Friday, January 16, 2009

A Birthday to Remember... My Lessons This Week

It was a calmer day than I thought it would be... and yet extraordinarily fulfilling too... Let me start at the top...

I had just come home from a brief stint with my Mom and sister in Las Vegas... Where we had a lovely time. I'll be honest, I ate and drank as if no eating plan were in place... it's not often I allow myself to indulge like this. Even though in the back of my mind I kept nagging myself that I'd be paying for all of this indulgence later... Las Vegas is probably a place I won't I wanted to get it all in. We did walk around a lot... and my quads in particular were aching constantly, but my knees were totally fine, I didn't want to wear myself out completely...I was really looking forward to Monday.

Monday January 12, 2009. My 30th Birthday...I had the forethought to request the day off of work... I woke up...took myself to breakfast, then took myself on a little shopping trip with my winnings from Las Vegas. Ran home in time to change into something for dance and headed out to the double lesson I had scheduled. Yep... all I wanted to do on my birthday was dance with "My Boys."

I was running later than I'm usually comfortable with... so I wasn't really paying attention. I ran into a fellow student in the parking lot and we chatted for a brief moment before I opened the studio door... I didn't make it in more than two steps before...

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" - The entire studio erupts!

I was dumbfounded... I smiled and waved a hello while trying to make sure I acknowledged the whole room....before I even had time to say "Thanks"or take off my jacket there was a line of hugs to be given... TNT, FAF, RT, Largo...I was totally speechless! Well, not totally... but about as close as you can get me to speechless anyway. RT helped me with my coat, very gentlemanly of him... I run to the back to freshen up real quick and Largo peeks out from the closet with a little "Happy Birthday" bag. He got me a little stuffed kitten! It's so cute... I've named it "Largo." It's only fitting.

There was also a birthday card that both RT and Largo had written in... very special, because for as much writing as I do about's one of the only times I've gotten anything written by them. (I got a holiday card too...that was the FIRST thing I ever got written by them.) No, I won't be framing I had joked with one of the instructors...but you better believe they will be kept.

Ok... first lesson... Largo. We worked on Cha Cha... and we figured out I can land that silly spin fairly consistently if he counts for me.'s improvement over last week! Apparently Largo finds it very amusing that I can stick the spin and get my next step done if he's opposed to the mess I make of it when he's not. To be honest I'm so focused on what foot has to be ready when that I don't have any room left in my brain for that the counts are!

We worked on Rumba, and I do believe that I have officially learned all the steps I can for my current level... which means hard core technique is on the horizon... I'm actually looking forward to that. (I think). Largo also introduced me to slow swivels for Rumba... more for me to practice!!! I wasn't doing them right at all... then I was doing them ok... then I wasn't... I suppose now is the time to stop hating swivels since they seem to be appearing in ALL of my dances!

This whole time I see that RT is practicing drills of some kind... interesting... it's nice to see that they practice some of the same stuff we as students get assigned...but of course it looks a million times better. Also interesting that he's doing a very good job of looking like he's not watching my lesson... I loose my mind when I'm being watched... well no... when RT watches it's more like studying... I don't like being him or anyone. My internal alarms went off once or twice...but since I enjoy my time with Largo... I tried to block them out.

We then did some Hustle... where guess what? Largo kept having me spin to the LEFT... and you know what? With a little more work I may actually get control over that! an Ambi-turner! (Similar to those that are Ambidextrous = a person that can use both hands with equal skill.. An "Ambi-Turner" or "Ambi-Spinner" is one that can spin in both directions with equal skill. No, it's not a technical term...)

Largo and I also did a little Salsa... you know...just to make the lesson perfect. I was pretty worn out... we really worked on those Cha Cha and Rumba steps...but I'm always up for some Salsa....

I had another lesson right after with RT.. I didn't want to be worn out for that! My lesson with Largo ended with a hug...and I called "Shift Change!" A quick 5 minute break and RT was ready to go.

RT leads me over to the Music Machine... and asks "So what did you work on?"
My gut said You know what we worked were in the same room... I know you saw.

But that's not a very nice way to start a lesson... so I sad... "Ummm... Cha cha, Rumba, a little Salsa...."

"No swing?" He asks.

"No.. as a matter of fact we didn't do swing."

"Ok... Swing."

Off we went.. my kind of tired self...became my very tired self pretty quickly.... AND RT brought back the swivel step in the swing... Seriously... swivels are EVERYWHERE! RT did get a couple of good double spins out of me... (I can do some rough doubles with the lead... can't do them in a free spin...yet.)

