Road to Nowhere

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OK, let’s start with the highlight of the last two days.  Yesterday’s group class was bachata.  If you aren’t trying to do the hip lift and there isn’t grinding, then bachata is a simple little dance – side, together, side, tap.  The toughest part is remembering that you start the next part with the foot you just tapped so as long as you don’t change weight, you should be good.

I was dancing with one of the newer students.  Not the same one from the open letter.  This one came as a couple but her husband wasn’t dancing at group.  She said something about arthritis which I can certainly relate to.  Well, I ended up partnered with her.  Yes, a group class rotates but you do dance the majority of time with the partner you started with.

Now, she’s new and easily gets frustrated.  For the longest time, they wouldn’t join the rotation because she wasn’t getting the step of a particular class.  For some reason, the bachata clicked with her.  I know one thing I was doing was not waiting for Kid T to get us started.  As she showed us a section, I was taking her and we were practicing.  As I said, bachata isn’t particularly difficult but if you’ve got arms moving at the same time, then I need to do it.  Usually, once you do something, the move is natural and just flows but it is often hard for me to see the correct alignments when it is being described.

Anyway, it was fun to watch the transition.  She was making sure Kid T knew that we had done the step and done it correctly.  At one point, she looked to Kid T and declared us “the star pupils”.  As I said in the open letter, there is something uplifting about seeing someone get a step and watch the joy and confidence that it brings to them.  Those moments are sometimes the first clue that, yes, you can do this and they can be few and far between as you are starting off.  Dancing just means so much to me and I so want everyone to feel what I feel so it is just great to witness and be part of something like that.  The next group may be more difficult, but, for one night, she was on top of it and was nailing it.

Right after was the utterly forgettable Christmas party.  The music choices were weird.  They were Christmas themed but many of them just barely fit into the dance style they called out.  I had trouble finding the beat in some of them and I have to admit it got inside my head and it just threw the evening off.  It has been a while since that happened to me.

They were also announcing the results from the tournament and which students had the most points and then we were called up to receive our prize.  The prize was a certain dollar amount off a future Famous Franchise event with the dollar amount being related to the number of points.  Z was handing out the certificates and OwnerGuy was announcing the names and Kid T was the photographer.  I will admit it was making me a bit nervous to have to go get something from Z but then she and Kid T changed places when my name was called I got the picture with Kid T.  Guess avoidance is really the best option at this point.

My lessons with Kid T are becoming a grind.  It is nothing but technique.  I know technique is necessary but it doesn’t speak to my soul.  (Did I really just write that??)  Dancing stirs up powerful emotions in me and I want to feel them.  I need to feel them to really be engaged.  Technique is just repetition and a grind for me.  Some of the differences are just so subtle that I struggle to feel what is really going on and then I can’t be consistent from one try to the next.  And I get the whole “did you feel any different” and I just give the blank stare.  I really want to feel something different but, so many times, I just don’t.  On the bright side, I have reached a point where I have a better idea of posture and when I’ve lost it.  I still lose it a lot but now I have a better idea of when I need to get it back.

And, the more I do this technique, the bigger the fear that my body my not permit me to really be the advanced dancer I want to be.  I know she tells me I don’t need to go that far into my knee but I can’t find the point of no return.  After both the Tango and Bolero lessons, my knee was throbbing.  I’ve iced it and taken additional medications but it still hurts.  Keeping my frame when it needs to be just makes my shoulder tired and achy.  Doesn’t help when I get the double whammy of seeing TrainerGuy and then having a lesson that night.  Tonight, we were doing the Waltz and she said I lost it on the second run through.  Yeah, I know.  I was tired and couldn’t hold it anymore.  Maybe in time, I can build up the endurance but now it is the fear in the back of my mind that I just can’t physically do some of this stuff and it will place limits on me.

The other factor is the whole journey/destination thing.  I don’t see where this is going.  Are we spending the next five months just doing this and then having me do these routines at the next Showcase?  Is there nothing new?  Again, OwnerGuy had talked about making changes but I see none.  Yes, technique is a challenge, but I need something else to break up the monotony.  It feels right now that we are just driving around in circles and not getting anywhere.  And it is giving me a serious bad attitude and I’m starting to shut down which is not good.  I think Kid T and I have to talk at our next lesson.

The real downside today was the fact that there was a coach here to work with the students.  When a coach arrives, those of us in the special club get first crack but your ability to get a slot depends on when the sign up sheet goes up and your instructor.  Z is seriously competitive and grabs spots for students even if they aren’t there.  And the sign up sheet went up on a day I wasn’t there (which I think was planned) so when I got in the next day, all the spots I could do were booked.  I only know this because I looked.  Kid T didn’t even mention the coach and we didn’t even talk about whether a coaching lesson would be a good idea.  Now I wonder if she has any type of plan which again leads me to believe we are truly on the road to nowhere.

I didn’t even know there was a Master Class until last night because I think it was a last minute addition to the schedule.  Maybe she just assumed I had signed up but, once I saw that all the times were taken, why would I come back to look at the list.

As it turns out, I would have been better off not taking the Master Class and I’m kind of glad I didn’t get to work with this guy.  I’ve worked with this guy multiple times in the past and he’s judged two of our Showcases, so he knows me – or at least I think he does.  But, we walk out to start the group and he looks right at me and then walks away without even acknowledging my presence.  Kind of set the tone for me.  I guess if I wasn’t taking a coaching lesson, I wasn’t good enough to talk too even though he found time to talk to two others who were in the group but not taking a coaching lesson.  He and Z and OwnerGuy are good friends and he was staying with Z and OwnerGuy.  Do you think he might have heard something about me from them, he asks with a hint of sarcasm.  Maybe not, but it felt pretty clear that he wanted nothing much to do with me.

Fortunately, I’ve got a light week of lessons next week and none the following.  I do need to talk with Kid T about this technique thing but a week away from the studio may not be a bad thing.


  1. Wall – I’m doing something new with my dancing that really delights me. I’m sliding off to a different studio to learn to lead! I take one private, and one group lesson + party. per week. It’s SO much fun! I find leading very challenging, but it’s giving me a huge insight into the totality of dance. For one thing, I have way more appreciation for the responsibility leads carry. For another, I now know what it feels like to be leaned on, pulled off balance, etc. I, too, was starting to feel that I was in something of a rut, but now I’m reborn! I think studios should at least offer students experience with both roles. For a given individual to be able to lead AND follow is very common in the swing and Hustle worlds, but not in stodgy old Ballroom. At my FF studio, I’m allowed to lead at parties, but not in group classes.That’s a shame, really, b/c we’re always short on leads in group. I sometimes already know the step being taught well as a follow, and if they’d let me lead in that circumstance, everyone would benefit.

  2. “Yes, technique is a challenge, but I need something else to break up the monotony. It feels right now that we are just driving around in circles and not getting anywhere. And it is giving me a serious bad attitude and I’m starting to shut down which is not good.”

    Amen. Wow, have you ever just given me a lightbulb moment. The last few times I’ve stepped out on the competition floor, I’m so focused on “getting it right” that my heart has stopped singing.

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