Group Class Follies

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So the Quickstep class yesterday was … interesting. It actually went a little better than I expected. They did group us by levels so the early Bronze agers were in one group and the late Bronze agers and above were in the second. Weirdly, JoNY was assigned to teach the “advanced” group and my instructor to be named later got the “beginner” group.

I say this is weird because my instructor tbnl competes in Standard and certainly has more experience with Quickstep than JoNY.

In American Smooth, the lead always starts with the left foot. The follower (typically a lady) starts with the right foot. This allows for the classic Famous Franchise joke for beginners that the lady is always “right”. Famous Franchise humor sometimes leaves a lot to be desired.

In standard, the lead starts with the right foot. I don’t know why. Maybe standard is international and it is related to the whole “which side of the road” you drive on thing. To bridge the gap and to keep our brains from exploding, there is often a prep step done on counts 7/8 where you just take a step forward on the left foot. That allows you to continue starting on the left but your first step with the right foot will actually be on the correct timing.

Unfortunately, JoNY didn’t quite explain this concept. She was counting the timing as “7/8” to indicate the prep step and then into the usual slows and quicks. One guy pipes up that we were really doing slow/slow/quick/quick at the beginning so why wasn’t she counting it that way. I think I ended up chiming in to say that the 7/8 really didn’t count as a step which is why she wasn’t including it in her count.

The first step we tried to learn was a spin turn. Or also called a natural spin turn. As a side note, I don’t quite understand why certain steps are called “natural”. Is there an artificial turn? There’s really not much natural about this but I guess someone tossed it in there. I won’t be able to fully describe it but it is typically a corner step to get you moving in a different direction. The man is backing line of dance and takes a step backwards and essentially pivots 180 degrees. You rise into the balls of your feet to take step 2 forward and continue some rotation and then there is a backward diagonal step coming out of it which gets you out of the corner and towards a new direction.

When JoNY taught the step, she stopped after the first two steps so we were in some weird position on the balls of our feet with no real momentum to go anywhere. I actually didn’t recognize what she was trying to do. I swear the Famous Franchise must have some manual that breaks steps in the most awkward places. Once she added the third step, it finally dawned on me what she was trying to do.

We did a second step after that which was just four quicks. The first established the new direction. The second was for the men to move outside partner. Then there was a lock step and two slows to get out of it. In the Famous Franchise syllabus, this was concerned a higher level step than the spin turn which seemed odd but we might not have gotten the full treatment.

In the end, most of the ladies got the pattern. While I’m not that guy who will critique a follower, I did find that with one lady, I kind of had to move her over into an offset position. The step just isn’t going to work if she’s standing in front of me.

With all the dancing on the balls of my feet and stopping in awkward places, my calves started giving me a hard time. It didn’t help that I did a bunch of calf raises earlier in the day. I like doing them because strengthening those muscles is supposed to help with the knees but I might have gone a bit too far.

Which meant my legs were kind of dead for the lesson and we started with Viennese Waltz. Nothing like Viennese Waltz after Quickstep for some good cardio. It was super hard to generate any power though but we struggled through the parts we were trying to fix. Switched to Tango at the very end and that went a little better.

My calves were still burning a bit this morning and I got up a little later than usual. I had that thought to just skip the gym but then my responsible voice got the better of me. Said to just rest the legs but that I could still get in some upper body and core. Which is what I did. Now I have my standard lesson tonight with my instructor who needs a name. She’ll probably be all over me on the proper frame so maybe I again went a little too far today.

Still mostly wearing the Fitbit as watch despite how much it nags me. The band is starting to become an irritation. It hasn’t caused any breakouts … yet but I’m kind of prone to all kinds of contact dermatitis things so we’ll see what happens. Yeah, I’m just allergic to life. Should have seen my arms after taking the Christmas Tree outside on Monday.

And the wacky winter weather continues. Today is more normal but we are supposed to be near record highs this weekend. Here’s what is great about weather forecasts here. There is one model that projects a chance for snow instead of rain but the forecasts are still calling for rain. But I overhead someone at the gym talk about how we are supposed to get four inches of snow this weekend. See the local guys just run with the worst possible scenario because talking about snow is exciting.

I did also notice a few of our bulbs just poking through the surface. This is because they’ve been fooled by the stretches of non winter temperatures we’ve been having. This is the major downside of mild weather at this time of year. The plants aren’t smart enough to figure it out and they start to party like it is spring. Then you get a late freeze and it wipes things out. Hopefully, we can avoid that.

Well that’s all I’ve got for today.


  1. I know the answers to things! Here it is: as you know, a Natural Turn always turns to the right, while a Reverse Turn always turns to the left. In International Standard, where you are supposed to dance in body contact with your partner and they are positioned slightly off on your right side, turning to the right is going to be much easier than turning to the left, so turning right feels more ‘natural.’

    Also – starting with the prep step on the left foot only happens if the first figure that you are doing turns to the right, like what you did in the Quickstep where I’m guessing you did half of a Natural Turn followed by a Natural Spin Turn. If you were to start the choreography with a figure that turned to the left, the first step of the figure is normally with the left foot, so you wouldn’t need the prep step in that situation.

    1. Ah there is some logic behind it then. Reverse isn’t quite the opposite of Natural though. Still think they missed something by not calling it Artificial Turn. 🙂

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