A successful swing and a new look at a group class

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Last night was an interesting night at the studio.  In my private lesson, we finished up the basics of the swing routine.  Now we have a good frame to work from and can start working on timing and other enhancements.  I’ll probably forget some of the footwork over the break but since I walked through it several times last night, I know it is in there and once I’ve got the steps down, then things come back pretty quickly.  Muscle memory is a great thing at times.  My instructor was in a slightly different mood last night so there were places that she kept messing up.  There’s one step that she called a flip flop (not sure if that is really the name) where she does a triple step at one point while I just do walk-walk.  She kept counting out her part while we were practicing, so I just started keeping my own count which is something I’ve tried to do a little more often since the coaching lesson.  I can’t say it very loud because it just feels weird to be shouting out “triple step, triple step, walk, walk, etc” since I’m not an instructor.  But it allowed me to focus on my steps and so when she messed up it didn’t matter as much.  There was another section where we were supposed to pause and she kept blowing through it and then asking “were we supposed to pause?”.  It was funny but we did it enough times that it stuck with me.

It doesn’t seem possible that this was just put together last week and in two lessons I can do a passable version of it.  When it was coming together last week, it was just so overwhelming but when you break it into small pieces, it isn’t anywhere near as bad.  And, this should be a lesson to me that coming in with the right attitude helps as well because I was convinced coming in that I could handle it.  The free spin is going to take some work and there are places where I have to figure out where my arms are supposed to go but we were already getting some positive feedback from people who were watching the lesson.

Group class was the fox trot and we working on a hover corte which is really a waltz step but you can easily interchange steps in those dances.  It seemed like all the couples were really struggling to pick it up.  There’s one guy who kind of enjoys being a smart ass during group and I’ve been right there many times myself but last night, I kind of stayed out of it and just was more of an observer.  Then, I could see that his comments and jokes really ended up distracting my instructor and got her off on some tangents which happens a lot but it also slowed down the progress of the group class.  I was dancing with one lady who really wants to learn the steps and gets frustrated when group lessons get sidetracked.  I know it is a balance because if you just go drill sargent, then it can be ever more frustration and not fun for someone who doesn’t get it.  But when it becomes too scattered, then it becomes frustrating for those who are there to learn.

This one was an illustration of the down side of group classes.  All three of the ladies I was dancing with were so focused on doing their part that they were going before I lead the step so they weren’t really feeling the lead.  I don’t usually make any comments because I know how frustrating it can be to try and pick up a step in group class if you just aren’t getting it but, when one of them asked me, I did try to point out that she was just a little ahead of me.  Didn’t quite sink in though.  I’ve mentioned this before but I’m convinced that this is what creates a lot of frustration for couples because the man isn’t really leading but he thinks he is because they are getting through the step which only happens because the lady knows her part and is basically doing her thing and ignoring him.  Then, you get to a party, when she doesn’t know it is coming and he tries to lead and it all goes wrong because she doesn’t know what he’s trying to do and an argument ensues.

A couple of other things that made the group a bit of a challenge.  The step ends a bit awkwardly because it is set up for continuous movement so the lady finishes by moving her right foot on the quick but not putting weight on it so she’s ready to go back on the next slow which would be the start of the next step.  But it was too easy for them to switch weight and end up on the right foot which is also not going to work.  So my instructor tried to add a second step (spirals) after the hover corte and she used me to demo how the steps are supposed to flow together but that was right at the end of the group class which added to some frustration.  At the end, we are supposed to demo the step and none of the three couples really wanted to do the demo.  Funny thing is I saw myself in a lot of the other people last night but I was on the other side since I knew the step.  But people were getting hung up on the wrong things and spending too much time focusing on details that really didn’t matter.  Things I’ve been guilty of and will likely be guilty of again but it was interesting to kind of be on the other side of the mirror just watching it happen.


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