Do I look good in red?

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There are times when I really hate making decisions. There are usually so many options in my mind and I’ll never have all the information I need, so how can I know I’ve made the right decision. Even after making it, I’m subject to second guessing myself for a time. It is why I hate to lock into things early because I always want to be free to change my mind. This certainly makes it difficult to plan vacations since there is always that moment of hesitation as I’m about to click the “confirm” button to purchase a plane ticket or make a non-refundable hotel reservation. I’ll come back to this in a minute but wanted to set the stage.

Yesterday, there was a coach at the studio. OK, it was Kid T’s mom who I’ve known since the start of my dance life all those years ago. I didn’t get a chance to book a lesson since the prime spots were booked immediately after the sign-up sheet came up. But they did have a Rumba master class at the time I normally have a lesson with Kid T so I agreed to take the class rather than the lesson. I have mixed feelings about master classes because they can’t do something real advanced or they risk losing people and you pay extra for a master class so they don’t want to do that. Sometimes, they are useful and sometimes not so much.

Since I didn’t have a lesson, it would mean driving to the studio for just the class and, as I’ve said before, that means I spend almost as much time in the car on the round trip as I do in the studio. That somehow upsets my benefit/cost ratio so I don’t like driving out there for just a single group or lesson. I hadn’t paid yet so I did briefly consider just blowing it off and making up some excuse later for why I didn’t go. This is why I will never pay for something until they ask me to. The minute I pay, I’m locked in. If I haven’t paid, I can always decide to do something else. It would probably be better for my sanity to just lock in and know I’m going rather than having the flexibility to endlessly consider and debate the decision within my head. But I also have this little funny thing in me that says that if the studio wants my money, they can do me the curtesy of asking for it.

So I showed up a bit early and I’m scoping out the situation and I see three other unattached males. Two were people I expected to arrive without partners but the third was a bit unexpected so I asked him to confirm that he was a solo. We have just two unattached ladies and three female instructors (counting Z) so the numbers weren’t promising. My designated cha-cha partner showed up and so I made a beeline to the couch to talk with her. I did tell her I was scoping out partners for the group class because of the male/female ratio. Better to take action than to be the odd man out. Turns out that Tex didn’t show but his wife did so we ended up balanced so life was good.

We started with some Rumba warm ups and then Mom T took over the class and talked about what she wanted to do and a bit about Rumba. She talked about the frame and how it should be “cozy” but that you still had to respect your partner if you weren’t dancing with a significant other. To demonstrate, she grabbed me (saying it was OK since we went way back) and we got into a somewhat close frame. I really had no time to react and, again, if someone doesn’t make a big deal out of it, then I’m OK with it. Of course, some of the other guys in the group reverted to high school locker room stuff and started in with some comments. I tried to play along and just said “I’m feeling cozy”. I have no idea where that came from, but my body decided to betray me and I turned a pretty nice shade of red. This was strange because the situation wasn’t particularly awkward but that happens to me more often than I care to admit. I think with women it can be considered cute (except for those it is happening to) but it really isn’t something that a guy is supposed to do. Another guy came up later and told me that red was a good shade on me.

I have to stop and explain something here. I’ve said before that I can’t stand being laughed at or feeling like that is happening. This was just part of the personality differences that finally pushed me over the edge with Z. It made me do all the self-deprecating stuff to ward off what I perceived as a coming attack. This was different. I know I blush way too easily. I’ve dealt with it all my life and this is not the first or last time it will happen. I’m in a place where I can deal with it and laugh about it and I really felt last night that everyone was laughing with me and not at me and that makes all the difference in the world.

The group class pattern was actually really nice. She just put together a couple of things that involved continuous movement and the focus was just on keeping things going and that social dancing didn’t have to be so regimented. It was fun and I’m glad I went.

At the end of class, I overheard Kid T say she wasn’t teaching until later in the evening. When we changed the lesson to the group class, the topic of switching the lesson never came up. Don’t know if she had someone cancel or not but I mentioned to another guy that I would have taken a lesson if I had known she was free. But I wasn’t going to press the point because she was at the front desk doing some stuff. He’s the type of guy though who takes action so as he passed her, he says something about me wanting a lesson. Sometimes, I need someone who just takes action while I’m sitting around thinking about it. Well she was excited and so we had an unscheduled lesson.

