that much of a height difference.

We had a couple join us for Latin Technique class on Monday night who had driven in from quite a ways out of town. Lord Junior was talking to them before class started and asked them what brought them to the area, and the guy told him that they had just come in for class. I guess where they lived they had spent a lot of time learning Club Latin styles like Salsa and Bachata, but they wanted to try something new. Because they hadn’t really done any ballroom dancing before, we went through Rumba that night, which is what we seem to go through whenever new people are around. We started out warming up just doing the basic step for a while to get everyone comfortable with things if they hadn’t seen Rumba before. Our pattern for the night started with one full basic in closed dance frame, and then we led the ladies out into Fan Position. From there we started to do a Hockey Stick, but after the first four steps we changed things and led them to do a loose Spiral Turn to line up facing one another so that we could go into a New Yorker to the right. I was told that a ‘loose’ Spiral Turn is just a Spiral that doesn’t turn a full 360°, which I had never heard before, but it seems like an interesting tidbit of information, so that’s why I’m mentioning it here so that I can remember it later. I caught Merlot and Sparkledancer spending some time that night discussing how ladies use their outside arms in New Yorkers, and somehow they got to talking about how it works best to pretend like you are giving someone a high-five with your outside hand. I’m not entirely sure if they were being serious about that, since they kept laughing about it while moving their arms around. Class is so entertaining sometimes…

So Tuesday night I had my rescheduled coaching session with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer. As was promised the last time we met to go over things, we worked on Foxtrot and Quickstep this time around. I will admit, I was not feeling very good about how things went that night. It seemed like I was getting picked on a lot for things going wrong. It probably wasn’t any more frequent than I normally get during these sessions, but I just wasn’t having much fun with things that night, so it was hard to laugh things off at the time. We went back to talking about how, during natural rotations in Quickstep, I am to help Sparkledancer extend her body away from mine by pressing forward slightly with my right hip. This is something I still struggle with. Part of the problem I was having that night was that we kept breaking away from each other right before I would do that, so as I attempted to push forward with my right hip, there was nothing there, so I had to push forward even more to make contact with her, and that kept throwing me off balance. It sounds like a simple thing to fix when I write it out here, but something about hindsight and 20s or something… you know. As we were working through the Foxtrot that night, a couple of people came into the Endless Dance Hall to talk with Indiana and one of her students who were working on things on the other side of the floor. They left after a brief conversation and then came back with a video camera. This camera had a really bright light attached to it, and it seemed like no matter where we went on the dance floor, that light was always shining straight at me, ShowMustGoOn3burning bright light spots into my vision. They were filming what Indiana and her student were doing on the dance floor for some news program or commercial or something, I’m not quite sure, but they always seemed to line up their shots so that we were also in the background. At one point we even went over to stand near the mirrors, which I thought would prevent them from pointing the light at me since it would reflect off the mirrors back at them… but I was wrong about that, they still did. In the end, things were good, and there are some parts I will have to go back and work on. Hopefully when we get together this coming Saturday to cover things it will be more fun. Maybe I’ll look up some new jokes to tell before I go, so that if things get to be too much work I can just randomly insert a joke to lighten the mood. Maybe I’ll even try to find dance jokes, so that the material is relevant. That seems time spent on a worthwhile investment.

This week in Standard Technique class we got to go back to the pattern of figures that I went through with Lord Junior back in the beginning of December. I was the only person in class that night who had seen this amalgamation before, so I kind of had one foot up on everyone else when going through things. To prevent you from having to go back and read through my old notes, the pattern is as follows: we started off with a Chasse from Promenade Position, and then into a Quick Open Reverse with a Reverse Pivot at the end (interesting note: the Quick Open Reverse is actually a Quickstep figure that has been adapted for Waltz). After the Reverse Pivot we are facing line of dance and we go into a Double Reverse Spin that also has a Reverse Pivot at the end, which puts us backing line of dance for the Leaders, and from there we ended by going into a Throwaway Oversway. It’s a cool set of figures, with a lot of stuff that will really challenge you if you want to do things right, so I would recommend this pattern to anyone. I will say though that it’s really hard to do this sequence by walking through things slowly. In order to get the correct amount of turn, especially with those Pivots, you need to have some momentum to work with. Lord Junior actually told us that night while we were stepping through things slowly that he didn’t expect us to make it all the way around at the speed we were using, so he didn’t mind if we had to use our other foot to sort-of paddle ourselves around the full amount of the turn. Once you get going at speed, especially with music playing, turning becomes less of a problem, it’s actually stopping the turn to keep from overturning that becomes hard. My big problem during class as I danced through things with people was ShowMustGoOn4that I kept forgetting about what my head was doing as we were doing all the turns, so there were times when it looked like I was looking at my dance partner. I didn’t feel like I was doing it at the time, and I’m fairly tall so I might have been looking over the lady’s head instead of at her which would explain why I didn’t notice it, but I got called out for that a couple of times during the evening. By the end of the night I managed to keep myself from making that mistake again, but I could only do that by concentrating on what my head was doing, so all the other things I should have been working on probably got left out in the process. I was having a lot of fun in class though, which helped make up for not having much fun the night before. Hooray!

