Thursday, April 5, 2007

Swing Boot Camp Summary

March was my designated Swing Dance Boot Camp month. I bought an unlimited class pass at the Atomic Ballroom, finished out an OC Swing series and picked up a series of three more.

Atomic Ballrooom: 43 lessons: 32.25 hours
OC Swing: 13 lessons: 13 hours

Did I state a goal before I started out?
My goal for the month is to jump from the "Absolute Beginner" group to the "Level 1" group
Well, ok. I think I can solidly hold my own in Atomic's Level 1 classes. Of course, through the quirk of joining the team, I'm taking the level 2 classes.

Here are some other things I should have listed as goals, but didn't think or know enough to do so.

  • Create community connections.
    Make new acquaintances and friends.
    Know people well enough to be able to ask questions, start conversations, and make introductions.
    I think I've done a good job of this. I'm on a first-name, casual basis with all the staff at Atomic, as well as having created a small network within the AB team (which I hope we can expand). There's guys who are more in the OC Swing circuit than the Atomic circuit who I routinely chat with like Alan and Bob.
  • Break the personal space barrier
    When first learning dance, it's natural to be less than comfortable to have someone in one's personal space. It takes a while to get over it, but I think I'm there. What's interesting is when I come across beginning students who aren't over it. It's a subtle thing that might not be obvious to anyone that isn't in closed position with the person in question.
  • Break the eroticism link
    Dancing certainly can be about eroticism or public affection, but doesn't have to be. Dancing with a gal doesn't mean I want to sleep with her. It doesn't mean we're going to a dark corner to make out. It doesn't have to mean anything beyond the communication, enjoyment, and friendship of the dance itself.
    I do remember that the third time in a class that I danced with a male instructor, I thought to myself "I should be more weirded out about this than I am. And why did it take me until now to think about it?" Because dancing doesn't have to be about eroticism. Even then, some male instructors are able to make the situation more comfortable than others. That tells me that some leads in general are better at communicating fun instead of creepiness. I'd need someone else to comment about my ability to communicate that intent as a dance partner. In my own head, though, I can safely say that I'm concerned with planning move sequences and not screwing things up, not my partner's hot bod. Maybe a more skilled dancer would be able to focus on being creepy.
    Eroticism was definitely more of an issue for me when I went Blues dancing, though that was my first night of social dancing and I had a seriously cute parter.
  • Be more social
    I'm out of the house dancing three nights a week. That's a quirk of my ability to take all the lessons that I've taken, but I welcome the buildup of television on my Tivo that I know I'm not going to get around to watching.
  • Dance with the one that brought me
    This time last year, I had a hazy idea about taking some ballroom or salsa classes, but didn't act on it. In February, I was invited to join a group to go Blues dancing, and took advantage of an offered dance lesson in order to not feel like a total beginner. And since I've started lessons, I've completely failed to reconnect with the gal who set me on this swing dance path, though it's just been a generally busy month. Hopefully we can fix that.
  • Be an effective social dancer
    This is a bit hazy in meaning as well as accomplishment. I think it really had to do with my first intimidating wallflower experience at Atomic. Clearly I had to get competent and become more familiar figure in order to have the guts to ask women to dance in this style. I think I've succeeded in not being a pure mercy dance, but I'm only just getting to the point where I can pretend to improvise on the dance floor. I think I need to be more assertive about asking women to dance, despite my mood, tiredness, or how well I do or don't know them.
It was a good month. I'm glad I did it, and glad to have found a new skill to work on and a new community. There's still a long path to walk, in terms of skill development, but isn't there always?

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