She decided on a Viennese Waltz/Mambo combination so I knew I was in for a work out. I’d like to say things went well but there were just a couple of things where the doubt monster crept up and smacked me upside the head. No, this has nothing to do with my dancing but it has everything to do with whether we are going to become an effective partnership and whether I did the right thing by signing up for more lessons.

There is no one thing I can point to that caused this to happen. There was one part of the Viennese Waltz where she wanted me to make a minor adjustment and start turning her out a little earlier. There are several things to say about this. First, I think it is good because she’s making me lead her and she’s more in tune to the music and timing and when things don’t work, she can suggest these subtle adjustments. Second, if the only thing we are focused on is a minor thing, then that is a good thing because it means the rest of the foundation is strong. But, the negative for me is how to train myself to turn her “just a bit earlier”. I need more of a road map because I have to lock into something to know when I’m really supposed to be turning her. This is part of establishing the language we’ll need to work together. According to her, we got there but I still don’t have a solid guide post to work off of to be able to do this repeatedly. I couldn’t really feel anything wrong with how it was working so I couldn’t feel a large difference when it worked right. I know she could and I should rely on her but making these micro adjustments is difficult for me.

The larger problem is that the dance still doesn’t “flow” the way I want it to. There is still too much of a start/stop feel and it doesn’t move the way it should. I don’t quite know why or how to explain this to her. I feel it is partly due to the fact that I can’t really feel her in the smooth frame so I don’t have anything to work off of and I don’t know how to really make it move. Since I’m not sure where she is, I get tentative and that’s when the steps get smaller. I had been really practicing a solid smooth frame with the Body Double and it just isn’t there with Kid T. I really need someone else to come on a lesson and take a look at it but OwnerGuy is so tied up that we can’t find the time to make it happen.

The strange thing is that the rhythm dances are coming together quicker. We had another micro-adjustment in the Mambo and a point where I got confused between what she was telling me and what the Body Double had said. I am trying to look at the positive side and that if we are working on fine details, then that is a good thing. But, my brain gets locked in to trying to figure out how to make one part slightly different. It is that whole Goldilocks thing again. The step has to be “just right” and I struggle to tell the difference between “too hot”, “too cold” and “just right” so I flail away and hope to hit the right combination.

I tried to talk about Showcase since Z had put the sign-up sheets out but she didn’t seem interested in doing that. This is where I get to the danger zone where I sense certain things but have no idea whether they are correct or not. She’s still a little new to be handed an associate silver dancer and I sometimes feel that may put extra pressure on her. I know I want to do Showcase because we have to battle test this partnership to see what we can do and then that tells us where we need to go. I know we aren’t fully ready yet and I wonder if that isn’t putting some kind of pressure on her if she’s afraid I won’t have a good time or something will go wrong. I know she seemed enthusiastic about going but I’m not quite sure if she really is. I need to know that she’s fully on board with this no matter what happens and we need to start talking about a plan. I will do as many heats as possible because that is my day to forget about everything and just get on the floor which is what I live for. I don’t care if we don’t get the Tango or Rumba fixed by this Showcase. I can pull out the old versions and do those multiple times. I can have this conversation with her but I also need to get the sense that she wants to have it. I suppose I could do something out of character and initiate the conversation and that may be my next step. I guess I also need to seek out OwnerGuy and just give him the same thoughts and see if he can find the time to work with us on the smooth dances. But, as some of these thoughts come into my head, there is the other part of me that starts to second guess whether this is actually going to work and whether I should have fully explored other options before committing and whether I should just take a step back and see what happens. Again, the doubts start to plague me. Did I do the right thing? I think so but I also know there are going to be some challenges ahead. On a personality meshing thing, we are definitely a better match than Z but clearly not as good as the Body Double. I like that she is changing little things to get me to lead better; I think Z used to just fix things herself so I never learned. But it is just this whole “get to know you” phase just adds some ups and downs as I get a better sense of her teaching style and strengths and how that fits with my learning style. There are adjustments that can be made but I don’t know yet know what is needed or what is going to make things “click” better. I just have this vague sense that they need to and the doubt monster is whispering that they won’t and that I’ve made the wrong decision. No worries though. I’m not crossing to the dark side. This is just the constant internal struggle I have with decisions. My newly discovered optimist is keeping the doubt monster locked up in his closet.

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