This past Friday night I had a lot of fun. There was a party put together that was kind of an exclusive event for some people, but the guest list turned out to contain all kinds of people I knew, even people I hadn’t seen in a really long time, to come dance with us! Even the long lost Flexy made an appearance, though during the Tango class before the party she kept telling me over and over that she was too rusty to do much since she hadn’t practiced in months. I think that all these people showed up because everyone was told to bring snacks to share during the party, and everyone loves free snacks. I did figure out something to bring (it was ice cream – I opted not to try and make something from scratch), and everyone really liked to eat it, so I didn’t have to bring home any leftovers that wouldn’t have gotten eaten for a long time. Hooray! I must say, I probably spent more time during the party talking with everyone than I did dancing. There were several people I hadn’t seen in a long time I got to catch up with, and there was a new person who had come for the group class before the party, and just stuck around afterward to hang out with all of us. I spent some time talking with her to learn her story, and to help her not feel so out of place since everyone else knew all the other people there and she didn’t. Turns out that she had been dancing for several years at a certain franchise studio I’m sure everyone’s heard of, and after all that time had never ‘graduated’ out of Bronze, so she was feeling like she was stuck on a treadmill, never getting anywhere. She decided to come to the Electric Dance Hall to see if it would be a good change of pace for her. HotDog and Abracadaniel both chided me for dancing with her a couple of times that night – HotDog said that since I was a higher-level student, when women danced with me they got the impression that dancing with all men would be like that, so when he steps in and just does mostly basic figures the women get bored of him. It was throwing off his “game” apparently. I pointed out that Lord Junior had danced with her too, and he was waaaay better than me, but HotDog said that since he taught dance, that wasn’t held against him. No, it was just me that was messing things up for him since I am only an amateur.
I can’t say I felt really bad for him. Maybe it can turn into an incentive to get him to practice more.
I did end up going back to the dance fitness class last Saturday morning. I woke up earlier than I wanted to, and I’m not one to shy away from a physical challenge, so I really had no excuse to stay home. I ended up being the only boy there again besides The Professor, but there were less women this time than there were the last time I was there – only about thirty instead of forty. I took up a spot in the very back corner again amongst the few people whose names I knew that were in attendance. Based on my experience this time and last time, I came up with a conjecture that all the songs they use during this class generally fall into two categories:
1. Songs where the choreography involved a lot of jumping
2. Songs where the choreography involved a lot of shimmying
The ladies in class seem to like the jumping songs more than the shimmying songs. When they are jumping up and down, that seems to be what elicits the most enthusiastic yelling noises from everyone. Last time I went to this class, it seemed like the song mix was pretty even between the two types. This time, things fell heavily on the shimmying side of the spectrum. I have to say, I don’t find wiggling my hips and shaking my shoulders around nearly as much of a workout as jumping up and down is. Maybe I’m just not shimmying right, but I just barely managed to break a sweat before class ended. Perhaps that’s the reason that the ladies like the jumping songs more – It’s more of an exercise for them too, so they begin yelling to pump each other up? The Professor did introduce four new songs into his mix, which he warned everyone about before class started. If I thought I was fumbly before when trying to pick up the choreography for songs by watching the people right in front of me, I looked even funnier when the people in front of me only sort-of knew the choreography too. At the end of class he did go back and revisit two of the songs at a slower pace to show everyone what to do step by step. I did much better at following things that time around. Yay me!
Saturday night turned out to be weird. I was a bit worried about things heading out to the party – most of the people I knew who had said they were going to come along suddenly had reasons why they couldn’t make it. I managed to convince Sparkledancer to promise to meet me there, just to make sure there was one familiar face in the crowd that night. It was a good thing I did too. When I showed up for the lesson they were holding before the dance party, I would have been the youngest person there by probably a good twenty years or so if she hadn’t been around. That night they were going over some Foxtrot. During the class, the instructor kept talking about how he had people come into his dance hall from time to time who claimed to know Foxtrot. He would ask them to demonstrate for him, and what they would show him wouldn’t necessarily end up being Foxtrot. To him, it would look a lot more like a Waltz or Tango using Foxtrot figures. He talked about the Twinkle as his example figure to demonstrate what he meant by that (though he kept calling it a Hover, which I had always thought was something different). When you normally go in to do a Twinkle in Foxtrot, the first step should be two beats, the second one and the third is one beat (or Slow, Quick, Quick for those who prefer that terminology). What he said is that people who would demonstrate the Foxtrot for him would attempt to do Twinkles and would spend a lot of time on the second step, dragging the foot in and being all fancy, essentially making the second step take as long as the first step like you would do during a Waltz Twinkle, which blurs the dance styles together. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anyone do that before, but I also can’t say that I’ve really paid a lot of attention to other people doing Foxtrot Twinkles in time with the music, so maybe it is a fairly common problem. I have heard the term ‘Waltztrot’ thrown around before, so maybe that blurred line between the two dance styles is a bigger problem than I’m imagining.
After the class, they opened up the floor for dancing. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made an offhand comment about younger, pretty girls always being asked out to the floor? Well, what happened during this dance party pushed that idea to the extreme. One other girl (who appeared to be younger than me) showed up just after the dance started. Initially I thought ‘that’s cool, someone else to bring down the average age a bit’ and I thought I might go introduce myself at some point, but that was not to be the case. All the older men would not leave her alone for a minute. I also ended up having trouble keeping track of Sparkledancer that night – if I walked away for even a second, just to go get a glass of water or something, someone would pounce and then I wouldn’t see her again for several songs. It’s like the older men were hovering around those two girls like predators, waiting for any opening to strike. There were lots of older women hanging out along the edge of the floor, but those ladies did not seem to attract the same level of attention. And the men didn’t just want to dance with the young ladies either… they wanted to teach these girls how to dance. Sparkledancer told me that each of the old men who took her out to the floor to dance had to tell her after the song was over about all the things that she was doing wrong. I also saw that happen with my own two eyes – I watched this one pretty short guy whom I have seen at several dance parties teaching women figures during the dances, and he made his way over to the new girl every other song to take her out to the floor to train her. At one point the girl was having a conversation with someone else, and he just stood a few feet in front of her for several minutes, waiting for her to finish talking, instead of going off to find another partner for that song. His desire to teach wasn’t really an issue until he decided to try that out during a Viennese Waltz, and then it got terrifying. The young lady had no idea what she was doing for that dance style, he didn’t just keep things along the outside edge of the floor, but rather started going back and forth along the same short wall instead of keeping to the line of dance, much farther out on the floor than was easy to get around. I was out dancing with Sparkledancer when that happened (she’s the only non-instructor I know how to dance with well enough to try a Viennese Waltz with) and she was the one that warned me about what they were doing, so I ended up cutting that wall early on each lap so that I had a lot of space between us and them. Being out on the floor in the middle of a party teaching someone to Rumba is one thing, but Viennese Waltz? That just seems dangerous. I’m not sure why he thought that was a good idea.
Men… that whole experience reminds me of a research study someone was telling me about where single women look to date men who are within a couple of years of their own age, but single men want to date women in their early twenties, no matter how old the men get. I guess the same idea might be true for some men when choosing dance partners at social gatherings.
Lots of things going on this weekend! Saturday I will be meeting with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven to go over our Pasodoble routine again, and then Sunday she and I will run everything past Lord Junior to get his advice on things. Then it’s just a couple of weeks of repetition until the performance and I get to start thinking about what comes next! So much excitement!