So, it's been a couple of months now, and I've managed to cadge a few dance lessons out of Ye Ballroom Instructor and the new Eccentric. They're all very busy, because everyone in the arts has like eight jobs, but between the two of them I have at least got a general idea of what the hell is going on.

We have all now learned the following things:

  1. I'm more or less fine if I'm leading. (Raise your hand if you somehow did not see this coming.) I'm not good, but I'm capable of following directions which will eventually make me better.
  2. I'm also more or less fine if I'm backleading, although I am really, really not supposed to be doing that.
  3. I'm extremely nervous and very laggy as a follow. Partly this is because I just don't know the signals yet, but mostly it's because--
  4. My balance is absolute rubbish.
I keep telling them that my balance is rubbish. I think they believe that I believe that, but I also think they think I'm comparing myself to ballerinas on toe shoes and circus artists on tightropes. I'm not; I'm comparing myself to people who don't bounce themselves off of desks and door jambs on a daily basis. Nobody notices, mainly because I ignore it. They do see me bonk myself, but they figure if I'm not reacting it can't really have been that hard or hurt that badly. It was that hard, it did hurt, and I've probably got a bruise there now, but I bang into shit so often that there's no point in making owie noises every time I do it, so I don't bother. 

Moving myself around is one of those things where I gave up very early on thinking I could do things the normal way, and just settled for doing things in whatever way worked. I've gotten very good at saving myself and making it look like nothing's happened. This is great in everyday life, but it's fucking me up royally here -- I can look like I'm doing things right-ish, even though I have all of my weight on the wrong part of the wrong foot, and suddenly I cannot take whatever step I'm supposed to be taking next because that leg is the one I'm standing on. It's not even very predictable. The Eccentric had about a 67% success rate at dipping me. The other third of the time, my brain just goes shit! and I lock up that hip so I don't topple over.

Following is so far a long sequence of being politely pushed off-balance by my lead, and saving myself from falling just in time for them to do it again. Clearly, I have got something wrong. If this were how it's supposed to go, then no one would ever have any fun. 

I am not sure the Eccentric is going to be much help in this regard. I'm sure he knows how to follow, since he teaches and does choreography, but he is very much a traditionalist. I complained at one point that I was having trouble finding men's ballroom shoes in my size, and he seemed to think I was confused. (Finding women's shoes was no problem. I had more trouble finding a 2" heel instead of a 4" heel -- most of the inexpensive shoes are strappy ankle-breakers meant for salsa.) He'd probably teach me to lead if I asked, but he'd be disappointed that I didn't want to dance like a girl. I do, I just also want to know the other half, at which I am unsurprisingly much better.

Ye Ballroom Instructor got at least some of his titles dancing with other men, did in fact have a suggestion about where to find men's shoes in a Euro 36, and offered to teach me how to lead from the very beginning. He must have a lot more experience as a follow, not just as an instructor, but just like dancing with random people, so I am hoping to get some help out of him. I'm sure if I asked him what it's supposed to feel like when you follow successfully, he'll know what I'm talking about, I'm just not sure he'd be able to tell me with actual words. He tends to quit talking when I hit a button -- he doesn't stop answering, just stops talking -- and if I'm not competent enough to dance with him I'm not sure he could show me.


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