Show Me Whatcha Got

With the competition out of the way, I decided to change up my normal routine a bit to see if some change would help me progress a bit more. Lord Junior at the Electric Dance Hall had told a whole group of us at the last dance party we attended there that we were welcome to come jump into some of their group classes. With a new month starting and a new lineup of classes being offered, I saw that Wednesdays there would be an intermediate/advanced International Viennese Waltz class. I really enjoy Viennese Waltz, but it is one of those dance styles that is really hard to practice. None of the rooms in the townhouse where I live are big enough to really practice traveling dances without hitting a wall, and often times when I am at one of the dance halls around town to practice there are always too many people on the floor to safely work on Viennese Waltz rotations without worrying about hitting someone. So I signed up to attend the class this month for practice, and I can say that I’ve really been surprised how Wobble1much more I’m getting out of this class than just a scheduled chance to practice on a larger floor. For instance, has anyone ever told you that during your rotations, you do not put your heel down on the second step? That leaves the foot ready after the third step (where you bring your feet together or cross your feet, depending on the rotation direction) to start the next rotation. I had never been told that before until the first day of the class last week, so I’ve always closed my rotations with both feet flat on the floor. Sure, it’s going to take me a while to get that simple change to become a natural action, since I’ve spent so long doing it the other way, but I can see the improvement in how fast I can get my legs to move when I get the action right.

There’s also some retraining that will need to happen just because I am learning from a different instructor. Over the last several months when training for the competition, Lord Fabulous was really big on adding a lot of body sway when doing Viennese Waltz, so much so that he told any of us that he was working on Viennese Waltz with that when we were taking that side step during rotation, our bodies would line up to make a straight line from the tip of the toe taking the side step to the top of the head. Lord Junior has now, for the two weeks I’ve been in his class, told me that swaying my body this dramatically is not really appropriate because when I’m stepping with my left leg it causes my head to move to the right, which is “invading your partner’s space.” He kept trying to get me to keep my head left, and as much as I tried I couldn’t figure out what I was doing that was causing my head to move, until he recorded me doing it and I could see the body sway that no one else was doing right away. I can keep my upper body and head in one place if I am thinking about my upper body, but then I always forget about trying not to put my heel down. Having two different things to focus on is too (or two) much to think about while moving that fast, since I usually rely on my body to move based on muscle memory when the song is rather fast, I think I’m going to need some more practice. Luckily, Sparkledancer and Jack also decided to attend the class with me this month, and they have the same problem, so we can all work on fixing it together. That’s what friends are for – helping each other undo your weird Viennese Waltz habits!

Sir Steven has also been keeping me busy these last two weeks. I am still meeting up with him on Tuesday nights, and I think I’ll stick with that time slot for the foreseeable future. It works out well for both Sir Steven and Sparkledancer, so unless I find some kind of non-dance social life that has events on Tuesdays, we’ll just keep to what has been working. With the shadow of the last competition no longer shading our steps, Sir Steven is already working with us to build routines that we will use at the next competition… even though we haven’t actually discussed and decided on where we want to compete next. He has ideas, and he’s mentioned a few upcoming competitions that he is interested in working with us towards, but other than those brief name drops I haven’t heard more about them, so I can’t even figure out if I’m interested in doing them or not. Yet even without a date to work toward, we have already started our preparations. Last week we started with American Foxtrot and Waltz – in the Foxtrot we took our basic reverse figure and modified it to make it more interesting, which allowed us either to extend the reverse figure to cover the entire long wall or to move into shadow position to do natural turns to the other corner. This week we started working on one of the short walls to connect the pieces together. In the Waltz we did the same with our basic fall away figure, modifying it to make it cover much more of the floor to almost reach from one corner to the other. This week, we also talked about what we wanted to do for the non-ballroom sections. Sir Steven thinks that, much like the last competition we were in, we should focus on International Latin styles to complement our American Smooth routines. To that end, we started working on the Latin style that I struggle the most with – the Samba. Right away, he wanted to work on the figure that I had delighted so much in skipping during the last competition (the running promenade) and to teach us another, equally difficult travelling figure he called the ‘Samba Rolls.’ As he was Wobble2explaining that figure to me, I could swear I had seen someone doing it before somewhere, but couldn’t place where I had seen it in my dance memory, but later I found online videos of people doing the Samba Rolls to give me an idea of what they should look like. I can’t say that I’m going to be able to look like that anytime soon, but I like a good, athletic challenge, so I will work toward mastering it someday. Doing it last Tuesday night in the quiet dance hall with Sir Steven watching, it looked kind of… sad. Ah well, everyone has to start somewhere, right?

