Thoughts on the Dance Year

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Technically, that isn’t true. I will have one more lesson in 2020 on the 29th. I am taking this next week off just because I still have gifts to wrap. All for my wife and I always wait until the last minute because I suck at gift wrapping. Just not a skill anyone in my family really got. My wife makes things look like they should be on the pages of a Martha Stewart magazine.

But the Snowball/Showstoppers was on Friday night. I’ll get to that in a bit. I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of the yearly retrospectives we get at the end of a year. One thing they do offer is a chance to remember what were the most important stories at a particular time. More often than not, you kind of forgot they even happened even if they got 24/7 coverage at the time.

So forgive the look back but this has been an interesting year and I think I learned a few things.

Came into the year off the last Showstoppers where I had done a Quickstep with Mini and a new Mambo with JoNY. The plan for the next Showcase was to do those two and bring back our Fox Trot for a second time. Additionally, the Silver 3 steps had been worked into all our patterns in the nine main dances (Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero and Mambo). It was time to check out of Silver 3 and move to Silver 4.

That’s what the year could have looked like. As you know, it looked much different. The Mambo routine is now dead and gone with just the one performance at the Showstoppers. It joins several other routines that never got to be performed at a Showcase due to instructor changes.

The studio did offer virtual lessons for a bit but both my instructors had left the city and weren’t available so I never took advantage of that. They did start doing virtual group classes. Some were on Facebook live and later some were posted to YouTube. It was the only connection to the studio and I can remember looking forward to the live streams just because it was a reminder of what was even though the future wasn’t clear.

Right before the studio opened back up in the summer, I got the news from OwnerGuy that JoNY had decided not to come back. I did briefly consider working with Z but it really never felt right.

It did require thinking about whether I really wanted to continue dancing because it did present an opportunity to just walk away. In the end, I decided to continue and work with Mini even though it meant doing just some international dances. Had we moved forward, she was working towards getting up to speed in the Famous Franchise Silver syllabus so we did discuss that as well.

People now ask me if I want to continue with the International dances. I hesitate to tell them that my main goal was really just to continue dancing and if that meant just doing international for a bit, then that was what had to be. Plus, I did really like the idea of working with an advanced competitive dancer and she gave me a lot of technical pointers. To me, she was kind of a package deal. Take her out of the picture and the International dances lose a lot of their appeal.

As we moved into fall, the studio started to jump back to life. There were in person group classes and the practice parties started up again. I made a decision not to attend either. The primary reason was that dancing with a mask was uncomfortable and I couldn’t imagine being at a party and what the mask would feel like after that.

But OwnerGuy decided to hold a Medal Ball/Showcase in the studio in early November. Normally, an in studio event doesn’t excite me that much because part of the fun of Showcase is going some place different and seeing other studios. Makes it feel more like fantasy dance camp. This year, I jumped at the opportunity and the original plan was to bring back our Quickstep and Mini even tossed some new stuff in there and expanded it so it would look different from the Showstoppers.

And then she left the studio. We’ve covered that and don’t need to bring it back up. Because things had picked up, OwnerGuy was able to get two instructors from another Famous Franchise where things hadn’t picked up so that introduced PJ as a new option. Again, it meant dealing with an instructor who doesn’t have a significant amount of experience with the Silver stuff and that OwnerGuy would have to be a presence for a bit.

It was another moment when I could have called a wrap to my dance life. Like I said at the time, was 2020 trying to send me a message. What I had learned over the summer was that I wasn’t ready to give it up and I could also put goals on the back burner for a bit and just ride the wave and see where the journey goes.

And the first goal was Showcase. We were compressed for time but we did our Tango which was a great success. Then, we had the virus intrude and hit the studio which took a week out and caused me to cancel another coaching lesson. (Forgot to mention I had one planned with Mini until she left the week before so that one also got dumped). It also meant that all parties were cancelled until further notice but everything else continued as “normal”.

It did impact the semi annual festival that had just started so that got cancelled. But they continued with the Showstoppers idea even though it meant combining that with the annual Christmas Snowball Dance. And also the ugly Christmas sweater party which was typically the last party of the year. Snowball was typically a more formal type affair done with dinner outside the studio. That wasn’t possible so it all got rolled into one.

I hate sweaters but I managed to find a Christmas themed Hawaiian shirt (surfin’ SANTA) so that’s what I wore.

There were three heats of routines with general dancing to Christmas songs mixed in between the heats. One highlight was the youngest dancer (I can’t remember how old she is – certainly pre teen but I think 9) got to do the two routines she was going to do at Showcase. She had to cancel because she was “exposed” to Covid at school two days before. She never got sick which is great and it was nice to see get the opportunity to perform.

Our Rumba was the second to the last of the night. I thought it went well. Wasn’t 100% clean but we hit the spots we were supposed to. I got some pointers on my last lesson about where to look and I took the opportunity to make eye contact with audience members when possible.

After, one of the other students made a comment that PJ have gelled pretty well and we looked good together. Had someone else tell me I made it look so easy (practice, practice, practice). It was a fun night and I do always enjoy seeing what the other students pull off.

I started the year with two instructors and three routines. I end the year with a different instructor and two new routines. The Rumba did include both Silver 4 steps so I’ve taken my first steps there. There is another in studio event at the end of January which may provide an opportunity to bring back some of the other dances that have been in storage since the studio shut down last March.

Plans are great but sometimes life throws serious curve balls at you. This was the year to learn to adjust and deal with the changes in direction. A curvy road may not be the most efficient but it will still you where you need to go. I’m very happy that I was able to keep ballroom in my life.

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