The Dead Start To Walk In Their Masquerade

Ah, Halloween. The best holiday of the year, I would argue. Do you remember being a kid and getting all dressed up and going out to get free candy? That was super fun to me, and I’ve always loved Halloween ever since then. Sure, as an adult you tend to get less free candy from your neighbors, but you can still often get free candy from your coworkers or friends, or you go to a Halloween party and there is inevitably candy around that you are allowed to have. For me, over the last few years, all of the Halloween parties I have gone to have been dance related, so there is also a party activity that gives me an outlet to burn off the sugar rush gotten from eating a chocolate and peanut butter pumpkin. It’s a wonderful combination, and I hope everyone else had the same opportunities I had to go out and dance and eat some free candy. You know, to keep with the holiday spirit.

This past Friday night I went to the Halloween party at the Electric Dance Hall. Originally I was a bit worried about my chosen costume – I thought it might be a bit weird because it had a chest piece that was not entirely soft, and there was a back piece that hung down almost like a cape, but it turned out to be really good. The cape apparatus made it very dramatic when I did ballroom dances, especially when I did a Viennese Waltz and it flowed nicely around me as we turned about the floor. The only time it got a bit in the way was when I did a Hustle, and it kind of tangled around my arm a little, but it wasn’t so intrusive that it made me want to take it off. I danced with one girl at the party who was dressed up like what I would call a barbarian, and she had these shin guards on that had foam spikes on them. When we did a Rumba together, I could feel those spikes poking me. They weren’t sharp, but they did surprise me a little the first time they stabbed me. There had been a dance lesson before the party started where everyone who was there worked on learning a Halloween-themed line dance. They didn’t cover the one that most people do for Halloween (I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about), and I hadn’t Thriller1been there for the class, so when they performed the formation later in the evening I got to stand off to the side and watch. That was a lot of fun for me, since I got to rhythmically shake in time with the music and be disruptive and obnoxious (all in good fun though) to try to get people to smile. Everyone was being so serious while trying to remember their steps! I just couldn’t let them stay like that. One of Lord Junior’s serious competitor students had come for the party. I don’t get to see her very often, so to be friendly I asked her to dance a couple of times – once for a Rumba, and another time for a Hustle. The Rumba that was played had a pretty fast clip to it (for a Rumba), so I asked her before we started if she knew American Rumba, since that’s what fit with the song. Turns out that she didn’t really know any American-style dances at all, so I talked her through things as we went along and tried to make sure to use figures that I knew were common for both American and International Rumba. The Hustle was a bit easier, since it is pretty easy for a guy to lead someone through almost any Hustle figure without them knowing the figure beforehand, so that one I didn’t have to tell her what I was going to do before I did it.

When I met up with Sparkledancer and Sir Steven on Saturday afternoon to work on things, it was like a ghost town at the Endless Dance Hall, which is unusual. The front door looked barricaded shut, so I had to go around to the not-so-secret side door to get in. The lights were dimmed a bit, and with the front door blocked there Thriller2was almost no natural light filtering into the building, so it was kind of creepy. We worked on our International Foxtrot and International Tango routines that day. I would say what we were doing was more-or-less successful. Sparkledancer had injured her back earlier in the week, so she was kind of gritting her teeth and just being there. Sir Steven had me spend a lot of time emphasizing the rotations in figures like the Reverse Turn in Tango, making sure that my first two steps would go straight forward, and as soon as both of my feet were planted after the second step I had to rotate almost half a turn on the balls of my foot so that my third step would go straight back. It was a bit of an over-exaggeration of what I should normally be doing, but the overcompensation drives the point in better. Much like how I was told to bend my legs even further when doing the Tango, and keep them bent that much the whole time so that my body stays level. I almost felt like if I had bent my legs just a bit farther, I would be dragging my butt on the ground while I danced, which is a pretty uncomfortable position to stay in for long periods of time. But me complaining about being uncomfortable is stupid. When we got done dancing that day, I could tell Sparkledancer was just making it through. I asked her how she was doing, and she said she was OK, but she almost broke down into tears a couple of times while we were working on things, and she was planning on going home and icing her back once we wrapped things up there. I felt super bad about that. Had I known it was that bad before we started, I would have told her to just stay home and take care of herself. There are plenty of things that I could work on by myself, and I really don’t want her to break herself trying to get through things with me.

