So I ended my lesson last night in a bit of a self-hating funk. Much of it was the normal “nothing is going right and I really suck” kind of stuff. Then, it morphed into the fear of looking like a complete idiot at the event that I still refuse to name and so on. Towards the end, it actually changed into something a little different. I was pissed at myself for getting into the funk and that just lead to the “why do I keep doing this to myself” kind of thinking. To remedy that, I hit the treadmill today for 45 minutes with some dance pop songs that always improve my mood. It is amazing how music can transform my mood and take me to different places. At one point my ipod playlist landed on “A Thousand Years” so I was just visualizing my viennese waltz for the whole time. Yes, I have that song on my IPod. I’m a sucker for a good waltz so I’m not ashamed to admit I have a song from Twilight on my IPod. (OK, technically I am ashamed since I only admit that here where I can be anonymous – I would never cop to owning that song to a non dancer)
But I then did a little self evaluation. For this upcoming event that draws ever closer, I only have to worry about 16 dances so what’s the big deal. For the closed routines, I’m really very confident in the Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Cha-Cha, Rumba and Swing. I’ve done these at the last couple of showcases and I have the choreography down so I can focus on posture and other finer points. The Viennese Waltz is still new and a little clunky but I can round that into shape in the time remaining. With the open routines, I’ve got the Rumba down and I’m pretty confident with the Fox Trot and Bolero. The Cha-Cha is rounding into shape but the timing needs work since there are a lot of holds I need to worry about. The Swing and Waltz still have rough spots and still make me nervous. The Tango is new and very rough and we are not talking the somewhat pleasant cat tongue roughness but the brutal roughness of the coarsest sandpaper. On paper, I’m in much better shape than what my mind believes. Too bad I live in my mind and not on paper.
So some highlights and lowlights of the last two days.
- Group class on Tuesday was Viennese Waltz and I was the only one to show up so OwnerGuy just turned me over to my instructor to work on our closed routine so it was basically a free private lesson (SCORE). It was the first time I had danced it with my instructor since I was with the Body Double for the previous lesson. OwnerGuy was giving me this little tip to wind up very slightly before starting. They are tossing all kinds of these little things at me that are subtle and probably not visible to the normal human eye but things that make parts of the dance much easier. I feel like I’m an apprentice magician getting all the secrets but then I’m like “HOW DO I REMEMBER ALL THIS”.
- During the Cha-Cha open routine, my instructor was working on some non verbal signals to keep me on time. Basically, she plants herself into the floor at certain points to give me the very strong message “DON’T MOVE YET”. This is something I’ve been very slow to learn. Dance is a partner sport after all and she is the professional so I should basically be happy that she’s working to keep me on time. But I’ve got that male ego thing which says “No, I don’t need your help” and then I start to think that I should be able to do this so she’s just helping me because I suck. I’m slowly coming around to the realization that I should just shut up and accept the help because it will help me learn the timing better.
- With the swing, we had some problems with the one step where I’m supposed to turn and then hook back up with her and walk backwards four steps. That triggered a whole long conversation on connection with lots of demonstrations (I was pushing the wall at one point). She kept talking about how you need to give forward pressure – enough so that you can lift your heels off the ground but not enough so that you lose balance if she moves away. I told her this was too much like Goldilocks (think I’ve used that analogy here before) where one is too far back and one is too far forward and how I had no idea how to find the one that was just right. Her point was that after the turn, I had to wait until we were connected before starting to walk backward so we worked on that and it was a struggle to get through me head because I first interpreted wait to mean like a hesitation but that isn’t what she meant. We got it if we went slow but once we went up to speed, I wasn’t able to get the turn done quickly enough so she forged on really before I felt connected so that is going to be an issue.
- A couple of other minor things that set me off. First, we rarely got the music we needed. There were other couples on the floor and we were staying at one end of the floor so the other instructors kept going over and changing the music to the dance they were working on. At least twice, it happened just as we were going to try a run to timing. Its a little selfish but I am prepping for a comp and nobody else was and I need to practice with music. Not saying I need to dominate the night but over a 45 minute lesson, I should have been able to get the right music a couple of times.
