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

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
Tried out a new spot and a somewhat different style (for me) of partner dancing, blues dancing as its called here this past Saturday, LOVED IT! Some serious creative dancers in that room!

Friday at the Country Western Social Club dance was a blast too, WCS is getting better and I have shocked some folks when I told them I had been doing WCS and Two-Step only a year.

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
This has been such a fun weekend for me, Two-Step and WCS on Friday, starting to feel more at home with both, still have some folks saying they canm't believe I've only been doing either dance for just a year.

Saturday was a Jack & Jill bash (featured dance was Rumba), didn't win but still had a great time and a wonderful partner to boot. Also summoned up the nerve to do some Two-Step with a Two-Step champion competitor, Rachel Jones, she is a BLAST, even more fun was a Waltz with her and she just pulled out all the stops, even doing several twirls on one leg! She has an amazing sense of balance and core strength.

Sunday afternoon capped thing off very beautifully with lots of Waltzes, getting to dance with one of my very favorite folks who is seriously piquing my interest :-D Went home very happy indeed.


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As I often do I drove up to Phoenix for their Usadance chapter's dance which is done every other month on the 2nd Saturday. Great time as usual. This time I decided to spend the night there. However, I don't think I'll stay the night over in a motel anymore; trouble sleeping and guessing it's due to the adrenalin that comes with a good night of dancing. Takes time for me to come down from this and thus better to take the two hour drive back so as to wind down. Think there's been discussions here on that.
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).
Is DH continuing to improve at asking other ladies? ;)
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.
Why is that? :)


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No dancing this past weekend, unless you count Friday where I did Jazz Hour at Oasis Dance club, followed by a Latin dance. It was a good weekend. Better to be selective and not to go dancing and have a lousy time.

Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
No dancing this past weekend, unless you count Friday where I did Jazz Hour at Oasis Dance club, followed by a Latin dance. It was a good weekend. Better to be selective and not to go dancing and have a lousy time.
Got that right!!!!

There was once a Friday social I was a regular at, but stopped going several months ago because there was hardly anyone there (I hardly danced at all the last 3 times I went) and the music selection was just stale beyond belief, the same exact 15 songs or so with ZERO variation. Not planning to go back until some changes happen there. This past Saturday, I ran into a lady I danced with at said social, and she said the EXACT same thing was keeping her away from there too.

Things like this definitely make me more selective now.


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A new WCS dance got started on Saturday night here to be held every 2nd Saturday. It went very well, a lot of people attended and the music was good. Hope it's successful in the long run as it's good to see more dance opportunities here.


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Lots of dancing this weekend ... a folk dance festival on Friday and Saturday and Country/WCS on Sunday.

The folk dance festival is an annual event. The venue is about 20 minutes from our house ... very convenient. People come from other parts of Northern California, so it's a good chance to catch up.

We worked on Friday and had to change and eat, so we got there after the party was already started ... but we stayed to the end.

Saturday morning the weather was gorgeous ... we had lunch outside ... in the shade because the sun was so warm.

The afternoon institute consisted of four dances.

The first teacher taught a new Israeli dance. By definition, almost all Israeli dances are choreographed (folk dances traditionally done by Jewish people tend to be categorized ethnically or geographically, not as "Israeli"). The dance is beautiful, but it fails my test for a folk dance ... a drunken peasant would look horrible doing it. (Here's the choreographer doing it on youtube It's rather complex and the music gets faster and faster. Imagine yourself learning this choreography in a 40-minute class. Our floor was crowded and the dancers did not all have the control and grace of the choreographer ... epic fail by the end (though I have to admit it was rather fun ...)

The second teacher taught a dance based on a traditional Flemish form that has recently been influenced by salsa and tango (though I have to admit I didn't seen any salsa or tango in the steps we learned). It struck me as funny that DH and I have been going through various forms of torture to improve our ballroom waltz but in this folk dance class it's "OK, we've got the Flemish Mazurka sequence, now do a waltz turn for the next two measures ... everyone knows how to waltz, right ... OK, after the waltz turn we go on to ...." The dance was taught in a specific sequence, because that's the way the majority of folk dancers like to learn, but at the end the teacher suggested ways to combine the different segments into a freestyle dance.

