Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So... you mean I get to dance again? Introducing: Get On The Floor Dance Company!

Oh dear readers!!! How I've missed you! Welcome back to Ballroom Dancing: Changing My Life One Step at a Time!

This blog, a journey that started waaaay back in August of 2007 has been through ups and downs for sure, and your dear writer has gone up and down with it. I had closed the blog two years ago because I had to leave the Ballroom world behind. Financially and emotionally I just couldn't do it anymore. (Anyone who has spent significant time in a chain ballroom studio will pretty much come to the same conclusion I assure you.) I left the blog published because it has done a lot of good for a lot of people, no one who has ever lost confidence or had to face something they are unsure of EVER feels like they are "with" anyone else in their feelings. For me Ballroom was the big challenge, it embodies so much of what I LOVE about the theater world, and especially with my former studio a lot of what I HATE about corporate BS. So once I said goodbye to the old studio I said a BIG GOOD-BYE to Ballroom.

How could I walk into a ballroom competition and not take part in the social dances, not have a pro to cheer for? How could I go out dancing with my friends, all of which are still dancing at various independent studios, and not feel like a failure when my skills aren't up to par? (If you think this sounds a lot like the "pre-dancing Kat" you'd be dead on right).

Then one night a few months ago I said to myself "enough is enough" and accepted an invitation to go line dancing with some friends... line dancing I'm not huge on, two-step I like, but with ballroom people every dance floor becomes a ballroom dance floor anyway. :-) So I went, I sat and watched the line dancing... you know they have a line dance for EVERY SONG EVER right?!? It's crazy! One of my friends did ask me to dance a Rumba early on and I declined....because I'm a big dummy who didn't want to feel like she was making a fool of herself. As the evening progressed my chest began to get heavy...not in a dangerous health way (although, with the way my health had been progressing...) no, in a very melancholy way, hindsight tells me now that my heart may have been breaking a little at not getting out there to dance.

Later in the evening I finally accepted an offer to Hustle with the same friend I'd declined earlier.. Hustle is easy right? Well... not when you're out of shape, wearing street sneakers, and trying to dance to the latest Will.I.Am/Brittney Spears release. I made it maybe two minutes before I was just dying for air. I thanked my partner and went back to our table. I couldn't tell which was worse, that I'd gone out and tried...did okay but couldn't last or that I possibly just made it so said friend never asks me to dance again.

What's a Ballroom Studio without a little sense of humor?!? :-)
While there, I spoke to two ladies (friends of friends) who were looking for more opportunities to dance all over the area. I do still keep my eye on any independent studios that pop up (because you know, 2-5 years from now I might be able to dance again.) and one came to mind immediately... Get On The Floor Dance Company (GTF) was started about 2 years ago by a pro dancer I'd known off and on because he used to dance with my original pro's girlfriend, and I'd seen them dance in St. Louis, and all over Chicago back in 2009/2010 ish. He had always struck me as a good soul and a great teacher, so I took the opportunity to mention this to the ladies. I know they found GTF on Facebook (Get On The Floor Dance Company on Facebook) as we were sitting there. The night ended, my heart broken over my lack of dancing, but I did resolve to work out more (which I have been doing in earnest for a bit now).

A week later, I was out for drinks with some dance friends and I was lamenting about how my heart just ached because I wasn't dancing anymore. While they tell you it's not healthy to rely on things outside yourself... I don't care, Ballroom Dancing had been the grain of inspiration for every thing I'd ever done on the floor or off since June 2006. Without it I'm often times lost for inspiration, and I lack motivation. Despite not liking the chain studios anymore (feel free to ask me why) I love to help other people discover ballroom!

I decided I would reach out to Steve, the owner of GTF and just let him know that if two ladies said some red haired chick told them to check GTF out, it was me. I didn't even think he'd remember who the heck I was, and I didn't intend for it to be more than just letting him know where his business leads might be coming from. (If these two ladies ever went, I don't know and sadly I can't remember their names). I seriously never even envisioned setting foot in a ballroom before fall 2014 at the earliest. So Facebook message sent, I went back to my ho-hum life.

Cut to some of the most prolific and expansive Facebook e-mailing I have ever done with anyone outside my normal crew. (It wasn't that expansive, slightly prolific on my part because I tend to over share, but I come from the chain studio land of "A Student must never communicate with his/her professional instructor outside studio property" so it struck me as unusual) This went on for a couple of weeks, just a few things about what GTF is offering like Beginning Ballroom classes on Sunday nights, a Holiday Showcase coming up on Dec 15th, Private lessons that are a full 60 minutes for $75 (ahem, yeah, you read that right!) First studio in Chicago to warmly welcome same-sex dance partners and how they are offering a position called "Student Ambassador" (read: Referral Program) to certain individuals...and then Steve asked....

dun dun dun...

Why I wasn't dancing anymore.

Which just made my stupid heart hurt more because my reason, aside from financial, is really mostly pretty lame (said the girl with a gazillion excuses). While we were becoming efficient online communicators, we were also trying to see when the heck I could make it into the city to see his space, meet his business partner and just figure out a way to get me back on the floor. Which was AWESOME... not since Largo/Aleks (RT not withstanding of course), but seriously, not since Aleks first went independent at a time I couldn't afford anything, had any professional in the ballroom world really taken what seemed to be a genuine for-the-love-of-dance interest in bringing my rear-end to the dance floor! Gotta tell ya, when small potatoes social dancers like myself get the attention of a pro with 10 years dance experience and then said pro says actually wants to teach you... like seriously teach, lessons, in ballroom, and SALSA...you go... well first you become speechless, and then you GO! You ignore all the negative voices in your head and you make an appointment to meet him on that dance floor as fast as your schedules allow, that's what you do, and that's what I did!... aside from that first dance lesson I ever took ever, and maybe getting involved in all this blog business... BEST BALLROOM DANCE DECISION EVER MADE - PERIOD. 

Who's with me?? Anyone else want to "Get On The Floor" too??

thump thump "Testing...1...2... Testing... Is this thing on?!?"

Let me hear from you! Who's still dancing? Who needs to get back on the floor? Who wants to meet me at GTF's home location? My e-mail is still the same: StageKat@Gmail.com and you can always comment below!

Happy Dancing!!

Coming up... What it's like to have a ballroom lesson for the first time in two years...


Anonymous said...

Nice meeting you last night - looking forward to seeing you out there dancing!


Anonymous said...

KAT!!!!!!!!!!! I was excited via FB to see you are starting your blog back up. SOooo I popped over and lo and behold you'd written!

YEA for you! Can't wait til the next one. =)

Kat Vincent said...

Thanks Sonja and C!
It was nice meeting you as well Sonja! I'll see you on the floor soon I hope!

THANKS!! I know you've been with me for a while and I so value your readership!

Keep on reading, and even more importantly, Get on the Floor!!! :-)
Happy Dancing!