Then Saturday night there was a bigger Halloween dance party being held at the Endless Dance Hall. This one was much different from the party the previous night. The event was being held as a fundraiser to support some scholarship funds in some upcoming dance competitions, so they were “selling” dances with some of the dance teachers in the area. For a nominal fee, you could pick out one of the teachers and pick out a dance style that you wanted to do. When the party started, each of those teachers had a dance card and they were only allowed to dance with the people who had signed up for dances by paying the fee. It was an interesting concept, one that I’ve never seen before. Due to the sign up allowing people to pick out a dance style, the playlist for the party had to be fixed for the evening to incorporate all the dance slots people signed up for, so they told everyone they wouldn’t be able to take requests for dance styles throughout the evening at all. Since I’m a guy, I didn’t ‘purchase’ any dances that night. In fact, they only had two female instructors who people could sign up to do a dance with, but there were over half-a-dozen male ones. Sir Steven was one of those on the menu that night. He was telling me about the preparation for this event, and it was funny because he said there were several of the other instructors who came to him because some people had signed up to do American-style dances (like Hustle and West Coast Swing), and they didn’t know any steps for those styles since they exclusively competed in International styles. So Sir Steven ended up giving mini-group classes to these instructors during the week leading up to this party on the basics of some of the American Rhythm styles so that they could have some tricks up their sleeves at the party.

It's like a hidden picture! Can you find the skeleton with a carrot, the scarecrow, the goth girl and a guy in a gorilla suit?
It’s like a hidden picture! Can you find the skeleton with a carrot, the scarecrow, the goth girl and a guy in a gorilla suit?

During Monday night’s Latin Technique class we ended up doing Samba. I really wanted to look at either Jive or Pasodoble since it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to work on either, but I was outvoted. Lord Junior pulled out a set of figures we could look at that worked on Samba Walks – not the Cruzados walks, but just normal, Bronze-level Samba walks of several flavors. Out little pattern started with Two Whisks just to get moving, then one Samba Walk forward and a second to the side. From there we started doing things where the lady wasn’t just a mirror of the guy anymore. The guys did a Stationary Samba Walk while turning the ladies in an underarm turn and catching her in sweetheart position. This was kind of awkwardly-amusing position to try to get into with a couple of the ladies in class that night. I am fairly tall, and three of the five ladies in class were rather short standing next to me. While in Sweetheart Position the guys were supposed to reach around and grab the lady’s left hand (which she was crossing across her Thriller4chest) with our right. The trick with the shorter ladies that I ended up doing was to slide my hand across the back of their right shoulder so that when I reached around their side to where their hand was supposed to be, they would have their hand in the right place and I wouldn’t accidentally get a handful of… other parts of their body. We’re all friends in that class, but I wasn’t that close with any of them, so I wanted to make sure there were no awkward accidents (sometimes it’s hard being a boy…). Once we successfully linked up in Sweetheart Position, we did three more Forward Samba Walks together, then the guys did a Whisk and unrolled the ladies off of our right arm to get them out in a straight line with us. After that we were going to bring the ladies into Shadow Position, so we let the girls roll back into us with a Three-Step Turn while we just took two steps to put us both on the same foot. The ladies put their arms out in either direction, and we put one hand on their right shoulder and took their left forearm in our other hand. That was as far as we got with the pattern that night. Lord Junior said that we would be for sure adding on to this next week in class, so everyone who was there has to come back to see what we will add on next.

In Standard Technique class this week, we ended up working on Waltz at someone’s request. Lord Junior was excited to go over that style. He said he was watching one of the international competitions recently and he saw one of the professional couples doing a double Turning Lock to the Right, which he had never seen done before. He thought looked really cool, so he wanted to show us all how to do it. We started out by going through an Overturned Natural Spin Turn, which supposedly is what you would see most often to get into the double or single version of the Turning Lock to the Right, and then we did the single version just to make sure that everyone would know what was going on before we doubled the turns. Once everyone felt pretty comfortable running through the single Turning Lock to the Right with everyone else in class, we doubled the turn. The real difference (if you are a guy) is that instead of coming out of the first Lock into Promenade Position heading diagonal center, you would swing around the lady to get in front of her again, so that you’re heading backing line of dance. If you do things correctly, you should end up in the same position you started from as if you just finished the Overturned Natural Spin Turn. Then you just do a normal Turning Lock to the Right, ending as the book says in Promenade Position heading diagonal center. Give things a try yourself! Supposedly the normal Turning Lock to the Right is a Gold-level figure in International Waltz, so the double version would be considered open choreography, but once you have the feel for it there doesn’t really seem to be any reason you couldn’t get through it during a social dance. As long as you don’t turn into Promenade Position at the end of the first turn, the lady would know that something else is going on with the figure.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone else actually tries out any of the patterns or figures I list in these posts. I know I go back to refer to them later for my own memory, but do any of you find these useful? I’m just curious.

