Maybe You Didn’t Know That This Stage Holds A Show

To round out the week last week, and get in one last practice session before heading out to the Dance Death Arena to compete, I went to the social dance at the Electric Dance Hall. Lord Junior wasn’t there that night since he was already out competing with one of his pupils, but Sir Steven was there to keep the music playing (and keep all of us in line). The party was a lot of fun. Somehow we ended up with all but two of the people at the party being under the age of 35, so we had a good time being young and silly without having to worry about what a bunch of old people thought of us. HotDog was up to his usual tricks and was trying to get the phone number of a couple of the girls who were there that night. One of them looked like she had just completed high school, so she might have been a bit below his normal age range, but he was having a great time trying to teach her all the dance steps he knew. Deja even managed to sneak away for the night to come out and dance with us, and I know that Abracadaniel looked super happy to see her. I was glad to see her too. It had been so long since she last showed up, I was starting to think that she was dead as a dancer. To make sure that I practiced things just like I said before heading out, Sparkledancer and I agreed to dance all the ballroom-style dances together that night, focusing mostly on our American Smooth routines since that’s what we would be doing first. Things got funny at some points because everyone there knew we were practicing for the next day, so a couple of times everyone just sat out when Sparkledancer and I took the floor and made us dance by ourselves. That made it awkward, but funny. There was one girl there that night whom I had never met before, but she spent time trying to Subtraction1convince me that I needed to have a super serious Tango face when I danced. At one point, a Tango was put on, and everyone else cleared off the floor so that Sparkledancer and I were dancing by ourselves again. I made it as far as it took before I could catch sight of that girl, who was standing over in the corner making gestures at me with her hands around her face, and I started laughing really hard. I gave up dancing the Tango at that point and everyone else there started laughing with me. I guess that shows that I have a really hard time holding (or even having) a serious Tango face.

So as I mentioned, this weekend was competition weekend for me. I made my way back to the renowned Dance Death Arena to sort-of duke it out with other dancers. I say sort-of because I don’t actually compete to do better than others. I really only sign up to compete as a way to force me to focus on learning and improving. The pressure of performance is enough to motivate me to do that. I wasn’t signed up for a ton of things, so the entire competition was just a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday morning for me at the venue. I was surprised to see Subtraction2when I got there that Judge Dread was one of the judges at the competition on Saturday, and on Sunday the frightening Lord Dormamu was in the front of the floor judging. I wondered that day what it would take to get an adjudicator’s license. Then I could go out and judge things like this! I bet there’s some kind of exam to take. All the certifications that I have to get for work require passing an exam, so I bet being a certified judge would be similar. I wonder how hard that would be…

Before we talk about the fun things that I saw, I just want to throw this out there: I don’t know who it was in the world of dancing that decided that all Viennese Waltz heats should be done before nine o’clock in the morning, but that person and I need to have a serious heart-to-heart discussion. The first thing I had to do Saturday morning was Viennese Waltz, going on the floor just before 8:30AM. I don’t know if there would have been any amount of warm-up I could have Subtraction3done that would have made me feel ready for that event. I am really not a morning person, so I just felt like that round was horrible. It probably wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but I was still not fully awake, and all the caffeine I forced myself to have early in the morning didn’t help any, so I feel like it was terrible. That was OK, since I expected it to be terrible as soon as I got the listing a while back and saw that Viennese Waltz was going to be so early. Why in the world would they do that? I tell you – the next competition I decide to do, I’m going to look at their historic heat listings, and if they also do Viennese Waltz at the buttcrack of dawn, I’m not going to sign up for that. Once we got past Viennese Waltz, we had some time to kill before our next round. I ended up in the back of the spectator section with Sparkledancer, watching all of the Senior-division dances. In front of us there was this other dance pair that looked like an older woman with her instructor. He couldn’t have been half her age, if that. She was fawning all over him, putting her head on his shoulder, wrapping her arm around his back, leaning in close to him whenever he started talking. He did not seem too interested in her attention, since he would subtly lean away from her when she leaned in, and when her head was on his shoulder he would tilt his head away from hers. It was rather amusing to watch. I had almost as much fun watching the ‘dance’ the two of them were going through in front of me as I did watching the actual dancing on the floor. After the break, we got to do our three other American Smooth routines. Those felt really good to me, and I had a lot of fun doing them. After we completed the Waltz, there was some technical snafu, so the emcee asked the DJ to put on another Waltz and had everyone on the floor started dancing again until they figured things out. The Foxtrot was probably my favorite. Once we got all the way around the floor once, I totally broke routine and Sparkledancer and I were just doing figures that I thought were fun, because that’s what I think dancing should be.