In an odd turn of dancing events, I went to prom recently. Before you ask: no, I was not some teenage girl’s date (I think at this point I am a little too old for that). Sparkledancer had signed up to help chaperone at a school prom, and they were still looking for even more volunteers to help, so she talked me into signing up with her. This, of course, also gave us the opportunity to look really cool dancing together occasionally in front of all the high school students, which is what sold me on volunteering with her. Sure, much of the night I spent wandering around the outside of the dance floor and watching to make sure that the kids weren’t doing anything inappropriate. They all seemed to be well behaved, and there were enough “adults” in the room that it should have deterred any inappropriate behavior from all but the most determined teenager (note: despite how old I am, I don’t always feel like I’m really an adult). Occasionally though, when the right song would come on, I would gather Sparkledancer and we would dance together to impress, oftentimes with a gathering of kids pulling out their cell phones to record what we were doing. At one point, a Samba song came on and I really tried to get all the kids standing near me to do the Samba line dance with me, but they weren’t interested in dancing, they just wanted to pull out their phones again and record other people dancing. If they had just followed my lead, I could have taught them something useful. I will say that it was nice to be one of the coolest people at prom this time around and have everyone watching me, because it sure wasn’t like that when I was in high school. Though, I would have thought teenagers would know more about some kinds of dancing than I did, but apparently that assumption was false. For instance, I was walking by the hotel ballroom to go grab my dinner when the DJ had put on the Wobble, and from what I could see no one on the dance floor knew how to do it! They were all standing in a big clump in the middle of the dance floor just wiggling back and forth. What is wrong with the youth of today? I’m sure you all feel the pain of that discovery along with me. Had I had the time to stop, I would have shown them the way, and lead them through the Wobble line dance, so as to right this societal wrong and restore justice to the song. Sigh… kids these days…

All the shorties in the club indeed...
All the shorties in the club indeed…

Even as I tell myself that I’m going to back off from dancing so much for a short while since the competition is over, I still seem to do a lot of dance related things. I heard that there was going to be an intensive Samba workshop this coming weekend, and since I am going to be working on more difficult Samba-related things with Sir Steven, I am thinking that I probably need to attend that for some intensive help on my basic rhythm bounce, and maybe they will even give me some pointers on doing better cruzados walks (Samba really does have the most fun dance words, doesn’t it?). So much for taking a step back, huh?

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It’s Got A Beat That You Can Dance To

(Picking up where I left off on 5/1/2014)

Once we all got back from lunch, we began the American Rhythm and International Latin heats. I hadn’t anticipated the lunch break to cause me to lose focus, but just like in the morning, the first few heats I danced in the afternoon were not that great. For instance, the first Pasodoble heat was pretty bad. I got cut off by someone else on the floor, causing me to break routine in order to avoid running into someone, and then I was trying my best to do lead-and-follow Pasodoble until the first break in the song when we could get back into our Spanish line and pause, allowing me to get back on track. I learned from that first Pasodoble heat that I would need to either start more offset from everyone else to avoid having this problem again, or I would need to use the fact that I am quite a bit bigger than the other dancers to intimidate them into breaking routine to avoid me instead of me avoiding them. During the American Rhythm routines I was a lot more flexible with the routine order. I knew the structure of figures that we had originally set up when choreographing the dances, but Sparkledancer and I have both spent a lot more time working on American Rhythm than anything else, so breaking routine and just allowing me to lead whatever I felt like was easy for us to do. After the first few mishap heats, I got back into the groove so things did improve considerably going forward.

