Last Friday Night (well Yesterday)

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I forgot to mention that Hilde was going to B2B (my new name for the alternate studio) and invited me along.  It turned out to be a lot of fun.  As a semi-competitive, slightly advanced social dancer, I think there are times when you just need to forget about all the routines and other crap and just dance.  And maybe that needs to happen at a different place where the overall vibe and energy are just different.

We started with a group class in Rumba.  I’m liking the different things I’m picking up at B2B although I’ll have to find a way to remember them.  The names and variations are different from what the Famous Franchise does but the basic patterns are similar enough to things I’ve done before that it is relatively easy to pick them up.

The group classes here are a little different.  For a month, it is one dance and they build up a little amalgamation.  You don’t have to attend all of them because they will review.  And there is a little less structure so you kind of practice on your own if the instructor is spending a little extra time with a particular student.  There was an older couple who started out not wanting to rotate but they were struggling with the step.  The one more advanced student who kind of took on the part of first assistant, broke them up and sent the lady over to dance with me.

At one point, near the end of the step, we are in some kind of overhead wrap position and I’m supposed to just bring her back in front and then we move on.  It becomes a bit awkward to get back into frame and she tried to grab for me right away and then asked if that is what we were supposed to do.  I kind of find it funny when ladies ask me about their part.  Maybe I project something that says I know the step but I’m a guy and not a professional instructor so I’m really not the best source of information on the ladies part.  But I can also remember in my early days having to learn that you don’t always need to get right back into frame.  As long as you are connected and are just finishing a box, there is no need to rush which is what I told her.  I think I said something that I’ve been told like “I’ve got you so you aren’t going to wander off so there is no rush” which she smiled at but still wanted to get back into frame as quickly as possible.

After dancing with her a couple of times, the first assistant came by with her partner.  He was a little confused about where they were going and asked what they were going to do.  She said to him “You’re going to watch him (meaning me) do it with her” (meaning his partner/spouse).  It is one of those statements that would take on a whole different meaning if it wasn’t in a dance class.  I sort of found it funny that I was being demo boy for a step I really hadn’t done much before that class.

It was also funny to me when Hilde started asking questions about her part and the answer basically came back that she just needed to wait and let the guy lead.  She’s heard that many times and I think she keeps expecting a different answer.  But it also got me thinking about lead/follow.  I’ve always thought it was a control thing but there is also some trust involved.  We were doing this crazy arm thing and the lady has to keep her arms loose and trust that the guy is going to do the right thing and not yank an arm out a socket or some other thing.  I hadn’t considered it before because it is just dance but you (as ladies) do have to turn some level of control over and hope that we are able to do step without causing injury or discomfort.  Kind of like a trust fall.

But the instructor also talked about how the guy can send mixed signals and how to avoid that in this particular step.  I don’t know why I find this so fascinating but the layers and levels involved in lead/follow just blow me away.  Something as simple as hand position can totally destroy a step.  Part of it is like two people who don’t speak the same language trying to find a way to communicate with each other.  You slowly learn key words of the other language and find a way to get things across.  Probably at the end, you aren’t speaking either language but a blend of the two.  (How’s that for a deep thought first thing in the morning??)

Oh, and I ended up dancing with the first assistant toward the end of the group.  She politely suggested that she wanted me to be a little closer on one of the steps.  It was Rumba after all.  Yes, my space bubble was still present.

The party was fun and I stayed away from trying to lead Hilde through the Silver steps.  We stuck with mostly advanced Bronze.  I put a few in but since I’m not a professional instructor, I can’t tell her what she needs to do so trying to lead the Silver stuff wasn’t good.  I did try one where I had to really force her through but we ended up laughing about it so it was all cool.  She really does need to just relax because she gets so tense and focused on her move that she becomes “heavy”.  Still, it was fun to just dance.

There was one point where we hit the restrooms and I came back first and a Fox Trot was on and so the instructor invited me to dance.  I don’t know why this should cause so much stress since she’s an instructor and she’s danced with lots of guys before and at all different levels.  Still, the first thing through my head is “don’t screw up!”.  Plus it was a Fox Trot and the timing was a little hard to hear and I had to find the beat to start on (now, that was stressful).  I probably wasn’t on time and it might have been more waltz like than a true Fox Trot but there were no major glitches where I’d expect her to go one way and she went a different way.  I’ll take that as a good sign.  But, just dancing with a pro feels so different.  The smoothness and flow and a whole bunch of other things I can’t describe but just feel so wonderful.  I hope I did OK.

So, after leaving the Famous Franchise on a slightly down note, it was great to just dance a bit of the night away.  I need these every so often as a smack upside the head that competitive dancing is hard and serious but it also should be FUN.

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