Dancing on Sunday ended up being less fun than Saturday. We started a lot later that day than we did the day before, so that was one major positive point (it certainly made things feel much better for me). The rounds we did that day had about twice as many people as the previous day’s rounds. Normally that wouldn’t be too much of a concern – I go to plenty of social dances, Subtraction4and many of those have more couples on the floor dancing than the heats I was in. The Waltz we did first went really well, and I felt pretty good when we got done. The Quickstep ended up being the issue. Due to another couple on the floor, I had to break routine, and I lost Sparkledancer. She had a hard time getting back into sync with what I was doing, and I ended up just trying to default into basic Chasses and Lock Steps to try to help her out. When we got off the floor after that, I could see she was frustrated. Up next we did the Tango, and that one went pretty well again. I thought we might have been able to shake off the bad Quickstep with that going so well, since it’s still pretty weird for Tango to feel like a good dance style for me. The Foxtrot was next… and that was… well, we had to start on one of the short walls, and just like Quickstep I ended up having to break routine because of someone else on the floor, this time it happened really early in the heat, and I really lost Sparkledancer by doing so. At the next corner I tried to start back at the beginning of the routine, but I couldn’t get her back with me. Every corner from then on I ended up just starting at the beginning, hoping we could get back in sync, but I think the pressure of performing and the negative feelings from the Quickstep had gotten to her, so she was just lost at that point. We got off the floor, and she was a wreck. Apparently there was also something that happened after that in the lady’s dressing room afterward, but she won’t talk about it too much. Despite all the other things going on, and the people we knew competing that day as well, she wasn’t doing too hot, so I took her to her house so she could change out of her fancy dress, and then we just sat and talked for a while so I could make sure she was OK.

For a while I thought I had lost her as a dance partner – it was pretty easy to see that getting lost like that really bothered her a lot. I think I managed to calm her down, and let her know that we weren’t doing this for any reason than to force ourselves to practice and improve overall. We didn’t stay for the results on Sunday, but I could guess they wouldn’t be good. So after the whole experience, Sparkledancer and I each walked away with a ribbon from dancing on Saturday, and that will be a nice keepsake from the event to go on my growing shelf of dance mementoes. I also have my competitor number to add to the shelf as well, since it was still pinned to the back of my vest when I got home.

Sparkledancer and I met up with Sir Steven yesterday night to look at things that we needed to work on based on what he saw while he watched our Standard heats – some things that needed to be fixed, other things that needed to be worked on to move beyond Bronze in that style. We looked at the Spin Turn in Waltz for a while. Later in the evening, Sparkledancer pointed out something funny to me that I didn’t notice while we were working on the figure: when we were going back over the technique we had looked at a while back, where I have to lead the lady to stretch away from me by pressing forward toward her with my hips, Sir Steven was Subtraction5demonstrating Sparkledancer’s part for her by dancing with me. He would dance with me by getting right in a close contact frame, and would pretty much stay that close while I pushed my hips into him. Yet when he would do the same figure with Sparkledancer, he stayed in more of a practice frame with her, keeping several inches of space between the two of them. You would think that he would do the opposite – keep several inches of space between the two of us, and getting up close and personal with Sparkledancer. When she pointed that out to me, I thought it was really funny. Since I mostly work with male instructors, I’ve gotten so used to having to dance with them occasionally to demonstrate things that it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I failed to see things from her perspective until she pointed it out to me.

This weekend I will be heading back out on a dance field trip to the Grand Dance Hall for their big yearly dance party, and I’m super excited. There will be a lot of people there, so this has become my yearly test to see how much I’ve managed to improve my floorcraft skills over the last year. Anyone else planning on attending the party with me? Maybe I’ll see you out on the floor!


