Son of So---How Was Your Dance Weekend?

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
Tried something a little different last night, went to a Country Western Social Club monthly dance where WCS and Two-Step are heavily featured, mixed in with some Cha-Cha, Waltz, Hustle and NC2 .

Had the BEST time! Found I could do WCS better than I thought I could (I rated myself as dismal on that dance before), and even tried out some Two-Step which went better than I thought it would (I was expecting disaster), thank God for such wonderful forgiving partners.


And who'd ever thought I'd get to do WCS to Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer", it worked quite nicely!
 

Zhena

Well-Known Member
A great dance weekend, but shorter than expected ...

DH and I spent Saturday afternoon at the 35th annual San Francisco Free Folk Festival. (I wrote about it here last year.) From the website:

"The festival is two full days of music and dance workshops, concerts, dance parties, crafts, vendors, formal and informal music-making, and just plain fun for the whole family. All ages and musical interests are welcome. All events and workshops are open to anyone who wants to drop in and participate or just listen. And did we mention that admission is free?"

There were three rooms for dancing, and the teaching was supposed to give people to get a taste of different varieties of dance. We participated during five of the six hours ... we sat out hour #5 because we knew hour #6 would be challenging for us.

Hour #1 we chose English Country Dance. It was a good warm-up for us because it is familiar and goes at a relaxed pace (i.e., brisk but not overly fast). And we had live music from a band that responded to the teacher's signals ... great for practicing the tricky bits to music before attempting the full dance.

Hour #2 we went for "Bohemian National Polka" in order to review the sequence. The choreography is an amalgamation of traditional steps. I tend to want to polka when I should pivot, and pivot when I should polka, or I want to rotary polka when it's non-rotary. Unfortunately I got distracted from focussing on the sequence because so many of the "leaders" in the rotation required serious backleading. (FYI, backleading is NOT a faux pas in the folk world, particularly for strict choreographies ... and I received effusive thanks from several of those partners.) Again we had live music from a band that could vary the tempo as well as stop and start on command ... very cool. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_P1tOhgHHE&feature=related for an example.

Hour #3 we checked out Blues dancing. It was ... ahem ... interesting. Let's just say it's pretty far down on my (rather long) list of dances to take up when we have more time. I realized afterwards that I was also made uncomfortable by the fact that a dip was taught without emphasis on proper body mechanics. My partner for that bit of the class was an older gentleman, and my controlling side expressed itself again when I told him that he needed to keep my weight properly supported so as not to strain his back. He asked me whether I was a nurse, and when I said I had just been taught properly, he asked me for details about where I danced ... no, not in a challenging way ... in a "maybe I should take those classes" way. Recorded music ....

Hour #4 was an overview of some Mazurka sequences. DH wanted to know where the teacher held classes ... unfortunately the answer was Canberra (as in Australia). A bit too far to commute for us ... and recorded music ....

Hour #5 we split between watching "jug band swing" which turned out to be single-time swing to jug band music ... live music, including, of course, a jug player. In the other room was Scottish set dancing to live music. We watched from the balcony, and I found myself watching various sets and cheering (quietly) when they were able to remember the sequences properly.

Hour #6 was my favorite, Redowa Waltz, which DH and I needed all our energy for (so why was it at the end of the day?). When I wrote about it in a DF post last year, someone asked for more details than I was able to give. For a description, see the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redowa. It's actually fairly accurate!

The trick is to steal time from the first and third steps to make step 2 as long as possible, bend the knee and reach the free leg without tilting the upper body either forward or back, travel straight down LOD on step 2 (turning only on 1 and 3), and resist the urge to develop any rotary motion. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc-O1dwYcPM. The camera work is rather odd and the video is rather longer than it really needs to be for purposes of demonstration, but it's a nice example. These people are alternating between rotary waltz and redowa waltz, and are doing redowa in a very relaxed and comfortable way, without all the panic felt by those who don't have it down cold. In fact, looking at the video, I think "Is that all it was? That's not so hard."

