Dance-related exploits of late

On Saturday I attended a sparsely populated west coast swing dance, where I realized (soon after entry) that all the west coast knowledge I had was completely unaccessible to me. Envision the brain fog of Joe Versus the Volcano. My initial discomfort of not remembering anything and not knowing many people eventually faded, as I was able to dredge my memory for a few moves and more people arrived as time passed…. Danced a fun dance with Emerald, which was made fun entirely by her skill as a follow—some people are really quite impressive dancers. (I’d be happy to settle for being a competent dancer.) Janis showed up for the final hour of the dance, claiming that she was threatened bodily harm by others if she didn’t make an appearance.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of my friends (less Andy and, of course, Eric) were attending a Brew Fest at the fairgrounds. I met up with them afterwards, and we wound up watching The Big Lebowski late into the evening. Fun movie; I’d heard references to The Dude abides, but had no idea what was being referenced.

Tonight’s ballroom dance practice packed quite the mix of emotions. Judging from her behavior—which pretty much mirrored mine of a month ago—Britta’s grandmother passed away sometime in the last week (last I had heard, things weren’t going well). Jenny and I got to sass each other a bit, and hopefully cleared up some uncertainty about whether or not each of us liked—as opposed to “don’t like”—the other. (Sometimes when I’m more withdrawn, I somehow set off a negative spiral of body language where someone else and I end up suspecting the other doesn’t like ’em for absolutely no actual reason… and that’s no fun.)

Ben is apparently leaving for Korea, which is a darn shame. Though I really don’t know him, I’ve always enjoyed watching him lindy hop—he exudes complete joy when he dances. I’ve not seen that anywhere near as strongly in anyone else, and I’ve watched a fair number of people dance over the years. Per birthday and leaving-for-good tradition, he got a “spotlight” dance with all the follows who lined up to dance with him. Also per tradition, he was a blast to watch. I was happy to see Janis, who showed up for her “once a term, hour-long appearance” at the Wednesday night practice. She decided that I was trying to force her out the window while we were dancing (I protested, because she never even hit the wall or windowsill—and while I might not actually be able to force her out the window, if I were trying to do so, I’d at least get her in the approximate area of the window), and then during the next pass attempted to move herself closer to the window.

The thing about west coast (and, actually, all partner dances) is that you lead by maintaining a (relatively) rigid frame with your arm, and allow changes in your body’s center of mass to be communicated through movement of that frame. This requires a bit of tension between the lead and follow’s arms: when Janis attempted her pre-suicidal move, I simply met the additional tension in her arm (as a result of trying to move backwards) with more tension in my own, and (because she performed her job as a follow) kept her from accomplishing her ends. Hah.

Also danced a wild cha-cha with Ae-Young, as has somewhat become tradition. (Ae-Young loves to spin, and I let her—so she discovered that she could perform double-spins for all my single-spin cha-cha moves, and we’ve continued practicing from there.) Tonight her spins were exceptionally energetic (how she does that boggles my mind; I have a devil of a time trying to spin once), and consequently tended to throw her a bit off balance afterwards—and I was able to keep her steady without losing my own balance. This is the first evidence I’ve had that my lifting weights has had any effect whatsoever; my historical self probably would have been pulled off-balance, courtesy of non-existent arm muscles.

(The above does not mean, however, that I have much arm muscle.) Now if I’d only see some results from the rest of my exercise…


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