Throw The Switch, Get Ready For Some Turbulence

When I got together this weekend with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer, I was in for a bit of a shock. For the last couple of weeks, we had been discussing an upcoming competition in October. Since we have been working almost exclusively on American Smooth, I had thought that would be all that we would sign up for if we decided to do October. Last week Sparkledancer mentioned that she didn’t want to just throw together something for American Rhythm or International Latin, since we wouldn’t have much time to work on that if we did. However, adding in International Standard didn’t seem like that much of a stretch. When discussing the possibility, Sir Steven said that a lot of the techniques we had been working on for Smooth would carry over into Standard. I was a bit more cautious, saying that it had been a SetYourControls1long enough time since I had really put any study into Standard, so we would definitely have to review the Bronze syllabus for everything before I would be comfortable competing at Silver like we had talked about doing for Smooth. Well, this week once Sparkledancer and I both got to the Endless Dance Hall and started changing our shoes, Sir Steven rushed over to see us. He said that he had been putting together some Bronze-level International Standard routines for us to use for the upcoming competition, so we were going to spend our time that day going over as much of the choreography as we could fit in before his next lesson showed up.

Gulp. Wasn’t expecting that when I woke up that morning.

With that, the decision as to whether or not we were going to do the competition in October seemed to be pretty much made for us. We got started right away with going over the Foxtrot. Since we are going to do Bronze syllabus rounds, the routine wasn’t terrible. We spent most of the time on that style going over doing Heel Turns for Sparkledancer, and the corresponding Impetus Turn for me. I got the better end of the bargain though, since I only have to do two Impetus Turns during the entire loop around the floor while Sparkledancer will have to do four Reverse Heel Turns and four Natural Heel Turns. Once we covered everything a couple of times, I recorded Sir Steven dancing the routine with Sparkledancer so that she and I could work on getting it into memory later. Then we moved on to Quickstep. This is probably the one I am the most nervous about at this point, since I haven’t done Quickstep (even socially) in a really long time. Much like the Foxtrot, the Quickstep is not a complicated routine by any means – the most difficult figure I think we are doing is the Double Reverse Turn – but feeling comfortable at speed is going to take a bit. I love Viennese Waltz, so there is a part of me that believes that once I get the Quickstep up to tempo I will have a lot of fun doing it anytime a Quickstep comes on in any dance situation, but I’m not there quite yet. I’ll need at least a couple of weeks before I feel like that. And last before we ran out of time, we looked at Tango. We only managed to cover and record the first long wall before we had to stop, so we’ll have to finish that next week. I was initially skeptical about the Tango, since the figures I already knew for International Tango were so different from American Tango, but it turned out the routine was just a slight modification of our existing routine for American Tango, so I’m not feeling as bad about things now. Next week we plan on finishing the Tango and going through the Waltz, and then we’ll have to go through the entirety of our American-style routines to see if any changes are needed. After that, it’s just repetition until competition time.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Right after our lesson was over, Sparkledancer and I went out to lunch together to discuss and then actually register for the competition, since it felt like we had better make it official if we are SetYourControls2putting all this work into learning these routines. She and I went through the categories available and chose to do Silver American Smooth (Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango) and Silver American Viennese Waltz (for fun), and then Bronze International Standard (Waltz, Quickstep) and Bronze International Standard (Foxtrot, Tango). Our places are now purchased so we’re on the list. There’s no turning back now! We slotted out two nights for working on each style this week so that we could for sure have everything memorized before the next time we see Sir Steven. That means she and I got together for some practice time every day since Saturday. Since the competition is so soon, I imagine we will be spending a whole lot of nights this month getting together to practice things. Things are going to be rough for a bit, since there’s a feeling of pressure hanging overhead during our practice sessions now that we are officially on the list for the competition, but it should be good. Pressure makes sure that I actually do things. Like practicing…

