Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ballroom Antics – 2015 Edition Part 1


Due to delayed holiday parties on two fronts, there was a pair of dance attempts in the same weekend- many weeks away from any lessons.

The first was the party for work.

Honestly, I had no intention of doing much dancing there.

Sadly, I am far too well trained.  A Peruvian woman says, “Let’s dance,” when there’s Latin music playing and I’m on the floor before I know what’s going on.

Turns out “Danza Kuduro” is one of them instructional dances that explains the steps.  That’s much more obvious in a room full of Spanish speakers.

What’s also obvious is there is marked differences between what my wife calls “real salsa” and the “ballroom salsa” I’ve been learning.

I managed not to hurt anyone, barely.

The second adventure was at the local lake club house dance.  Having my wife there helped my skill level considerably.

There was some successful Cha Cha-ness before a lack of room calmed us down.  When “my type” of music played we attempted jive. For some reason that never works quite right in public. I think I’m still trying to do “1-2-3, 1-2-3” at the same time as I do “One-And.”

I have decided that Pitbull is entirely evil. His songs switch between samba and salsa right in the middle, and then back.  I have enough problems counting for just one of those.

Week 1

We contemplated upgrading to the Advanced Class this time, only to find there weren’t enough people to have one.  There were, however, a zillion beginners in the class before us.

There was a large amount of partner switching, honestly, I think so Tony could steal Rosa for some extra Latin-y Rumba moves. Being fried from an all-day audit, I didn’t really notice.

I guess I had improved, as some of the women were apologizing to me.

In all fairness, I should have been the one apologizing in at least one case.  Not noticing the switches meant I nearly lifted a short woman clean off the floor for a basic turn.

Week 2

I spent three hours scraping ice off the driveway, which added ever so much to my dancing skill and stamina that evening.

We started (again) with Rumba.

This night was about fine details: hand placement, and the timing for the step and turn, which were not the same.  Yeah, that was going to cause me problems.

Tony actually asked about switching this time.  Since most of the switching was with a couple that had another tall guy named Jeff married to a wife who led and knew Doctor Who, there wasn’t much adjustment.  

There was one brief switch where I had to lead a woman who couldn’t count to three.
That was problematic.

I was back with Rosa for the end where we changed to Waltz, however. We successfully executed the turn before the other couples.
Woo! Go us! 
Our triumph was cut short when a table got in my way and messed up my steps completely. Tony was kind enough to take over for me while I tried to find my feet.

The massive Beginners’ Class was split in two, meaning our class was being moved to the normally Advanced later time after all.

Week 3

Our first night starting an hour later was combined with the onset of Daylight Savings Time.

Yeah, that worked.

Following two weeks of safe and slow Rumba and Waltz, our first late night dance was a festive Merengue…


Tony went over in detail how to properly use the foot placement to make the hip action work correctly.  He started by taking all the women through it, step by step.

Then he tried to teach it to me and the other “Great White Jeff.”

I think we both pulled something.

He gave up on technique for the rest of the night to bombard us with an increasing number of steps.  Most of them were turns, twists and switches that required more arm stuff than anything else.

The final one he was able to do with Rosa (sort of) was extra complex. The ladies all dubbed it, “The Octopus Thing.”

Week 4

We got nearly a solo lesson as almost no one else showed up. It was back to Rumba again, with another detailed and specific focus on hand and foot placement.

Tony’s assistant (and Phake Phoebe, down to also being a financial planner) Bella wanted to see how I did as a leader. Then she proceeded to fight against my lead until I followed her.  I may have misunderstood what she was asking.

He demonstrated a bunch of complex steps with Rosa, and then made some simple ones for me.  He, Bella and other students all complimented Rosa’s work with him. Then he looked at me, and said I was “doing good,” with that, “Oh yeah, I forgot about the special kid we keep chained up under the stairs,” tone.

When we were paired back up again, I could see that Rosa had great form. She also had some trouble counting to three. That I could help with.

We ended with the “swivel.” 
Rosa swiveled, my job was to brace myself, be massive and stand still. 

That was a move I could definitely excel at.

Week 5

The halls were filled with zombies!

The Spring Musical was The Addams Family. Still, it was cool.

A Tango was playing at the end of the Beginners’ Class. Miraculously, we remembered it from the last year.   Less miraculously, when they switched to Rumba, we forgot everything from the last week.

Tony asked what we wanted, Rosa said Cha Cha and it was someone else in the class’s turn to groan.  We did the very basics, but he used Rumba to show as a comparison.  We’d done that dance so often, Rosa developed a Rumba twitch.

We switched over to Tango with the time shift plus daylight savings still affecting me.

On a cross over and return, I moved her arm inside mine instead of outside, and caught a ring enhanced punch in the nose.

During a mistimed half turn to promenade position, I received a knee in the happy sacks.

Finally I lunged on wrong foot, took a step I wasn’t supposed to put weight on too hard, missed the part of shoe that provided with traction, and ended up in a full split.

It was truly the “Masochism Tango.”

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