So the minute class was over, we rushed out ... to drive home, grab something to eat, change clothes, and go to a folk dance party (where we saw a few people who had done the same thing ....). We couldn't skip the party because our Hungarian dance teacher had arranged for Hungarian dances to be played during the "food and socialization" break. Unfortunately it was a bad night for the project ... several people were gone and there were only two men who knew the first dance. DH danced it with the teacher's wife, and we agreed that the teacher would dance the first half with another woman and I would switch with her halfway through. The dance was 8 minutes long, so I tried to time it to be exactly fair, but my watch didn't have a second hand, so I'm not sure I did it properly. More people were familiar with the second dance, so I got to dance the whole thing (about 10 minutes) with DH. And ... I requested Bohemian National Polka, and DH and I did it with no mistakes! I was so proud. We stayed to the end of the party ...

So for some reason I couldn't get to sleep that night. I got up for a while (and got caught up on reading DF), and finally fell asleep at about 3. I woke at the usual time, but by the afternoon I was exhausted an crabby again so we had to skip the ballroom lessons and social we normally attend. Bummer.
 

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
Had the BEST time earlier tonight, not only a lot of fun dances but for the FIRST TIME EVER in my life, I entered a dance competition, a Jack & Jill match in Foxtrot. Out of 42 dancers, I made it to the top 10! Even though I and my partner didn't win I had the BEST time! :D
 
Hour #1 we chose English Country Dance. It was a good warm-up for us because it is familiar and goes at a relaxed pace (i.e., brisk but not overly fast). And we had live music from a band that responded to the teacher's signals ... great for practicing the tricky bits to music before attempting the full dance.
:envious: I haven't done it in years. :)
 

Zhena

Well-Known Member
:envious: I haven't done it in years. :)
but you are lucky enough to live an an area with many wonderful opportunities and could drop in on a class or party at any time ....

I know ... the problem with living in an area with many wonderful opportunities is that you have to say "no" much more frequently than you would like.

DH suggested going to Friday Night Waltz again on an occasional basis to feed my Redowa Waltz hunger ... but we really don't have the time to do that ... we need to practice ballroom ... and the brand new ballroom studio in the area will have opportunities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ... blast them for holding their International Standard classes that we really NEED to attend on Thursdays when we're already committed to WCS ...

[please forgive the disjointed responses ... we hosted a 4th of July gathering and I had a little too much wine ...]
 

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
Tumbleweeds


Seriously, the last couple Fridays I went to this one studio's Friday night social's. so few people were there. Last night was a little better in terms of sheer numbers, but still, you just about hear whistling winds and see tumbleweeds rolling by.

On the plus side, I did get some good dances in and especially fun were two ladies who were quite new to ballroom but did so well and were just such a joy to dance with. I really enjoyed showing them some new things.


I have a hunch about why attendance might be down at this particular event, and some other folks have hinted this to me as well. The reason, one lady in particular keeps playing the EXACT SAME SONGS EVERY TIME with little variation when its her turn to DJ.

Starts me thinking, Gordon Ramsey has his GR's Kitchen Nightmares where he gives a restaurant some tough love and turns it around, wonder if someone like Len Goodman or Ron Montez would do something like "Dance Studio Nightmares"
 

Zhena

Well-Known Member
On Saturday DH and I went to a brand new ballroom studio. Their official "preview party" will be next Saturday, so this must have been the pre-preview party.

The studio includes a large main space, a few small studios, a few offices, a kitchen, and some nice restrooms, including a shower! Of course most of the resources went into the floor, which is lovely. The only problem is a common one … a couple of pillars in the middle of the main space. The pillars are useful in one sense … they make a good dividing line between two simultaneous classes. The studio has a few “walls on wheels” they roll out to make a barrier, but the effect is more psychological than actual because you can see and hear most of what’s going on in the other space.

There were two classes before the party. The class we chose consisted of two couples plus one other man and the instructor’s “demonstration dummy” / student. The other class appeared to be equally small. We appreciated the individual attention … the instructor made a point of dancing a bit with each student.

