Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Weirdest thing that happened to me last weekend: I heard Barry Manilow on the radio. That never happens. Never. I listen to two stations that brag they play the best of the 70s, but they must be using a definition of “the best” that I’m not aware of. Either that, or the people who program their music didn’t do a minute’s research on what was considered the best of the 70s. I’m assuming they didn’t grow up in the 70s either, because if they had done either of those two things, then they would know they’d have to play Barry Manilow every single flippin day. And I know this because I was a teenager in the 70s who listened to a lot of pop music, as teenagers do, and I can tell you I heard Barry Manilow every single flippin day.

Full disclosure: I’m not a Barry Manilow fan. I never bought any of his albums or singles. But neither do I dislike his music. It was fun to listen to, it was easy for me to learn the words to the chorus so I could sing along, and I could even dance to it as much as I could dance to any music (which is to say, not so much dance as rhythmically twitch and jerk, usually in time to the music). I could listen to it again, while on the other hand I’ve had my fill of Peaceful Easy Feeling, or We Are The Champions. I think I’d be all right if I never heard either of those songs ever again. I guess I’d be all right with never hearing Mandy again, but I would get up out of my overstuffed chair and do the mambo if I ever heard Copacabana again. And I wouldn’t care who was watching.

Oh Barry | 1:34 pm CDT
Category: entertainment, music, play | Tags: ,
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Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Tonight was supposed to be tango night in the group dance class, but nobody showed up so it turned into a private lesson – and since we swiched our weekly private lesson from Tuesday to Thursday, that meant that tonight turned into a twofer!

We started off with a little test: Christopher wanted to see how well we could mambo if he put a little slip of card paper under the balls of each of our feet. It turns out that we’re supposed to slide our feet when we mambo, never lifting the balls of our feet off the floor. We’d never done that before, and it was damned hard to do it now, almost like having to learn it all over again. I wish I could say we caught on to it pretty quickly, but we didn’t. After maybe a half-hour of that we weren’t lurching around like Gort the Robot, but poise and grace are still a long way off.

Then we worked on our foxtrot a while. This dance has turned out to be a fiendish trap that started out deceptively simple but actually has so many details to remember that at this point I would feel less intimidated if asked to split the atom, right now, using only a few common ingredients found in any average kitchen. The first two steps are long, the last two are very short, you rise on yours toes at the end, you brush your feet as you go, don’t step to the side very much, lead with your heel, roll all the way across your foot, keep your knees bent HOLY CRAP HOW DID THIS GET SO COMPLICATED?

Still, we learned a sweet little turn to do after the cross-body lead that made the lesson worth all the sweat, and the back-to-back twofer was over before we knew it.

trap | 7:51 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

We mambo’d the night away at group dance class last night. A mambo is like a salsa, but in mambo you step off on the second beat; in salsa you step off on the first. Seems like a really tiny, insignificant difference, one that wouldn’t be too hard to take into account, and there’s no doubt in my mind that most people do it easily, all the time. To me, though, it’s like trying to brush my teeth with my left hand.

No, wait: Waltzing in a right-hand box after doing a change step is like brushing left-handed (as contradictory as that may sound, it makes perfect sense if you think about it for a second. Okay, that’s good, now stop.) Switching from a salsa to a mambo is like trying to sing a round of “Row, row, row your boat” after someone else has already begun singing it. So simple, and yet you can’t help muffing it the first few times by laughing or stepping on the other person’s toes.

Christopher asked us to switch from salsa to mambo, and I quote, just to mess with us, because that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s the instructor so he gets to do that whenever he wants to. You’d think that, because we’re paying him, it’d be the other way around and we’d get to call the shots, but for whatever reason it doesn’t work out that way. Life is so cruel. Dance class is even more cruel.

There’s lots and lots of twirling in salsa. My Darling B used to like twirling but she’s starting to get a little vocal about all the spinning she has to do now that we’re dancing the salsa. To be more accurate about it, she’d like to know why the girl does all the spinning in salsa while the guy just stands there, twirling her around. She’s getting a little dizzy, is the gist of her argument.

I think it goes back to something Christopher said about dancing: It’s all about making the ladies look good. The guy does an occasional underarm turn but, most of the time, he tries not to steal the show, and instead he just flicks his arm or raises it up and spins the girl around so she can twirl, probably to make her dress poof out and show off her legs, I guess. Works for me.

We learned the underarm turn ages ago, and it’s so simple that we moved on straightaway to the figure eight, an underarm turn but with a twist, literally: we don’t let go of each other’s hands, so our arms end up tied together like a pretzel. Then we prance back and forth a bit before untying our arms.

And last week we learned the “sweetheart,” a left underarm turn where we don’t let go of each other’s hands. In that one, we end up dancing side by side, arm in arm. It’s cuddling while dancing. I suppose that’s why it’s called a “sweetheart.”

Then last night we learned how to wind the ladies up in a figure eight, prance around a bit, then unwind her and go straight into a sweetheart – and then send her spinning away before winding her right back up again like Duncan a yo-yo. Sweet! It’s a whole lot more twirling, but of course the lady’s the one getting motion sickness. The guy just hangs out, waiting for her to come spinning back to him. Mambo rules.

dizzy | 7:50 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel | Tags: , ,
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