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06:38 am: Dancing again
So. Yeah. I went dancing. It was a familiar combination of uncomfortable and wonderful.

I found the place ok, after consulting a map. I got there as the lesson was ending (late) and recognized two people, neither of whose names I knew (uncomfortable). The music was a steady 120-130 bpm (wonderful). I sat and sat and sat and watched and watched and watched (mostly uncomfortable). One of the teachers asked me to dance (wonderful and uncomfortable).

I love dancing. I've forgotten so very much. I don't think I've ever danced with this person before. She's marvelous, but has a very light lead. When I'm comfortable and ready and have danced recently, I like a light lead. When I'm uncomfortable and not ready and haven't danced more than a few times in the past couple of years, I do better with a stronger lead.

So, yes, I screwed up over and over. But it was still wonderful to be dancing again, albeit not well (still, more easily and fluidly than the 75% of people there who seemed to have had their first lesson that night). The bar was low, and yet I couldn't just step in and feel comfortable immediately. It felt uncomfortable to feel uncomfortable, if y'get my drift.

Too, dancing seems to have changed a fair amount since I was going out regularly. I remember dances starting with at least a few bars of getting to know each other, getting the balance between you and your partner, feeling the rhythm together. And even the good dancers with whom I danced didn't do that (except for the two friends I met there, with whom I felt both comfortable and nostalgic), at least not in ways I recognized.

I talked with one of my friends at some length - mostly about parenting (she has an 18-month-old son), but also about dancing. She said that she thinks there's a lot less emphasis on technique these days, and we reminisced about the gazillions of workshops we all used to attend, mostly with inter/national instructors. There aren't as many workshops any more, and they're almost all with local instructors (some of whom, of course, are wonderful, but the level isn't as consistently high as it used to be).

The music early in the night was easy and straightforward, but fairly quickly morphed to far more challenging tunes. Still fairly slow (mostly), but lots of breaks, which made it harder for me (and the more recent noobs) to get into a groove.

There also seems to be a trend amongst leaders to syncopate* their leads. I don't know how else to describe it, but I'm hoping one of you dancer types will chime in with the right term. They would begin a lead in the middle of a musical phrase (or even in the middle of a bar), instead of at the beginning, which I found very disconcerting. (ooookay I'm goooood.... what? NOW? huh???)

And dancing with newer leaders was... odd. I would know they were leading something, but I couldn't tell for the life of me what. It probably would've helped if I'd attended the class, but I couldn't get there on time (and wasn't crazy about the idea of triple-stepping for an hour, anyway). But at least I might've known what they were trying to lead. Maybe.

Still, it was wonderful to be dancing, even badly. It was disconcerting to find myself out of breath after each dance. It felt as much like a mental effort as a physical one - keeping my focus and working more on following, especially, than I used to do on a casual night out. Though I did sweat through two shirts. How could I have forgotten how much I sweat? I did bring the extra shirt, so I knew, I guess, but it still felt weird. And damp.

Leading was less tiring, mostly because I gave up on doing anything but basic stuff (which I frankly would've preferred as a follower -- gimme some more swingouts, lemme get the feeling, no please not another frickin' syncopation).

There's a weekly dance in Hartford on Wednesdays, which I plan to start attending. My friends tell me it's small, but they'll definitely come if I'm going to be there. So we'll have some fun and I hope to start getting a tiny little groove back.

* I always return to the definition of syncopation from Dick Francis' Proof, when a character uses it to define a pub crawl: an irregular movement from bar to bar.

Current Location: Longmeadow
Current Mood: goodgood
Current Music: Ray Charles' Rock House


Date:April 28th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)


Yay, dancing! Yay, Kate! As far as what you're referring to as syncopated leads, I'd probably just describe as people not paying attention to what the music is doing, whether that be phrasing or just "feel" (bouncy vs smooth vs groovy). I wouldn't expect advanced leaders to be doing that, but maybe you're describing something else. I do routinely find myself in other places other than "1" when I want to start a swing out and have to adjust, so you gotta figure I'm following something I've heard in the music or I'm doing something weird either at the start or in the middle to end up there. Either that or us old-skool people are just too hung up on the 8-count phrases.
[User Picture]
Date:April 28th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)

too hung up

That seems likely. Apparently I'm more of a traditionalist than I'd thought.

I was going to describe them as not paying attention to the music, but that seemed unkind. Plus, well, who am I to judge? It's been a looong time since I danced regularly. So maybe I was hearing the music wrong.

OTOH, I did notice people doing the same thing when I wasn't dancing, so some folks were definitely hearing different things from others. So I dunno.
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