Group Class Disaster

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Yesterday’s group class was a bit chaotic and there were parts of it that reminded me of some of my early dancing days. Ballroom is humbling and there is nothing worse than being in a group class and having no idea what the steps are. And people deal with that in different ways. Some can laugh off the experience and just try to do their best. Others just get frustrated and angry – I know I’ve been there.

I’m not a mind reader so I can’t put myself in this guy’s shoes but, for me, it was that fear of looking incompetent. It is hard to cut yourself some slack and accept that you are learning a new skill and that there are going to be bumps in the road. It might be harder at group class because there is also the added pressure of trying to lead which is doubly difficult when you don’t know where you are supposed to go.

For some reason, Z and OwnerGuy were teaching the group classes while the other instructors were all on lessons. They had the curtain drawn but our group was huge so we were kind of squeezed into the space. Z was teaching our group which was Rumba and it was an all level group and, even though she stuck with mostly Bronze I patterns, it was not a syllabus step and it required some change of direction that is a little different than basic Bronze I Rumba.

And then there is the issue of Z’s teaching style. She kind of has two modes when it comes to group class. Some days, she’s the teacher making sure everyone gets it and giving out lots of technical stuff. Other days, it is like she is just trying to get the class. A lot depends on the size of the class and whether she’s part of the rotation because a group class isn’t always a good place for individual attention. In this case, we had more ladies so she was in the rotation as a leader so she was able to give pointers to some of the beginning ladies when she danced with them but couldn’t really see which guys were struggling.

At one point, he was asking the guy next to him for some pointers and she stopped the class and asked something and he kind of snapped that he was just trying to figure out what he was supposed to do. Kind of wish she had stopped to walk him through something but she didn’t and he got even more frustrated. Since he came with his partner, they stayed for party but he just sat in the waiting area away from the floor and didn’t talk to anyone so they ended up leaving early. Clearly it was not a good night for him.

I thought about trying to talk with him but he didn’t seem like he was in the mood. Like I said, I’ve been there before. I’ve walked out of group classes before when the frustration level just got too high. At the old studio, I had an instructor chase outside to find out what was wrong when we stormed out. Yeah, it’s probably not the best reaction but there is just something about that feeling of being completely lost and just feeling like you are looking like a total fool.

I had one lady who was also struggling although she was more in the “I’ll just keep trying and hope for the best” mode. The end was a walk around turn and I had two ladies do this where they were taking two steps and then turning so they ended up far away from me. Since we were doing a walk around turn at the same time, I tried to show them that you just take one step and then pivot around. One got it the other not so much.

With other parts of the pattern, I ended up using a much stronger lead than I normally would. I don’t always like doing that but you try to just make it a very strong suggestion so you are sort of but not quite pushing them through certain parts. The one lady with the least experience did get my hand in a vice grip at one point which wasn’t pleasant. But we all survived.

On the lesson before, we were again working on the Bolero and the Mambo. The Mambo kind of made it clear why they stress the footwork so much in the beginning. We did the side by side stuff several times during the lesson but then when we did it to music it felt insanely fast and out of control. When you don’t have the footwork down, there is that extra little moment where your brain is trying to process what to do next but another part of your brain is realizing that you are getting behind the music. Which leads to just a flurry of feet movement hoping to end up in the right place. You kind of have to get to a point where you don’t have to think and that’s when the dances start to slow down. That’s all about the reps and practice.

On the plus side, the new parts of the Bolero went well. I’m liking how that goes together. And I stayed for party and danced a bit and that’s always fun.

We have snow in the forecast for Sunday but it is one of those systems where they can’t accurately predict how much. Could be enough to keep us snowbound for a day. Then, we are supposed to get super cold for the next couple of days. Thought that stupid groundhog promised us an early spring. Feel like going to Pennsylvania and slapping that rodent around for giving us false hope.

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