Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back of the Class

My first time dancing in the front of the class came the first time I taught a class.  (I guess, technically, there were 2 songs where I was up front during my Instructor Training, but I'm not counting them.)

From the beginning, I've always been a back row dancer.  Part of it probably has to do with the fact that I'm a big guy.  Zumba classes are almost entirely girls.  Rarely have I been to a class with more than one guy, which is usually me.  I have ridiculously wide shoulders for a person who only stands 5'7".  I usually dress ridiculously (hello bright maize ensemble w/ a headband).

I've just never felt like I needed to be in the front row with all of the ripped girls in their sports bras.  Heck, I'd probably block people from being able to see.  Meet me in back with everyone else that's uncomfortable with themselves (or their dancing).

Here's what a typical class feels like.  I'd be touching the back wall.

Today, I had an unusually small class at the Fillmore Center Club One in San Francisco.  The studio there is odd shaped, in that the instructor teaches from the short wall in a rectangular room.  It's not uncommon to have 8-10 rows of 4-5 people across.  (Like I said, an odd shape.)  I've never had the impression that people couldn't see, so it works, and everybody seems happy.

Since I had a small class, I decided to pull the "hey you ladies in the back, come be the front row."  I thought it'd be fun.  For one thing, there was a lady really close to me up front that I was going to ease backward a little.  Secondly, with a small, supportive class, it would be nice to let those ladies that usually hide get to shine.

You in the back, come forward and be a star!

They refused to come forward.  I should have taken the hint and moved on.  Instead I was all "no seriously.  It'll be fun.  Fine, I'll come back there, then."

I had the whole class turn around toward the back, and we did Pitbull's "Pause".  I could feel the anxiety back there immediately.  By the second chorus, I turned everyone back to the front, and we resumed the class in its normal manner for the rest of the time.

So my first attempt at the 'bring the back row forward' was an epic fail.  I wanted to apologize to them afterward.  I hope I will at least get a few emails saying, "Please, don't ever do that again" so that I can respond to them individually.  I really would like it to work out, but I'm not going to try it again anytime soon.

Has anybody seen this happen successfully?  Tips/hints/advice?

Happy Dancing!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Leyder, the uber-popular salsa instructor at Club One Oakland that I've subbed for, just released his second CD with his band DOSFOUR.  It dropped less than a month ago.  Since I'm super cool, I got a free copy of it.

That's gorgeous Leyder on the cover.

In return, I'm going to be using the song "No Se Controla" in my Zumba routine for a while.  I get a little lazy when it comes to referencing songs that I'm using, or partial choreography that I'm using.  I'll try to remember to shout out his name every once in a while when we're dancing to it, but this is just the long explanation of what I'm talking about.

For now, I want to credit Vanessa W. with most of the routine to "It's Raining Men".  Courtney provided most of the choreography for "Livin' La Vida Loca" for the Truckee 4th of July Parade, which I kept using.  Also, Yeni inspired most of the choreography for "Pegate", but I don't think they look very similar anymore.  It's been a while since I danced it with her.  Finally, Wil came up with the cha-cha and addictive arm movements in the chorus of "California Gurls" which I built the rest of the song around.

I only use choreography from instructors that I very much enjoy and recommend.  I hope they see that as an honor, and I think you should try and snag a class from any of them if you find one.

Everything else I do is either completely choreographed by me or augmented by official ZUMBA routines... or from music videos like "Pause" and "Footloose".

Now my conscience is clear.

Happy Dancing,