Look at this, we’re already in February already! Can you feel the love starting to permeate the air as Valentine’s Day approaches? I can. That’s why I’m volunteering to help out again at another singles dance party this weekend. Yay me! I can be a good dance host sometimes, and there’s always the chance that there might be interesting single ladies my age who show up that I can talk to. But the event was billed for singles over 40, so probably not. There’s also an interesting workshop planned for Sunday which I think I might end up going to, just for fun. We’ll find out what happens when I tell the stories about it next week!

Everybody Have Fun Tonight

Sir Steven, Sparkledancer and I keep jumping around on locations to meet up. This past weekend, a couple of hours before we were supposed to get together, we had to change venues and plan on meeting up at the Electric Dance Hall. I’m not sure why we keep switching things around like this, but that’s where we ended up. This weekend was nice because we got there and no one else was in the building yet, so we decided to spend some quality time working on Viennese Waltz. I really like Viennese Waltz, but it’s one of those styles I don’t actually get to practice much because of the amount of space that is required to work on things safely at tempo. I’ve mentioned in the past that if I try to practice things at home, I can get about one and a half rotations in before I’m about to hit a wall, unless I take super tiny steps. What’s the fun of taking super tiny steps though? We started by looking at the way we usually start dancing a Viennese Waltz. Ever since I first learned the style, the normal way to start has been to take my partner, and when the music starts we would do a hesitation step to my left for a three-count, then a hesitation step to my right for a three count while winding up, and then going into a Reverse Turn to start traveling down the floor. Sir Steven wants us to change that so that we can start by going into a Natural Turn instead. The starting sequence he has us going through is almost like a production compared to the two hesitations and wind up we had been doing. It involves several three-count steps, a curtsy from Sparkledancer while I sort-of bow, and then we finally come together and wind away from each other to my left so that we can start off moving on the right foot in a Natural Turn. The big things that we worked on when we actually got into running through Viennese Waltz was to first make sure that at least part of my feet were always connected to the floor. The second part was that once we got through the first two steps of each rotation, the third ‘step’ was to quickly slide the back foot in toward the front foot. Obviously the first thing we worked on helped with the second, since it is hard to slide your foot across the floor if you don’t keep your feet in contact with the floor. About halfway through working on Viennese Waltz, Lord Junior showed up to start cleaning some things around the dance hall before a lesson he was going to give at the top of the hour, and as he was wandering around cleaning he was making offhand comments about what we were doing, trying to get us to laugh and mess up. I guess you could call that ‘training under fire’ or something – it was rather amusing to see how much I could get through without breaking into laughter.
EverybodyHaveFunTonight1  And that right there is a perfect example of why I dance. No matter how seriously you take ballroom dancing, the thing is… unless you are getting paid to teach the craft to others, it is really a hobby, and it should be fun. I worry about people who take things so seriously that they lose sight of just how much fun (and slightly absurd) the world of ballroom dancing is. You can spend all your time worrying about how your technique looks, and what kind of impression you are going to give to a group of judges when you take to the floor, but once that short period of time at the competition is done, or you finish with the performance that you spent months learning the choreography for, the rush is over and you go home to take off your serious face, what are you left with? You learned all these things, collected all these medals or ribbons and you stick them all on a shelf where you can see them as you walk through your front room (that’s where all mine are sitting), and now they sit there, collecting dust (I hate dusting, so mine collect a lot of dust before I get around to cleaning them off). If you can’t afford to do a lot of competitions per year (most people I know compete Pro-Am, which is a lot more expensive than competing amateur), what are you really using this skill that you are leaning for? That’s why I like to spend so much time going out on weekends to social dances. It keeps things fun (which is the whole point of dancing in the first place), and it gives me a chance to utilize all the training that I spend so much time doing on a more regular basis than just the couple of times a year I decide to compete or perform. I think about dancing like I would about a classic car – if you spend a ton of money on a fancy classic car, but then only drive it around once every few months, what are you really getting out of the money you spent on the car? The problem with investing in dancing however is that you can’t easily pass your dance skills down to your kids or sell your skills to recoup some of the investment like you can with a classic car, so you have to actually use the skill in order to get something out of all the time and money spent learning.
EverybodyHaveFunTonight2  Now, I do know that I am a bit spoiled. I live in a place where ballroom dancing is kind of a big deal, and there are a large number of dance halls and ballroom-related dance clubs within a very short distance of where my house is (side note: there’s credible rumors of a another new dance hall opening nearby next month!). If you don’t live in an area like I do where ballroom dancing has made a name for itself, your opportunities for social dance parties may be few and far between. On top of that, I also happen to be male (at least, last I checked I still was), so I can go out to any social dance party and dance with any ladies who are free during a song without having to worry about not having a partner or someone using figures that I don’t know (since I’m leading, I usually don’t use figures I don’t know. Usually…). I’m not super extroverted (though you probably think I am based on all the adventures I tell you about), but I don’t mind going out and asking people to dance at the events I attend. Knowing what I know gives me a level of dance confidence that helps me do just that.

