Monthly Archives: June 2012

Ballroom Bliss

The event I’ve been waiting for all year finally started up again this evening: free ballroom dancing at Robson Square.

Summer Ballroom Dancing at Robson Square

Robson Square Ballroom Dancing — where it all began.

Last summer, I went to every single of one of the dances in the series, and was able to go from having zero partner dancing experience to being able to follow virtually all of the dances — even some of the ones we had not received lessons for.

These weekly dance evenings taught me that I could dance to virtually any partner dance as long as I got the most basic sense of the steps and a very good lead to guide me through them. As I mentioned in my last post, my two favourite ballroom dances (the Viennese Waltz and the Quick Step) are dances I had no lessons in and virtually no explanations for — and yet I was able to dance them and keep up with my partner, provided that he maintained a solid connection and led the steps firmly and purposefully.

I was practically bouncing with excitement for the day to end so the ballroom dancing would begin.

It wasn’t until just before I had to leave my house to catch the Canada Line downtown that I realized I couldn’t remember a single ballroom dance step. At most, I remembered that the jive had a triple step, and that the cha cha had a cha-cha-cha in it.

The night did not start off well. I made it to the Square just as they were starting the free cha cha lesson, so I didn’t have time to change into the dress and heels I had planned to wear. (Trying to glide in new sneakers is hard!)

When the actual dancing started, I changed into my heels, so it was easier to dance. I was able to pick up the waltz relatively easily, and the rumba and cha cha came back in bits and pieces — taking full songs to smooth out.

I was so psyched when a Viennese Waltz came on and I found a guy to dance it with me. Seconds later, I felt flustered when I couldn’t follow it at all and ended up taking random, messy steps. (To be fair, the lead gave me no connection, so that I could not feel what he wanted me to do at all.)

This dance failure dashed my confidence. It was only half an hour into the general dancing, and already, I was thinking about how much I now sucked and how much work I had cut out for me.

Then, things started to look up. Another Viennese Waltz came on a few songs later, and, after racing around the rink from lead to lead, I finally found someone who could lead the dance.

Suddenly, we were whirling and twirling so fast that I couldn’t even pay attention to anything around me. I felt giddy — the way that I feel when I dance the Viennese Waltz correctly.

I experienced a mix of triumphs and failures while dancing with different leads. My best dance of the night was by far a cha cha led by a guy who takes lessons at a ballroom dancing studio. His lead was so solid that I was even able to incorporate the feel of the dance into my movement.

And to top it all off, I found someone to race around the rink doing the Quick Step with!

I can count on one hand the number of times I can remember being hit by an endorphin rush that left me feeling high, hyper-happy, and almost glowing with giddiness — and this was one of them.

It’s moments like these that I remember what got me into dancing — after almost a lifetime of failure and misery with it.

Once and a while, dancing stops being a challenge and simply becomes blissful movement to music. 🙂

Here’s a promo video that will tell you all about Robson Square. I’m in it quite a bit. :P)


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Sucky Slow Dancing

There’s something about slow dances that doesn’t work well with my body. Put a slow song on, and I have two left feet.

I hate dancing salsa to cha cha music, but I also hate dancing cha cha to slow cha cha songs. I feel like I will never get the steps in my cha cha class when we are getting them broken down slowly, count by count. But, as soon as the fast music comes on, the moves comes almost automatically to me, without my having to think about them at all.

You Dance Too Slow t-shirt

I have to get me one of these shirts! 😉

I have been social dancing the cha cha for almost a year now, knowing only the basic step. My feet are pretty much programmed to throw the cha-cha-cha in, as long as it’s to the music. Having to actually break the cha-cha-cha part down so that it fits the steps just complicates things for me.

I think slow music makes me think too much about my step, whereas fast music lets my muscle memory take over, so that the cha-cha-cha part just gets thrown in naturally. Speed somehow makes the dance a whole lot easier to “get.”

It’s funny, because at my dance studio (and probably everywhere else) we are taught both salsa and cha cha using the slowest of cha cha and salsa music. The fast music only gets put on at the end as a “challenge.”

I actually find it more challenging to dance to slower music. For me, the fast music connects the dots and makes dances start to make sense. If it were not for the fast music, I don’t think I would even be able to keep up with the cha cha class.

For me, fast songs are the best.

The whirlwind dance known as the Viennese Waltz moves so fast that there is no time to think — only to go go go with the flow!

My favourite ballroom dances are the Viennese Waltz and the Quick Step (even though I have never had a lesson in them and only ever got a single taste of what they feel like when danced properly, thanks to a wicked lead). The dances move so fast that your feet either get them or don’t. The momentum seems to just whisk you along for the ride!

My favourite salsa songs are the ones where my partners always comment or complain, “This is really fast!” and sometimes end up sitting out the songs or trying to dance them at half-speed. :/ Lame, I say!

I hate doing single-step jives and lindy hops, even to crazy-fast music. “Just move your feet faster” is my solution.

I like dances that are alive and always moving: where one move flows into another and another and another and leaves you dizzy and laughing and breathless — high on exhilaration and endorphins.

Is there anyone else out there like me?

Let me know where you fit in by voting in the poll below:

In general, do you prefer dancing to fast songs or slow songs?

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Two to Tango

Argentine Tango Performance from the World Dance Festival in Burnaby, BC

Two Argentine Tangoers: my dance teachers, Daniela and Diego.

Even before I got into dancing, I had wondered about the expression “It takes two to tango.”

Why not “It takes two to salsa” (or bachata, Viennese waltz, cha cha, etc.)?

Was “tango” meant to stand for partner dances in general?

Wikipedia says that the idiom comes from the fact that “[t]he tango is a dance which requires two partners moving in relation to each other, sometimes in tandem, sometimes in opposition,” and it is a “situation in which the two partners are … understood to be essential.”

I don’t buy that explanation, because I feel like the same can be said of many partner dances. So, I’m coming up with an explanation of my own:
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Perfection: Achieved ;)

Perfection, according to Salvador Dali

I have had exactly three moments in my life where I was singled out as the person who got it “right.”

The first time was during an SFU choir practice:

“That’s right! She’s the only one out of all of you who sang the note exactly right!” our choir director cried out, pointing his finger at me. “Do it again!”

I felt like a fraud when I had to explain that I couldn’t replicate the note because it had been a complete fluke that I’d hit it in the first place.

The second time I was spotlighted was this year, during a salsa dance party at the Polish Dance Hall. Continue reading

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Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome!

Life is a Cabaret — Welcome to mine!

Welcome, everyone, to my dance class challenge blog. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.

This Wednesday, I found out that my dance instructor has discovered my blog ( :O! ) and has been reading my entries ( :O!! ) — “some of the good ones and some of the nastier ones,” as he describes them.

I found out while I was practicing a new dance move during my Salsa Level 3 class:

Diego: “You’re probably going to put this in your blog, but… (blahblahblah)”

Me: ….
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“Clunky Cathy” :/

Be careful what you wish for. I got my wish today, and it was a solid gut punch.

Today I found out exactly what my dance teacher, Diego, thinks of my dancing. To quote his exact words, delivered not once, but twice:

“You look clunky when you dance.”

Salsa dancer -- What My Friends Think I Do

Salsa dancing — What I really do. :/ The truth hurts.

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It took me nearly two months (1 month and 3 weeks, actually) to get it, but I finally managed to TRIPLE SPIN MYSELF!

This means that, by myself, with no help from a partner, I can spin myself on the spot, with no “cheating” by pushing off against my other foot to keep the spin going.

A triple spin with a partner — I can do one by myself! 😀
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