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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Thursday (11/25/10) 10:33am - ... wherein Peter talks about how he wound up in the dance scene.

Yes, I'm still very slowly catching up with the questions from the "8 things" meme.  This question was from Patti Thomas.

What got you interested in dancing?

I think my first actual exposure to partner dancing was in my freshman year of college.  (1992? '93?)  At Rice, everybody was (is?) required to take a couple of P. E. classes.  I go with golf (no real exertion) and swimming (thinking I could learn to swim -- I was wrong).  But apparently the ballroom-dancing classes are wildly popular.  I can't for the life of me fathom why.

And then I go through the rest of my time at Rice rarely encountering the opposite sex.

Skip ahead to '98, and I'm living in Boston right after graduation.  A friend from Rice is getting married; I figure there will be dancing at the wedding; I figure I should take dance lessons.  And, since I'm living in Back Bay, I wind up taking obscenely expensive ballroom lessons at (I think) Arthur Murray.  I learn the bare rudiments of foxtrot, waltz, and a few Latin dances.  The instructors pester me about entering competitions.

After a month or two (and possibly enough money to buy a nice trip to Europe), I give it a rest.

Note that in that time, I saw lindy hop danced exactly once, at a club in Boston.  Further note that in Boston, a venue like the Fed would be unthinkable -- buildings are small, and floor space is a precious, limited commodity.  The swing song came on, and the whole crowd cleared a space for two dancers to... do something.  I watched it thinking, "What the hell is that. That hurts my brain."

(Now I realize that it was the open basic.)

So:  skip ahead again, to the summer of 2000.  I have moved away from Boston, where I was cold all the time and miserably lonely, to Austin, which at least has addressed the 'cold' problem.[1]  I'm out buying a T-shirt at the Arboretum (Marla Wise, of all people, was working at the Banana Republic that day), and I was getting ready to wander back home.

"Peter!"

It takes several tries before I realize somebody is talking to me, but I finally realize Karin is shouting at me from a small pavilion, where she and her friends are dancing.  Karin is, at this point, one of maybe three people I know in the entire city, and she's currently running the Austin Swing Syndicate.  (Yes, they named it so the acronym would be ASS.  Ah, youth.)

I hang out a bit, and I get a business card about the organization.

Shortly after that, I try taking classes from Matt Jones and Laura Molloy.  None of it comes easily to me.  I practice a lot on my own in my living room, and it takes a long time for the basic 8-count to make any sense.  It takes an even longer time for me to work up the courage to actually -- *gasp* -- GO TO A DANCE.  When I do, I mostly hang out with Karin and her immediate friends.  I dance really badly for a long time, but I slowly improve and most people seem willing to put up with me.

After a few years, I get okay at it, and I sort of plateau, with no further interest in getting better.

The blues scene starts flickering into life around 2004 or 2005.  (The first record I have of my going to a blues dance is a house party from December 2004.)  There are occasional house parties, then occasional blues after-hours dances.  Then there are monthly blues dances for a while, and occasional workshops.  Again, I spend a year or two getting passable at the dance, and then my ambition dries up.

These days, I only rarely dance lindy -- I usually just go to the weekly blues dance for a few hours and leave it at that.  It's a pleasant way to while away a few hours with my friends.  You meet interesting people in the local scene.  Also, it's nice that there's one part of my life that doesn't have a crazy guy-heavy gender ratio.  (Yay women.)

So that's pretty much how things have been with me and dancing.

_________
[1] For way more info about my personal history than anyone could want, check here.

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