In The End Everything Collides

To start with this week, I’d like to talk about something that I’ve found in my world outside of dancing that I think is really going to help me with things I try to do while dancing. I’ve heard many people talk about how dancing has helped them with other aspects of their life, but this takes the opposite track – allowing me to incorporate something I’ve been working on in a non-dance setting into what I do on the dance floor. There are a couple of skills I picked up outside of dancing I’ve been able to do this with, the most obvious example of this is my ability to hear the rhythm in music, which is a skill I really developed during so many years spent in various choirs (yes, I was a choir geek growing up, not a band geek. I’m not ashamed to admit that). Another example is the balance that I acquired through years of doing Yoga, which really helps when I have to stand in semi-awkward positions for long periods of time.

So… want to know what I’ve been working on lately that I’ve discovered may be really useful to my dancing?

Punching.

Yes, the kind involving fists.

Let me set this up a bit: over and over again in the Latin Technique class that I go to every week, I’ve been told that any arm movements done should happen naturally, with my arm movements really coming from the movement of the muscles in my back. This is a concept I’ve struggled with understanding for a long time. As a boy who likes to keep myself in shape, I’ve spent a lot of time lifting heavy things over the years, learning to isolate the muscles in my arms while lifting those things in order to develop those muscles. I struggled with the concept because I always feel like, since I have strong muscles in my arms, I should be able to use those muscles to move my arms! That’s what they’re there for, right? It feels right to me to do things that way, at least. Well, as I mentioned not that long ago, recently I’d changed up my workout routine during the average week to make it half resistance training and half kickboxing, MySongsKnow1just to add in some fun and variety to what I normally do. Two weeks ago, while I was in class, they talked about adding more power to your punches by throwing them from behind the shoulder and keeping the elbow soft. While practicing that through a variety of jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts, I could feel how the more powerful strikes I could throw would actually originate from behind and just underneath my shoulder, and I stopped moving briefly when it occurred to me that the feeling I was noticing must be what Lord Junior has been telling me over and over again. So, to work on my arm movements for dancing, I am actually learning how it feels to move my arms from my back by throwing punches. It’s still a work in progress, since I can do it much more easily with my right arm than I can with my left (I’m right handed, if you couldn’t guess), but it’s helping me to practice a concept of muscle control that I should then be able to take out on the dance floor and use successfully.

See, experiences you have outside of dance can actually be really useful to draw on while you are dancing. I could spend hours in front of a mirror working on making my arms move gracefully (or something close to it) using my back muscles in Rumba or Cha-Cha figures, or I could go out and burn off a lot of work stress by pretending to punch things and work on learning the same muscle control, while also getting a great workout for my core muscles at the same time since punching properly requires a lot of fast core rotation! I am laying out this information that I have discovered, so do with it what you will. While I can’t imagine many other people going out and picking up boxing or kickboxing as a means to improve their arm motions in Latin or Rhythm dances, maybe there is just one other person out there who, like me, was struggling to figure out what proper arm movement should feel like, and this information could help them with that. Sometimes coming at a problem from a completely different angle is all it takes to get the breakthrough that you have been looking for.

Since I mentioned fast core rotation, let’s talk about what I did in Latin Technique this past week (look at that! An awkward segue! Why is it that I don’t write professionally?). No one had any strong thoughts one way or another about what to work on during class, so Lord Junior decided we were going to work on our speed in Cha-Cha by doing some syncopated New Yorkers. The big thing that all of us in class were doing wrong without realizing it was that we wouldn’t commit to turning completely to the side when doing the New Yorkers until it was pointed out to us. Basically, subconsciously we must have been thinking that if we only rotated enough in one direction to make the New Yorker work, with each of us also keeping our heads turned inward enough to keep an eye on our dance partners, then we could get our bodies back to center faster because we were already partially there. Though this sounds logical when you talk about it, you are actually able to generate more power MySongsKnow2(and thus rotate faster) by fully committing to the turn, which allows your body to wind up a lot in the opposite direction and then when you unwind you can snap back around quickly which (in our case that night) allowed us to go right into a New Yorker going the other way. So, lots of core rotation equals much faster turning. After pointing out everyone’s fear of commitment that night, Lord Junior had Sparkledancer and I try the pattern again together. When we finished, he told us that by fully committing to the movements, that was one of the best times he had ever seen either of us dance. That made me feel pretty good about what we got through that night.