- Before our first lesson yesterday, she had to go talk to a new guy who had just completed his introductory lesson. Again, this is unavoidable since only she and OwnerGuy can seal the deal with new students and it is a business and they need to keep new students flowing in but what happens is the other instructors run long so she is late getting to talk to the new fish and that makes her late to my lesson. Now, you are saying that I just got a free lesson the night before so what is the problem with losing 5-10 minutes on another lesson. And there is some truth to that but I hate cooling my heels when I’m prepped and ready for a lesson so it does tend to deflate me just a bit.
- Before our second lesson, there was an older guy from group class who needed to show us some stupid little internet meme thing that he thought was hilarious but wasn’t particularly funny. When you have a female instructor who is bubbly and outgoing and always giving hugs and talking to the guys, then some of them just can’t visit the studio without getting a little attention and it ticks me off a bit when they assume they can just interrupt my lesson to get some face time with my instructor. And she has to be nice and can’t say that she’s on a lesson so we lost a couple of minutes at the start of the second lesson as well. Writing this makes it seem a bit petty but I am paying for these lessons and it would be nice if people would respect that.
- I got to be a live action demonstration dummy again before my first lesson. The new student does something that was similar to Viennese Waltz so they wanted to show him Viennese Waltz to see if he’d be interested so they pulled me up to do a quick demo of what Viennese Waltz looks like at the Famous Franchise.
- I might be picking up Mambo after the event that haunts my days. She asked at one point why I didn’t do Mambo and she assumed I didn’t like it and I said because we just never got around to adding it. Her eyes lit up a bit at the prospect of doing it since she thinks Silver Mambo is fun – I would have to go through Bronze first of course so I will wait until after the event and then see if it comes up.
- She also broke me down and got me to agree to video some of my heats at the event without a name. Yes, there is an extra charge to do so (nothing comes for free at the Famous Franchise). She went into a spiel about how helpful it would be and on and on. Have I mentioned how much I hate watching video of myself. Hell, I can’t even look at myself in a mirror for a long period of time. (This would be one benefit of being a vampire – no reflection). But if I’m going to ride the competition train, then this is one of those necessary evils that I just have to suck up and do. It makes me cringe just thinking about it right now.
- There is a step in the tango routine where I go under my arm and end up in a two hand hold. Don’t ask me how this happened but my other hand somehow made contact with her butt. Somewhat awkward but accidental inappropriate touching goes with the territory. She of course had a great time with it. We went over the step again and she ended with the comment “And don’t touch my butt this time”. Because the situation was funny to begin with, I just came back with “Well maybe I want to touch your butt” which was an obvious joke and she came back with some comment about how I couldn’t do that since I was always her safe student. (Guessing that maybe some of the older guys like the one a few points back engage in a little more “accidental” inappropriate touching than they should. That would be the worst part about being a female instructor so she is probably happy that I’m basically scared to death that I’ll brush something I shouldn’t so I tend to avoid touching her even when I should. (Yes, that sounds a little strange to me but I’ve freely admitted that I have issues)
- Related to that, there is another Tango step where we do some kind of corte where I take a step back and she basically leans on my leg until I toss her off. This is one of those places where there is a difference between social tango and competition tango because she goes all out in this step and seriously gets into my grill. The weird thing is that when I bounce her off, I can sometimes still feel her body heat on my leg. Not sure why I notice something like that and I’m certainly not complaining but I just notice strange little things from time to time. Shockingly, this invasion of my personal space does not bother me as much as some of the other things we have to do.
Oh and a few other notes. Some time ago, I wrote a little post about a young lady who started working for me as a high school student and gave me a nice gift when she graduated from college. Well, today she gave me her two week notice because she has followed her dreams and found a position that is perfect for her even though it means uprooting her life and taking a big risk. As an introvert who avoided a lot of risk, I am very proud that she is facing her fears at a young age and going for it. I’ve told her I have full confidence in her abilities.
And, today is my birthday. Happy birthday to me. I’m celebrating it in true introvert fashion – a quiet dinner with my wife and then a night in to just do things I like to do. Normally, I’d be at the studio but they are all out at some local event. I thought about going but it has crowds and other awkwardness and a night of staying home to watch some baseball and play on the computer just sounds like a great plan to me. I am anxious to get back into the studio to wipe out that last bad lesson but it can wait.
So there you have a glimpse of my life for the last couple of days. I hope it didn’t sound too sad and pathetic. I’ll be back next week after a few more lessons so you can see if I can keep the demons at bay and stay focused on the event that shall not be named. In three weeks, I’ll be leaving for that event so it keeps getting closer.