The only night we didn’t get together to practice our new routines for at least a few minutes was the Saturday night after we learned all the choreography, and that was because we had both promised to attend a social dance with a bunch of people at the Electric Dance Hall. It was a party that Lord Junior put together at the last-minute as a celebration of the end of summer. He gave a short lesson before the dance to cover American Rumba, which ended up being some pretty basic steps since there were a lot of new dancers in the crowd who had never done American Rumba before. After the lesson was over and the floor opened up, we had fun. I had asked Sparkledancer before we started about how she felt trying some International Standard in place of American Smooth during the night. I wasn’t going to try to pull out our new routines, since we had only gone through them the first time earlier that day and I didn’t have them committed to memory yet, but I knew we could switch the way we danced to be more International style by swapping out a few moves (like using Heel Turns in Foxtrot in place of Reverse Turns or using the Whisk in Waltz in place of Twinkles) and by not doing anything that would break frame. She said as long as we committed to Standard or Smooth when we started and didn’t switch halfway through a song it would be OK, otherwise it would get too confusing, so we did that a couple of times. My top point of pride from the evening was when we got to dance West Coast Swing. We have been working really hard on getting more comfortable using all the new and varied figures we’ve been studying, and that night the DJ put on several slow SetYourControls3Swing songs that gave us a great opportunity to pull those things out to play with. We were the only ones there that night that were dancing West Coast Swing, even during the slowest Swing songs, so we usually went to dance in the middle of the floor so we could show off. I don’t know if anyone was impressed by that, but I felt good about it, and that’s really all that matters. I do know that we managed to impress some people who night with something else… Sparkledancer and I had decided to dance a Tango that night (I’ve really been trying not to avoid doing Tango so much lately). The way we were dancing was noticeably different from everyone else on the floor – much more staccato, more grounded to the floor, with our knees bent considerably, and doing a lot of crazy figures that we knew that look a lot different from what people normally do during a social Tango. At one point we went past a group of young girls sitting on the side of the room chatting. As we went by, we could hear one girl ask the other “What are they doing?” to which her friend replied “That’s what Tango looks like eventually.” That also made me feel good about things. Hooray!

While at Latin Technique this week, we worked on putting together a Cha-Cha routine that anyone could work on individually to practice with – no partner required. The routine was fairly simply: starting with your weight on your left leg and your right foot pointed forward, do a rock step with your right foot and then go into a Hip Twist Chasse. From there you would do two Stationary Chasses, first on the right side then on the left. Next you would do two syncopated Forward Checks, left foot forward first then right foot. After that, to finish things off, you do a normal tempo forward check with your left foot and a Ronde Chasse, but with a forward step at the end instead of a side step. By the time you finish, you should essentially be two steps forward and slightly to the right of where you started, and you can go back to the Hip Twist Chasse right away to repeat things. Once we were all relatively comfortable with the steps, we started putting it to music. Lord Junior started with a song at 75% normal tempo, and we worked our way up 5% at a time until we got to full speed. He also divided the class into two groups. He took me, Abracadaniel and Sparkledancer (since we were the ‘tall kids’) and put us in the second group, and had everyone else in the first group go to the front of the room to run through the routine in front of everyone to music while we watched and evaluated. We then switched places so that they could watch us. After both groups did it once, he would turn the tempo up 5% and we would go again. Having people watch was like a little added pressure to make us work harder. During the last run through at full speed, a bunch of people from the first group messed things up, so Lord Junior said if they wanted another shot at things they could join the second group and try again. All but one person took that chance. It was a good time.

This week was also the first week that I switched out going to Salsa class for going to Lord Junior’s Advanced-level Standard class. This month he was working on Waltz. I have to admit, this was definitely the right choice – my white boy hips just fit in so much better when doing Waltz, it’s like they aren’t a hindrance anymore while I’m there! This class, Lord Junior wanted to specifically work on the Spin Turn. He said that while it is a Bronze-level step, getting it to look SetYourControls4good is more than most Bronze-level dancers can handle. We built a little pattern of figures so that we could practice. With Lord Junior dancing, there were only three Leads in class to work with six Follows, so boys didn’t get breaks that night. After going through the Spin Turn with everyone, we added in a back Turning Lock with a Natural Turn to close. We made the rounds through all the partners again, then added in an Open Impetus that went into a Basic Weave and we ended with this weird foot cross that looked like what you would do in a Viennese Waltz Reverse Turn. He said that we could use that to continue next week, or if he found something better we would start with the Spin Turn again and then do something completely different.