The party was also lightly attended. I didn’t count, but I don’t think there were more than 10 couples total over the course of the evening. One unanticipated side effect of the size was that DH was more active about asking other women to dance … hmmm.

And then one man asked me to dance by noting “I saw your husband asking someone else so I thought it would be OK to ask you.” I told him I’m available even if I am sitting with DH. The odd part was that at that point I was at the other end of the room from where DH sat when he wasn’t dancing … it’s disconcerting to feel that even when I make a point of sitting or standing apart from DH, some men consider me unavailable unless DH is dancing already. I understand that very few men want to approach me when I’m with DH (blessings upon those who are willing!), but when I’m at the opposite end of the room there’s no reason to be intimidated by him.

Despite the small numbers, I got plenty of good dances with other men. One of them is usually very brave at attempting to dance waltz and foxtrot with me (I know only Smooth, he knows Standard, so he tries to lead what I can follow). We did something else (cha cha?) afterwards to confirm that I am sometimes capable of following. The instructor asked me to do a quickstep … I’ve had a couple of lessons, but not enough. I interpreted the comment, ”you did very well” to mean I managed to stay upright.

The surprise of the night was a tango with another instructor who dropped in for the party. I strongly associate him with Salsa, though I’ve also done swing with him at other venues. But his tango was … yummmmy. His lead was SO clear. I’ve probably seen him dance tango before, but it didn’t make an impression. He’s not showy … I’m sure the tango we did looked ordinary, but it felt wonderful.

DH and I left before the end of the party as others started to drift out. But we like the place and we like the owner so we will be back again. We’re not sure yet about their group classes … the ones we really want to attend are on a night that’s already committed … but at least they will have drop-in lessons and parties on Fridays and Saturdays, which works for us I’m sure that the parties will become bigger as word gets out.

Sunday was our monthly WCS party. I actually got more invitations than I wanted … there were a few times I would have been content to sit out and rest, but I don’t like to say no. We ended up leaving before the end because my feet were worn out … nice.

When we got home DH surprised me by showing me a video he had taken of one dance. I didn’t even know he had brought the camera! My partner was another student from our group lessons who leads very well and knows what I am capable of. For me it was just a fun dance where I didn’t have to work too hard to interpret the lead, so I was able to play around a little. Overall I was pleased with what the video showed. I noted some little quirks that I have developed, and I’m going to study the video in detail to identify why I responded incorrectly in some spots (not badly … I recovered and it didn’t interrupt the flow of the dance). The best part was that I had no idea I was on camera, or even that anyone was watching at all, so I wasn’t stiff and artificial. Kudos to DH for thinking of this!

(Warning … DH was on pretty solid ground when he decided to do the video … he knew it would make me happy. I can envision other scenarios where it would NOT make me happy … if you’re tempted to do something similar, be careful.)
 

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
This past Sunday afternoon was quite fun, among other things, a One-Step lesson that incorporated parallels and grapevines. The dancing afterwards was a blast.
 
but you are lucky enough to live an an area with many wonderful opportunities and could drop in on a class or party at any time ....
Touché!
... and the brand new ballroom studio in the area will have opportunities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ... blast them for holding their International Standard classes that we really NEED to attend on Thursdays when we're already committed to WCS ...
With *two* new ballroom studios opening in that general area, I hope there isn't an adverse effect on the currently established studio.
[please forgive the disjointed responses ... we hosted a 4th of July gathering and I had a little too much wine ...]
:cheers:
 
Fascination and her DH treated me to a delectable Italian dinner and then took me social dancing. I got some awesome standard dances with fasc, who dances as beautifully as she moderates the forums. :notworth: Including a lovely Viennese waltz, in which I experienced for the first time (ever!) reverse turns curving along the short wall. I don't know exactly what fasc did but she made those overturned reverses feel...natural. :groan: :razz:

I had an absolute *blast*! Thank you, fasc and Mr. fasc!
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
and thanks back to you TC for and equally delightful time...to quote you; "whatever your instructor is teaching you, they are doing it well"....we also had an absolute blast and I suspect that many of the ladies wish you lived a tad closer
 

Spitfire

Well-Known Member
At last night's local USADance there was the largest attendance I'd ever seen. It was later announced that an attendance record was set; 140 people. A lot of people I had never seen before. There was a group from the local FA who wore shirts saying "we do it on the floor".