In Standard Technique class this week we went back to Quickstep again to look at a figure similar to the one we tried to get through last week. Without anyone there to nitpick on what we were doing, we managed to work on quite a bit. We looked at a Quickstep figure called the Rumba Cross, which is a Gold-level figure according to the syllabus I just looked at to make sure I had the name correct. The footwork isn’t too difficult – as the Lead, you step forward on your left foot, cross your right foot behind, then take a side step in front of your partner on your left foot and pivot around. We went through two Rumba Crosses in a row, taking one slow step in between with the right foot to link the two together. After coming out of the second one, we added on the second half of the Running Right Turn that we had worked on last week in class, starting from the point where the Follower does a heel turn while the Lead steps MySongsKnow3around them to come out backing line of dance and do the Running Finish. We were told to try our best to get the entire figure to travel down the line of dance up until the Running Finish, which we came out of on the third step going diagonal center. Lord Junior said that normally you would plan things so that the Running Finish was used to turn a corner, but if you wanted to do the figure in the middle of a room you could come out of the Running Finish into a basic chasse and continue down the same wall. Once we managed to get everyone comfortable with doing the figure, he stopped to think about what people would normally do as a previous step to get into the Rumba Crosses. Because you have to start the figure by traveling down the line of dance with the Lead’s left foot, it requires a bit of forethought to make it happen – most of the Quickstep figures people use put you on the wrong foot to go into this figure. He said that the easiest way he could think of to get into it if we were dancing Quickstep socially would be to do a Reverse rotation and close our feet so that the Lead is backing line of dance, and then do a 180° pivot and take one slow step forward with the right foot, setting yourself up to do the Rumba Crosses properly. Once we established that as our starting figures, he put on some music and we ran through everything repeatedly to get the pieces all up to tempo.

As you can probably guess, I’m super excited about Halloween. Pretty much the best dance parties I go to every year are the Halloween ones. I’m not sure if that’s because the parties themselves really are so much better than all other dance parties, or if it’s just because I like Halloween so much. Either way, I’m super excited about going. Because of a work thing I didn’t get to go to any costume parties last weekend, which was sad, but this weekend I’m planning on going to parties on both Friday and Saturday night. I’ve got my costume ready, a few dance tricks up my sleeves, and I think I can find some candy too that could be used for a real treat! It’s going to be a spook-tacular time!
MySongsKnow4

I Am Feathered By The Moonlight Falling Down On Me

Halloween ended with a rolling crash in my neck of the woods (quite literally – during the dance party I went to a thunderstorm started, and it rained pretty heavily most of the evening). There were a couple of options I had heard for things to do on Halloween night, but I ended up heading back to the Electric Dance Hall for their usual bi-weekly Friday dance party which also happened to be going on that night. That’s where most of the dance people I know decided to go, so I went along to spend the evening with them. Since it was Halloween, there were many people who came in costume, but it wasn’t advertised as a costume party so not everyone decided to get dressed up like I did. We began the evening with the last East Coast Swing class of the month. Since there were a lot of people in attendance who hadn’t come to any of the other classes this month, we spent the class reviewing everything that we had covered in the previous weeks so that everyone could catch-all the steps that we had covered. To celebrate the holiday, and to make use of the opportunity to use a costume I had worn a previous year, I was wearing something different for this party than I did to the ones the previous week. This costume wasn’t one that many people who were there recognized, so I got a lot of questions about what I was as we were rotating through partners during the class. There was one particular older lady in class though who didn’t ask me anything about what I was wearing, but instead kept making comments about how ‘adorable’ I was, and kept trying to pinch my cheeks when she got close. I couldn’t tell if she was being serious or if she was just trying to mess with my head. She came in that night wearing a sort-of half mask on her face that looked like a green witches nose, which is what makes me question whether she was just acting the part of her costume.

