Stop the Syncopation Train, I Want Off

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So I mentioned the other day that the studio is in the midst of their semi-annual festival where they compete against other studios for fabulous prizes and students are supposed to earn points for different but still fabulous prizes.  Yes, it is most likely just a way to keep interest up and to encourage all of us to buy/use more lessons but I’ve long since accepted that there is the unavoidable business aspect of dance studios and they have to stay in business to allow me to continue following my passion (obsession).  And, the end party is called showstoppers which they added last year and you are supposed to learn a new routine over the six weeks and then show it off during the party.  Of course, if you sign up for a routine and want to not make a fool of yourself, it does require more lessons which is the real point to this event.

And, I decided to do a hustle routine because (a) I’m running out of dances I haven’t done something in and (b) I do like hustle.  Mentioned before that her husband came out and choreographed something on the fly and made the mistake of talking about how he wanted to challenge me.  (Sometimes, I feel like the special project – let’s just see how far we can push this guy before he totally wigs out)

This has set up the following cascade of voices inside my head:

First, at the mention of a challenge, my reaction was “well if you throw that gauntlet down, I’m going to pick it up and smack the ever loving crap out of you.  I reject your challenge because you are no challenge.  I will fear no hustle, so BRING IT ON”.  In other words, I simply foolishly agree that I’ll do whatever they come up with.

Then, I see what they’ve come up with and the blind panic takes over.  And this is not the usual “I’m not really sure about this step” but rather a global “I have no idea what the hell he’s doing right now”.  Which leads that part of my mind to race forward and scream at the other part “WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU GOTTEN US INTO THIS TIME”.  And it goes on about how this is way, way above my talent level and how we only have four weeks to prepare and how there isn’t that much time to make it work and how it is going to be an epic failure and how the world is just going to end on June 13th when I get out there and totally mess it up.

The calm and logical part attempts to get in and says “You haven’t really failed yet.  They keep tossing crap at you and you somehow find a way to get it done.  Enough with the panic already you are making me sick with all of that drama.”  (OK, the logical part sometimes gets carried away and starts beating me over the head a little bit.

Lastly, the eternal pessimist just makes a snarky observation – “Well, past success doesn’t really mean you won’t fail at some point.  After all, look at pole vaulting.  They just keep raising the bar and eventually everyone fails”

Then, they find me sitting in a corner and mumbling to myself (no that’s a joke).  But these voices just go round and round my head and will do so for the next couple of weeks.

I should also confess that I tend to be very lazy with my hustle.  Let’s be honest, the hustle is a ladies dance.  You get to do all the nice spins and poses and I just stand in the middle, get things started, stay out of your way and help you look good.   These are all skills that I do possess.  And it also means I can seriously cheat on my footwork.  Stand there, let her spin and just tap at the end.  Brilliant!  Who cares about timing or actually moving.  And, if I don’t feel like syncopating, then who really cares.

I’m used to the hustle with a minimum amount of syncopation and that the syncopation occurs in very predictable and repeatable places.  I see this routine and listen to him count it out and realize that apparently you can syncopate pretty much any step that you feel like (depending on the move) and that you can randomly throw them in at different places if you need to do something like get on the right foot or adjust for a move she’s doing.  As we started the walk through, I’m pretty sure my instructor even said “Slow” a couple of times.  Seriously, WTF, THERE ARE NO SLOWS IN HUSTLE!  Or at least not what I was used to .  So it meant the walk through was this confusing jumbled mess of various counts with and’s thrown in at seemingly random places.  At one point, she even told me that “I should be moving on the whole beats”.  To those of you who are musically inclined, this will make some sense.  To me, it was really just a foreign language so I was reduced to watching and hoping to pick things up.  I couldn’t even rely on my old standby which is that if you know where you are supposed to end and on what foot, then you can fake the middle part.  But that was failing me here.  She’d ask if I had any questions but by then my mind had glazed over because I understood nothing so how could I even begin to start asking questions.

Somehow, in the midst of all this absurdity, I just started laughing and couldn’t stop myself.  Not that the situation was particularly funny and I think it gave my instructor a little bit of a complex because she was really putting herself out there to make this work.  And I did appreciate that but it just felt so surreal that I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.  There was one particular part that she thought she understood from the video but we couldn’t make it work.  She tried having me be the girl so she could see what to do (that just added to the level of silliness).  I did my best but since I barely understood the guys part, I had no clue what she wanted.  At the very end of the lesson, her husband (who had noticed the struggle) came by and they walked through the part and it ended on an and-two.  Of course, that should have been obvious to everyone.  We tried it and it worked a little bit.  More to do because we didn’t get through the entire thing.  The next part is something called the diamond where I’m supposed to walk around her in a diamond pattern while she spins in the middle.  At some point, I have to catch her and initiate the next spin.  She’s already warned me that there is high potential for inappropriate touching since the margin for error on where I have to catch her is very small.

I just have to add two last notes about the party last night.  There are times when the musical selections are totally baffling.  I don’t know who picks songs but its like someone says “I like this and you can sort of dance XXX to it, so let’s put in on the play list”.  There was a waltz to “Three times a Lady”.  I know this shows up on lists but it is painfully slow.  It was seriously like dancing in slow motion.  I was dancing with one of the other instructors and I looked at the DJ booth with a pained expression and they were actually all yelling at me “you’re doing it right – you are on time”.   I guess nobody else was really able to do that.  Yes, it was doable but not much fun.  Then, they played “end of the road” which actually does have a Viennese waltz beat (it took me awhile to find it) but it also something you can do a very slow fox trot (or what they call foxy) to.  Most people opted for the safe option and then my instructor grabs me and says “we’re doing Viennese waltz”.  It was like an Indy car trying to negotiate crowded city side streets where everyone is doing 10 miles below the speed limit.  I got boxed in several times and did actually managed to just work in some hesitations to pass the time which got me some positive feedback but it soon broke down after that.  The rest of the music was just as weird.

Oh and besides the voice screaming at me about impending doom, I’m actually calmer today about the hustle.  It will be a serious challenge but we did break it down into small enough pieces that I should be able to cobble together a reasonable facsimile by the time showstoppers rolls around.  And, the good thing for me, is that all eyes will be on my instructor so I’ll look good by comparison no matter what.

One comment

  1. Wall – I feel your pain. I feel mine more, though, ‘ cause I’m in the same fix. Medal Ball is two weeks away. It’s my first Bronze 111 event and I’m not ready at all. Why do we do this to ourselves? I’m not ordinarily a person who has trouble with the word “no”… But at the studio, I keep saying, “yes.” The word masochism comes to mind.

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