The first teacher came back with a choreography "in the Moldovan style" done to the 2009 Eurovision song contest entry from Moldova. My comment ... if I want to do choreography to current tunes, I might as well take up county-western line dancing. I'm not in favor of dances "in the style of" ... I prefer dances with readily identifiable roots in specific places/cultures ... they often need to be modified for teaching, but I think this went too far. Again, the choreography was very pretty when done by people with excellent dance training, but it also failed my drunken peasant test by a wide margin.

The second teacher came back with an English Country dance. Like all dances of that type, it works well only if everyone in the set has a good instinctual grasp of their position in relation to everyone else in the set ... and there are always a few who lack that sense. But it usually works out OK in the end if everyone can relax, smile, and try to pick it up again at the next convenient moment.

There was a dinner break ... it was nice to be able to go home to recharge and change for the party.

The evening started out with a set of live music. Most of the people in the band are dancers when they're not playing or singing, so they understand what dancers want. Halfway through their set, they led everyone in singing "Happy Birthday" to DH ... someone had noticed his birthday on Facebook. (Awwww...)

The rest of the evening was recorded music. There was also a short exhibition dance by students from a local college group.

When the four institute dances were done, the MC did something unusual for a folk dance event ... she asked the people who had not been in the classes (or knew the dances from somewhere else) to NOT join in. Usually folk dancers are very welcoming to those who make an attempt to learn. It is considered courteous to follow behind the line until you are reasonably confident you won't throw everyone else off, but it's normally left to the judgment of the individual when they should join the line. (And we've all been in the position of realizing our memory wasn't as good as we thought, so we're pretty forgiving.) What was even more unusual, she made the same request for one other dance during the evening ... one where it can be very uncomfortable if one person is not moving with the entire group. I heard several comments afterwards about how nice it was to do that particular dance with one line consisting of people who knew it well.

There was one other unusual dance ... or one that seemed unusual to those who had never attended a Kolo Festival or similar event. This was a "silent kolo" ... silent in the sense that there was no music other than the dancer's feet and voices. Everyone joined hands in a single line with the leader at one end. He started to travel in a simple pattern. When everyone was comfortable with the step, he started singing a call-and-response song. I remember years ago we had to clutch pieces of paper with the lyrics, but here they were able to project the lyrics on the wall from the computer that normally displayed the name of the dance being done. There were many people familiar with the song ... I even heard one of the voices singing harmony. When the song was over, the dance continued ... the leader gave a signal and the step pattern changed. Again, there were enough people who know what to do, and everyone else just followed along. The leader wound into a spiral, but before it was wound too tight he gave another signal to change the step pattern again and started to wind the other way, turning the line so that he passed in front of the whole line, so that everyone passed in front everyone else ... you saw who you had been dancing with all evening. This is a very moving ceremony, and I'm glad they added it to the evening.

Sunday evening we went to one of our ballroom studios for a Country/WCS class and social. (Normally we wouldn't dance the third night of a weekend, but DH is gone on a business trip this week so I convinced him to go to make up for the dancing he'll miss.) The studio brings in teachers from other venues for this monthly party, so it's always different. Last night's teacher often teaches at a well-known country bar ... she taught a choreographed couple dance in the first class (which we didn't attend), and then country two-step. We've been trying to pick up country two-step without actually finding a continuing class somewhere, so this was good for us. Some of the teacher's regular students apparently followed her for the social ... they were (ahem) interesting to dance with. I think I'd be able to catch on eventually, if I were to dance with them often enough ...


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I went to the Friday night opening dance that was part of the festival Zhena is referring to. I was planning to go to the Saturday party as well but was depressed by the shift in the dance repertoire. The groups that organize these events are increasingly doing contrived choreographed dances that do not pass the "drunken peasant" test (or even the sober peasant test). They also do what I call insipid novelty dances (INDs). Most of the people there seemed happy with this selection, but perhaps that is because people that don't like them stopped coming.