Hope this keeps up; not that attendance is ever low and this is the best show in town, but nothing like this previous; would compensate for what has otherwise been a rather down dance scene locally as of late.
 

Zhena

Well-Known Member
With *two* new ballroom studios opening in that general area, I hope there isn't an adverse effect on the currently established studio.
I didn't know about the other new one. I also hope that there isn't an adverse effect on the other venues ... that the overall effect is to increase opportunities and thus increase the total dancing population.

The owner of the new studio has made a significant financial commitment to pursue her dream of a good place for people to get together to dance, and it would be a shame if it doesn't work. I've read enough of the DF threads about the costs of running a studio to understand that it won't be easy for her to recover her investment, much less make a decent profit. I'm sure she understands the challenges, particularly in this economic climate, and I wish her well.
 
I didn't know about the other new one. I also hope that there isn't an adverse effect on the other venues ... that the overall effect is to increase opportunities and thus increase the total dancing population.
This new one is being started by two pro couples who are generally acknowledged to be one of the top latin and one of the top standard couples in the area (both couples were in the U.S. Open Pro final).
 

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
Very different kind of dance lesson today, Blues Dancing or Blues Waltz,, quite fun, even quite sexy. :mrgreen:

It was like getting elements of interpretive dance mixed with some Waltz timing and elements of slow swing. One of the most interesting parts of the lesson was an exercise where the guys were asked to form a circle, and close their eyes. The ladies gathered inside that circle, from that point they were asked to go up to a male partner and start dancing in place with them and then change partners when the instructor said. It was an interesting exercise in trust, not to mention tuning into such nuances as tensions, the uniqueness of each partner's frame and how that partner felt the music and interpreted it.

Have to admit, there were a couple partners who I REALLY enjoyed the sensation of being close to during this exercise :mrgreen:
 
Great good morning!

It's great to have found a new place to dance on a Saturday night - welcoming, beginner friendly, and not an unwieldy distance away. I danced with several very nice gentlemen - all very good leads: tango, cha cha, rumba, waltz, foxtrot, ECS - and DID WELL! :banana: I had a great time, and appreciated the gentlemen's patience until I warmed up, which usually takes three or four dances. All in all, a successful evening of dancing and one that makes me feel a lot better about my lessons over the past year.

:kitty:
 

Spitfire

Well-Known Member
The president of the local WCS club has his own band and they performed again at an FOE lodge and it was fun. They put powder down on the floor to help prevent slipping and I thought I had allergies from that later on, but turns out to be a cold.
 

Spitfire

Well-Known Member
And once again the Midsummer Nights Ball in Flagstaff was great. So was the house party afterwards at the home of the couple who run the monthly dances there. The motel where I was staying was in easy walking distance and it was wonderful walking back afterwards to experience the cool mountain air as opposed to the desert heat which continues into the night.
 

Zhena

Well-Known Member
Saturday night we went to the new place. We hadn't been ballroom dancing (except for private lessons) in over a month. We have been there only a couple of times on Saturday, and we didn't recognize many people. There were a lot more women than men, so the men were kept pretty busy. I danced only with DH except once with the one man I recognized (I asked him).

I usually sat apart from DH when we weren't dancing, but at one point we were sitting out together. I noticed a woman walking directly towards me with a determined manner. She asked me if DH could dance with her! I mumbled something about it being up to him. Of course he said yes. She told him during the dance that she had seen us together and thought he looked like a good leader. He particularly noticed that she said "leader" (rather than "dancer"), which pleased him.

Today we went to a big picnic hosted by some folk dance friends. They had an iPod dock and dance music. It's been many years since I have danced on a lawn ... but back when I was first learning at college we had a weekly lawn dance. I learned then that dancing barefoot on grass is different ... and I really enjoy it. But most of the other dancers kept their shoes on ... I guess dancing barefoot is an acquired taste ...
 

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