Up’s and Down’s and Dancing

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Much like the stock market of late, my week has been a roller coaster with up days and down days.  Friday was a down day at first, but after reviewing the replay, I’ve decided it was more neutral.  Turns out I had set some unrealistic expectations for myself (shocking!) and had to reevaluate based on something more realistic.  To get specific, Friday was our first time ever doing the Quickstep routine and it was a struggle.  See, I just assumed I could pick up anyone and we’d be off and running which is way too optimistic and Kid T made sure to tell me that she thought it was great for the first time doing it.

At a couple of points, I could see OwnerGuy looking at us during his lesson.  I always channel that song “Somebody’s Watching Me” when I see that.  He said he thought it was coming along and then he heard it was the first time we had done it and then he said that it was really coming along if that was just the first time through.

It did confirm to me that I really, really struggle to learn things from video.  We had the routine taped the last time the Body Double and I did it and I was looking at the tape and seeing my feet do the steps but I couldn’t make it work in real time.  Maybe something about the flatness of a video – if we had 3-D videos, then it might help.  But I actually end up getting lost after about 3 steps.  So if it is “forward, back, side, side, back, forward”, (as an example), I’m good to the first “back” and then things start to go off track.  I’ve got to actually do it and lock it in for it to make sense.  I guess I’m not as clear on certain parts and those didn’t come back as easily.

But the good news was that I didn’t quit which was something else Kid T said to me at the end of the lesson.  It was frustrating because I was reaching into the memory banks to pull stuff out and just kept hitting blanks and bad sectors.  So I wanted to quit but she wouldn’t let me and, at the end it was good we kept working through it.  I do know I need to work more on working through the rough spots and sticking with things.  So that’s something to focus on going forward.

Last night was the Medal Ball which is the thing they do twice a year to honor students who have moved up a level.  I haven’t moved up a level in years but I still go to offer moral support.  It sounds silly but completing a level is a big deal for some people and having others from the studio around seems like it would be important.  The more people you have to celebrate the success the better.  At least that’s what I think, so I go.  As an aside, if I really wanted to, I could easily get to Silver 2 since I do most of the patterns but I’m not hung up on advancing through levels so it isn’t really a goal at this point.

There was a wine tasting event before the Medal Ball but it cost extra and I don’t drink wine so I didn’t go.  I met Kid T, M-Dawg, and Hilde in the room and we hung out for a bit before those who had done the wine tasting started to show up.  They got the music started as people were filing in and the first song was a swing, so I grabbed Kid T and we were the first ones on the floor.

Have you heard the term “firing on all cylinders”.  That’s what this dance was like.  There was none of the hesitation and overthinking that went on at the studio.  For some reason, on the floor, the moves just flowed.  It was effortless and seamless and on time and about as close to perfect as I think I’m capable of.  I don’t even remember the song but the beat was strong and easy to hear and we had space because very few had gotten their shoes on yet.  And the song played longer than a normal party, so we looped the routine about three times and each one was basically mistake free.  If you’ve ever done a dance and had everything go right, then you know how it feels.  It was a beautiful start to the night.

A couple of songs later, the owner of the other franchise dances over to me and says he needs to pay me a compliment.  Turns out that one of his newer instructors (think that’s who he said) asked him if I was the guy on the training tape.  And he tells me who the guy on the training tape is one of the more advanced dancers in the Famous Franchise world.  I knew the name but I don’t think I’ve seen him and I have no idea if there is any physical reference.  Still, that someone could think that me (a student) could be the guy on a freaking training tape.  Holy shit!  I really kind of laughed at the time and then when he called me that guy’s name later in the evening, I laughed again.  But, now, its like, Wow, I must have looked really good.

We did our Cha-Cha and Mambo and those also went good.  The floor was small and got crowded so we didn’t have space to do the full Fox Trot or Waltz but I did what I could.  Actually, I was also kind of proud of being able to move on that floor without running into anyone.  We had to shrink down the steps and frame to do some things but nothing really went bad.  We got run into a couple of times because there were others who weren’t adapting to the floor conditions and weren’t keeping their eyes moving.

At one point, they brought everyone on to floor to do a giant honor dance.  As time went on, they had the less experienced dancers peel off which was interesting but it was kind of a nice acknowledgement as the more advanced dancers got to have more time on the floor and I guess the point was for the others to watch what we do.  Which was fine except they had to pick a song that worked on a crowded floor and with all levels so they went with merengue.  I suppose “hate” is too strong of a word but that is my least favorite dance.  I suppose there are all kinds of nice arm tricks and things you can do, but for the most part, it just stays in one place and really doesn’t do anything so I’m not quite sure what the point it.  I don’t do merengue – the marching can be tough on my knee.  But, there was no backing out so I’m just making all kinds of crap up.  Took things from the last couple of group classes and turned them into merengue steps.  Made up some kind of double overhead wrap where we both do a little turn.  I suppose it was actually a good exercise since it did kind of encourage creativity but it still isn’t one of my favorites.

Towards the end of the night, I can’t remember what dance we were doing but I look out into the crowd and there is OwnerGuy standing on the edge of the dance floor watching us.  I swear that guy is like the eye of Sauron.  I’d really like to be able to read his mind to know what he sees.  Maybe I’ll find out on Tuesday when we have him for a progress check lesson.

All in all, it was a great way to end the week.  Something about being on the floor made dancing much easier.  I do believe the rhythm dances are going to come together quicker than the smooth and last night helped confirm that.  And that challenges something within me because I’ve always considered myself more of a natural smooth dancer and that the rhythm dances were never going to be natural for me.  Which now seems like more of a self-imposed limitation where I was defining myself based on some preconceived notions about rhythm dances (like my lack of hip motion).  Screw that.  If someone things my swing resembles a guy on a training tape, then I must be doing something right.

I still expect more ups and downs.  We have about a month before the out of town Showcase and about two months before ours.  Still lots of work to be done.  Short term, I can’t expect perfection at either of these two events but, long term, I am continuing to get more excited about how this partnership is going to work.

Evil overload or Dance Studio Owner, you decide.

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