At least I got to teach some authentic material on Sunday, including showing a YouTube clip of people in the Gyimes region of Eastern Transylvania doing exactly what I was teaching.
Went the studios weekly group class and Friday night party. Danced Tango with a new instructor who is from Austrialia who has been dancing for 15yrs and was absolutely amazing!
Went to America classic championship ACC in houston this past weekend(WCS event). Had a great time dancing both in the Jack and Jill and Strictly swing division. Coincedently Ktia85 I had an awesome WCS dance with a girl who was also from Australia. We need more Aussie dancing over here I guess. ;-)

All and All a great long weekend that I still haven't fully recovered from.


Phil Owl

Well-Known Member
My last few weekends on the dance floor have been amazing and a bit different.

It's a whole different ball game when I now do the lions share of my dancing with one person (my girlfriend who happens to LOVE dancing, first time that's ever happened for me). The dancing with her just feels so natural and so right. Great to dance with someone who is so encouraging too.


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My dance weekend included ballet, folk, Hungarian and West Coast Swing ... but no ballroom ... :rolleyes:

Ballet on Friday evening was ...
… the San Francisco Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet. DH and I have seen this version in several previous seasons, but it’s still as gripping as the first time. It is well worth seeing if you have the opportunity. It’s a long 3 acts, so we got home later than usual.

Folk on Saturday was ...
…the Saturday portion of a weekend festival a 2-hour drive from our home. We had to leave early to get there in time for a business meeting, so we weren’t able to sleep in to make up for staying up late the night before. I brought my sewing stuff so I could mend some clothes during the drive … I never seem to have enough time at home to catch up on it.

The dance workshops went from 1 to after 5. (I have some comments that I may post in the “folk dance” thread if I can find time.) The locals invited us to join them for dinner at a buffet restaurant, but DH and I wanted a “white tablecloth” experience (i.e., we wanted to be served), so we went off on our own and had a lovely dinner (and wine for me).

The party started at 7. There were alternating sets of recorded and live music and I was familiar with about 75% of the dances. The locals were very friendly … several gentlemen asked me to do partner dances, and even led me through the ones I was not familiar with.

I was flattered to receive several compliments after I led a simple (3-measure) line dance. I just enjoyed the music and danced "internally" with very little eye contact with the rest of the line. My ballroom teacher tells me to "project" more (DH and I are working on a showcase), but I find dancing FOR an audience incredibly difficult. Somehow people felt or saw something in this dance that I wasn't consciously "projecting" outwards. I need to find some way of translating that energy into our showcase ...

At one point the people who came from our area were asked to stand together so the locals could see who we were, which I didn’t mind at all, but then it was announced that everyone was invited to come to a party in our area next week where I (me, Zhena :eek:) would be teaching a certain couple dance. Umm … no … I have been asked to be the demonstration dummy for someone who has been teaching for over 50 years, and I doubt that he will expect me to make a significant contribution.

DH and I stayed until the last dances from the workshop were reviewed, which turned out to be 10:30 … a 2-hour drive home … and then we had to deal with the change in daylight savings time. In the morning I had time to get a start on the laundry before I had to run off …

Hungarian on Sunday afternoon was ...
…a “teach the teacher” session. Our regular (male) teacher left for Hungary on Sunday morning, and his wife will join him next week. So the substitute teacher needed someone to teach the woman’s part and I agreed. I will have one more chance to see how an experienced teacher covers the material during next week’s class, but then I will have to be prepared to answer any questions on my own the next few weeks. The three of us (the substitute, the female teacher and I) spent two and a half hours going over the areas that are likely to need clarification or reminders … it was a very intense but productive session.

