The Next Chapter

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When I was told that Kid T was leaving, it was crushing.  It was the closest I came to just walking away from dancing.  Last night was a sign that I made the right decision to stay.  So let’s talk about that.

You all know there is that famous dance show that pairs “stars” with pros.  Hands up for all of us who dance who’ve been asked when we are going to be on that show?  Pretty much everyone?  Well, I believe there are many organizations that have copied that show and recruited local “stars” to do a similar thing as a fund raising opportunity.  (Funny story is that many years ago my wife worked with the old studio to set one of these up for a charity she was working with)

Well, for the last couple of years, our Famous Franchise studio has worked with a local group to put on this type of show.  And they always invite the couples to do a demo at the studio before the event.  This also happens to be the anniversary of OwnerGuy opening his studio and the rift in the local Famous Franchise world.  So, to make it a big event, they had a studio open house which is open to all and they have a large group class followed by some open dancing and they sprinkle in student demos to show prospective students what is possible.

I think you knew I had signed up to do a Viennese Waltz demonstration but I wanted to give you the extra context just to set the scene a bit better.

Got there for my lesson which was right before the party started and found that they had set up folding chairs all around the dance floor.  This makes sense because they want people to have a place to sit while watching the demos and it didn’t take that much real estate.  Except that we had been using the floor right to the edge for our Viennese Waltz and now there were chairs in the way.  Well, we did a cold run to start the lesson (OwnerGuy’s recommendation) and figured out that we could move our routine in just a bit and not really have to cut anything short.  So that was good.

Not going to lie – my nerves were getting the best of me.  I’ve done multiple in studio demos and there are times that I’m relatively calm and collected and other times that I’ve got this whole flight thing going on where there’s a voice in my head yelling at me to change my shoes and run like hell out of the studio.  That voice gets louder with each little mistake or any little thing that doesn’t feel “right”.  We did spend some additional time going over parts that felt rough and that helped.

We didn’t spend the entire lesson on the Viennese Waltz.  In fact, we just touched on it a few times.  Most of the lesson was spent on Tango and doing that multiple different times and trying to get the loop to work.   The issue was that the Tango still didn’t feel very Tangoey.  It is supposed to have sharp moves and ours was just a little dull.  There’s also a part where we are supposed to do Viennese Crosses but we do a close right before which really seems to kill the momentum making it harder to get it amped back up to the crosses which is a fast little section.  And getting frustrated with the Tango was not really helping my mood any.  Sensing that we had beat the Tango to death, JoNY switched us to Bolero “just to see what we could remember”.  And that actually turned out pretty good.  There was one part I forgot the first time and one part she forgot but we did several clean runs.  We closed the lesson with a last run through of the Viennese Waltz and it did go much better than the first.  The problem throughout was timing and my lack of it.  I kept rushing which was frustrating.  In the past, I’ve been able to count myself in and silently count the timing for the first few steps and then just kind of “feel” the music for the rest of the dance.  Couldn’t seem to do that last.  Actually, I’ve been having that problem since they moved locations and it was starting to irritate me.  That and it gave me one more thing to worry about going into the party and the demonstration.

So the party starts with a little group class.  Just some work on dips in Rumba and then we start with a couple of general dances and then it is time for the demos’.  They start with the couples that were there for the “stars” event.  Three of them showed up to do their numbers in front of a live audience for the first time.  If you’ve never done this, I can tell you that it is plenty nerve wracking.  The routines were high in entertainment value so the choreography was kept simple but all three of them looked like they were having a blast and that made it all fun to watch.  And that’s the thing about dance.  It is wonderful to watch professionals with a high skill level but it can also be fun to watch people who aren’t the most skilled but can put on a good show.  And I don’t want to make it sound like there was no skill displayed because there was.

Then, we did some more general dancing and then they started in on the student demonstrations.  They did it by level so they started with Bronze and worked up to Silver.  It actually started with a wedding couple because that is a part of their business as well so this was a good opportunity to showcase that.  Wedding couples can be fun to watch as well.  Guess its just that hopeless romantic in me.  Something about seeing people who are getting ready to start a new life together I guess.  I know they do all kinds of wedding dances and the level of choreography depends on how much time they have and the interest of the parties.  This was on the more mellow end of the spectrum.  Just a good slow dance with a few moves.

They ran through the other levels.  Two couples that I’ve seen around but haven’t interacted with did a Salsa and a Hustle to cover the basic Bronze level.  OwnerGuy did a Viennese Waltz with a lady I knew from the previous studio who has been coming on and off as time permits.  Then, there was a couple that did a Two Step.  They moved to Silver and started with a couple doing a Swing with some nice moves.  And then a lady who is a self-described ham did a Rumba with OwnerGuy.  Then, they came to the last demo of the evening – me.

JoNY and I are walking to the corner to start and Z is doing some basic background and makes a comment about me being one of the more advanced students.  So this guy looks at me and says “no pressure, right” or something like that.  Z made a joke about me wanting to kill her later for saying that.  To be honest, I was a little afraid that I was being oversold.  I mean it was my first demo with JoNY.  Who knew how it was going to go.  And if I screwed something up, then it would feel like I let everyone down.

The music starts and there are a few bars of Spanish guitar to open where there is no real beat so we stayed in frame until the music started.  JoNY counted me in and I waited two eight counts before taking the first step which was just a hesitation and then we were off and running (well dancing but you get the idea).  We had a really clean run and the music was loud enough for me to get the timing.  I heard the crowd react when we did our run around but, I kind of kept my head up and out so I didn’t really look at the crowd.  But the dance moved exactly as expected.  We took up most of the long side with the first set of moves and then used the shadow spirals and tandem turn to get through the short side.  And we flew down the other long side and finished up about 3/4 of the way through the other short side.  Took our bows and that was it.

It was the reaction after that kind of threw me.  As I’m walking back to my seat, people are sticking hands out to congratulate me.  The people who were there for the Stars gave me some nice compliments as they were leaving.  The wedding couple enjoyed it.  The guy who did the Salsa came over to tell me that our dance was crazy and shook my hand.  I had one lady tell me how much she loves to watch me dance and someone else echo that same comment.  And a guy came over to me to shake my hand and tell me that “The Wall was Back!”  (He used my name instead of Wall by the way)  Z even sat with me a bit to tell me that we looked good.

I do know that listing my accolades is akin to bragging and that it would be easy to get swept away and allow my ego to run away.  But that’s not really why I’m doing this.  I know it was just an in studio demonstration and not like a competition or anything but it was important in its own right.  The change from Kid T to JoNY was challenging and it put me through a lot of ups and downs and doubting my own abilities and so on.  And the comments don’t mean that I won’t have future struggles or things to work on.  Dance is never a finished product.  There is always more that can be done.

But six months after having my world rocked, I went out to perform one of the toughest dances with a new partner.  And we did well.  Nothing wrong with feeling good about that for a bit.  That’s what last night did for me.

I am back.  And it feels good.




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