10.14 & 10.15
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Good days, but anxious days.
Friday I had my dance lesson. I started going to West Coast Swing with my friend Katherine about a month ago. She has been trying to get me to go for the better part of the 5 years we have been friends. I finally agreed to try it.
The first night we went, there was a whirlwind beginner lesson, and then we were thrown into the social dance. I think I held up okay, but since I was a first-time beginner, I didn't feel bad being like, 'hey I have no idea what I'm doing.'
I went a week or so after for the beginner lesson and the social dance, and that was fun, and I think I did okay for the most part.
However, the beginner classes conflict with Layla's Pitbull School schedule, so I decided to try a private lesson. They signed me up with Randy, who is one of the best dancers in Pittsburgh's WCS group. He travels to competitions and everything.
I was a little nervous, but Randy is a terrific teacher. Our 'hour long' lesson turned out to be 2.5 hours. And he told me I'm really doing well, and we were able to really work on perfecting technique since I do have the dance background and can pick up choreography quite easily.
The thing is, after 15+ years of dance, competing, and then eventually teaching, I have been at a point where dance come easily to me. Like I can walk into any instructor's dance or zumba class and pick it up pretty well. Maybe not perfectly the first time through, but I can pick it up well enough to hang in and do well.
But I've never done partner dancing before, and WCS is like that, and I feel WAY in over my head.
I feel like that scene in Dirty Dancing before Baby and Johnny do the Mambo on stage for the first time and she's like, 'I have to keep my shoulders back, head up, frame locked' every time I get ready to dance with a new partner.
I was feeling pretty good after the dance lesson on Friday, even though the technique is a lot to take in and remember.
But then last night at the social dance, I feel like I forgot it all! There were some new people I haven't met before, and that made me nervous. I danced with a few of the regulars and those dances felt a little better, but I just felt like I was messing up everyone's night with my missed cues. There are two particular things I'm struggling with, one of which is finding the cue for this pattern called a whip. If I know it's coming (like, during the lesson, when Randy was like, 'let's practice whips'), I'm solid. If it's just thrown into the choreography, I'm a done woman.
My best 2 dances of the night were with Randy, probably because I trained with him the day before and am getting used to his lead style. And after our second dance, Randy handed me off to one of the really REALLY good leads and was like, "She's new but she's really good, you can throw all kinds of stuff at her" and that was nervewracking but it turned out to be a good dance.
But in general it's so hard to gauge if I'm doing well or not, if people don't say 'good job!' which they won't, because basically, it's not your place to tell your follow good or bad job unless it's in a lesson, not the social dance. But the social dance is really where I'm going to get better at the skills of connecting with and reading leads.
Two good things: I had one lead who I'd never met before ask me to dance twice, which means the first time couldn't have been awful. And secondly, all of my leads were throwing more complicated patterns at me that I don't know, even though they know (or I told them at the start of the dance) that I'm a beginner. So that must mean something, right?
I think the only way to get better is to keep going to the social dances. I definitely want to continue lessons with Randy too, because that is super helpful. But I have to get over the anxiety of dancing with the more experienced leads. If I sucked, they wouldn't ask me to dance. At least I think. Maybe they would to be polite. I don't know.
Basically I wish I could convince husband to come out. Many of the couples who compete as dance partners are also couples in real life, so we could get good and do competitions. I miss competitive dance, oh I miss it so much! And husband is a really good dancer, he is just very shy about doing something he's not already proficient at in front of other people. But if he would come out and learn to lead, then we could practice at home and both get awesome. Also sometimes they play nice slow songs and the real life couples who come to WCS dance together and I wish that could be us.
I told him I will watch 2 episodes of The Wire with him if he comes to dance class with me, so we will see if he agrees to it.
Anyway. I didn't end up having as much fun as I'd hoped last night because I was so self-conscious. I felt like, I did really well in my lesson Friday, I should have come out on the floor with a lot better skill, and I can't tell one bit if I did or not. I'm going back Tuesday night after work for the social dance, and we'll see how that goes. And then I'll schedule my next lesson with Randy and go from there.
We talked on Friday night about how, some people want to learn WCS just to have fun, and they are comfortable with just knowing the basics and dancing for fun, and then some people come and want to get good. And it's dance, dance has always been one of the most important things in my life, and I want to be good at it. I want to be a perfectionist and drill technique until I don't have to think about it, so I can focus on musicality and lines and all that. But I was frustrated with myself last night and I left earlier than I'd planned.
I will keep working.
The rest of yesterday was good. We didn't have much fun at 80s Night on Friday because it was dead and the drink dispenser was broken, so we left really early. I got up at 640 and went to help the dogs (we got a big delivery of dogs from Charleston, SC from a shelter that flooded during the hurricane). Then I went to ceramics class and worked on my latest Halloween bear, who is now done, and started the fourth in the series. There are 5 Halloween Bears total in the set.
I am going to try to give myself a break emotionally today. It's just so hard; I replay stupid things I said or did over and over and over in my brain for days sometimes. I have to get past this thought pattern.
Time to get ready for the Steelers game. I'm making butternut squash soup for lunch at halftime :)