Not so Sunny Skies

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Back at the Famous Franchise for the first lessons in almost a week.  Worked with Kid T on the open Cha-Cha first and that went really well.  She had a couple of pointers from the Big Dance Event.  One was for me to extend my arms more in a couple of steps where I turn her and then cha-cha after her.  This creates maximum separation and creates those lines people keep talking about.  That was an easy fix.  She also adjusted the choreography on one of the most problematic parts so I no longer have to struggle to get around her which did make it much easier.  So the night started with great promise.

Group class was two step.  Had there been more ladies, I would have joined but it was just Tex and another guy.  Montana was there for a lesson after group but she hates two step and wanted no part of it.  Kid T was teaching and New Girl joined in but Sunny was teaching a lesson so they were shorthanded when it came to ladies.  Since 3 of 3 left, I’ve not done a lot of two step at the Famous Franchise (more on that later) and since I didn’t want to literally feel like a fifth wheel, I just chatted with Montana until my lesson with Sunny.

We were working on the Quickstep routine and the first thing she tells me is that we have to change how we are doing our lock steps because OwnerGuy noticed we were doing them wrong.  Your feet are supposed to be down and they should angle a bit.  She made a big point of how they were supposed to angle and we practiced forward and back locks since both are in the routine.

Now, there were two problems with this.  First of all, it was a simple concept which I got right away.  The transition was a little more abrupt than I’d like because you go from being up to a more solid landing and then into the lock step but it was doable.  For some reason, she keep going over it and going on and on about how this would make things rotate better and on and on.  In my mind, I’m thinking “I’ve got it, let’s move on” but I have a hard time saying things like that because they sound mean and she’s only trying to help but it should be obvious that I’m doing it and we are ready to move on.  Normally, that just makes me go silent.  With Sunny, it tends to bring out the sarcastic side of me which is what my responses tended to be.

The bigger problem is that it becomes hard for me to take direction and instruction from someone if I have my doubts about their qualifications.  I’m not the kind of person who automatically defers to an “expert” based on their title.  Give me the impression that you know what you are talking about, and I’ll listen.  If I think you are just winging it and making crap up, then I’m going to start ignoring you.  Also, if she’s teaching Quickstep, then shouldn’t OwnerGuy (or Z) have checked to make sure she is actually teaching the steps correctly?  Or is it just assumed that she watches a video and that makes her qualified to teach?  I want to cut her some slack because she’s trying and I know she wants to do this but it becomes hard to trust a teacher when you start to believe they really don’t know what they are doing.

So we played around with the lock step for a bit and things were actually going pretty good until we hit a part where there is a back lock and then another step backward.  Well, I was told to angle the lock steps so that’s what I did.  After two attempts, she tells me that I’m keeping her outside partner and she can’t do her step.  And how my step had to be straight back.  (Which it always had been until she told me to angle it more)  She then launches into another long explanation about how and why the step had to be the way it was and I almost lost it.  I finally shot back something to the effect that the only reason I was doing this is because she told me that the lock steps needed to angle.  Then she said “well not this one”.  OK, then why did we spend the first 5-10 minutes of the lesson practicing angling a back lock if I didn’t need to do it?  Or couldn’t you have thought of cluing me in that this wasn’t a lock step that needed to angle?  Continuing my little tirade, I asked why she put so much emphasis on angling if it wasn’t needed and she said something like the real reason was just to be more grounded on the step.  Oh no, you don’t change your story mid stream with me.  So I fired back to say that’s not how it was presented at the start of the lesson.

Not really sure exactly why I got so combative.  As I said, I hate it when people pretend to be something their not and that’s what I sensed here.  It was like she had to be the all knowing teacher and couldn’t be wrong so it had to be my fault that I didn’t realize that step wasn’t supposed to angle.  I’ve got no issues with screwing up but I’ve got a big issue with not owning up to it and that’s what I felt was going on here.

It got a little worse because then she started in on how I needed to do something to start to indicate to the lady that we were going to move.  Perfectly understandable but I wasn’t in the best mood so I argued with her a bit on that.  Then, I tried what she said and she tells me how much better it felt and I was like “what are you smoking” because it felt rougher to me.  Again, she launched into another long explanation on why and we somehow got into a discussion about what she could do better and I was not in the mood to have that discussion so I kind of just shut her down and signed the book.

I’m not really all that happy with how I acted because I could kind of see the look on her face as she walked away.  I know she’s trying but, at the end of the day, I’m paying a lot of money for these lessons and at a minimum I’d expect the instructor to know what they are doing.  OK, that’s a little strong since she does know some things but it is not like she’s got years and years of experience on me.

And maybe that’s another part of it.  There are so many times that she ends up treating and teaching me like I’m a brand new student and it irks the hell of me.  But I have trouble expressing exactly what it is she does that makes me feel that way.  I only know that it happens.  I think some part of it is that she screws things up because of lack of experience but rarely owns up to it so everything seems to be my fault.  I hate that but I’d take it better from someone who’s been dancing for years.  Her Quickstep experience is limited to what she’s learned from the videos and the few heats we did at the last Showcase.  When things go off the tracks, it ain’t all me.  Yeah, that’s some pride and ego talking.

Oh, and then there was a brief mention of the Argentine Tango which we did at the last Showcase.  I let that one go by.  This is another part of the problem at the Famous Franchise because they seem to assume that you can just plug one instructor in when one leaves.  And, I did Argentine Tango with the Body Double so I must like Argentine Tango so I should just keep doing it with Sunny.  Well, not so fast there chief.  For me, it is not just the dance but it is the partner and how things feel and move.  With the Body Double, we just clicked and there was some chemistry (however you want to define it).  I had that one moment with her where I experience that “Tango Trance”.  That’s just how connected we were and how the dance felt.  With Sunny, it feels completely different.  She’s so focused on being technically perfect and on time that she’s loudly counting and correcting and I don’t think she’s really “feeling” the music.  So it becomes a chore to get through rather than something to enjoy.  Quickstep is a little different because she does seem to enjoy that dance.

It is similar to why I don’t do as much Two Step anymore.  That was 3 of 3’s dance and she was a heck of lot of fun to dance with.  There is no one at the Famous Franchise who comes close and it makes the dance different and nowhere near as much fun.  It was like the Quickstep routine that the Body Double started and Kid T and I did just because.  We did it but it was not the same as with the Body Double because that was her routine and Kid T was really just going through the motions.  I can tell the difference having danced a couple of routines that Kid T put together.  Its not just the dance, it is the whole picture.

Well, we can continue the Quickstep because I think we can sort things out and make it work.  I’m not convinced we have a long term future because it is starting to be more clear to me that we really don’t mesh that well.  (Boy, I’m pretty hard to satisfy, aren’t I)



  1. Unfortunately one of the downfalls of the famous franchise is the use of video tapes to get untrained instructors earning revenue quickly. Sorry to sound cynical but at times I do feel like it’s all about getting as much money as possible out of students. One thought would be to stop dancing with Sunny and stick with Kid T and Mindy as you seem to gel better with them, plus 3 instructors is a lot to deal with. Just my thoughts. 😄

  2. I don’t have any personal experience with the FF but from other posts you’ve done, my first thought was she is being a good little FF soldier and following orders. She is just repeating what she was told without a complete understanding or a view of the whole picture (like focusing on the angle of the lock steps without acknowledging it’s not a concrete rule all of the time of how it fits into your routine). That’s fine for a beginner student but I get the impression you have more dance experience and knowledge than she does. Not her fault or yours of course, but sounds like she just isn’t the right teacher or partner for you.

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