Awkward...
Awkward…

After the class was over, we danced all night, and we sent Halloween off in style. Now that it’s over, I can start making a list of costumes that I can wear next year to celebrate. That should give me enough time to research the feasibility of making something, and figure out if the costume will allow a full range of motion while dancing. You know, important things to consider when putting together a costume. Also, there is now leftover Halloween candy in my freezer that will last me probably until next Halloween. I don’t eat candy very often, so the couple of random bags that ended up at my house will take a long time to finish. Also, I still have peanut butter eggs from Easter to finish up first, so I won’t even start in on what was just acquired for a while. I am really bad at eating candy…

Until next year!
Until next year!

With the holiday over, we can now start getting back to normal here in the Dance Kingdom (as normal as it gets for a dancer, I suppose).

I was surprised Monday night at who showed up to join the Latin Technique class with us. A couple of weeks back during the same class there was a gentleman that came in to inquire about taking dance lessons. Since Lord Junior was the only teacher at the studio at the time and class had already started, he excused himself to go chat with the man for a minute to see what he wanted. He couldn’t have a really in-depth conversation about his options with all of us working on things, so he invited the guy to sit and watch for a while to get an idea of what went on at the studio. I found out later that we had apparently been impressive enough to watch that the guy bought a whole package of lessons with Lady Detroit after we had left. My actual introduction to this gentleman, whom I will AMurderOfOne3refer to as the Statesman, was during the Halloween party at the Electric Dance Hall two weekends back. Sparkledancer had been talking with him during the party, and had led him around the dance hall to introduce him to everyone and help him feel welcome. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but this past Saturday I was out around town and I happened to run into him. At first I didn’t know who it was – we both looked at each other like we should know the other, but without costumes on it was hard to know for sure where we had met before. Later in the evening it dawned on me where I had seen him, so I went to talk with him to confirm. He told me his story about wanting to dance – he had been married once upon a time, and he and his wife had talked a lot about learning to dance and never actually did anything about it. After he and his wife split, he dated someone for a long time and they also talked about going out to learn to dance, but they never did anything about that either. Now that it’s just him, he wanted to spend some time bettering himself, and one of the first things he did was go out looking for a place to learn how to dance. With only one lesson under his belt, he told me that he had watched people during the Halloween party, particularly Sparkledancer and I when we were screwing around, and he hoped that someday he could dance like that. Sensing that this was my chance to flex my Dance Ambassador muscles, I told him that my dance partner and I usually went to the group classes on Monday nights, and that if he was interested he could come and join us in class. It would be a bit technical for a newcomer I told him, since it was a technique class, but we still tried to have fun during.

And then he totally showed up! Not only that, but after class was over, he was looking at the group class calendar they have on the counter, and he was asking Bony, Sparkledancer and I about the West Coast Swing class on Tuesday night because that sounded interesting to him. Sparkledancer and I gave him a quick demonstration of the difference between East Coast and West Coast Swing, and he totally ended up going to the class Tuesday night as well! We also told him that many of us usually go to the Friday night class (this month is going to be Rumba), so if he wanted to join us for that we would love to have him around. Could my efforts to be a Dance Ambassador actually bear fruit? Well… I’d actually have to take deference to Sparkledancer for this. She was the one who started talking to him at the Halloween party, and I’m sure that did more to make him interested in coming back than anything I did. But with men in short supply in the dance world, the more I can do to help encourage him to stay, the more all the ladies will thank me later, right?

With Sir Steven and Sparkledancer, I have put in a lot of work upgrading our competition routines the last couple of weeks. At this point, we have done most of our work on American Rhythm: East Coast Swing is done, Rumba is set, Cha-Cha we have gone through large sections, and we just started working on AMurderOfOne4Mambo this last Tuesday. Mambo is going to take a bit of work – it’s been so long since I’ve spent any time on (or danced socially) Mambo (or Salsa for that matter). The bright side is with the other four American Rhythm dances well underway that means there won’t be much more time until we start working on Bolero. I like Bolero, even if I’m not all that good at it, and I’m looking forward to getting back to working on it. On top of all the work creating the American Rhythm routines we will use, we’ve also taken apart and slowly put back together our Foxtrot routine. Apparently it was far too simple before, even though I didn’t think it was simple, so now it’s much more complex. We made minor changes to our Waltz routine, but they are really hard to notice unless you knew the previous version really well. The one that is going to be overhauled the most in terms of the way I actually dance is Tango. We are changing our Tango so that most of the figures we do will have passing feet – much like we do in Foxtrot. This is new to me (I’m sure everyone else on the Internet already does this, so I’m behind the times). It doesn’t seem terrible to do, but I have to remember to actually do it now whenever I dance Tango, which will be the best way to actually learn. So we continue to move forward on things. We haven’t actually discussed what competitions are coming up that we can sign up for, but I’m sure that we will once Sir Steven thinks we are ready to do something. Until then, I will have to find my own motivation to practice. It’s hard to force yourself to practice when there is no upcoming performance hanging over your head, isn’t it?