So while competing and performing showcase dances may give you a chance to win some medals or ribbons or make your name famous in the greater ballroom community, I would argue that if you are spending your time pursuing that goal without spending an equal amount of time just dancing socially, you are missing out on a huge part of the ballroom dancing experience. There are so many benefits you can get, so many people you can meet, and it’s a big way to help keep the fun in dancing. And if you’re not having fun and it’s always frustrating and tedious work, it’s a lot more like a job than anything else (except, you know, you are paying to do it, not getting paid). I don’t know about you, but I have enough hard work and frustration going on at my normal job to not have fun at the things I choose to do outside of work. If you’re in the area nearby me, you can always ask me where the next dance party is happening. There’s at least one dance hall in the area offering a social dance every Friday and Saturday night around here (often multiple competing dance parties), and there’s one option I know of that happens every Sunday afternoon if you still need more. And that’s not even taking into account all the Club Latin dances that go on that I generally don’t go to because of my white-boy hips. If you’re looking to move someplace for dancing, I could not say enough good things about living in the Dance Kingdom with me. Plus, then we could go out dancing together! How fun would that be?

That went off on a bit of a tangent, didn’t it… Since I’m not planning on writing a novel tonight, we’ll just skip everything else I did for the sake of brevity and jump right to talking about last night’s Standard Technique class.

When I was sitting around getting my shoes on for class, it seemed like lady after lady was showing up to join us in class. By the time we were ready to start, there were three guys (if you included Lord Junior) and eight women. I thought for sure that I was going to be working hard all night to keep up with all the partner switching that we would be doing… but it turned out that I didn’t actually dance much at all. We all decided to do Foxtrot that night, so Lord Junior thought we should start by looking at a Gold-level figure called the Fallaway Reverse Slip Pivot. His plan was by the end of class to have us start with a normal Feather, go into the Fallaway Reverse Slip Pivot, transition into a Double Reverse Spin (which is an adaptation of the Double Reverse Spin you’ve probably seen or done in Waltz), then come out of everything into a Three Step. Sounds super easy, right (I hope I didn’t break your sarcasm detector with that)? Some of the ladies really struggled with the turns. In the Fallaway Reverse Slip Pivot they had to do two pivots in a row during the figure, and then of course the Double Reverse Spin starts with a heel turn. That combination was hard for them to get through, so Lord Junior spent a lot of time with the group trying to get them through all the issues. The biggest problem he kept going through was that when they are the outside of the turn they really needed to drive themselves forward, or the turn would not have any power to make the rotation. Many of the women were used to letting the Leader get them through things, and we could have just pushed them around enough to make it work, but to make things look good (which is one of the things that most people want their dancing to do) the Followers couldn’t just have the Leader forcibly spin them. At one point, Lord Junior was going over some problems that Deja brought up so that the whole group could work on things, so I and the other guy who was there were relegated to leaning against the front counter so that we were out of the way. All we could do was watch – there wasn’t even enough open floor space to try our own steps out. That was how the class went for much of the night – there were short periods where the guys would dance with the girls, then long periods where I was just standing off to the side watching the ladies work on their figures. That was not what I was expecting to be doing when class started, that’s for sure! By the end most everyone seemed to have gotten the idea of things, so Lord Junior put on some Foxtrot songs and we just lined up like people do for Foxtrot mixers and ran through the pattern over and over again down the floor well past the time class should have ended.
EverybodyHaveFunTonight3   I used a lot of parenthetical phrases tonight, didn’t I? Well, I may have interesting news next week. I’m not for sure about things yet, but there’s a chance. Stay tuned – it could mean a lot of fun is ahead. Not just normal fun. No, I’m talking ‘dinosaurs in space’ levels of fun. Are you excited? I can’t wait to see what happens!