There’s really only one place to go on a dance field trip this weekend, so I think that’s where I’ll probably be. If I can get Sparkledancer to go, it will allow us to use a real dance floor to practice some things, so that is something to look forward to. I’m sure we can round-up a few other people to go as well, just to make sure it’s a party. If you’ll be there too, come say hi!

I Want To Be The Very Best, Like No One Ever Was

Things have to change sometimes. Mixing things up helps to promote progress. What do I even want to talk about first? Hmm… West Coast Swing, I choose you!

I’d been thinking a lot about my dealings with the West Coast Swing groupies around the area, and I realized that if I wasn’t going to be able to learn the things that I wanted to know from them, maybe I could improve my relations with them by learning those things on my own. So, with the help of a little online searching, I found there did actually exist footage of things that I needed to know. Quite a bit, actually. Using all that, some self-study is going to happen so that I can master ballroom-style West Coast Swing. At least one night a week for the foreseeable future will be devoted to learning as much of this syllabus as I can. The night chosen to start with was Wednesday night, simply because ‘West Coast Wednesdays’ sounds catchy. Really, we could do it any night of the week, but I think that even if we decided to do it on a Tuesday some week, in my mind I’m still going to call it West Coast Wednesday (no one can tell me I’m wrong in my own mind!). The idea is that if I can train myself to do this, using proper ballroom form and technique, eliminating the shuffley Anchor Step so that my style of West Coast Swing has much more fluidity and continuity of movement, maybe then the other West Coast Swing people in the area can appreciate that (even though I do things differently) I can still look good. This is something I hope to be able to achieve since people talk about West Coast Swing as a style of dance that emphasizes personal style and individuality. You would think that if the practitioners truly believed in those tenants, they would embrace the differences between ballroom style and barroom style, and wouldn’t tell me that I was doing things ‘wrong.’ Well, I’m going to go out of my way to figure out how to impress them, and then maybe I can help heal the rift that exists between the local West Coast Swing club and the ballroom community I’m a member of so that we can all dance together in peace and harmony no matter how we choose to do it. It’s a lofty goal, but I want to give it a try.

So far on this journey I’ve covered a lot of basic turns and figures, about half of which were just review to make sure I knew the names that went with the figures. I think I’ve gotten all the way through what I’ve found listed as the Bronze syllabus, so now we can start looking at taking those pieces and putting them together into more complex patterns. There’s also a lot of more advanced things to do using the Whip figure that I need to spend a lot more time going over, since that seems to be a really important figure that can be used in a lot of the really impressive patterns I’ve seen when people have shown off. Luckily, I have Sparkledancer to help me. She thinks that becoming a West Coast Swing master will also be fun, plus she’s the only female I know that knows the basics of ballroom-style West Coast Swing, so that’s really good for me. We are able to throw some videos up from my computer to my television and practice PokemonTheme1everything in my living room. With socks on, it is possible to do all the turns on the carpet fairly easily. Once we feel like we’ve mastered the figures enough for primetime, we can give things a try when on an actual dance floor wearing our dance shoes. If we get stuck while we’re on this journey, I bet we could get help on things from Sir Steven. He was the one who taught me everything I knew before starting on this quest, so I bet he could help us work out any problems we might run into. Maybe someday, if we ever sign up for a ballroom competition and they also have open West Coast Swing heats, we can throw down and see how we do. Either that, or we could make our way out to the local West Coast Swing club’s base of operations and show them our way of doing things, and hopefully win their grudging respect for how good we are when all is said and done. I know where they meet, and it’s on my list of places to head out to someday!