This weekend I am signed up to help play host/extra male body again at a singles dance party, much like the one I volunteered for back in July. Hopefully this one will be as much fun as the last. Some of the stories we’ve told of helping at the event have gotten around, so I think that there could be more people there “volunteering” for a chance to dance that night rather than actually do any work. Some people will do anything to have a story to tell…

…I am one of those people.

This Moonlit Night, Late October’s Swirling Fog Gloom…

Ah, Halloween. One of my favorite times of year. A time to walk around and see what amazing things people come up with to dress up as, and hear the stories of how they go out of their way to try to scare others for fun. How can you really learn to appreciate walking around on a sunny day unless you sometimes walk around at night? I like that Halloween gives us a chance to do that, to pretend to be things that normally scare us and share candy with others who do the same. My own ideas for costumes the last couple of years have been altered slightly, since all the parties I want to get dressed up and go to are dance parties, and some costumes would be impossible to dance in. Sure, it would be fun to get dressed up as popular characters from scary movies, but what would you do with all the accessories you’d carry around with that outfit? What if you want to wear a costume with a really tall hat? That means that you’d have trouble going through an under-arm turn, risking losing the headgear in the process. I applaud people I’ve seen go to these dance parties wearing things like animal suits, because I imagine something like that would get horrendously hot dancing in all night long. This year, I picked out a costume that allowed me to make a joke that I thought was hilarious… but the joke is really only funny if you went with me to the dance parties I was at this past weekend.

The first party was over at the Endless Dance Hall. As I entered the building, they had put a frame up with dark curtains surrounding the entrance that prevented you from seeing anything on the dance floor until you got to the end. There were also motion activated things that made noise as I walked through the makeshift hall. That’s always a good way to get into the Halloween spirit (provided said noise-making things don’t launch themselves in your direction unexpectedly). We started the evening with a group class on East Coast Swing taught by Indiana. Since she had no idea to what degree all of us who attended the class knew East Coast Swing, she started things out by going over the basics, and as we progressed we worked our way up to more difficult material by the end. Nothing we covered in the class was difficult per se, but there was one piece that really threw my brain CreepyGreenLight1for a loop. Once upon a time, I had learned a figure for East Coast Swing that we called the “Continuous Tuck-In” – you might know it as something else, but basically you would start in handshake-hold with your partner and then rotate clockwise around a center point, tapping your partner on the shoulder as you go. You would normally do this for a count of four, then turn the lady out with a free spin to move on to something else. That’s how I’ve always done it, and how I’ve always seen other people do it.

You would think at this point in my dance career, I would know that any International Latin or American Rhythm figure that you can do while spinning clockwise, you should also be able to do while spinning counter-clockwise. But boy, does that throw me off whenever someone reminds me of that fact…

As the end of the lesson approached, Indiana told us that instead of doing the free spin with our partner to go back to normal dance frame, we would be doing a rock step, switching hands so we were holding our left hands instead of our right, and then doing the same Continuous Tuck-In while turning around the center point going in the opposite direction. That simple CreepyGreenLight2variation, as easy as it sounds when I write it out like that, took me several tries to really do successfully. The first few times that I attempted to do it turning the opposite direction, every muscle in my body was screaming at me that things did not feel right. “We’ve only ever gone one way before!” my body shouted. “What the heck are you trying to make us do? Have you lost your mind?!?” After going through things three or four times, I managed to get the motions down, so I’m feeling pretty confident about it now. But man, those first few times doing it just felt weird. It reminded me of when I first started learning Viennese Waltz – we started out, as I imagine many people starting Viennese Waltz do, only rotating one way. For me, we it was the Reverse rotation. After a few weeks of mastering that in class, we tried to do the Natural rotations, and at first that just seemed wrong. Now, having done Viennese Waltz for a while, turning either way is no longer a problem, but that first time you fight against what you have locked into your muscle memory, it can be downright awkward. I’m sure all the ghouls wandering around the Halloween party last Friday night had a good laugh at my expense, watching me struggle with getting the figure down.

