I know, two posts back to back...but hey I have to write when I can!
Last Friday, April 11th there was a very special event. It was a Salsa Party at the Fred Astaire in South Barrington. Let me tell you, dance wise they pulled out all the stops on this one! They brought in a LIVE Salsa Band and had not only Buffalo Grove (my home studio), but South Barrington, Mount Prospect and Vernon Hills Fred Astaire Studios were there too! This was GREAT! A room full of students and instructors that are all learning the same style!
The band they hired was very good, and great sports about working with the ballroom crowd. They are Rica Obsession! A local band to the Chicago area... if you are looking for a Latin band, check them out!
I walked in very nervous, because of the whole timing situation of my last lesson. I knew my Salsa would be ok...but I was scared if anyone would ask me to Rumba, would I be able to do it?
I met up with some of my dance friends and we chatted about this and that... I ran into some students from some other studio's that I normally only see at events like competitions. It was GREAT to see them at an event where we all had more time to chat!
Party started with a nice paced Salsa and TNG grabbed me right away... MAN can he dance now! He's so much fun! I've gotten the biggest kick out of watching him progress over the last few months. He's definitely a great addition to our studio! (Yes, I'm aware that TNG isn't really "The New Guy" anymore...So we'll say TNG stands for "The Nice Guy" now!)
Unfortunately the floor condition at this studio is a little different then at my dancing home, and my shoes were sticking! I know that everyone was pretty much sliding around, but you have to remember, I dance in flat jazz shoes with rubber soles..so where a ballroom shoe may slip, I will likely get tripped up from sticking! It took a few dances for me to warm up to the floor, and for me to figure out how much power was going to be needed for my spins... but I held my own until I warmed up.
At one point a teacher from my home studio asked me to dance, he's a bit of a show off, but a very good leader... He decided to open the Salsa frame to pull out some moves... I, for the first time ever at a studio event, pulled out some of the shines that RT's group class had taught me! That was a great feeling! This instructor even complemented me on the fact that I didn't just stand there like I used to! (Wow, he noticed!)
There were some rather advanced lead students there too... really gave me a run for my Salsa money...but I kept up! The first set ended just as RT grabbed me for a dance, and I so wanted to show off and play a little with him instead of being more formal like usual. Just as we started my ankle got a good kick from someone behind me... I wasn't mad.. it happens... but instead of following RT's lead for an independent spin I kept to my basic step making sure my ankle was ok... it was... I did the spin... and the song and set ended... :-(
Between sets, a few of the couples competing at the upcoming Fred Astaire Nationals in Las Vegas showed their stuff. Including Jackie Josephs and Jesse DeSoto, currently the most recognizable faces in ballroom in the area and very well known on the national circuit (although if Jesse doesn't watch out.. his brother is hot on his heels!) I love to see the pros do their thing... I know they work so hard at it...but they make it look so effortless!
Second set started and I some how spent most of the time on the floor! Whoo hoo! I had a few students ask me to dance more than once...which generally doesn't happen unless I know them personally...what a confidence BOOST that was! You know what this means...this means I can actually DANCE! (Salsa and Cha Cha anyway) With about 100 students in attendance...it's tough to find the same partner for more than one dance...and doubly hard to dance with an instructor more than once! My favorite instructor from Mount Prospect picked me up twice, as did one from Vernon Hills I'd never met before! Fortunately I danced with so many guys that I can't remember them all...(Oh, a girl should have such problems all the time!) but a few singular dances did stick out...
Jesse DeSoto was out on the floor dancing with students...it's pretty rare when this happens, and I know EVERY gal wants him to pick her up for a dance...I've been fortunate to dance with him before, so I wasn't going to pout if he didn't ask me to dance... but he did! He lead me in a Cha Cha of sorts... he said he liked to play within the music, and if I didn't always follow it wasn't my fault... well I'm pleased to tell you that I followed nearly everything the lead! Woo Hoo!!! (So happy about that, cuz the last time I danced with him, my following was pretty terrible.) He really kept me on my toes with a mix of Salsa stuff I'd never done to a Cha Cha beat, and some steps I'd just never linked together before... I followed nearly all of it, and what I didn't, I recovered from fast enough that it didn't ruin the dance!
Then I danced with an instructor from the Barrington Studio, I remember when he started just about a year ago...over that time the few times I've danced with him have been a blast! This time, was no exception... he picked me up for a Cha Cha, although he said he was hoping to get a Salsa. Hey, in a social setting, my Cha Cha is nearly as good as my Salsa...so I was happy dancing either. This dance stands out in my mind because we started kind of kidding round, and then he started leading some stuff that told me as a follow that he wasn't playing around with this Cha Cha...so I did what I call "turning it on" which I don't do often.... I don't even do it with RT very much because I can't learn when I do it... I can only follow...and only really in fast Latin Dances... The problem is that my face and my eyes mostly go into that total Rumba intense sexy kind of thing. I have to be careful because I've had some guys misinterpret this if you catch my drift... and it has caused me some problems... that is NOT what that look means for me! I just want to get the most out of the dance! This instructor had NO IDEA I could do that... I think I surprised the heck out of him...Something he did told me to bring my following up to that level..the highest one I've got so far... True to form he brought his gaze up to par and the Cha Cha was GREAT! At the end I made sure to break that intensity and gave him a big hug and thanked him.... He said I was very light on my feet... YAY!!! I love that compliment! I wish I could dance like that more often... He also said he was proud of me... AWWW... how sweet is that! An instructor that only knows me in passing, is proud of me!!! That is the best thing anyone said to me all night!
Towards the end I really wanted to try and get one more dance in with RT, I almost had it too... it was the VERY last dance of the night and he was headed for me... oh if we could have danced after the way my previous dances were going he would have been so proud of me! Just as I thought RT was going to grab my hand another instructor from Mount Prospect grabbed me, and I will not turn anyone down for a dance... besides I can't be sure RT was going to ask me anyway. This was fun because I had heard of this instructor, and I'd seen him dance with his students... what I love is that he was very surprised by my following... I don't know if he had spent most of the night dancing with newer students, or if he does that all the time... it seemed like he was genuinely surprised... I love it when I can surprise my lead with good following... it makes everything worth it.
I really hope there are more cross studio events in the future... I know everyone there had a good time. There's nothing like a whole evening of dancing with people you know, and that know how to dance! I really hope I can take some of the confidence this all built up and carry it with me into my practicing and future dance events... I'll be sure to let you know!