The Samba routines I am actually particularly proud of… but probably not for the reason you would first guess. Some of you might be familiar with the running promenade figure that exists in Samba (it also exists, as I’ve been told, in East Coast Swing). When our routine was put together, we had one of the long walls that is essentially just that figure from one corner to the other. I’ve never been too fond of the figure, so it is probably what I spent the least amount of time working on during all the Samba work that I’ve done. Sure, mechanically Sparkledancer and I could pull it off, and during rehearsals we got through it without anyone giving us any negative feedback, but it never really felt good. During the competition, in our first Samba heat we were last in line to take to the floor. All the other dancing pairs had staked out a spot at the beginning corner of one of the two long walls, as most dancers are wont to do. Since things looked a little crowded, I pulled Sparkledancer over to the closest corner that started a short wall instead, just to give us Rhythm1some space between the other competitors. I started our routine with the figures that composed our final short wall, so that when I got to the next corner we would start from what we learned as the beginning of the routine. The nice thing about starting in that corner was that not only did I have a fair amount of space to myself, since I was essentially one wall behind everyone else, but the heat ended before I got to the second long wall where we had the running promenades! The first Samba heat this was totally by accident, but every other Samba heat (including the Samba in the 5-dance Latin championship) I also started in this same corner, and there was only one heat where they ran the song slightly longer so that we got about halfway through the second long wall doing the running promenades. I was really happy with that.

Going in to the afternoon, the thing that I was most anticipating was the West Coast Swing. There were two rounds that I could see on the heat sheet I was given in the morning. Sparkledancer and I had discussed a plan for our West Coast Swing, knowing that we were likely going to be the only ones dancing in those heats much like last year. We had planned to make our last West Coast Swing heat different than any of the preceding ones. Luckily, there were only two, so our plan would make both unique enough so that people could notice. For the first heat, when we got to the floor we took a second to wave and make some flourishes to the crowd before starting the dance. The first run through I kept the figures pretty basic. The most complicated move that I threw Rhythm2in was this running left-hand pivot thing (I don’t really know the actual names of West Coast Swing figures). When we finished, I spun Sparkledancer out and we bowed to the crowd before walking off the floor. I didn’t see it, but people in the audience told me that while we were walking off Miracle Whip had frantically drawn a large ‘10’ on a sheet of paper and was holding it up for us. Slightly less than 20 heats later was our second shot. This time as we walked out, I kept Sparkledancer close to my right side. When we got to the middle of the floor, I spun her out and we waved meekly at the audience. As the music started, we both pulled out a pair of sunglasses: mine had been tucked beneath my cummerbund on my right side, and Sparkledancer had tucked hers into her dress on the left, and we slowly put them on and then smiled at the audience. Everyone went nuts when we did that, as I had hoped for. We started dancing, and after the first two turns I threw in the most complicated figure that we knew, something that Sir Steven had once called the “Sailor Shuffle” though I don’t know if that’s actually the name. It’s a long and dramatic figure, and I had timed it just right so that we were facing the audience when we opened up. As the song wrapped up, I spun Sparkledancer out dramatically once more and we took an extended bow before sauntering off the floor slowly, giving high-fives to the audience members we passed closely by.

At the end of the afternoon we had the Latin and Rhythm championship rounds. We were going to be in two of those. As I’m sure I mentioned, we had originally signed up to be in the 5-dance Latin round because I thought it would be fun, but Lord Fabulous had also placed us in the 3-dance Rhythm round unexpectedly (we did get a couple of days advanced notice, but it was still unexpected). So of the four championship rounds in the afternoon, we were in the first and last. Because we didn’t originally plan on signing up for it, we hadn’t put as much time into our American Rhythm dances as we had everything else, so I had told Sparkledancer that there was a good chance we would just go out there and have fun using the version of the routines that we had used earlier in the day (that didn’t necessarily match the version of the routines we had had choreographed for us). Once we wrapped that round up, the 5-dance Rhythm took to the floor. Jack and Diane had opted to be in that round, so Sparkledancer and I took a spot Rhythm3near the floor where we could watch and cheer along with everyone else from our little group. As they made their way off, the 3-dance Latin started up. This round was smaller, with only two couples taking part, because everyone else had signed up for the 5-dance Latin. We were one of six couples participating, and we were the only pair of amateurs facing off against all male instructors with their female students. This was my last real dance of the day, so I really gave it all I had left. By the time we had finished up, the shirt I had on underneath my Latin dance outfit was sticking to my body because of all the sweat, and I had this big goofy grin on my face that wouldn’t go away. I had one person in the audience later tell me that I looked really out of place during the Pasodoble final, since it’s a very serious dance, and I was smiling and laughing the whole while.