After the lesson was done, then we danced! The DJ made sure to spin lots of Halloween-themed tracks, and they turned down most of the normal lights CreepyGreenLight3in the dance hall to let the black lights that they had recently installed illuminate the festivities. Prior to coming to this event, I had made sure that pieces of what I was wearing would glow properly under a black light, so I was all set for when that happened. During the Latin- and Swing-style numbers, I would pull my dance partner closer toward the middle of the floor where all the lights were shining, so that I could glow while moving. It made things fun. They also had “snacks” at the party. Originally, the announcement for the event claimed that snacks would be provided, and during past events that I’ve gone to at the Endless Dance Hall, that usually meant they would have a table set up with cookies and fruits and things – you know, snack foods. This time, that wasn’t the case. They had a whole room in the back that had tables lined up with various hot dishes on them. The setup looked more like a catered meal than a snack. I first wondered what was up when I saw people coming out of that room with plates that were loaded with things you would have to eat with a fork, so I had to do some recon work to investigate. That was fun. The whole night was fun. I danced all night until my feet hurt, and then left via the same creepy, cackling setup at the entrance to head out again into the crisp fall air.

(Note: I live in the south, so it was still like seventy degrees out in our “crisp fall air”)

The next night there was a Halloween party over at the Electric Dance Hall. Arriving at the party a little later than everyone else, and just barely had time to change my shoes before they started in with the group class they were offering at the beginning of this party. Here, instead of a group class going over steps from some dance style, Lady Detroit decided to go through a line dance. Since it was a Halloween dance party, we worked through a zombie-themed line dance that I’m sure many other places also teach during this CreepyGreenLight4particular holiday season. While I was nowhere near as good as an actual zombie when performing this line dance, we had tons of fun doing it, and I know there were lots of people recording all of us as we danced. Even people walking by outside were stopping as they passed by the windows of the Electric Dance Hall to marvel at what was going on inside, so we must have at least looked entertaining enough to illicit that sort of reaction. This was actually the second time I’ve gone through a version of that line dance. The first was way back in the day, during the very first big dance party I ever went to in the Dance Kingdom (which was for Halloween). Back then, I had no idea what I was doing, and a few days after the party I had no recollection of the steps I had learned that night. This time, since I have gotten better about memorizing dances, I might be able to still walk through the line dance I learned even a week later. A month from now, if I don’t practice it, I probably won’t be so lucky, but right now I feel like I could.

In fact, I just walked through the whole thing in my mind to validate that I remember everything, and I must say that I looked pretty awesome while doing it. Good job me!

After we finished learning and performing the line dance a few times, we were set free to run amuck throughout the dance hall in an appropriate haunting fashion. For this party, the overhead lights were turned off and only the lights on the tables around the outside of the dance floor were used, keeping to the scary but fun atmosphere. There were no black lights, but since the Electric Dance Hall is much smaller than the Infinite Dance Hall (every dance hall I’ve been to is smaller than the Infinite Dance Hall), they were able to decorate the whole place much more to fit the holiday theme, since they didn’t have so much space to cover. There were scary sticky things up on all the mirrors, and footprints in what looked like fake blood coming in from the front door past the desk, and the tables in each corner had some random Halloween masks sitting on them that you could try on and pretend to be a different character with. I tried on both a bat and a vampire mask that were sitting on one table that night for fun. I would have tried to dance with one on, except the masks seemed to have been made for people smaller than me, and the eye holes really limited my field of vision, so I didn’t want to risk running into someone. During one of the East Coast Swing songs I tried out the figure that Indiana had taught the night before, rotating in the other direction. The first time, I got all messed up and Sparkledancer laughed at me for it, but the second time I tried during the same song I managed to get things right.
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Since Halloween night is actually a Friday night this year, I’m sure there will be another open social dance party somewhere to go to (I really hope so). I will probably wear a different costume if there is, likely one I used in the past, just to change things up. After all, you feel better about the money and effort put into pulling together a costume if you use it multiple times, right? I imagine this is how ladies feel about wearing competition dresses… except costumes usually involve more candy. Happy Halloween every one! I hope you all have a scary good time dancing as well!