For all my Houston peeps, I just saw on the Dance With Me website that Maks, Val, and Tony are going to open up a new studio in the Woodlands! This is particularly exciting because when my wife and I were looking for a new studio, we seriously considered Dance With Me because of its premier instruction and focus on competitive ballroom. The only reason we didn’t go to them is because they didn’t have a convenient location.
So for anyone that’s serious about getting very good on a competitive scale, I would highly recommend considering it.
That’s all for now…
One of the things that many wonder about ballroom dance and the intimacy it produces between partners is whether sex happens between partners or between student and teacher. Well before we talk about that, let’s discuss the intimacy and vulnerability that happens between partners as they learn to ballroom dance.
Ballroom dance is a very intimate dance. You have to feel each other’s intentions on such an intimate level that, if it’s a good partnership, a connection is inevitable. You see this all the time when you watch dance shows like Dancing With The Stars where the connection is so close that the stars break down with this person and sometimes even form romantic relationships. Now with teacher and student, this can be because they are pushing someone to do something they never thought they’d be able to do. It can also be that they were never used to having someone push them before either which can lead to a connection through respect. But mostly, dancing and moving through dance has a way of pulling emotions and feelings that a person otherwise wouldn’t allow themselves to feel.
So that discusses how intimacy is formed between student and teacher. How about student to student. Although some of the points above do carry over, this case has more of a social component. Dancing has always been an expression of desire. A desire to be close to somebody, a desire to gain their favor, a desire to just have some time together. Ballroom dance class is a great avenue to achieve all of these goals in a safe environment. It also produces an environment, where, even if just for a little while, you have some alone time with that student that catches your eye.
But all of this doesn’t answer the key question: Does ballroom sex happen? Well, from a teacher-student perspective, I really don’t know. I haven’t seen that dynamic play out. I can say that I have seen some single female instructors look at some male students in a flirtatious manner. Now, how much of that is the game and how much of this real, I really can’t say. On the other hand, from a student to student perspective, I have witnessed a number of couples pair up romantically out of dance class. So from that perspective, yes sex does come out of it sometimes, but not in the hedonistic way that we envision.
That said, I’ll be interested to see what I observe as my wife and I dive deeper in the competitive ballroom dance circuit…
So I know that I a few years ago, I wrote a very passionate article about the roles of ballroom dance and how in this one aspect of your life, the man is in control with the woman following. Up until we moved to the new dance studio, this was the mantra that my wife and I had been operating under… and in social dancing, this may still be the way to look at it, but in competitive ballroom, all bets are off.
In competitive ballroom dance, the lead and follow transitions from partner to partner throughout the dance. This actually makes sense when you think about it because otherwise the “lead” would be back leading all the time and back leading blind in a number of cases.
The big thing to remember is that ballroom dancing is a partnership where one partner waits for one and another partner then drives through… and vise versa.
The first big challenge with migrating to this new frame of thought is getting your brain to think in these terms. For the longest time, I was taught that I did all of the leading and my partner was simply docile and waiting for my instructions. So allowing your brain to think in more of a “partnership” way is the first step. Then, with learning anything new with ballroom dance, it’s about then getting your body to do what you want it to do. For any of the moves where we’re in open position, this makes sense because there’s an obvious positive and negative connection that guides my path. When we’re in closed position (or in frame), it is more difficult because those signals aren’t quite as clear.
In the end, the main point is when you truly start to train as competitive ballroom dancers, you will dance bigger, different, and rethink everything you though you knew about the sport.
My goodness, where to begin ?!? So as you can see it’s been about 2 years since I’ve posted about ballroom dancing last and so much has changed. So as not to bury the lead, about a year ago, my wife and I decided to leave Arthur Murray. If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that this wasn’t a decision taken lightly. At the beginning, Arthur Murray was the exact right place for my initial dance growth. There were just a number of factors that came to play that I’ll discuss here.
Over the year since my last post, my wife and I started to really look into what I will refer to as “REAL” ballroom dance competitions. These are the ones put on by National Dance Council of America (NDCA) and USA Dance. That is not to say that the Arthur Murray Showcases are not real competitions (they are the closest you can get otherwise), but when people refer to winning Dance Competitions or to be a Dance Champion, they really are referring to these dance organizations and success in the respective circuits.
So, with a heavy heart, about a year ago, we decided to leave Arthur Murray for a more local dance studio and found a wonderful instructor that very recently had been competing with his wife in the NDCA circuit. We found this crucial because, in addition to take our dancing to the next level, he also has been guiding us through the dos and don’ts of true competitive ballroom.
In future posts, I will be going into more detail on what the instruction is like and how it’s vastly different than my experience up to now, but I will say that now I feel that we are truly training to be a competitive ballroom couple. There is no social aspect… no forced interaction. We are simply training with a coach who is kicking our ass into shape so that we can achieve our competitive goals.
So what’s on the horizon for us? I would love to get involved with the USA Dance circuit. It is the organization dedicated to amateur couples. We did, however, jump out of the gate with an NDCA comp about a year ago and we’ll be doing that one again this year.
Thing are definitely getting much more interesting …
So at this point in my ballroom dancing journey, I am at a point where (as my instructor puts it), I can either plateau or go to really the next level. That is really a great sentiment and absolutely where I want to go. It’s funny though… where I am, I feel that things are going pretty well. I am proving myself as being one of the better more popular gentlemen in the studio, feel good about how I look when I dance, and confidence is (or was) at an all-time high.
But here we are going to the next level. Now, with Arthur Murray, that next level is progressing from Associate Bronze to Bronze level and Bronze level is no joke! Now, in order to progress, you have to “check out” to the next level. That includes being judged on the major figures in front of a senior instructor. I have been through this a number of times before so that part isn’t a problem, but for some reason, there has emerged something that is very troubling with the Cha Cha for any dancer … musical timing.
Now, you can be one of the worst dancers from a technique perspective. You can simply shuffle your feet… you can have the weakest of frames… you can look down at your feet the whole time… and still do better than the guy with the best form and technique, but can’t stay on time with the music. For the life of me, I don’t know why it is, but I have an idea. So the Cha Cha count goes 1..2..3.. 4 and 1 (Cha Cha Cha)… rinse and repeat. My instructor pointed me to the 1 beat and how I’m cutting it short (not giving it the full beat) and with a fast dance like Cha Cha, it’s very easy to get off time when you cut a beat short.
So here I am… listening to my playlist of Cha Cha music counting out every bloody “1″ I can. If I can’t figure this out, my dance career might be cut short too J.