Get To Know The Feeling Of Liberation And Relief

The big adventure from this past week was that I got to perform – the culmination of all that time spent practicing, learning and refining our Pasodoble routine. I was really happy that Sparkledancer and I were the only ones performing that day that had a Pasodoble to show. At other dance shows I’ve been to, there usually are only a few people doing Pasodoble, so I knew there wouldn’t be many besides ours, but I confess that it did make me happy that no one else was doing one so that we had something really different to offer the audience than everyone else. This showcase was being held at the White Dance Hall. I’ve spent time at the White Dance Hall for dance parties, but I don’t remember the floor being quite so slippery during those events. Sparkledancer and I showed up DontDreamItsOver1early along with all the other performers to practice things a bit on the actual floor before the show started, and I felt like they must have waxed the floor right before we all got there. We got two chances to run through things with music, otherwise we were just stepping through parts off to the side so that we weren’t in the way of other people doing the same. I was in my normal clothing at this point – I didn’t want to change into my costume until just before the performance, so that there was something new for everyone to see when the time came. Some spectators showed up early and were watching us all practice, so the actual routines wouldn’t have been novel for them when our time came. When we got the schedule for the day, we found out that we were the second act in set two. The show was also a social dance, so they had planned on about an hour of everyone dancing to start with, then running through half the performances, then a 30-minute dance break, then the other half of the performances, and then opening up the floor again for whatever time was left over so that everyone could have fun. That’s quite different from other showcases I’ve gone to which were essentially just marathon sessions of watching people on stage, some up to a hundred acts. Lord Junior said the most performances he would ever do at one event was about twenty-five, because people get bored watching things otherwise. This particular event only had fifteen, if you include the one I was in.

I am super, super (super) happy to report that I managed to get Sparkledancer to slide at least six feet, just like I said I was going to. I don’t know if it was because the floor was extra slippery as I mentioned earlier, or I managed to set her down on the floor just right, or if all the adrenaline I had from performing in front of a real audience gave me superhuman strength, but when I released Sparkledancer to slide along the floor she just kept going for a long time. Sir Steven told me later that the White Dance Hall has real wood floors, so they would have to treat them from time to time, which might explain why the floor was so slick, but I think I’m going to believe that it happened because dance performances grant me DontDreamItsOver2above-normal powers. Sparkledancer told me immediately after the performance that she had started rotating near the end of her slide – she had never slid long enough to have that happen before, so the spinning confused her a little. Later on that evening after the party was over, she called me as I was headed home to tell me that she had gotten some floor burn on one of her ankles from the exposed skin sliding along the floor for so long. I hate that I caused her injury… but I am a little proud of that. During the performance, when I backed up away from her and watched her slide, I got so excited about how far she was going that I started raising my arms triumphantly instead of hitting a straight up and down line with my arms at my sides like I had practiced to do. I was proud of myself, what can I say? I don’t think anyone besides me (and Sparkledancer, since she was the one on the ground) was impressed with that small moment, but I’m going to pat myself on the back for setting a goal and then achieving it successfully.

