For Rosa’s birthday, Anabelle stayed at Grandma’s for her New Jersey vacation day and we did a double session date night.
The class started with Cha Cha. There were some issues at first:
A) Rosa tried the moves on the “Cha cha cha” instead of the “one two”.
B) I couldn’t find the beat on either the “Cha cha cha” or the “one two”.
We both finally figured out what was going on.
(No bonus points for guessing who figured it out first.)
Then we did an entire routine with multiple interlocking moves…TO THE MUSIC.
Riding off the high of this success, we were confident as the class switched to “Advanced” and also the Samba.
Then, a miracle occurred.
I found a dance I am worse at than the Hustle.
It wasn’t totally my fault, as we were supposed to build off stuff we hadn’t done, since we weren’t normally in the advanced class.
My specific problem was that the too fast “and 1’s” I could never find in the Hustle were child’s play compared to the “1 a 2 a 3” in the Samba. The steps were fast enough that “and” would take too long to say, forget bounce during.
What a freakin’ mess.
Our date night ended with half price appetizers at Applebee’s, which was very romantic, despite our waitress being from somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter.
I was astonished to hear familiar music on the way in.
It was swing dancing week. The music was all bluesy rock and roll. Finally, I could immediately find the beat!
That whole “Your momma don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock ‘n roll” thing NEVER applied in my family.
Apparently, I had been learning something in all these classes, and was able to lead quite proficiently, and pick up the steps rapidly.
We did it all: turns, the “throw away,” the “slow walk,” the “double turn,” and the never before seen “look like I actually knew what I was doing.”
There were occasional pointers from Phoebe (turn) and Tony (double turn), but overall a very successful week.
The only problem was Rosa being completely amazed that I was doing well. She’d get a goofy grin and be stunned to the point that she’d stop dancing.
We had a mid semester wedding to go to.
With successful Swing and Cha Cha routines under our belts (and even some Hustle) we expected to surprise and impress friends and relatives alike.
There were some problems with these expectations.
The music was almost all Rap/House/Club… whatever it’s called today.
There is no amount of lessons I could take that would make me less white.
I fell back on the “step touch repeat” that my daughter makes fun of me for, while trying to look interested in the music and failing miserably. My uncle summed it up nicely by suggesting instead of ballroom, I take: “Get the broomstick out of your butt” classes.
Cha Cha works for some Pop songs, but the lack of space, and also lack of my experience in places other than a half empty cafeteria, led me to slip off the edge of the dance floor while stumbling over a table leg.
There was a half of a Latin song played, where I allowed Rosa to go off into her own hyper-competent world for and enjoy herself, instead of trying to remember my Salsa counts.
When the old time rock ‘n roll came on (great for the swing dancing we knew) due to the fact that the music was actually good, the floor became too crowded to move on.
A week of Waltz.
We started off on the wrong foot, literally. There was great confusion about which way we were supposed to process around the floor.
We settled in, and got some turns done with help. Both of us had step size issues again. Once that was figured out, which took a while as we weren’t supposed to take the same sized steps at the same time, it was time to take turns for which of us would step with the wrong foot first.
There were some moments of grace towards the end, but I’m still miles away from being able to enjoy doing the more formalized dances through the cloud of totally focused concentration and counting required to keep me from stepping on my wife.
Phoebe didn’t make it. A new woman filled in who had been coming for the beginner’s class, but clearly wasn’t one. She usually stayed for all three classes. Honestly the distinctions of which class was which were very blurry.
We arrived at the end of the first class and thought they were doing Tango. They were, but the music kept changing, by the time we figured out we should be Waltzing, it switched back again.
I used to think I was accomplished at mathematics, but my ability to change between counting to three and counting to five was severely lacking.
Once our class officially began, at some random and nebulous time after the first class had mostly filtered out, we did focus on Tango. It had probably been about a year since we’d done any, and it took a bit to remember the basic steps. Tony was, yet again, giving Rosa a hard time for helping me, as Tango demands a great deal of manly leading to look right. He insisted on switching partners, while continually berating the women for trying to back lead us. I believe all of us uncomfortable newly sorted couples set records for performing this normally intensely passionate dance without any eye contact whatsoever. Luckily, Tony was eventually satisfied that we could, at least, pretend to lead and let the ladies dance with the guy “what brung ‘em.”
Since we were intermediate, we weren’t allowed to be comfortable for more than five minutes, before he introduced crossing over and under each other. There were turns and one footed balancing that made me all wobbly. (Yay, Plavix.) We ended up doing it right once or twice, not counting the “toe pointy thing” which I’m sure has a cooler sounding name. For some reason, my feet refused to be pointy.
At the time we seemed semi competent, the class switched back to Rumba.
We always forgot how to do the basic “back and forth” step. This is silly, as we could do it easily in the Cha Cha and it’s the same thing. In fact it’s easier, because it’s much harder to trip over my own feet doing one slow step than three quick ones.
Rediscovering the basics aside, we were able to work through the whole initial routine with Tony complimenting both of us. (Immediately for Rosa, eventually for me.) We worked up to Rosa doing the “swivel,” once they explained how to get into it, but had to leave without reinforcing practice.
It’s not like we had a fantastic memory for steps week to week anyway, meaning we had just as much chance of getting it next time as the “back and forth” to be honest.
For the final week party; we went for the “double session” of Intermediate and Advanced.
I’m not sure if it was the stress of upcoming knee surgery and the holidays, or the extreme cold, but Rosa lost her Rumba. It was a fairly dramatic change of pace for her to be the one that was off beat.
She eventually got it back about half way through, to no one’s surprise. Unfortunately, I learned when we reached the advanced part of the night that her recovery involved draining my Cha Cha.
There were many moves where I kept putting the “one two” where the “cha cha cha” goes, and vice versa. This led to much stumbling until my Cha Cha regenerated.
We were able to do the Fan and Hockey stick, but not always.
Wait. Was that during the Rumba?
This proves the amount of dance things coming into my head at the same time were far too varied to keep them organized.
I do know three things for sure.
1) The Cuban Cross move in the Cha Cha involved steps on the “and” which meant I was totally hopeless at them.
2) The Rumba may be the dance of love, but even with someone as talented as Phoebe performing it, much of the romance evaporates when the woman is eating a ham sandwich at the time.
3) The certificates he handed out is written proof that I’m not making all of this learning up for cheap laughs, despite embarrassing showings at the occasional wedding.
OK, so everyone who signs up gets one.
At least it proves I really went.