Monday, February 4, 2013


Dancing is one of the oldest forms of human expression. There are many different styles, some done alone, some with a partner, some with others in groups. I'm having trouble thinking of music that cannot be danced to.

The first time I ever danced was in Grade 8. No, seriously. I'd never been exposed to it, then there was a school dance happening shortly after we moved into town and started at a new school. It was a pretty frightening experience. There were high school dances, and it didn't particularly get any better.

That was it for a long time, then Linda and I started doing ballroom dancing at the U of C. It was something we could do together. It was an interesting experience, and moderately terrifying for me. I had the hardest time with east coast swing, but the others weren't much better.

It's much easier for women to learn to dance ballroom than men. Yes women do it backwards in high heels. Piece of cake once she learns to walk backwards properly. There's a trick to it and once you learn you'll never get your foot stepped on again. I know this from experience, having had to learn the female parts when being a Teaching Assistant.

The guy has to learn which patterns go with the music, and start off at the right time. Once doing the basic, he has to lead the woman into something else at just the right time, and think about how the pattern ends. Sometimes that's harder than starting. While doing the pattern you have to think about what you're going to do next. All the while navigating around the room, changing patterns on the fly to take advantage of shifting open space. Carrying on a conversation is a bonus.

Let's see, we learned Cha-cha-cha, Rhumba, Foxtrot, Waltz, Two-Step, and East Coast Swing. Along the way we also learned some West Coast Swing, Viennese waltz, Samba, Mambo, Ballroom Tango and Argentine Tango which are very different dance. Argentine is amazing, and I wrote more about it recently.

Our community association starting having ballroom classes so we showed up. I have forgotten much. So far all we've doing is a few basic patterns in Waltz and Cha-cha-cha. Some of that has come back at least. Tonight is the last night for us, and we'll have to ask when the next session starts.

What's both easy and hard for the guy is switching partners. Some women take the slightest hint of a lead, and they're off. I was dancing Two Step with one of the nearly pro women. Left hand up slightly, and I was getting whapped across the face with her pony tail. She turned twice in the time it takes most women to turn once. Others, well, it's like driving a truck with a flat tire and no power steering.

Men have to learn to lead, which is a skill itself. Women have to learn to follow, but the trick is they can dance with many men, learning different levels of lead. Once they've learned to follow they can be walked through patterns they don't know. A guy can just barely lead a woman through a pattern that she knows and he doesn't.

I sometimes think of dancing when I'm swimming. Just as some dancers seem so light and graceful, so to with swimmers. That's not me, either one.

Today was an ok swim. 1K in just under 19 minutes. 4x50 on 60. Some technical stroke work for my catch. Absolutely and totally blew a flip turn. I haven't had one that bad in a very long time. I wasn't paying attention and suddenly the wall was closer than I though, and all my limbs were in the wrong place.

1 comment:

  1. With 10+ years of formal dance training (ballet, jazz, tap, etc), I find it pretty easy to pick up steps even nearly 3 decades later. Unfortunately, my husband can't lead. I find dancing with him very frustrating. Thankfully, he isn't the jealous type and I have occassionally enjoyed dancing with other guys (though it has been a while). Haven't done much ballroom, but it looks like fun on TV.


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