Hold Those Slows

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The next couple of weeks are going to be a little strange.  I was out of town Thursday and Friday of last week and the studio is doing reduced hours this week (guess they need vacations from time to time as well) so I only have two lessons on Thursday.  Next week is a busy week since they are bringing a coach in and we have a chance to refine the swing routine.  Then, I’m out for a week and then I’ll probably need to find extra time to prepare for the event that grows ever closer but still can’t be named.  So I’ve limited myself to commenting on other blogs but since I spend most of my days listening to others, this is my opportunity to talk and I’m taking it.

Want to flash back to Wednesday of last week as I did something that felt instinctive at the time but now I’m wondering if I was just being kind of a jerk.  Let me set the stage.  I have come to realize that group classes are the perfect opportunity to get free work on things I’m not so good at like posture, frame, timing, technique, etc.  Since I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve seen almost every step in the Bronze syllabus so there isn’t a lot of new stuff they can throw at me meaning I don’t have to concentrate as much on learning the steps and that gives me the opportunity to focus on specific technique things.

So the group was Rumba and with Rumba and Bolero (and Tango), I have a tendency to rush through the slows which messes up the timing and truly irritates my instructor.  So much so that we’ve spent entire lessons just working on that particular thing with me getting on the foot and not moving my back foot until the quick.  I guess I just instinctively prefer the flow and continuity of the Waltz and Viennese Waltz but you can’t spend all your time doing those dances so this just goes down as a necessary evil.  It wasn’t actually that bad, it is just something I need to focus on doing and the group class seemed like the perfect opportunity.

It was a bigger than average group and everything was going great until I got to dance with one lady who decided to just barrel through the steps so I’m holding the slow and she’s just moving forward and getting way ahead of me.  We finished and the first thing out of my mouth was to tell her to “slow down'”.  Now, I did this as nicely as I could but it just jumped out of my mouth before I even really knew what I was saying.  We danced it again and she did do a better job so it was good but I was left wondering whether it was really my place to correct her like I did.  I mean I’m not an instructor.  I get that I’ve been doing this longer and I’m more advanced but does that really mean I should just start offering random critiques to people who didn’t ask for help?  She took it OK because I think she knows she does this from time to time (her husband must be the most patient man on the face of the earth because it would drive me crazy to dance with her) but should I have really just kept silent and tried better to get her to hold the slows?  Don’t know.

So what do you think ladies?  Should I have kept my mouth shut?  Would you have smacked my upside the head if I said something similar to you?  Just curious.

My lesson that night was the waltz routine and my instructor has started varying the starting spots so I’ll feel more comfortable when we get to the event that I dare not name.  We worked on how to rotate certain parts to get it pointed at another corner and in my head I was all “but how will I know when to rotate and what if I need to rotate a part we haven’t talked about” and so on.  She tells me I just need more awareness of where I am on the floor and where I want to go.   Sounds good in theory but not sure how it will work in practice.  She did sense my near panic and so she made sure to give me a little pep talk at the end “you’ll dance fine, you’ll do better than last year, and so on”.  I suspect that is true so it eased my panic meter for now.  Honestly, I have low expectations for the open routines anyway.  I didn’t do much in the open stuff last year and these are harder and I still don’t quite have them committed to memory yet so just getting through them is the goal.  Anything above that is bonus.


  1. When I first started to dance I had older students correct me. I was only annoyed when they weren’t nice about it. Now I find myself doing the same thing. Except I usually just start counting for the leaders who struggle … quick, quick, sloooowww…. How lame is that? 😉 If they mess up moves, I don’t care, I just try to follow whatever they’re doing — it’s good practice for following and getting adept at keeping your toes safe.
    I’m sure you were fine. The lady probably looks up to you and appreciates you helping her dance better!
    Enjoy your calm before the storm … 🙂

  2. My honest opinion? And that of most of my friends? No student should correct another student. Period. The only exception is if one student asks for another student’s opinion or advice. For another student to volunteer a correction makes most of us think that student thinks they know it all. I’ve followed many people in a group class that I would love to help. But it’s not my place to correct them, so I just go with however they’re leading the step. You never know…one “helpful” correction could destroy that student’s confidence.

    Just my two cents. Good luck with the DOR prep!!!

    1. That’s a good point about the confidence thing as one who continually suffers from lack of confidence I certainly wouldn’t want to push someone else into their own dark side. Better to be safe than sorry and hold my opinions unless asked.

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