Just how did I manage to convince Sparkledancer to help me out with this crazy plan to become a West Coast Swing master? Well, it’s actually kind of a trade with her. See, Sparkledancer told me recently that she has been getting really bored in the Friday classes we’ve been attending. Lately there’s been a lot more newcomers in the class than there were in the past, so she told me that she really only feels like she can work on anything when she rotates through to dance with me. I don’t have that same problem when I work with newcomer Followers, because I can (as a Lead) guide them through what they are supposed to be doing most of the time if they can move their feet correctly. So, she wanted to drop that class and pick up something else, but wanted to make sure she wasn’t stuck somewhere where there is a terrible male-to-female ratio. She asked if I could drop the class as well and pick up whatever she chooses. For at least this month, we are going to be picking up the Advanced Salsa classes that are given on Thursday nights. They are taught using club-Latin style Salsa, so there is hope that they will cover movements we don’t really know. Plus, Salsa is something we just don’t really do; generally when I am out places and a Salsa comes on, I either sit the dance out to give myself a rest, or I go out on the floor and dance Mambo instead. There is hope that, because of that, the class will be rather engaging for us to be in. After all, it is almost like a new dance style for us to go over.

I say “almost like a new dance style” because of what class was like this week when I was there. Pretty much everything we covered was stuff that I had covered in Bronze-level Mambo classes, the only difference being that we started dancing on beat one, and we were dancing mostly in a two-hand hold, not a Latin dance frame. As I’ve said a few times before, Salsa was once described to me as being ‘sloppy Mambo,’ and being in this class helped solidify the meaning of that for me. A lot of the moves we covered just didn’t feel as sharp as how I originally learned to do them in Mambo. We started off doing eight-count turns, with the guys turning on the first four, and the ladies turning on the second, switching back and forth between turning outside and inside. After that we did Cross Body Leads, with and without turns for the ladies in the PokemonTheme2middle. Then we went over something the instructor called ‘Back Rocks’ with a turn for the guys right after the third rock, followed by a turn for the ladies on the next beat. The Back Rocks felt a lot like a Hand-To-Hand in Rumba, since we were told to let go of the outside hand while doing them. Nothing terribly crazy at this point, just slight modifications of things I’ve seen before in Mambo. At the end of class, the instructor told Abracadaniel not to let her forget that next week she wanted to go over Chases, so that gives me something to review before class to make sure I know that’s up. I’ve done a few different Chase figures in Mambo, so those should be a good baseline to help figure out what to expect next week.

This past Saturday when we got together with Sir Steven, we tried to put together all the things that Sparkledancer and I had worked on individually the previous week. Some of what we did was more successful than other things. We hadn’t had much time or space to really work things out ourselves before that time. I had talked with her about what I had worked on, and obviously I wrote about things last week (which she saw), so she had a general idea of what she would be getting herself into, but it’s hard to show someone an idea like that if you don’t have room to move without running into a wall. Running into walls isn’t that much fun, right? When we did have room to move fully, it turned out that we could do things pretty well. I’ve mentioned before that Sparkledancer is pretty tall, much taller than Lady Comrade, so since both of us have long legs, we need space, like how a Great Dane needs more space to run than a Chihuahua. Telegraphing the movements for Sparkledancer also seemed to go PokemonTheme3pretty well – she said she could feel what I was doing and that was enough for her to respond accordingly. The problem was that when I was doing it while Sparkledancer and I were dancing a Waltz, it was noticeable to Sir Steven watching from the other side of the room. He said that it was good that I was able to implement the idea that I had been given, but I needed to practice a lot more to make it more subtle. He told me that my dance partners should be able to feel me doing these things with my upper body, but he didn’t want to be able to see me either pressing forward with my upper body or accidentally leaning forward when he watched. That would diminish some of the magic of the dance to a spectator. So, that will have to be a conscious thing I have to practice as part of mastering this concept.

With the change in schedule now, it appears that I am free on Friday nights to wander around and take in other things. Tomorrow night, for instance, I heard that the Prime Dance Hall will be having another open party that anyone can attend, so I’ll be going on a dance field trip to visit. I’m excited about that – it will only be my second time going there. Having been there once, and been regaled with the stories of the people who run the place after I was there the first time, I think this time I will be better prepared for what’s to come. Will you join me? It’ll be a lot of fun!

