Friday, March 16, 2007


Tuesday evening at the Atomic Ballroom:

As I signed-in I asked one of the owners, Katie, whether she had any strong feelings on whether I was ready for their level-1 class. "Do it," she said. "You're ready." Very cool.

6:15pm; AB Swing; Instructor: Katie
The 6:15pm was a series class I hadn't attended on the first week of the month, so I stayed with the AB (absolute beginner) class. There was only one other student, Samantha, so we got a semi-private lesson. "Sam" had taken 10 or so lessons but it had been almost a year since that time. Still, she picked things up pretty quickly.

We worked on the following sequence:
6-Count Basic
Outside Turn with Oppositional Rock-Step
Walk Through
Sugar Push (x3)
Sugar Push with Block Turn
Walk Through
Katie's spur-of-the-moment Around-The World Move
Ease to Closed
repeat a second time

7:00pm; Level 1; Instructor Chris
First level 1 class I've taken, so I'm excited. I recognize the gal (Sally?) taking the class as a more advanced regular I sometimes see in the AB classes (recently saw her with JE two weeks ago). Chris asks if we're interested in learning Shag, but none of us has a strong opinion on it. Sally (if that's your real name) asks if we can spend time on Lindy Hop, so we focus most of the time on swing-outs. First Chris focuses on a footwork variation for the ladies, the swivel step variation on the start to the swing out which I saw on Sunday with the level-1 technique class. Not much for me to do here except get used to seeing the variation. Next we learn to scoot-step instead of triple-stepping. Easy variation to learn, but I wonder if it requires both people to be on the same page? Chris tries to teach us the kick-ball change to start or end the swingout. I'm not sure how successful we are at learning that. Chris throws what I think is called "switching" into the mix. Coming out of a swing out, the lead signals the start by strongly swinging the hand over on "a8" then strongly anchors for the follow who does a series of switching or swivel stylistic steps theoretically while rotating. On top of this, I'm supposed to be tapping my feet on the odd counts. Too much to hold in my head. I'm glad to be shown how much I don't know, but feel exposed to too much too quickly. First time through on all these variations is tough.

7:45pm; Level 1; Instructor Chris
This time around, Chris just tells us we're learning Shag. It's a very high-energy dance, with basic footwork that involves bouncing from one foot to another with a slow-slow-quick-quick switching tempo. We learn some basic footwork variations like kicking back and forward, and an inside turn. We switch to Balboa towards the end, reviewing basic footwork and doing a Balboa circle (terminology?). This is the same material Aubrey covered last Friday, and she was a bit better at it to be honest.

In retrospect, Chris is a skilled dancer, but wasn't as effective a teacher as some of the others. The Shag was interesting as he was clearly excited to teach it. But as a student, my main worries are about being solid on the fundamentals, doing the fundamentals to faster paced music, and increasing the selection of moves I can do well, so as not to be a boring lead. To be fair, I didn't express this to Chris up front, as I wasn't clear on it in my own mind.

Stayed briefly for the dance: met Victoria in line and managed to get a dance in with her. Watched the regulars throwing out their regular moves. Always interesting to see the same things with a slightly different eye. Had a problem set due for Math the next day, so left to finish that before things got to late.

My Doogie moment to close the evening: I can take the level 1 classes. I need to work being solid in my basics, being a consistently strong lead, up-tempo songs, and work on footwork variations.

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