It’s Raining Men

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Go on vacation for a week and big things happen.  I had a lesson right after group on Tuesday and timed my arrival so that I could jump into group class if needed or sit out if not.  The calendar had changed and I didn’t know what dance was going to be covered so I had to leave myself options.  It was waltz, which I could have done but the group was balanced and nobody asked me to jump in (Z was teaching), so I sat it out.  But then I noticed two new guys in the group!

Turns out we have two new male instructors!  One is a guy I recognized from some of the local events.  His story was that he was an instructor at another Famous Franchise location in our town but moved to be closer to our studio and wanted to work closer to home so he’s now permanently stationed at our studio.  The other guy is totally new.  The new girl is going to beat Hilde’s six week prediction so we now have four instructors along with Z and OwnerGuy.  But now I’ve got three people who need names.  Going to have to seriously start thinking about that.  It does make me a little more optimistic about the future of the studio.

After group on Tuesday, we continued to work on our Rumba open routine.  I guess the final pieces had been put in place so the goal was to finish it.  It was funny but when the not so new girl (I’m going to call her B_Tech for right now and see if it sticks), found out we were going to be working on the Rumba, she actually got a little excited and wanted to watch.  The new guys weren’t doing anything after group so we had three spectators watching us work on the Rumba.

There was really only one tricky part which I can’t describe real well.  We’re both moving but she’s moving around me and, at one point, I’ve got my back to her before we end up connected again for a dip.  OwnerGuy was out on Tuesday so she had the tablet with the video and we were watching it several times.  I guess this is either an advanced Silver or a beginning Gold step so it isn’t something Kid T is familiar with and getting the alignments down was a bit of a challenge.  I’m not good at learning from a video but I managed to figure out where the first step was going and then it kind of made the second step a little more clear.  We still had some tweaking but we got it.  It was kind of a fun little moment – here’s a challenge and we figured it out together.  Then we ran through the whole thing a couple of times to music.  Our “audience” loved it.

The next night we shifted to swing and just tried to lock some things in my head by doing multiple repetitions.  OwnerGuy had finally finished the routine so on Thursday, we worked on the last part.  What is interesting about some of this routine is that he’s choreographed several steps that don’t have the “triple step” that defines other East Coast Swing steps.  There’s some Lindy timing and some steps that also fit West Coast more than East Coast.  I suppose that makes some sense since an open routine is supposed to be more wide open and not just school figures like a closed routine.

We got to one tricky step which she said was called the Flip-Flop.  Given my post on shorts and flip-flops, it seemed appropriate.  It’s also hard to describe.  We get into it from a part where I spin her into me and then I’m moving around her while passing her from side to side.  There was a moment where I got very confused by the timing and she was telling me that I had more time than she did which, as a concept, just didn’t mean anything to me.  After a lot of different attempts to explain it and my follow up questions indicating that I still wasn’t getting it, we finally hit on a mutual understanding.  She just fills up almost all of the time between two counts getting to where she needs to be so if I waited for her to end up in my arms before taking my next step, then I was too late.  The key was for me to move while she was still turning so I could hit the right step when she ended up in my arms.  It also helped because she builds up a lot of momentum in that turn and I use that to help pass her so waiting too long breaks that momentum.  The step itself isn’t hard but that timing is tricky and getting it just right is not easy but it just means I dance my dance and she’ll be where she needs to be.  I don’t wait for her.  This is what I must train myself to do.  The step is actually pretty cool and she was impressed that I was whipping her around pretty easily.

I know this is hard to adequately describe but getting these things down felt so good.  Even getting stuck where I did was a good thing because we were able to communicate.  I didn’t shut down and somehow found the words to express what I was confused about.  (It would be so much easier for me if I could just communicate through text messages)  And she kept working with me and trying different approaches.  It was good for the partnership to work through some tricky things and to figure them out together.  And the step is pretty cool as well.  Oh, and let me give you one other thing.  At the start of the lesson, she said something about getting through the swing and, when we got stuck, it didn’t seem possible.  But we did finish it and she said something about that and that she knew I was going to be able to get this.  Yeah, there’s that needy part of me again but it is so nice to have someone who is truly supportive.

Now it wasn’t all sunshine though.  There are coaches coming through late in March.  Because I’m part of the special group of people who agree to spend lots of money at the studio, we get first crack at the coaches.  But, they put that up on Monday and the best slots were filled when I looked at the list on Tuesday.  I know this is what Z does – she just signs up her students without asking them and takes the prime spots leaving the rest of us in the special club to fight for the crumbs.  I was the beneficiary of this so it may be a little bit of Karma that I’m now on the outside looking in.  Still, it doesn’t seem right that she can give Tex the prime slot for both coaches.  I don’t care if he gets lessons with both but why should he get the good slots.

