Friday, February 24, 2012

Feel the rhythm. Be the melody.

Dear friends,

Since we have gone for several weeks without so much as measly little post, I wanted to provide the rather exciting explanation for the lack of practice sessions and posts to record them.

Without more ado, allow me to introduce Aria Ballroom! Visit the "About Us" and "Instructors" pages, and you will see what project Jeff has been working on for this past year to which we at times have vaguely referred. Those who have appreciated Jeff's photography page on this blog may be interested to know that all photos save one on this website were taken by Jeff.

Since the studio officially opens with an open house and dance party on March 3rd, the last couple of weeks have been crazy busy for Jeff, as a part owner of this enterprise, and for me, in a sense, by extension. From building the floor itself to designing print materials to writing web copy, we've had our hands deep in this thing and just haven't had the wherewithall to practice dance of late. Jeff has been much much more involved in this project than I have, given that he is part owner of the business, while I am really just a volunteer student/"partner-in-crime" who cares a lot about the success of the venture. Given all of this, I realize that the last time we danced together was at Starlight in San Francisco, and the next time will probably be at open house next Saturday. I can't wait!

I can now say that I've laid hardwood flooring, actually ridden a belt sander (because apparently my weight was just perfect to make it do its job properly), and conceived some of the design and copy pieces for web and print. This whole project has been the realization of a dream for many, not only for the owners, including Jeff and our coaches Simeon and Kora, but also for many students like me. We've wanted to have a place to dance regularly that really feels like home to us, and where that dance community that has become really a second family can congregate and do what we love best together. Aria Ballroom is going to be that place. Won't you come join us?

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Part: Follow
Dances: Waltz, Tango, Viennese, Foxtrot, sort of Quickstep, Night-club 2-step, Cha-cha, Rumba, East-Coast Swing, West Coast Swing
Hovers: 1

Last Friday was definitely one of my favorite social dance outings so far. Jeff and I had both joined some of our dancer friends and traveled down to the San Francisco bay area for the weekend, to visit friends, dance, and for some, go to the City Lights Ball (where I danced a competition with Simeon last year). Starlight (now called Cheryl Burke, although apparently everyone calls it Starlight), is the dance studio Jeff used to frequent when he lived in the bay area, and he's told me a lot about it over time, and made me really want to dance there sometime. He still has some devoted fans there as well, as several of the regular ladies got so excited when he showed up.

What I liked about it was that there was a large floor, and they separated the ballroom dance party and the club dances into separate rooms, so for those more inclined to salsa, west-coast swing, and bachata, there was a smaller room, and for the ballroom, the large floor. Also, the upcoming and currently played dances were projected onto a large monitor by the floor, so you could see what dances were coming up and decide which ones you wanted to dance. I quickly discovered that this gave me a sort of virtual "dance card," as I ended up having multiple leads "reserve" me for upcoming dances. Now while that was quite flattering, sometimes I didn't particularly want to dance again with some of least, after dancing a jive I didn't necessarily want to book a waltz with a certain lead, but it's much harder to say no to a "reservation" than in the moment to say, "Oh, thank you, but I am going to sit this one out." Jeff laughed at my predicament and told me to just say it was already reserved...which of course I hate doing if it's not true. But he was good enough to ask me ahead of time about certain dances so that I could truthfully say..."I'm sorry! Already dancing this one with someone." I guess I can't complain. :)

There were a lot of dancers there, and it seemed no shortage of leads, which was a nice change. It seems like they all wanted to dance too. I got the impression that most of them were taking dance lessons or classes, as many I danced with appeared to be following routines and at great pains to make sure they got them right, but I had no problem with that. At least they were really making an effort to dance well, and since I'm the same way I really appreciated it. Many of the dancers I'm used to locally are in it purely for the fun social aspect, which is fine, but sometimes it seems like they don't really care about how well they're leading you, the follow, or care at all about improving.

The music was good, the dancing was lively and there was lots of it, and finally, one of my very best friends from my college years showed up with her boyfriend! I hadn't seen her in probably two years, so it was so much fun to visit with her, show her and the boyfriend a few steps, and see them get out there on the dance floor and join the fray. Of course, she hadn't seen me dance since college, so she was interested to see what I'd been devoting so much time too since we graduated almost three years ago. I think they both thought that the tango was the highlight. Compared with last week, I thought Jeff and I danced well. Tango was pretty together, and I don't know how it felt for Jeff, but I thought I had my body position a little more figured out so I wasn't being so heavy on him. It felt lighter, anyways. Plus, yay for the huge floor! We had a good time trying to take up the space, though we couldn't quite fill it with some of our routines. I guess we're just not accustomed to having that much leg room.

We ended up leaving before the dance was over because a couple of our friends in our group wanted to go to the hotel where the competition was to meet up with our coaches, so I rather begrudgingly changed back in to my street shoes.

That night I danced a lot with different leads, had some nice smooth dances with Jeff, and sat out visiting with one of my long-lost friends for some time. I didn't get too tired and actually enjoyed making a spectacle of myself in a brand new dance scene. It doesn't get much better than that!