Hey, I Just Met You, And This Is Crazy…

Hustle class this past Friday ended up being a bit boring. Somehow we had more men than women for the class. I was really surprised at that; that almost never happens. We had started out doing rather simple things again, and since I had a lot of time where I wasn’t dancing with a partner, I started going through the Follower’s steps just to challenge myself. I’m not sure if I could now go through and follow someone’s lead through all the figures, but I would have a better chance now of faking it at least. We managed to get to get through doing the closed- and open-position basic figures and a couple of different turns. Sir Steven spent a few minutes explaining why we were going through and doing the basics without the rock step like we had done the previous two weeks. Basically it comes down to the way that the Hustle has evolved over the years as a ballroom dance style. The rock step is the way they did things back in the ‘70s, and having the men point their legs off to the side is the more modern style. Either way will work, he just said that whatever is picked when you start dancing to a song, you stay consistent until the end of song to keep your Follower happy. Near the end of class we started to talk about the way to do a figure called the Half-Nelson. We spent time going through how best to get the lady’s arm twisted around behind her back without yanking the arm out of the socket. We never got the chance to finish up the figure beyond the arm position before time ran out, but Sir Steven did demonstrate how the full figure looked with Points to show the entire class so that they had something to look forward to doing in next Friday’s class.

Everyone was finally back from their vacations this past Saturday, so I got to meet up with both Sparkledancer and Sir Steven in the afternoon for coaching, and get back to work. I had talked to Sparkledancer on the phone after what I wrote a couple of weeks ago, because she wanted some further explanation of what I was talking about that Sir Steven and I had worked on during out time without her. Let me tell you, when we finally got together and Sir Steven could both demonstrate the idea with her, and then I could try it out, and there wasn’t that awkward half-hearted attempt we both had trying to fake it with each other, things made a lot more sense. CallMeMaybe1Sparkledancer ended up being totally cool with the pelvic thrust idea. Sure, there was a bit of giggling the first couple of times we did certain things (honestly, I think that deep down, none of us really progress beyond awkward teenager mentality), but we managed to work through things pretty well. It’s going to take some practice for sure, but I have a good feeling we’ll be able to manage this new concept together. It will add one more thing to the list of things that I do while dancing that would sound awkward if I tried to explain it to non-dancers, so I will probably never tell my family or friends about it. That’s another reason why I explain things here in my dance notes, behind the veil of Internet anonymity! Plus, a few of you have probably tried the technique before, either having pressed your core forward into your partner to make them stretch back, or having stretched back because you felt your partner press their core into you. It truly only looks like a pelvic thrust when I am watching myself try to do it in a mirror without a partner, I promise. With an actual partner, it doesn’t look out of the ordinary at all.

We worked through that particular concept with the first part of both our Foxtrot and Waltz routines. We didn’t go through the whole routines – Sparkledancer had asked at the beginning of the lesson to take things easy on her, because she was worried that she would have forgotten everything in her two weeks off. There was one point when Sir Steven was going over a part in our Foxtrot routine, and comparing the things he wanted to see us doing to the Wing figure that he saw us doing in Waltz during the last workshop we went to with Judge Dread. After going over everything, he asked us to put it into the routine and see how it looked. I stepped through the portion of the routine with Sparkledancer fast before we went through anything with any kind of rhythm or technique, because she was giving me a look that told me she didn’t know what portion of the routine we were going through. That helped get us both on the same page. Once we got done working through Waltz, we changed gears (and shoes) and looked at Cha-Cha for a while. We managed to move beyond doing the basic chasses that day with both of us there, and we got into doing New Yorkers. Somehow, when working on technique in either Latin or Rhythm dances, it always comes back to doing New Yorkers. I’m not sure why that is…

