Dances Coming Together

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Showstoppers is two weeks from yesterday. That doesn’t leave a lot of time and it also puts a little bit more pressure on JoNY to come up with some stuff. Naturally, she wants to do some cool things and, even though we only need to take up about a minute, that’s still a lot of time to fill up.

So we focused again on the West Coast Swing. Banged away on the opening to try and make that flow and then we went into a few steps. The first are the same as last time – a basic followed by a whip. Easy peasy. Then, from the whip, she wants to do something to accent the “down” that appears in the lyrics and, after that, break into an actual Silver West Coast Swing.

Yep, this is always how it starts

Let’s see if I can remember how that went. We end the whip in a crossed arm position and so I take a couple of steps while unwinding both arms. Ideally, it is a double face loop requiring me to loop my arms around her head in some fashion. We end up in a link position which just means she is on my right side. I then take four steps – starting backwards – and she’s supposed to rotate around me and we end up with her on my left side in kind of a hinge position. After that, I hold a count but then roll her in to a sweetheart position but, instead of doing the walks, she just stretches out in front of me while I’ve got both her hands. It ends with me giving her an elaborate turn designed to coincide with one of the “hits” in the music.

She also wants to add a trick that seems very familiar to me – it was similar to a step I did with Mindy at the other studio. Basically, on a roll in, I catch her under her left arm with my right hand and then do a circle with my right hand while she does this spin thing. She doesn’t have a place for it yet but Z was showing her some West Coast stuff from people outside the Famous Franchise World (What! Dancing exists outside the Famous Franchise) and she wants to incorporate some of it. Non syllabus steps and all. Anyway, the thing is about half done and we have the beginning of a step but we don’t know where it will fit in.


But I’m not alone in this. Was talking with someone else who’s signed up to do a Bolero but hasn’t even taken one lesson yet. I guess this is part of the “fun”. To see how much you can learn in a short period of time knowing that you can take the product and polish it up for the next Showcase. Was watching OwnerGuy with one of his students trying to find a song and then having him choreograph the opening so that’s someone else in the same boat.

This is always something I find interesting about the studio. This type of thing is closest to the “Dancing with the Stars” format that everyone seems to assume Ballroom is. Maybe we’ve all been denied a chance to show off in our normal life so we come to the studio and it is all “Put me on Stage”. I’ve said this many times but, for me, there is just something about that feeling of standing there on the floor and hearing your name called and waiting for the first beats of the song. There are a million things that can wrong during even a short one minute dance but those times when you nail it are just the best. Even if you don’t, there is still this big sense of accomplishment even after all the years of doing this. Weird but there it is.


DH lead another giant group class. They took the extreme beginners and put them in the Ballroom Basics class and everyone else was in his Hustle class. I don’t know if he does this on purpose but he likes to rotate partners a lot when we have the big classes like this. I think there is a method to his madness because what invariably happens is that if you are unattached you partner with someone you know so the advanced dancers tend to be partnered with advanced dancers and beginners with beginners. Well by rotating as often as he does, he gives the beginners a chance to experience it with lots of different people (both leads and follows) and I think that helps. Not that I’m teaching the ladies part because I don’t know it but I do know what I’m supposed to do with the lead and since a lot of the step last night was turns, the lady really has no choice but to follow. I’d get a couple of them to ask me if they did it right. I have no idea because I can’t watch and I don’t really know the ladies part but if we ended in the right position and on the right foot, I said they did just fine.

The other advantage of doing the mingling is that when you know the step, the movements become more automatic and it flows much better. As I said, it was hustle and mostly turns and if you aren’t having to think about the transitions, then it smooths out the bumps and makes the steps meld into each other better. And it gives the beginner an idea of where the dance can go because dancing feels better when it is more continuous motion and not stop/start as you try to remember the next step. Anyway, I’ll give DH credit for knowing he needs to rotate a lot in a big class like that. It creates some chaos but I think everyone has a good time.

I actually ended up dancing the hustle twice with one of the beginners. They always start the party with the group class dance so I just asked her since she seemed to enjoy the hustle. And the last dance is typically a hustle. (Last dance the song – get it??) So I just asked for that to see if we could close the night remembering the group class. The one thing DH didn’t quite go over was the transition to loop the step since it ends in a link position. Basically, you “guide” the lady out in front of you for a basic. The amount of “guidance” depends on how well they know the step. Anyway, I was doing my “guiding” (mostly body and not shoving by the way) and she was actually very appreciative because it suddenly made sense and she knew where she needed to go.

All the time we were dancing, there was a storm raging outside so the studio was occasionally lit up by lightning or you’d get a clap of thunder to provide some extra bass to the music. And the torrential rains pounding off the ceiling of the studio added a bit as well. The rain let up a bit on the drive home but the lightning strikes didn’t and then the skies opened up again once I got home. Nice of them to wait. Just another Thursday night party in the rain.


  1. Wall –
    Is your famous franchise relatively “weak” at West Coast Swing? I ask because my franchise – and I think mine is the other big one – has an admittedly weak syllabus for WCS. It might be the weakest of all the dances they offer. They teach it only occasionally in groups, but that syllabus is really not that interesting and so some of us go “off campus” to find better WCS instruction and variety outside of our franchise. Just curious how you feel about your franchise’s WCS syllabus, as compared to the other dances they teach, or compared to other non famous franchise studios you may have attended in your dance journey.

    1. Yes, I’d say they are very weak at West Coast Swing. I can’t remember the last group class and they rarely play WCS at parties. For some reason, Night Club 2-step is more in favor. Even when I was doing it more regularly, there weren’t many others. When I worked on WCS at the other studio it was night and day. They were much better than my Famous Franchise.

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