Mambo #1

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So Monday night we went through the Mambo routine again but, once again, failed to complete it.  Mambo may present some special challenges for me given that it is fast and has freaky timing neither of which play to my strengths.  But the routine is fun so I see some potential.  The lesson was interesting because several times during it, Z kept going on about how much I was going to struggle when she really took me up to timing.  Right now, the only thing we’ve danced to is Toxic by Britney Spears (let me tell you how much fun THAT is).  Not sure it really qualifies as a Mambo but that’s what she keeps going to.  I kind of rose to the bait a little bit and bit on what she was saying but I realize after the fact that I need to just let that stuff go.  I don’t really know that creating a sense of impending doom is really the best teaching strategy for someone like me with severe self-confidence issues.  These are the times when I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off with someone who could at least act a little more supportive at times.  But I know this is just her sense of humor and I’m trying to come around to the opinion that she didn’t mean anything by it.  This might be one of those introvert/extrovert things because you extroverts do love to just talk and talk and talk and a lot of times it is just words that don’t mean anything.  Some of you aren’t at all comfortable with silence and I’ll freely admit that when I’m on a lesson, I can get into moments of focus where I’m really trying to process what I’m doing and I tend to get quiet so she may just be filling up the space with noise.

Realistically, one does not go from only knowing a couple of basic Mambo steps to a presentation/competition quality Mambo in two months unless you spend hours every day working just on that.  Since that is not in the cards, I really have no expectations surrounding the Mambo either for the road trip in 2.5 weeks or the Showcase in November.  All I want is to get the routine to a point where I can do it smoothly without a lot of pauses to think about what comes next and to try to get a couple of steps with the funky hold on the first beat.  Hey, what do you  know, I do have goals after all.  Basically, I get that this is a very rough draft and not a finished product and I’m not putting pressure on myself to be perfect. As long as I give it my best effort, it is a win.

We had an inappropriate touching moment during the practice.  There is one step where we separate and then come together and my hand is supposed to be around her waist.  Well, I didn’t have my arm in a good position so as we were coming together and I tried to get it in position, I ended up getting something a little lower than desired.  Naturally, she stops and tells me in a very loud voice to not grab her ass and then proceeded to make my very uncomfortable for the next 10 minutes.  She really wasn’t offended because that kind of thing happens but she was enjoying making me squirm a bit.  Yes, I was a little mortified.  No, it wasn’t intentional but it is still a little embarrassing.  Guys, let this be a lesson to you – keep you arms up.  No dead arms!  If my arm had been in the right position, then none of this would have happened.  I did have all kinds of come backs I could have used but I work in corporate America where they are highly sensitized to inappropriate conduct and speech and that’s been drummed into me.  I’m curious to see if she brings it up tonight.

But, she used that as an opening to tell me of another example of inappropriate touching that happened at NorthStar.  I had been totally unaware of this up until Monday.  There is a place in the Viennese Waltz where we are in shadow position and I’m supposed to have her around the rib cage while we go through a series of passes where I come around her and then she goes by me (wish I knew the exact name but each place has their own syllabus so the name might not be meaningful).  Well, at one of the last coaching lessons, the coach said I needed to be higher on her back so my arm created a better line.  That was going through my head at NorthStar so I must have tried but I didn’t grab her shoulder, if you know what I mean.  So she tells me this and I’m just dying because I had no idea that I had unintentionally groped her.  I did have several come back lines but I chose to bury them as well.  She said she was trying not to laugh knowing that would have freaked me out (and yes it would have) so she kept it to herself.  I should now go back and review my Viennese Waltz videos and see if it got recorded.  The funny thing is I remember her saying something about OwnerGuy doing the same thing at one comp they were in.  Sorry ladies, I guess that is probably an occupational hazard.  For guys, it seems like the only thing similar is a gancho that goes horribly wrong.

7 comments

  1. Okay so I am super offended by your instructor’s negative attitude and comments. I have to write you a not about this and take a big breath before I go any further.

    It really bothered me…if you can’t tell… *Sigh*

    1. I do wonder sometimes if she is aware of these comments. As I said, she likes to fill the silence so there’s a lot of good stuff as well. I’m trying to learn to filter the other stuff out.

  2. The worst inappropriate touching moments are the ones that accidentally happen when you do something similar to what you did with your instructor… except the instructor is male, like my primary instructor is. It takes a long time to live that sort of thing down. I can tell you that from personal experience.

  3. The hands-on way I teach leads to a lot of physical contact, and I am neither offended, mortified, angry, upset, embarrassed, or disgusted when one of my guys, or gals comes into contact with any part of me, or me, them. I bring it up on the very first lesson that sometimes in order to put you in the best possible place in the fastest possible way (we are always on the clock) I need to physically move you. E.g. saggy women who can’t stand up straight and insist on falling backward get The Virtual Bustier treatment: I literally hold them up, just under their chests with both hands, until they feel where they are supposed to be balance and posture wise. I do it on lessons, in groups, at parties – I’m always teaching at every opportunity. Most of the time all this physical closeness is unusual or rare in a student’s life and so, yes, it does take a little getting used to. But let me tell you, oh how it works, and oh how people light up when they can FEEL what is intended. Even with all the introverted, shy, quiet, edgy-being-touched students I’ve taught in 35 years, only one couldn’t handle it or disliked it so I didn’t use some heavy contact techniques with him. They all also know that all the haranguing I do of them is absolutely done with love and my deep commitment to individual service and RESULTS.
    My unsolicited advice to you as a student is to ignore the “inappropriateness” and just get out there and WORK like you do. Touching happens, forgodsakes. Sometimes younger women teachers think that all their male students are hot after them – even when they’re married. It’s in THEIR heads. Like all of you guys are just waiting for a chance to “accidentally” play graba$$. Sheesh. If YOU are slightly offput by all this closeness and the possibilities of accidental touching, it sounds to me like you need a teacher you can RELAX with. All this tension and her PURPOSELY making you uncomfortable is just plain weird and intentionally cruel on her part. Yes, I am an extrovert, but I’ve taught entire lessons of mostly silence – my guy working, thinking, concentrating, listening to the music, and me shutting up and correcting/adjusting with my arms and hands and only a few words here and there.
    I am a ballroom dance TEACHER, so it is MY JOB to get through to you in the way that YOU learn, no matter how different it may be from the way I learn. It is also my goal that no matter how lousy, busy or aggravating and challenging your day has been before me, when you are on my lesson, the pain of the world is gone, and we are two people joined in our love of dancing and the pursuit of whatever amount of perfection you are seeking. NOTHING gets between me and my students, I am their teacher. We share mutual affection and RESPECT for each other and our differences. And we ALWAYS, ALWAYS have FUN. Every lesson, every group, every party, every dance. FUN.

    1. Wow. That’s some pretty strong stuff but everything you say is valid. I appreciate the advice. You’ve now sent me into deep thought – but that’s just what we introverts do. Thanks.

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