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Some tidbits from the last two days at the studio.  I wasn’t planning on going to group class on Monday because I had a lesson with Hilde and OwnerGuy at 1 and I didn’t fancy two trips to the studio in a day. But, Hilde texted me on Sunday to say she has a problem with her refrigerator and needed to cancel.  That turns out to have only been a half truth but I’ll come back to that in a minute.

So I figured I might as well go to group class which was swing.  The new student featured in my open letter was there along with the normal cast of characters.  Because Z doesn’t work on Monday and OwnerGuy showed no interest in teaching a group, they tossed all of us into a single group.  I know groups are subject to change, but if you list a Foundation and a Bronze group on your calendar, it really feels like you should have both.  If you know you just have the one instructor and are only planning one group, then just list that.  Part of this felt like bait and switch because the more times you get someone into the door, the better and since she had come out for group, she wasn’t going to leave just because there wasn’t a foundation group.

The swing group focused on a couple of steps that dealt with momentum.  We started with a whip and then went into a backstop.  The backstop is one of those steps where I have to pick on the ladies.  It involves tripling in and the guy gets on hand on the ladies back and then his rock step is supposed to sling shot her around.  But it involves the lady moving forward with all her momentum until she feels the guy change her direction.  Of course, in a group class, the ladies all know their parts and the guys don’t all know how to lead so most ladies just get themselves out of the position without the guy having to do anything.  OK, so it is a failure on both sides and I’ve ranted before about group class being terrible for lead/follow so I don’t want to do that again.

After that was a flirtation and then the guy takes four steps forward while the lady takes four steps backward before he rolls her out.  I was watching Kid T do the step and she was treating those four steps like a spot turn with one foot remaining in place so I started doing that as well.  Since I’m basically rotating around a fixed point, I can get more rotation but the lady will really feel since she’s on the outside of the circle and going to have to move a lot more.  Well, the move worked great with the more experienced ladies but then the rotation shifted and I got the new student.  Guess she wasn’t quite ready for the amount of movement because she made some comment when we got done.  She handled it just fine but I think the amount of rotation kind of threw her for a loop.

Now, back to Hilde.  OK, the refrigerator thing may have been a total fabrication because she kept her lesson with OwnerGuy and didn’t say anything about a refrigerator.  What she did tell me was that she could no longer continue with the Waltz routine.  It came down to finances.  She’s working towards another degree and thought she had the finances worked out but there was a curve ball and she’s got to economize all other parts of her life.  So she’s cutting back to one lesson every two weeks and removing all the events like Showcase.  It is disappointing because I was looking forward to watching the routine grow and develop but I fully get the money thing and sometimes life forces you to make hard choices.

I know I am very lucky that I’ve got the ability to keep feeding this rather expensive habit.  I don’t have unlimited funds so I can’t do events like the one in Hawaii.  But this is when I always wonder why this thing has to be so expensive.  I hate the fact that people like Hilde who are good and who love it have to dial it back because of the cost.  I know life isn’t fair but I can still wish for a world where those who have a true passion for ballroom can find a way to follow their hearts without having to empty their bank accounts.

And now we come to the part of the post where I get to talk about all my deep feelings as I come to the title of this post.  I’ve always been the most experienced dancer at the studio and when I was working with Z it was easy to feel special and to feel like I was a star.  It was interesting because there was always this dichotomy.  I would get all the attention from the other students but always feel I didn’t deserve it because I wasn’t that good.

OwnerGuy took two of his students to the Dance-o-rama before I went (can’t remember if it was one year before or two years before).  Anyway, that effort never took root because neither one of them was in a position to go back – either financially or desire wise.  It feels like it has always been their goal to get a group of students to start going to these events.  OK, OwnerGuy has told me that is what he wanted to do so I know it was a goal.  I went with another one of his students and that seemed to start the ball rolling.  It still isn’t a big group since it is just Tex, his wife and another student who seem hard core.  But OwnerGuy did get another couple to agree to go to Hawaii and there is another one of his students who know wants to do one of these events.   In other words, things are sort of moving in the direction he wants and I have a lot to do with that.

But after the break up with Z and with the departures of the Body Double, 3 of 3 and the Statue, it sometimes feels like I’ve been shoved aside.  Take this last coach for example.  The sign up sheet went up on a day I wasn’t there and the prime slots went to Z’s students.  I was the beneficiary of this when I was her student so I know she will sign up students without even asking them.  And this isn’t the first time I’ve been shut out which was something that never happened when I was working with her.

So the best slots go to those who are going to this event in Hawaii.  They’ve now become the chosen few along with one other of Z’s students.  I’m kind of tossed aside.  If I want to show up and dance with Kid T, they’ll certainly take my money but all the attention goes to the other students.  Yeah, that may not be reality but it is the vibe I get and I’m learning to trust those vibes a lot more.

I also accept that my future at that studio is tied to Kid T.  For a whole host of reasons, there is no way I could go back and work with Z.  OwnerGuy seems to be trying to bring in new instructors, but, even with their training program, it would be a long time before any of them would be up to speed with what I’m doing.  So, if in the next year or so, Kid T decides she’s had enough, then that in all likelihood ends my association with that studio.  And that would force me out in the cold, cruel world to find another home to continue dancing.  Not that I think Kid T is leaving anytime soon but I get a vibe that this isn’t going to be a long term gig for her.

Since I’m not a planner, I’ll deal with that future when it happens.  For right now, it just means that I suck up as much knowledge as I can for as long as this lasts.  You know, I’ve spent most of my life not being part of the “in crowd” so I can certainly adjust to being pushed into a corner.  Let the others get all the attention from Z and OwnerGuy.  I’ll just come and continue to work and continue to get better.  That’s my motivation.

Go ahead and invest your time with the others.  Yes, the limelight was fun.  Not going to deny that.  But I do my best work flying under the radar. And, here’s the thing.  I still get the same responses from the other students.  All that has changed is how you two treat me.  Case in point, we had a lesson yesterday after group class and we started with Rumba.  So we are just working through our routine and I look over and see one the students just watching us.  I thought maybe she wanted to say something so I kind of stopped to give her the opportunity and she said she was just watching us.  No, the demons are not completely gone but there is a layer of quiet confidence that wasn’t there before.  I know now that when I get that attention from the others, it is deserved.

Yes, I still want to get out on a big stage with Kid T and see what happens.  I’d like to go to another event like Boston or Chicago since the Showcases when so well.  But I don’t know yet whether that is my future or not.  So all I can do is work like that is my future and just keep getting better and better.  If that means we work on technique, then we work on technique.  This past year has taught me that there will always be change.  I can’t control that.  All I can control is my attitude and my motivation and take each lesson as it comes and do the best I can because you never know when the ride will stop.





  1. Wall – You are wise to take things as they come and not gaze too deeply into your crystal ball. The staff situation at your studio could change a lot in a year, or even a shorter period. I’ve seen the teacher census at mine oscillate between a low of 5 teachers, counting owner-lady, to its current high of 9. Once, owner-lady even hired a really good dancer instead of a trainee. The pro didn’t last long, unfortunately, but he was fun while he was there. Hang on. Someone who outshines Z may be on her way.

  2. Brilliant post. I relate to so much, from Hilde’s money issues to the odd fluctuation of attention you can enjoy or miss as a student. Marian’s right – anything can happen! If you start getting a stronger sense that your time at the studio may be coming to an end, you could always start exploring other studios in your area. Check out a social dance or something!

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