14, AnniPotts, bridesmaid dress, Celtic Tenors, Charleston, Clogging Lindy Hopper, family, Fleur, Fleur's First Communion Veil, guys, Hatman, Indy, Mr. Zoot, ridiculous, sewing, Swing Club, swing dancing, teaching swing dancing
There’s a lot I love about teaching swing dancing. I love the rush of sharing something I love, of watching new and tentative dancers blossom into full-fledged Lindy Hoppers. I love the secret thrill of teaching something I know is really hard, but presenting it as if it’s no big deal, and watching my students pick it up without a hitch, never knowing the magnitude of exactly what they’re doing. I love seeing how my students turn out, the joy and musicality with which they dance, knowing that all students reflect at least a little of their instructors.
And then there are the stories. It’s not just being able to tell them my own stories, like back when I’d just barely started dancing and Hatman tried to lead a Texas Tommy out of open position, leading to much awkwardness, or the infamous dance with The Clogging Lindy Hopper at the Miami dance Valentine’s Day before last. It’s also the stories I end up telling other people, mostly of ways I’ve ended up looking like an idiot in front of the class. For example, there was the first time I ever taught by myself, and ended up telling my demonstration partner rather urgently to “Do me the bad way!” (I was trying to tell him to demonstrate how not to lead a Lindy basic, but, um, yeah.)
Unfortunately, Monday I think I added to this list of stories. Mr. Zoot and I have been teaching Charleston for a while now, making our way through side-by-side Charleston, hand to hand turns, other partner Charleston moves, and into Tandem. When we had our quick teacher consult at the beginning of class (us? plan ahead?) Mr. Zoot said, “Hey, let’s teach Travelling Charleston!” And I said, “Oooh! Yeah!” Now the problem is, what I as thinking of was a move that’s done with the partners facing each other, holding both hands, kicking through similar to hand to hand Charleston turns. I apologize if this is a bunch of gibberish to you – the important thing is this: When Mr. Zoot went to lead the move he was actually thinking of (Traveling Charleston out of Tandem, in which the two partners are back to front, both facing the same direction), I had never done it before, and I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t just not following something on the dance floor, but while our entire class watched. It was pretty horrible. It took me a few (ok, maybe half a dozen) tries to get it down, though I did eventually get it, and then I was able to turn around and teach it, but still. Pretty much an Epic Fail.
The rest of my life, thankfully, has not been nearly so Failicious. I finally got my copy of The Celtic Tenor’s Hard Times in the mail, which means I no longer have to scour Youtube for Celtic Tenors vids in order to get my fix. Plus, I’ve been steaming along on Fleur’s First Communion shawl, and this weekend I think I might just actually get some time to work on my bridesmaid dress. I had a breakthrough about it a while back that I’m eager to try out. You see, one of the reasons I haven’t made more progress on the dress (besides my general lack of weekend sewing time) has been that the pattern calls for many, many bound buttonholes. This is a somewhat advanced couture sewing technique that may produce beautiful buttonholes, but is rather fiddly, and has coincidentally been intimidating the crap out of me. However, when I looked up the pattern on Pattern Review, I saw that one other sewer came up with the idea of using snaps instead, thereby completely circumventing the whole buttonhole issue and also adding a rather kicky style accent! It’s genius, my friends, pure genius!
Of course, as soon as I though of having snaps instead of buttons on my dress bodice, I remembered the story of 14’s Pearl Snap shirt. You see, being from Texas, he had a few Pearl Snap shirts, which various of my sisters (mostly AnniPotts and Indy) found very entertaining, especially for the way having snaps instead of buttons could facilitate a man ripping his shirt dramatically off. One night he was over at The Family Homestead, helping with the dishes after Saturday night dinner. He decided to take his dress shirt off (he was wearing a t-shirt underneath) so he wouldn’t get it wet. AnniPotts was also at the sink, and he remembered how funny she thought his shirt was, so he decided to try something. “Hey, AnniPotts, ” he said, “Watch this!” With that he dramatically wrenched open the front of his shirt, only to realize, as buttons went pinging across the kitchen, that he wasn’t actually wearing a Pearl Snap shirt that night.
That story has since gone down in family lore. I think we’ll still be telling it when we’re old and gray. (14 will just have to deal with it, which he will do by laughing a little, turning a bit pink in the face, and saying, “Oh, geez.”) But telling the story of 14’s Pearl Snap shirt is one thing, having a Pearl Snap bodice on my bridesmaid dress is the kind of private joke that makes giggle every time I think about it. When it comes to weddings, I think I can use all the giggles I can get!