With that over, it was finally time to wind down. Everyone parted ways for a while so that we could all get cleaned up and we promised that those of us attending the after-party would meet up for dinner. The others got done cleaning up first (I actually went to take a shower, I felt so gross), and they couldn’t find the place they originally wanted to get dinner, so we ended up somewhere that I could get pancakes. I was quite happy about that. Maybe I’ll look into having pancakes after all future competitions because of how good they were. Once dinner was done, we all met back at the Great Dance Hall. The evening party was pretty laid back, and I didn’t end up doing a whole lot of dancing during it, opting instead to spend time talking to people. I did get pulled into a crazy Merengue line dance where we had difficulty. Everyone started out joining hands in a big circle, but as more and more people started coming in from all sides, people started to jump in wherever they wanted. I had the hand of this shorter lady, and the group made the move to go underneath our arms. Keeping time marching with the music, the people on the other side of me kept twisting and moving me around, while people kept going underneath my other arm. Once things settled down a little bit, I started to notice that the steady stream of people going beneath my arm wasn’t tapering off like it should, and my shoulder was starting to protest. When I watched Tall Steven go beneath my arm for the third time, I knew something was terribly amiss. I followed the line of people holding his hands all the way around, and found that there were actually two sets of people – one circle of people that were going beneath my arm on one side and through the arms of the people two down from me, and then the line of people I was holding on to who were actually a line, and not joined in a circle. I shouted to the people that we were messed up, and the line I was a part of started moving again to see if we could break the circle and link with them to form just one big circle, but then the song ended. We all had a laugh and I walked off to the side of the floor to stretch out my shoulder a bit.

Later on, they pushed everyone back to the edge so that the Princess and Hot Tottie could do a performance number. They did a dance to a popular song from a recent animated movie about a queen with ice powers (I’m sure you can guess which movie and song I’m talking about). Hot Tottie really showed off the power he has in his haunches, because the boy leaped several times and did the splits in the air, with at least four feet between the floor and where his legs were. There was also this funny moment when he was supposed to catch the Princess as she ran a jumped into his arms, but he didn’t catch her properly so he strained a bit to keep from dropping her. Finally, after the performance wrapped up came the moment we had all been waiting for: the results of the championship rounds. This is where the night took an awkward turn… the first set they announced the results for that I was in was the 4-dance Smooth. The Princess took a moment to hush the crowd, and then said some really unexpected things. She gave this speech about how they had actually run two different competitions, one for the Pro-Am couples, and one for the Amateurs. This wasn’t, as she said, to rate us differently or to pity us, but to acknowledge that there was a lot more Rhythm4that went into getting out on the floor without an instructor to rely on, and showcase our bravery. After they went through the ranking of all the Pro-Am couples, they had them all walk off the floor and then called Sparkledancer and I out. So in essence, we got first place. Or last place. Or both. It was awkward to be singled out like that, since all the other competitions we have been in we had always been ranked against everyone else. We knew going into it that most likely the Pro-Am couples would place higher than us, but we hadn’t expected this.

After getting over the initial shock, it went further downhill as she moved on to the 5-dance Standard championship. Announcing the rating for that, the first couple she called up in 6th place was… Jack and Diane. The only other amateur couple that participated in any of the championship rounds besides me and Sparkledancer. She went all the way through announcing all six places, they took a picture, and then they had them leave the floor. She moved on to the next announcement for the 3-dance Rhythm, called Sparkledancer and I out separately again, and then someone mentioned something to her and she went back and called up Jack and Diane, saying that they didn’t actually get last place, but first place in the Amateur competition for that championship. Once they took a new picture with just the two of them, they came back and stood over where Sparkledancer and I were. They got called separately for the 5-dance Rhythm round without any mix-up like before, and then they did the 5-dance Latin rankings. All six couples who were on the floor for that (including us) lined up as she announced the Pro-Am order. When the winner was announced, the crowd started cheering wildly for the girl who won, and then they totally forgot about Sparkledancer and I standing there, and someone put on a song and everyone started dancing again.

