Monday, August 13, 2007

Dancing at the Gym

Last weekend when I went to the gym, I was finishing up my stretches in the aerobics/spinning studio when a couple came in carrying familiarly shaped bags and wearing un-gym-like clothes. She was wearing a skirt and he carefully rolled up the legs of his camos after putting on dance shoes.

I slowed down my stretches so I could see what they were going to do. Being an aerobics studio, it has a big wood floor just like a dance floor. I've seen teenage girls practicing a jazz dance routine for a church performance in this space, and I think a friend of mine met another friend here for some tap lessons (or they just talked about it, I'm not sure).

This couple turned on their music and started dancing an Argentine tango. I don't know anything about Argentine tango so I think anyone who is dancing it at all must be pretty advanced, but I think this couple really was pretty good. It was obvious to me that they were practicing a routine, and I watched them for as long as I could get away with doing so. They had several stops and starts, but they looked like very good dancers.

Yesterday I went into the aerobics studio and a couple was in there dancing American tango. I talked to them a little bit and it turns out that they dance at the Starlite Ballroom in San Jose. He's taken tango there before, and they are planning to start a tango series next Friday. She wanted to get some of the basic steps down ahead of time; the classes at the Starlite are quite large, they said, and the studio is busier on Friday nights than on Saturdays, full of new dancers. They were practicing at the gym because access to the floor is free (with membership, obviously), and practice time at the Starlite is $10 an hour.

We talked dance for awhile, and they are learning rumba and salsa too. Both of them complained that she floats to the right (well, her right) when they are dancing. He thinks she steps sideways and backwards at the same time, rather than just backward. I smiled and said that is just a habit to break, but in salsa and rumba, what helps me is to look directly into my dance partner's eyes. I suggested that in tango she look two or three inches to the left of his ear, and toward the ceiling. I know from experience that "toes follow nose" and if your nose is pointed to the left your feet can't go to the right.

I left and they continued their dance practice. When I came out of the locker room, I saw that she was following, her nose tipped haughtily toward the ceiling, just past his ear.

I'm so excited about people ballroom dancing. I think it's so much fun at the same time that it's challenging my mind and my body. When more people dance, more people dance. There's only good in that!

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