One of the major areas we worked on was the frame. It seems like every Hungarian and/or Romanian couple dance has its own unique frame that works well only in the context of that specific dance. In this particular case, the frame is both completely unlike anything else and absolutely necessary to the function of the dance. If frame is maintained, the turning figure moves as smoothly as a flywheel and minimal effort is needed to maintain momentum. If the frame is compromised, turning becomes hard work and the essence of the dance is lost. The problem is that there are several critical aspects to the frame, and these aspects need to be adjusted and/or negotiated within each partnership. In the original (village) setting, there was plenty of time to adjust to a long-term partner … in a class setting we rotate partners so an intellectual understanding of the challenges is required.

The other challenge is that the couple turning figure is pretty fast when done well (i.e., like a flywheel). Most women who learn Hungarian dances get used to turning, but the guys have less exposure. In a social context the guys determine when to turn, but for learning purposes they may have to do it more than they would like, so the teacher needs to be sensitive to people’s tolerance levels, especially when there are new students in the class. Sometimes the old-timers forget this ….

When I got home I was able to make only a little progress on the laundry before it was time to get some dinner. We were the only patrons in the restaurant (who else eats dinner at 5?), so we had the full attention of the staff. But we needed to get to the studio by 6 …

WCS on Sunday evening was ...
… a combined country/WCS party. There were workshops in the afternoon that we had to miss :)(), but we were in time for the pre-party class at 6. Despite being a little tired, we got charged up by the energy of the party. We stayed until after the competition, and we were glad we didn’t miss seeing it. It was a team match … there were 12 couples competing. They were broken up into three teams of 4 couples each, and each couple was assigned to do one dance – WCS, country two-step, night club two-step or a final WCS so there were only 3 couples dancing at any time. The non-dancing team members were allowed on the floor to encourage their teammates or intimidate the other team (with a prohibition on actually touching anyone else), which made things hilarious for the first dance (or was it the first two?). Then two large men were assigned to be the posts of an imaginary fence, and the non-dancing contestants were told to stay behind the fence. Of course the fence posts then decided to move forward and back, which meant the hecklers were sometimes allowed to continue providing floorcraft obstacles or blocking those trying to create obstacles, but they also had to watch to make sure they were on the right side of the fence line … more chaos and more fun. For the last dance, the contestants were provided with costume pieces … antenna headbands and feather boas for the ladies, colorful mylar wigs, Mardi Gras beads, gloves with attached animals (not quite puppets) and … the final touch … inflatable pink clown shoes for the gentlemen. The music was an incredible medley of different songs at different tempos, so the dancers had a real challenge to actually dance. They got into the spirit and had a good time … I have no idea how the judges were able to score the event, and we didn’t stay for the results, so I don’t know who won (but a DF member was in the contest looking pretty darn good).

So now I need a weekend to recover from my weekend …
Met up with j_alexandra in North Jersey. She treated me to a scrumptious dinner of Jersey-style pizza (my first time ever!). Then dessert at Giampiero's (saw him but sadly did not have a pen handy to ask him to autograph my dance shoes) gelateria, a guilt-mitigating two doors down the street from the studio. Had a lovely time dancing with JA, including some unusual floorcraft involving splitting apart and reconnecting on the other side of obstacles/slow moving couples. It's a rare treat for me to dance with a trained and graceful smoothie. I also got to meet JA's famous DB #1; dynamo indeed, who has so much energy she makes me feel old. The evening was marred only by a most terrifying incident - when JA prodded me into jaywalking the two lane road outside the studio.

Side mention: I got gas before driving back. The station attendant refused to let me pump my own gas, insisting on doing it himself. Such a nice man!

Thank you for the awesome evening, JA!


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This was last weekend, but the facility where the WCS dance that is held every 2nd Saturday was locked since the person who has the keys didn't show up and no one was able to get in touch with this person. Well, one of the couples offered to hold the dance at their home so we all went over there and it was a great time. They have a very nice floor that they put inside their home.


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Staff member jersey, as in Oregon, it is the law, that the station pumps the gas :)

as to the rest, I am thrilled for you and zhena both...what cool weekends

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