Having gotten through the announcements, Jack, Diane, Sparkledancer and I just stood there speechless for a while. Once the Heartbreak Kid and Bony came and found us, we all decided to go out and get ice cream. It had been a long day, and the ending was pretty weird, so we made a graceful exit to go get a treat.

Baby, You Just Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

The closer we get to the next competition, the less time I feel I have for everything else in life. At this point, I’m spending six days a week dancing somewhere, and only one night a week staying home to get caught up on everything else that is being pushed to the side. At what point does one cross over from ‘hobby’ into ‘obsession’?

This past Saturday we went through and put together our Bolero routine. It was one of those that I thought I knew what the routine would end up being when all was said and done, but when we finally walked through what Lord Fabulous had in mind I was so far off the mark that it made my idea of what the routine would be seem silly. Half the stuff in the routine are figures I have never even seen before. He explained what he was AintSeenNothingYet1thinking to me as I watched quizzically – the idea was to have contrast as we danced, where we would do one figure that travels quite a bit, followed by a figure that was more contained. That contrast, he said, would make our routine more interesting to watch. As I sit here thinking about it, I can’t remember anything about the order of things. All of the other routines we’ve put together so far I’ve been able to remember fairly easily, but this one is eluding me right now. Luckily I recorded Lord Fabulous and Sparkledancer stepping through everything, so I can go back and write everything down. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to have it down solidly by next Saturday, though I don’t know how much time I’ll have to practice with a partner before then. Maybe if I write everything down I can send the listing to Sparkledancer and we can practice separately, and then we’d be able to put it together easily by trying it together. If that doesn’t work, then I have no other ideas on how to learn it.

With that routine marked off the list, I’ve decided to revise my count and assume that the routines I thought were finished before when I didn’t have confirmation are actually not finished. That puts my current count at nine left in order to hit that magic number of 21. The majority of what we have left to choreograph would be American Rhythm styles, but there’s a reason those are left for last. Apparently we’ve been signed up to do championship rounds in the 5-dance International Latin and the 4-dance American Smooth categories. Knowing that, my focus is going to be on getting those to feel as good as I possibly can before the end of April. That said, the only dance left from those categories would be American Tango. Hopefully we look at that this next weekend. When that’s out of the way, Samba goes to the top of my list to spend practice time on, because I think that is by far my weakest. Even with all the fun figure names (cruzado walks, anyone?) and crazy music to encourage me, figuring out how to get my lower body to cooperate while doing the rhythm bounce is going to take a lot more focus. I’m sure I won’t make it look perfect by the time competition hits, but I’d like to look better than I do now (which, let me tell you, looks silly to me).

Also on Saturday, a bunch of us went out on a dance field trip that night to a different dance hall that I had never been to before, to attend an open dance they were having. We all went to celebrate a couple of March birthdays for Land of the Loft people, since there’s no better birthday party than a dance birthday party. There was an East Coast Swing lesson given before the social dance, where we learned this nifty behind-the-ladies’-back roll-out that I thought was a lot of fun. Since the dance hall was smaller, and a lot of people attended the event, it felt really warm inside. I kept ducking out every couple of songs to go stand outside in the cool night air for a bit before coming back in to dance some more. At one point while I was out on the porch-like area, the AintSeenNothingYet2couple that had taught the group class came out. We talked for a while, and I told them how much I liked the East Coast Swing class they gave, and how nice it was to work on things in the American Rhythm category since most of the places we go people seem to prefer the International styles. The guy told me something interesting about that – according to him, there was one ballroom dance studio that had opened in the area before all the others, a place known as the Prime Dance Hall. The owners were from Europe, and they imported a lot of other European instructors to teach there. As you can imagine, they all knew International styles from their training overseas. As those instructors spread out over the Dance Kingdom and opened their own dance halls, they stuck with the International categories, which is why many of the people who have learned to dance in the area learned International. I hadn’t heard that legend of the Dance Kingdom before, and it strikes me as fascinating for some reason.

