Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dance Night with the Girls

Recently Capitan, Jem and I decided to try our hand at some more social dancing. We ventured pretty close to home this time to a studio in Palatine called Studio Viva! They were celebrating their first anniversary with a party. All signs pointed to a good night. Captain and I arrived first for the hour long lesson before the party began. As has been the trend at most social Latin parties the lesson was Bachata. For most of us Bachata is not our favorite dance, I love a social Bachata it's cute and playful, and the music is some of the easiest to follow. Some of the "club style" Bachata is only for those that know each other well, it's VERY close and very sensual in nature, I am not at the point, nor do I think I will ever be that I could dance like that with someone I don't already know. Thankfully the lesson was in the social style, I know Captain isn't a huge fan of this dance, but she was a great sport and per her usual style followed everyone really well. I, having Bachata experience mostly dancing on my own took a moment to follow in frame. We covered basic steps, side to side, front to back, we covered a cuddle hold, ladies spins and a spin for the gents. It was a pretty good time, definately a nice way to warm up to the people in attendance.

That over, the party warmed up with some Salsa. Jem arrived and we were off to our usual people watching from the sidelines while we waited for invitations to dance. Capitan was asked to dance almost immediately, and Jem was asked shortly there after. I did receive an invitation by a gentleman very new to Salsa. As much as I love to dance at my own level, I do get a kick out of the "newbies" too. Everyone has to start somewhere, and as much as I try not to help because I know as a follow that's not what I'm dancing for, there are some times when a kind word here or there can make the dance better for everyone involved. I thanked my lead for the dance and returned to our station on the sidelines.

The crowd was small, but very entertaining. There was a lady there seemingly alone, well and truly older than my group, she was a hoot to watch! She wasn't what I'd call an exceptional dancer by any means it's what she was wearing that drew nearly every eye in the place to her. She was decked out in an outfit that I wouldn't see on many women 20 years her junior and when she would spin the whole room would be witness to entirely too much information about the state of her figure. :-) There was another couple there Captain and I had seen in our dancing travels that dance very well together, clearly they were exclusive to each other... huh... must be nice to have a dedicated dance partner. One thing these social outings always provide is great people watching. It's amazing to see what people want to wear or how they dance. At one point a very fit woman about 10 years our senior approached Captain and asked if she was a professional dancer. Then, without indication crouched down and grabbed Captain's foot to inspect her Latin Shoes. There was a bit of conversation that this woman dances jazz and was very interested in the Latin dances. She seemed VERY familiar to me, reminded me of a jazz instructor I'd had more than a decade ago. If I could remember her name I would have asked. Anyway, I thought it very flattering for my friend that another dancer thought she was a pro.

It was becoming apparent to those running the party that not everyone was up and dancing, which tends to happen a lot. So an older gentleman grabbed the mic and suggested a group activity to drum up some random dance partners. The ladies all got in a circle and held hands, while the gents, who numbered a bit less, were instructed to circle around us. Then with the two circles rotating against each other we were told to stop randomly 4 times, when the ladies turned that would be their dance partner. I thought this was a great way to "force" some partnerships. I was lucky enough to be aligned with a partner 3 of the 4 stops. My first two leads were quite proficient, one was a very strong lead and very sure of where he wanted me to go, thankfully I followed nearly everything without error, my only disappointment was that he wasn't leading anything but simple turns and cross body leads. Next was a guy who told me up front "This is my second hour of Salsa." OK... so we'll see what he can do. You know what? For only having had very minimal instruction he had the basic, side basic, and the concept of open breaks...which was one of those things I couldn't help but to advise on... he seemed like a very quick study! Lastly was a gentleman who was either very new to Salsa or had only learned to dance in big group classes where no individual attention is provided. He could do some basic stuff roughly and some turns, his lead for cross body was so faint I didn't even feel it. My favorite part about this dance was I really couldn't mess up his leads because he would call them out right before he would do them. "And turn..." followed by a lead for a spin. "Side step" right before he would start a side basic... I was totally cracking up!

After a couple of hours, we noticed some gals dressed for belly dancing, which is another style this studio offers. It was at that point that the gals and I decided to call it an evening and head out for our customary post dancing snacks.

It wasn't a bad party, I would go again...maybe a little later next time...the party goes until 1am. I've checked out the studio's classes and they have a solid selection of offerings for their groups. May not be a bad way to get out and meet more folks in the dancing community.

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