There was a mixture of other routines going on that I got to watch that day. Among them we had an older women who looked really nervous doing a dream-state Waltz with her instructor, a younger girl who performed a couple of her competition routines with Lord Junior for everyone to see, and some people I had never met before who came all the way down from the northern highlands to do an Argentine Tango for us. There was an instructor who just moved to the area who was looking to start teaching Shag classes, and he went out with one of his students to show off for a bit. I don’t think they actually had a routine, since they just kept dancing until the music was shut off on them. He had crazy leg movements going on, and she was just kind of rotating around him, but I guess that’s how Shag competitions are actually supposed to be. From what was told later, Shag is even more of a manly dance than Pasodoble in some ways, so the guy is constantly moving (to impress his dance partner) and the girl isn’t really doing much, and even during competitions they have no set routines. After we got done with our performance, I thought that we were really cool since we were the only ones who had included a lift as part of our routine, but the very last act of the night was this instructor doing a Bachata performance with a much younger student of his, and he put me to shame by picking her up off the floor and flipping her all over his body and through his legs several times during the performance. That just sets the bar for the next time I decide to do a showcase – I told Sparkledancer that we’d have to do a slow dance like a Waltz or Rumba, and I would dance the whole thing while holding her up in the air over my head, so as not to be outdone. She didn’t seem too keen on the idea right away, but it might be a while before I decide to do a showcase again, so I can either wear her down until she wants to go along with the plan, or find someone else who would trust me enough to let me try that stunt.

It seemed like the plot of a movie, because I really feel like I got served by that guy...
It seemed like the plot of a movie, because I really feel like I got served by that guy…

Both Sir Steven and Lord Junior, who worked with us to get our routine looking awesome, seem to be really happy with the way our performance went, which makes me feel pretty good about things. Yesterday I was out at the Electric Dance Hall, and Sir Steven, Sparkledancer and I were discussing what we wanted to start working toward next. We talked about some competitions that were going on before the end of the year, and there’s a good chance we will pick one to enter soon. Sir Steven said that no matter what we decide, he wants us to make sure we don’t forget our showcase routine, because we might be able to use it for something (depending on what we choose to do, of course). Lord Junior was wandering around the studio while we were talking, and he said that we should definitely use it to compete with. He joked that we should sign up for a competition to compete in Pasodoble, and only Pasodoble. We would be the only people he’s ever heard of doing that if we did. I told him that I was onboard with that idea, since I really didn’t have an idea of any other situations where I could ever wear those bondage pants that I got for my costume. They were otherwise just going to get hung up in my dance costume closet where they would collect dust.

(OK, so I have a closet in my house that’s mostly used for storage, but the few items of clothing I also have hanging in there are my suits to keep them safe from my cat, and various other apparel that I wear and have worn only for dancing. In my mind, that qualifies it as a dance-costume-closet. I imagine female dancers would have something similar at their houses where they store their ballroom gowns in, since they take up a lot of closet space)

In other news…

Abracadaniel seems to want to be a regular for the Monday night Latin Technique class I go to. He was at the showcase over the weekend, and before we left I asked him if he was going to class on Monday. He told me that he wasn’t sure – there was an Argentine Tango class somewhere that he was sort-of interested in going to, but it was at the same time as Latin Technique, so he said he probably wouldn’t be there. I’ve learned that Abracadaniel really seems to like the various Club Latin styles (Salsa is his current favorite), so I thought that another alternative dance style like Argentine Tango would be right up his alley. But he still ended up being at class Monday night. Maybe he likes the challenge of doing higher-level things, or maybe he felt guilt about skipping since I had asked him if he would be there. Monday night we were working on Cha-Cha. It has been a while since I’ve even thought of Cha-Cha – usually when there are newer dancers in class with us like there have been the last several weeks now, Lord Junior likes to do Rumba, because a slower dance is somewhat easier for people to grasp. Since we had an even number of men and women in class that night, Lord Junior asked us if we wanted to work on some solo exercises that we could practice ourselves, or if we wanted to do figures DontDreamItsOver4with partners. The resounding answer given was “why not both?” so he spent the first half of class going through some solo figures and then the second half of class we modified that arrangement so that it would work with a partner. I was doing so good at things until I decided that it wasn’t good enough working with just my left arm, I had to throw my right arm into the mix. That threw me off a lot. Sigh… righty. Why do you have to be like that?

Well, it’s a holiday weekend, and also summer, and that means that lots of people are going to be gone. Sparkledancer is going out-of-town for two weeks, and the second week while she’s gone Sir Steven is also planning on being out-of-town. Lord Junior is going to be gone for a long weekend this weekend, what with the holiday and all. It doesn’t look like there is much dancing going on this weekend, so I don’t think I’ll be doing too much. It will be good for me to rest anyway. I’m done with my three-months of self-imposed double workout training, so I’ll be going back to only punishing myself once a day instead of getting up super early to do it twice. That means I should have lots more energy for dancing after a good weekend of rest. Hooray!