On Sunday, Sir Steven invited Sparkledancer and me to attend a competition prep class being offered at the Endless Dance Hall. He had heard good things about the class, and thought that since we were working toward the competition in April, it would be helpful for the two of us to go. While we were all out on our dance field trip Saturday night, Sparkledancer and I told Jack and Diane all about the class, and convinced them to come along with us (there’s safety in numbers). I knew that the Heartbreak Kid had gone to this class before the last competition we were in, so beforehand I found out from him what the class was all about. It wasn’t really a ‘class’ per se, but more like competition practice. All four of us arrived slightly before Sir Steven did. Looking around the room, there were many familiar faces, people that I had seen around either in classes at the various dance halls around the Dance Kingdom, or people who had attended events that I had gone to on some of the dance field trips that our group has gone on. Our friend Indiana even showed up – she was there to practice with one of her students. When Sir Steven showed up and we were looking around at everyone gathered, one thing became abundantly obvious: the four of us from the Land of the Loft were seriously outclassed. Most of these people had been dancing and competing together for many, many years. I haven’t even been dancing two years yet, let alone competing, so taking the floor with all these other people was pretty intimidating.

The class was run like the International-style championship rounds from a competition. There were a few of us who primarily know the American styles, so we looked a little out of place when we switched to those. The first round, the four of us sat out on the sidelines with Sir Steven and just watched what we were up against. During the Standard rounds, Sparkledancer and I went out and did American Waltz, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz and International Tango. We left the floor during the Quickstep heat, but Jack and Diane stayed out to work on theirs. After a few minutes for break, they started AintSeenNothingYet3the Latin round. They repeated this setup over and over for as long as they had time, just giving people a chance to practice their routines with other people on the floor. The first time through, I was worried that all of the Smooth routines I knew, which were built for a much, much smaller floor were going to look silly out there in the immense expanse with everyone else. As it turned out, when Sir Steven told me before going out to make sure to reach farther and fill the space, I could actually do a passable job. I was originally worried I would end up just travelling the inner sphere of the room like a race car driver. This skill doesn’t really help me much for the next competition, since the dance floor at the Great Dance Hall is nowhere near the size of the Endless Dance Hall (none of the places I’ve been are anywhere near that size), but it does tell me that I can stretch things out to fit a room if needed, so logically I should be able to pull that back to fit a smaller room.

The real benefit of going and running our routines like that was that Sir Steven got to see them all from the sidelines, and make a bunch of mental notes about everything I did poorly. When we got together Tuesday night, we started to work through things for International Latin. We spent a lot of time specifically with the Rumba, working on our lines to make them look sharper. There is one figure Lord Fabulous gave us where we do an explosion, and afterward I roll the lady in against my right side and lean to the left, supporting her weight so that she can kick her leg out. Step-by-step we walked AintSeenNothingYet4through the figure, changing the placement of the arms and legs to draw out the lines and make them stronger. I had a good vantage point to watch myself in the mirror, and by the time we finished making changes the figure looked completely different from what it was the day I learned it. He also showed me a way to change the weird ‘tilde’ arm effect that I had been told to do during the sliding door-like figure. My arms were never meant to wiggle like that, so I have always thought it looked weird. Now, I have an option that will make them look more masculine (which I believe is much more fitting, since I am a boy).

Little by little things are improving. Who knows? Maybe with all the work I am putting into this competition, I might be able to do better than last place in the championship rounds! Sure, Sparkledancer and I will probably be the only amateur team competing against a bunch of pro-am couples, but if we can get second-to-last place, that will be a huge improvement over last year, and doing better than I did before is always a worthy goal to strive for.

Can You Feel The Rhythm Burning?

In the final International Waltz class we had last Friday, I felt like more of a prop than I usually do. Like I was nothing more than… a dance dummy, used as teaching material fRhythmDivine1or demonstration purposes. When we started the month, Lord Fabulous would at least try to include the other people in the class. He would ask questions that everyone was allowed to answer, and try to get people to volunteer to demonstrate figures after he showed everyone the steps, and only resorted to calling Sparkledancer and I out to the floor if no one else spoke up. He knew that both of us already knew all the figures and techniques, because almost all of them were part of our last competition routine. This class, however, there was no offer to let others do anything or answer any of the questions, he just called us out for everything. Sparkledancer and I spent most of that class in the middle of the room, either being asked to step through the figures slowly so that everyone could see what we were up to, or sometimes even just standing there while Lord Fabulous posed us to show the nuances of the proper movements. It was kind of awkward being posed like a manikin. Then again, this isn’t the first time I have been asked to be the dance dummy, and I’m fairly certain it won’t be the last. Next Friday we will switch over to go through Paso Doble again, and half the people I expect to take the class with us haven’t done that style of dance before, let alone taken the class. All of the figures I think we’ll go through in class I believe are already in the competition routine that Lady Q taught me, so it may end up being a whole month of being the dance dummy. It’s not all bad though – it helps reinforce the things I’ve learned previously.