I convinced Sparkledancer to come to the dance party that was going on that night so that we would have a chance to walk through some things once or twice. The dance party was going to be all kinds of fun because I found out that Indiana was going to be teaching a lesson beforehand, and I haven’t had a chance to see her in quite a while. Before the party started, I was standing over in the corner talking with some of the other people I knew about life and dancing and whatnot, and Indiana came over to join us. She was worn out from having been in heels all day teaching a children’s ballroom workshop. I guess the children she works with have a bit more… enthusiasm… than her older students. She asked about the Cha-Cha class she was planning on doing, to see if she could figure out something that we didn’t already know to go over. I thought that was really cool of her. When the class started, there were a few people in attendance who had no Cha-Cha background at all, so we spent the first twenty minutes or so just going through the basics. When we had everyone on the same page, she had us go through a figure where the Leads would do a turn and swap hands behind our backs before chasseing to the left perpendicular to the Follower CallMeMaybe2while she did a forward Lock Step. When we got to the end of the chasse, the Follower would start doing a Crossover Break, but we would stop her with our left arm, and then we would chasse to the right while the Follower did a three-step turn in front of us. At the end of the chasse, we would switch hands and do a New Yorker with our partner to bleed off the momentum from the previous move, and then we could go on to whatever else we wanted.

The dance afterward was a good time. Sparkledancer and I didn’t get to practice together as much as I had hoped for; since she had been gone for so long she had to catch up with everyone she knew that was there, which turned out to be really good for her (more on that later). I got to watch the spectacle of HotDog making a move on one of the ladies that came from the Great Dance Hall by the Lake. There is a group of them that has been coming to a lot of events lately. We’ll call them the Condiment Kids. Three of the four were there that night – two of the girls (Mayo and Relish) and their male cohort Mustard. Anyway, HotDog made the mistake of letting people know that he was interested in Relish (as many a good hot dog would be), so Sparkledancer asked him if he was going to get her phone number. He made some offhanded comment that it would be super easy to get, and would only take him a few seconds, so Sparkledancer told him that she wouldn’t believe him until it actually happened. For the record, it didn’t take a few seconds for him to do it – he actually waited until he was just about to leave the party for the night, after she had had a couple of glasses of wine before he asked her. CallMeMaybe3He did succeed in getting her number, so good for him, but it wasn’t as quick of a process as he boasted about. So to finish what I mentioned earlier… being all danced out for the night, a bunch of us ‘kids’ were heading out to make our way home. As we walked by the front desk, The Prez asked Sparkledancer if she could talk for a few minutes before she left, so Sparkledancer bid HotDog and I good night and we took off. Sparkledancer called me before I got home, excited to tell me all about her talk – apparently The Prez thinks that she is so good at talking to everyone and being a Dance Ambassador that she wants Sparkledancer to join the local Royal Dance Court. There are some things that Sparkledancer would have to finish up first, but I think she is going to do it. I have to say, I am pretty jealous of that. I am going to have to step up my game and be a better Dance Ambassador so that maybe someday I could be asked to become a member of a Royal Dance Court. Do you think that kind of power would go to my head?

During Latin Technique class Monday night we did some Rumba. We had a new face join us in class this week. Actually, she’s not really a new face, I’ve talked to her quite a bit, but she has never come to that class before. I’m going to have to call her Bean (it makes me laugh). Bean has told me that she used to teach Yoga, and now she is interested in becoming a dance teacher. Lord Junior has taken her under his wing, so I have seen her around the Electric Dance Hall quite a bit. The figure that Lord Junior wanted to work on in Rumba was the Opening Outs, but we got into them from a Natural Top and then had the lady do a Spiral out of it. He wanted the ladies to do the fancier version of the Opening Outs where it looks like they put their arm out, then retract it, then put it out again before the Lead flips them over to the other side to repeat with their other arm. This was a fairly easy step for the guys, since our part is just a Cucaracha whether the lady is doing the fancy arms or not. Dancing with Bean was interesting – we had never really danced together before, and she is tiny. I felt like if I accidentally flexed my CallMeMaybe4arm while we were in frame, I would have crushed her ribs. Lord Junior spent a lot of time working with her on things to make sure she could get it perfectly, since she wants to teach this stuff to others soon. Abracadaniel and I didn’t get too many comments on what we were doing, since our part was fairly simple. Either that or we just did it perfectly the whole time, because we are awesome!

So much dancing this weekend! There is a dance party tomorrow night, coaching on Saturday afternoon, a dance field trip to the Cherished Dance Hall on Saturday night, and then another workshop with Judge Dread on Sunday afternoon that I think I will end up going to as well. Whoa. What kind of dancing are you doing this weekend?