Ballroom Joy

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My lessons tend to come right after the group class so I usually get to watch a bit of the class. Because of the current make up of the studio, they do a lower Bronze group every day so that’s what I get to watch. Most of the students in the class are new to dancing which means they don’t know what they don’t know. By that I mean they aren’t really focused on posture or frame or lead/follow or most of the technical skills you learn later. And timing isn’t really an issue since the instructor always counts out the beats.

But you should have seen the smiles on most of the faces. I will admit that there are times when I miss that part of ballroom. When it was all still very new and just getting around the floor was a big deal. I’d guess a lot of students walk into a studio with a great deal of apprehension and convinced that they’ll never be able to dance. Then you get a couple of basic steps and there is that sense of amazement and accomplishment “I’m really dancing”. And that’s what I think I can read in the faces.

I say I miss it but I have no desire to go back. It is just that things are different at this level. For sure there is still the joy of mastering something but when I see a new step now, my mind just jumps to all sorts of questions. Mostly about how do I really lead this. Then while I’m trying to focus on the step, I’m also trying to be aware of my posture, my frame, my footwork, my poise, etc, etc, etc. Of course part of that could just be me.

And I’m not saying it is no longer fun because that’s not the case. Well, to be honest, there are nights when the lesson is much more of a grind and there is little fun or joy to be had. I guess maybe it is just the newest of it all that I miss. There is something about seeing and experiencing things for the first couple of times.

And that shared experience is why the strongest bonds in the studio are between people at the same level. Something about going through the same struggles at the same time just makes the experience more easy to relate to. I mean we all joke about how much it costs but it is easier to bond when you can commiserate over learning the same step or when you experience something for the first time like Showcase.

But that makes it harder for the newer students to relate to those of us with experience. I swear sometimes it feels like people assume I walked into the studio knowing how to dance. And no student walks into a studio for the first time knowing how to dance. So you can tell someone you struggled (and that you still do) and it doesn’t always seem to register.

To be fair, I’m sure some (or maybe a lot) of this is just in my head. I just go off the vibe but sometimes it goes through the wrong filters. It just sometimes creates that outlier feeling – being an experienced dancer in a sea of newcomers.

Well I should close with some actual stories about my last lessons. The double lesson ended a little roughly. I got hung up on a hustle step and the studio was like dancing in a rain forest so I was all hot and uncomfortable which doesn’t go well with learning new stuff.

Last night we did some West Coast Swing. I’ve done a bunch of West Coast routines but never really focused on the individual steps/patterns. Sure, I’ve learned many along the way but the focus was on choreography. Anyway, we did a quick tour of the Bronze syllabus meaning OwnerGuy would show me a step and we’d do it a few times and then move on. As I said, most of them I knew and a few of the ones I didn’t were close enough to something I did know that it was an easy pick up. The last two were a bit tricky but we basically reviewed the entire Bronze syllabus which means we can move into some Silver patterns soon.

I have mixed feelings about Hustle and West Coast Swing (when do you ever NOT have mixed feelings). Well that may not be the best way to put it. I love both dances but both lend themselves to variations and just going with it rather than a fixed pattern that I’ve got for the other dances. And I’m not the greatest at thinking on my feet. Well at least not on a lesson or at a Showcase. I do better at parties where I tend to just want to have a good time and not care as much about the technical stuff.

But I can still get stuck and doing 65 left side passes in a row isn’t a good thing. (I exaggerate slightly) Now I just have to drag myself to a party and actually try to dance some of these more socially.

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