You Must Whip It

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I was back at Studio B last night after missing last week.  Had an adult thing to do (meeting with a financial planner about money things) so I had to miss the lesson.  I think Mindy was a little rusty with what she had shown me as well so we first relied on my notes which are written in a scrawl that vaguely resembles English.  Usually, I can read my writing but few others can.  But we worked through the two patterns we had and she added new things to both the Salsa and the West Coast Swing.

Many years ago, in another dance lifetime, my wife and I took a series of Salsa classes at one of the few other studios here in my town.  It was funny because the rest of the class was college age kids so we were by far the oldest couple in the room.  The kids were cool about it though so we never felt like the out of touch old couple.  Plus I’ve taken a few Salsa group classes at the Famous Franchise so I knew a little about Salsa.  This is the deepest I’ve gotten into it and I’m liking it.

Now, we haven’t done a lot to Salsa music just yet and the little bit we’ve done feels a bit frantic and slightly insane.  It is easy to keep up with the basics and cross body leads and even turning her isn’t a problem because she’s fast on her feet.  My turns are a different story.  I’m just not used to turning on a dime at high speeds.  There is a turn where I change hands behind my back which isn’t too bad.  The one where I do a walk around turn while going under my arm is a bit more of an issue.  I can do it but it still feels awkward and probably doesn’t look so hot.

Yesterday, she added some more things with arms.  There is a step where I do a turn and then turn her in the middle of my turn.  At least that’s how I think it goes.  The tricky thing is that her turn kind of goes in the opposite direction of where I’m going so my arm has to go in a direction that feels off to make it work.  I’m having some spatial alignment issues because I can’t connect the direction of her turn to where I am on the dance floor.  The good news is she’s basically leading this for now so I feel her start to move and then I know which direction to move my arm.  Hopefully, that will lock something into place.

I’ve done more West Coast Swing at the Famous Franchise which you think would be an advantage but, again, I’m finding that the Famous Franchise is something of an island in the dance world.  Or maybe just our location, who knows.  But the things I’ve learned about how to do and lead certain steps isn’t what Mindy wants so I’ve having to break all the habits I’ve learned at the Famous Franchise.  It will be interesting to see how this crosses over back to the Famous Franchise when I pick up West Coast Swing again.

The biggest problem is with the whip because the lead I was taught at the Famous Franchise isn’t what Mindy is looking for.  She wants it tighter with a smaller first step and more rotation on the second.  And my arm movement has to be sharper on the second step to rotate her shoulders into the right position.  So I’m focusing on that while also remembering the lead isn’t me pulling but the momentum is created by my arm staying in place and my body moving.  She keeps stopping me in the whip to try and fix my issues which would normally get frustrating but it hasn’t yet.

The super advanced and super talented male dance instructor was there again with his student.  For some reason, I caught him looking at us a couple of times.  And not in the “where are they on the floor since we are heading in that direction” sort of way.   I hope he’s not silently judging how many things I’m doing wrong.  Maybe he’s just interested in seeing how she teaches.   I think I’ve only seen him teach smooth or standard so maybe he doesn’t do a lot of other dances and is just curious.

Have to admit I’m still having a bit of nerves dancing with Mindy.  It’s better but I know when I’m not completely comfortable around someone and we haven’t reached that point yet.  That’s all on me though since it just takes me forever to really get to that point with anyone.  Still, I think we are working better together and I find it easier to drop into the learning mode which might explain why I’m not getting as frustrated with my many mistakes in both dances.

Tonight, we move back to the Famous Franchise for more fun and games.  I think there is a coach coming in tomorrow so we may take today to figure out which of my many issues she can work on.  We’ll see how it goes.  Hopefully, it is helpful.  At the very least, I hope I get a good story out of it.

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