Atroll Needs Dancing Shoes   1 comment

I was born to have adventure.

Sometimes I forget that, but then something will happen that forces me to remember. Lately it has been dancing. Son Corencio–he who is taking the Salsa course at Arizona State University–and I went dancing last Friday night for the fourth time in a little over a month. We returned to the Fat Cat Ballroom in North Phoenix to learn how to cha cha.  I’m really only going on these expeditions because he needs a driver to get back and forth–the ballrooms are a good fifteen miles from my home–but as long as I’m going, I might as well try it out and see what I can learn, right?

For our second and third trips we went to the Paragon Ballroom in Tempe. The second trip was actually a salsa class. I sat that one out. The class was very crowded, and the people were, for the most part, very young, late teens through early twenties. This old troll did not try to salsa, but now I’m sorry that I didn’t.

The third trip, which was a week ago Friday night was West Coast Swing. I danced that one, and I pretty much learned it–at least the basic steps. When the teacher got into the intermediate class which involved shoulder touching, double handed spins and winding up back to front, he pretty much lost me. I rather like West Coast Swing, and I’ve heard that opinion echoed by several people.

Last Friday’s trip back to the Fat Cat was to learn cha cha. That was Corencio’s decision. The alternative was bolero at the Paragon, and we’re probably not ready for bolero.

I had a heck of a time learning to cha cha last Friday. Luckily a woman named Susan (didn’t get her last name or a phone number–I’m there to dance, not romance) took pity on me, and decided that she would teach me this dance if it killed her. Thus, I wound up spending more than an hour with this very charming woman. (Note to self: take digital camera along and take some pictures if you keep doing this dancing stuff.)



This guy was my cha cha teacher.

This guy was my cha cha teacher.

This is what I learned. Stand facing your partner, hands lightly touching. Take one step to the left with the left foot.  Bring the right foot back behind it.  Rock forward on the left foot. Bring the right foot up level and one step to the right at the same time. That’s the first cha. Bring the left foot over and next to the right foot. That’s the second cha. Move the right foot over one more stop. That’s the third cha.

Cha cha cha!

But wait we’re not done. Now the woman sends her right foot back, and I put my left foot forward. Rock back on my right foot. Bring the left foot back and off to the left for a step. Cha! Right foot closes the gap. Cha! Left foot takes another step. Cha!

Cha cha cha!

That’s the basic dance. I had a helluva time getting that down. Susan showed me and showed me and showed me. I watched her feet and mirrored her steps as best I could. I had a hard time with the rock step in the middle. Seems like my weight was already on that foot, so why do i have to step forward on it again. Just couldn’t get that. Eventually, Susan had me just practice the rock step a bunch of times until I caught the motion and could do it.

But wait, there’s more! The basic simple dance never seems to be enough for these guys. So after you finish the cha cha cha part, on the last cha you release your partner’s outer hand, turn your body 90 degrees so you are no longer facing her, and let your own outer hand swing wide in a flourish. you do this at both ends of the cha cha cha part, and it really adds a little something to the dance. Over the course of the evening I actually got pretty good at this part, and for perhaps 10 to 20 seconds at a time, I actually looked like I was dancing.

During a break I took Susan through a couple passes of West Coast Swing. That actually went off without a hitch and showed I wasn’t a complete stumblebum.

And by the end of the evening I could almost, sort of, cha cha cha. I learned a lot, and I improved a lot. Am I any good? No. After one lesson of cha cha cha, I’m still terrible at it, but I have the gist.

My cha cha dancing clothes were not so fancy, but the steps looked sort of like this during the good part.


One thing I noticed is that my feet felt heavy. Even when I knew what I was doing, and was doing it correctly, I seemed a little slow. It felt like my feet stuck to the floor. I was wearing my one and only pair of shoes–a comfortable, but fairly heavy pair of work/dress shoes. They have low heels and rubber soles, and provide excellent traction. They grip the floor.  That is not what you need shoes to do when you’re dancing and have to move your feet. Looking around, I saw that most of the other men there were either wearing tennis shoes, or low comfortable loafers. The women were in heels, some quite high. Susan told me that was to put the weight more on the balls of the feet. Makes sense to me.

So, Ken needs dancing shoes. What keeps me from being a natural dancer seems to be three things: 1. I’m old, but there were people there older than me, and they were very good, 2. I have a bad sense of balance–several times I lost it, and went staggering away from my partner trying not to fall down, and 3. my feet are heavy and slow. It seems to me that better shoes would help a lot with that third condition.

Corencio’s assignment for the Salsa class is over. He has written his four paragraphs about outside the classroom dancing, and only has to turn them in. He had fun last Friday. He connected with a girl he knew slightly from class, and the two of them really seemed to get along. Ah, young love! I’m glad for him. Will we go out dancing again at one of these places? I don’t know. It’s really up to Corencio  now to say he wants to go. I’m willing, because dancing is fun.

Yes, learning to perform simple patterns of movement with a partner is fun. It must be even more fun to be able to perform complex patterns of movement. Dance is fun. I wish I had gotten into it decades ago.

But, if I go again, I really have to get me some new dancing shoes!


Posted April 20, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

One response to “Atroll Needs Dancing Shoes

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  1. I fully expect to read an hilarious and brilliant account of an elegantly dancing troll in one of your future works of fiction.

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