Saturday during a coaching session with Lord Fabulous, we went back to International styles to work on putting together routines. The first one was International Tango. This was the first time that I have ever really looked at the International Tango; I’ve always done American Tango before, and the only other style of Tango I’ve watched people do was the Argentinian Tango. The things we went over didn’t seem too bad, just different enough from the American style figures I already knew to mix me up several times. The progressive side step that I was shown will probably take a bit of doing just to cement it in place as the new “basic” step of this style. The head flick, which I was told RhythmDivine2was a very International Tango thing, is a bit weird, but then I’m not much of a Tango person in general, so the stylistic pieces of the dance just weird me out in general. I think I’m just at the point where I’ve moved beyond thinking of Tango as just “that dance people do with a rose in their mouth,” but I don’t know if I will ever learn to appreciate it on the same level that Lord Fabulous seems to. By the time we moved on to the next dance style, we had put together figures to cover one long wall and one short wall. Halfway around felt pretty good for one day when doing a style I’ve never really done before.

We switched over to Samba next. It’s been a long time since I’ve done Samba in any form other than line-dance form, so I was feeling a bit rusty. Nothing we mapped out for the first long wall was terribly difficult though, so that helped. We did put in the traveling botafogos, much to my delight. That means that I have even more of a reason to start saying that word… botafogo… it’s my favorite word that I’ve learned from dancing, so the more chances I have to use it, the better. As we finished up working on the pieces of the Samba for the day, Sparkledancer and I started talking with Lord Fabulous about the plan to add in some coaching sessions every other week with Lady Q. We all agreed to make it happen, and try and schedule them so they ran back-to-back with our already scheduled Saturday time slot with him, just to make things easier for everyone. We told Lady Q about the idea as she was walking by, and she was excited about it. She had originally wanted to work with us to create a Samba routine once we finished up our Paso Doble routine with her, but since Lord Fabulous seems to have taken that upon himself, I’m not sure what we’ll be doing with her now. Maybe we’ll have her work with us on getting the crazy rhythm bounce technique correct, and I might cajole her into changing what we did with Lord Fabulous to add in more botafogos, because more of them would increase my level of joy.

Because it’s a new month, all new group classes have started. Fridays, as I said earlier, are going to swap over to Paso Doble. Wednesdays are switching from Jive to American Viennese Waltz. I always love taking Viennese Waltz classes, since it gives me an opportunity to practice this terrifying style, and learn other cool things that I can do while moving rapidly around the room. This month though, half of the people in class with us have never done Viennese Waltz before. Ever. So I don’t think we will be going over any stuff that is new to me at any point this month. Much like Jive class was last RhythmDivine3month, this month is going to end up being exhausting – it’s another high-energy dance, with three males in class and (at least this week) seven females, so I do a lot of work so that every lady can get two or three chances to practice the steps. We spent the entire class period this week just going through the reverse turn, which was a bit of a struggle. It seems like many people have this notion of personal space that they don’t like invaded, or don’t like invading with other people. A dance like Viennese Waltz works better if you can stand closer to your partner, because it makes it much easier to rotate around them if they aren’t arm’s length away from you. Some people just didn’t like standing too close to me, so we struggled to travel down the floor. I mean, I did take a shower before going to dance class that night, so I don’t think they thought I smelled bad or anything. I figure that we’re all dance friends, so there’s no reason to have personal space issues, right?

This coming Saturday night will be the showcase party. Apparently it’s going to be huge – Lord Fabulous mentioned there were close to 100 acts going on that night. Supposedly they are opening the doors with the first course of the meal already on the tables to help speed things along. It should be a good time. All the people from the Land of the Loft are going to gather around a few tables together and be loud and obnoxious whenever one of our own is on the stage, because that’s what makes dance performances fun. I’ll try and bring something to write on while I’m there, so I can make some notes to tell you all about after the party is over.

Botafogo!