Just a Franchise Dancer

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Some people exude self confidence.  They have managed to build a solid brick version of themselves that can’t be blown over by any big bad wolf.  They take things in stride not allowing any random comments to truly damage their calm.  I don’t really know if people like this exist but I assume they do.

And some of us have a version of ourselves that is very much like a house of cards.  It can be multi story and it can look impressive as hell but it isn’t stable and you can knock one card out and the whole thing collapses in on itself.  I guess the trick in that situation is to decide whether to leave all the cards on the table and just hang your head in defeat or start over to build the house knowing that it may get knocked down again and again.  And, maybe at some point, you at least create some part that is brick so the rebuilding becomes easier.

See, I think I’ve reached a point where I have a certain level of confidence in my dancing ability.  But my house isn’t all brick and a simple random comment can still rattle the foundation and send parts of the house crashing down.  That’s kind of where I am now.  I know I didn’t get right to the point but, hey, I gotta be me.

Monday night was another lesson at Studio B.  We have just two weeks before Showcase and Mindy had booked Coach for another lesson to “polish” up our technique.  (That’s not going to be his final name but it just fits right now)  And by polish, I mean point out all the things I was not doing right when it came to proper Tango frame – most importantly where my head needed to be.

And that wasn’t a problem.  I get that my dance is always a work in progress and there are always things that can be improved.  I was actually enjoying the lesson because he was presenting the information like a good teacher talking at you and not down to you.  It was all going great until we tried to do it to music with him watching and I choked just a bit.  Nerves and all.

Then, we decided to focus on the part at the end that Mindy changed.  It involved what I would call an open box but I think they called it something else and ending in a promenade.  Well, I did the steps but I didn’t get my hips enough movement for her to feel what I wanted and she didn’t go into promenade.

So Coach tells me that I did the steps exactly correct and that wasn’t the problem.  The problem was that I didn’t lead the step properly.  But then he decided to go off on franchise studios in general talking about how people who go to those studios learn the steps but not enough about the rest of the dance.

It wasn’t malicious and I don’t know if he knows I still dance at a Franchise studio but it has been bouncing around my head for the last two days.  I shouldn’t let a remark get to me but it has.  All I can think is that I know steps but not dancing.  That I’m just a Franchise dancer and that is the lowest of the low.  Like Dollar General compared to Nordstrom.  Both are places to shop but they aren’t the same.  I actually ended up feeling a little ashamed of just being a Franchise dancer.

I’m not saying he’s wrong because he has a point.  I mean when you are primarily there for couples who just want a fun activity or who need to learn to dance for a wedding or an event or a cruise, then you don’t really need the finer points of technique and lead/follow.  You just need a few steps that you can do reasonably well and you’ll look better than 99% of the couples on the dance floor.

But I know we have worked on some of this stuff at the Famous Franchise.  Maybe it hasn’t been enough and I know I need to learn more and do it more consistently but now I’m kind of wondering what’s the point.  Yes, if I worked with this guy more, I would get a lot more about lead/follow but, since there is no competition in my future, does that really matter?

Oh, and the other thing this has set off in my head is that now I’m a bit paranoid because sometimes I can get a undertone of frustration from Mindy like I’m not doing something quite right.  This is where I have to be careful because I know I could read way too much and find something that isn’t there.  But I’ve felt it on other lessons so I don’t think I’m making it up.

To be honest with you, there is a part of me that wants to back out of the Showcase.  I know that is a bit extreme but it is there.  Yes, I want to look good but I was more looking to just have fun with the two dances.  Unless I can change it, I’ll just be thinking about that last lesson and wondering if my dancing is just going to look bad compared to the rest.  Maybe I need to sew a big red “F” onto my shirt to label myself as a Franchise Dancer.  Then, people would understand.  “Oh, I know you tried, but there’s only so much you can do with one of those people”.  Yes, I’m being silly here and going way too far but this is what happens when your playhouse gets torn down.

But I do wonder if I should stop wasting everyone’s time at Studio B.  If I’m not doing this to compete but just doing it to have a little fun then maybe I’m just not serious enough.

Part of the reason that I’ve haven’t completely collapsed inside myself is the lesson I had at the Famous Franchise yesterday.  OwnerGuy wanted to work on the Waltz so he tells me to just dance it with JoNY.  It was rocky but we got through most of it so OwnerGuy could see the steps and the order which he decided to change.  He asked if I was married to the amalgamation and I said no.  It may actually help with the transition for there to be some differences so it doesn’t feel as much like “Kid T’s amalgamation”.

We worked on several of the individual pieces with OwnerGuy wanting more sway and shaping and other things and then he had us dance the whole thing at the end of the lesson.  It didn’t move like a Ferrari but then it wasn’t like a Yugo either.  It was  serviceable attempt with room for improvement but not bad for the first time we were dancing it together.  Also, I’m not sure how much JoNY had really worked on it so with time and reps it should start to smooth out.

Another student came in at the tail end of the lesson because she was working with OwnerGuy after us.  So I asked her how we looked and she said we looked fine.  In private, she told me that she saw a stronger lead from me than she did when I was dancing with Kid T.  That’s not unexpected and I don’t know what she saw but she saw some evidence of leading.  Again, I’m not just some schmuck following footprints on the floor thinking they can dance.  I do have some ability in the lead/follow area even if I am just a “Franchise Dancer”.

So that’s how my dance week has gone so far.  Not the greatest start to a week.


  1. I don’t have any personal experience with the FF but I’ve heard the same downtalk that you did, including from students who have taken lessons there and pros who have taught there. It’s unfortunate the FF has this reputation because on the other hand, it sounds like they are fabulous at building a strong, welcoming dance community (assuming you can pay, pardon my cynicism). I would say don’t take on those labels. You are not “just a” anything. You are you, and that includes a dancer.

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