I should explain that I have a pretty small window.  First, I work which means I’m busy during the day and, no, I’m not going to take a vacation day to take a coaching lesson in the middle of the day.  I do get off early enough that I could make the 6:00 PM slot if I leave right when I need to and get the dogs fed and dinner made in time and there is no traffic to slow me down.  If I’m paying extra for a coaching lesson, I’m not going to sign up for a slot where a whole bunch of things could go wrong and keep me from making it.  7:30 is our group time and you could do a coaching during group except Z teaches the group on Tuesday nights and she’ll be loud and inappropriate and it will be hard to focus on the lesson.  It really just leaves the 6:45 and 8:15 slots as the best.  I ended up with a 9:00 PM lesson which is not something I could do every day but a one time thing is OK.

As we were walking towards the lesson sign up, Kid T starts in on how I’ve missed the last couple of coaches.  To which I said ‘Yeah, because all the slots were taken before I even had a chance to sign up’.

I get that Tex spends an obscene amount of money at the studio and his wife dances too so they are a cash generating machine for them.  Plus, he goes to any competition they ask him to do.  But it bothers me that money seems to be the deciding factor in the treatment he gets.  (Should I really be shocked).  OK, here’s where I get a little green-eyed and snarky.  After all, I’ve never seen the other instructors gather around to watch his lesson.  Has he ever figured out an advanced Silver step in a single lesson??  Hmm??  Don’t think so.  I have to be careful because I really don’t have anything against him and I certainly don’t expect any support from Z but I’m pretty darn good at this and I could probably benefit from just a fraction of the attention that Tex gets.  Maybe, once in awhile I should get first choice at a coach lesson because maybe I could really get something out of it.  Now, I know I said I didn’t want to work with the last coach but I’d rather that be my choice and not because I’m locked out before I’ve even seen the sign up sheet.

In that vein, I’ve decided to skip Medal Ball.  No, it isn’t all for snarky, small reasons.  I’ve got some other things to do that day so it is going to be busy and I’d rather have the evening off.  Kid T did ask about Medal Ball on Tuesday and talked about how the other students would like me to be there.  (I suspect there is some truth in that since I told another student I wasn’t going and she got mock angry with me)  I do also feel at times that OwnerGuy takes me for granted.  I’ve been there so long and I’ve been going to all the events so he may just assume I’ll always go.  This is one way of saying that maybe you shouldn’t assume.

And, I’ll end the trio of downer stuff with last night’s party.  I talk (way too much at times) about how each event has a certain feel to it and that I’m susceptible to being swept away by that feel.  Even if I’m starting off in a good mood, a few little things can just change the whole atmosphere for me.  I know that kind of makes me sound unstable but it is what it is.

This is going to sound strange coming from me but it where I am now.  The music that is played at a party is extremely important.  I have this whole vivid inner life and I love to get lost in the music while I’m dancing and that happens only when the music fits that dance.  For example, there a lot of things you can waltz to but not all of them are “waltzes”.  Technically, they all are but if they don’t feel like then it is kind of hard for me to get into the spirit.  So the first Waltz that is played is “Rainbow Connection” because Z likes that song and she knows most of the rest of us don’t so it is a way for her to play something she likes and tweak the rest of us.  Waltz is elegance and flowing music and all I can visualize about Rainbow Connection is Kermit and Kermit the Frog isn’t elegance.  Now, when I don’t like the music, my head starts to work against me and I start to struggle to find the beat which is just me psyching myself out because I’ve gotten much better at hearing it.  In a good song, I’m all over it.  Originally, I was going to sit out the Waltz but B_Tech saw me sitting and asked me to dance.  It was awkward because I couldn’t hear the beat and I hated the song and I wasn’t leading very well.  Later, they played the slowest hustle and there were some other marginal choices of music.  I just wasn’t feeling it so I left after 20 minutes.

But, bad parties are just a part of the whole Famous Franchise experience.  The thing with the coaching grates at me a bit but I’ll just get over it.  The important thing is that the Rumba and Swing are complete and that Kid T and I really took some big steps forward in our partnership (at least I felt that way).  With the two new instructors, I’m going to say it was a net positive week at the studio.


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