"Are you tired??" RT asks..."Need some water?"

In my mind...a water break during a lesson is tantamount to my admitting defeat...I have not taken a water break during a lesson since I couldn't make it through a whole lesson way back at the beginning.

"No, I don't need water...I'm just a little winded."

"A little winded huh..." RT says... He knows I'm getting pretty tired... he knows I won't admit it either... but we finished the swing.

"Ok Rumba..." he says.

So he starts leading... I'm so not paying attention... and when I do that in Rumba I can't tell if it's a Rumba or a Bolero... so I question it... "Wait...Bolero?...what are we doing?"


A suddenly excited RT says "Oh, you want to Bolero... ok!"

"Nope didn't say that." I retort.

"Why not?" He seriously wants to know...

"Because it's like Waltz...and it's really hard to get right...and I don't feel at ALL graceful when I do it." Is my response... although RT stopped listening at some point I think... so I say *sigh* "Ok Bolero... Wait... are we doing the pushing way or the stepping way?"

"Stepping." RT says as he begins the lead...

"Alright..." I follow.

Bolero is like working out... I hate the idea of it... I hate the concept of it... I hate that it's compared to other things I don't like... but when I'm actually doing it... it doesn't feel quite as bad as all the build up in my head... It's still not my favorite...will probably never be my favorite... but maybe...just maybe... I'll add it to my list of known dances.... and I know the control I can develop if I learn it would be very valuable...

After some armless Bolero...which is just all kinds of wrong... I finally got my arms into it...although not very well.... but Bolero does kinda feel pretty when you get your arms into it.

We then moved on to Rumba... did a couple of steps... and RT lead me into the Rumba swivels I JUST learned with Largo...

"UGH! You were watching! You fink! I knew it!" I quietly exclaim. RT just smiles...

So I swiveled...then went over practices for me to swivel at home...then went back to Rumba on the dance floor... where I was promptly presented with RT's ear, while he watched my footwork in the mirror...

"You know it's very difficult to Rumba with your ear." I tell him... my way of trying to get his attention off my footwork... it never works.. I don't know why I bother trying. Although I have to admit... dancing with his ear is preferable to dancing with the top of his head while he looks down at my footwork.

"Ok... it's when you step forward.... Because I'm trying to see your footwork."

Then he sent me through my paces about dragging my toe or "tracking" my toe on the floor as I take my steps forward... I can prove that I've done it... I've done it enough to wear little spots on the tops of my shoes... which I promptly showed him.

"Ok so do it all the time." He tells me...

For which I have no response, because I'm sick of him being right all the time... which only causes him to smile... and makes me do whatever I've been told... at least for the remainder of the lesson.

We finished Rumba and moved on to Cha Cha... where I was immediately worn out again... but refused to admit it...again... I kept tripping over my own feet... then...after I started to rally... I started to really notice the difference between Largo and RT's leading styles! I had just done the same steps with Largo ....and now I was doing them with RT...but it felt like a completely different dance... I just started laughing!

Which of course I then had to explain... and received an explanation for why...and we moved into Salsa...

Which was absolutely mandatory for my birthday lesson!... We did more of the Miami Special... which still isn't right but I seem to have maintained more of the timing now... and some other arm loopy, cross body leading, spinning one way and then the other kind of stuff... it was a blast like always!

All I wanted for my birthday was to dance... and I was really glad that I did... Still got homework assigned...and I still have a long way to go before I'm back to the level I was at before that silly Holiday break...but this is one time I didn't have to be careful what I asked for... I got all I wanted and more.

At one point during my lessons... (I can't remember which pro I was dancing with) Jesse DeSoto came up to me wished me a Happy Birthday and then gently squeezed my elbow, and one of my knees... like he was testing them for something.

"What are you doing?" I inquire.

"Just testing to see if things are still holding together, you know I'm fast coming up on 30 myself, and I just wanted to make sure that things just don't fall apart once 30 hits." He laughs.

"Nope, everything is the same as it was yesterday." I smile back at him.

"Ok...just checking." and he returned to whatever he had been doing previously... Silly man...trying to rub in the fact that I'm 30...when I'm pleased as punch to be out of my 20's.

The day then continued with me relaxing at home, a nice quiet dinner with my parents, and then the Monday night group classes that I try and ALWAYS be in attendance for...

I'm really glad I made it to 30. The future is gonna be good!

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