Studio A or Studio B

Last night, I finally decided to check out what all the hubbub was about Dancing With The Stars. Wow… I will definitely be following it this season, and I don’t know what took me so long to watch it.

During one of the episodes, they had little vignettes of the stars and their trainers working in the dance studio.  One of them made a comment about knowing hardwood floors.  And all of a sudden, my brain went…. *click*…. 

I have hardwood floors upstairs.  I have 5-foot tall mirror tiles that we’d rescued from a store that was closing down.  I could create a small dance studio in the spare bedroom!

Currently, that spare bedroom ain’t so spare.  It’s my 18-year-old’s room, who is away at basic training for the National Guard right now.  He won’t be back until March, and he’s already said he wants to find an apartment when he gets back.  So that room is up for grabs.  As soon as we get it cleaned, that is.

Now, loving my husband as much as I do, there was no way I was going to go through all this trouble without his help.  Besides, it takes two people to hang those mirrors… them suckers is heavy!

When he came home from work last night, I told him about watching the show and my idea to turn the corner bedroom into a mini dance studio.  He said he liked the idea, but he offered me an alternative to consider:  moving my clay studio from the basement up to the corner bedroom, and making the basement into the dance studio.

I hadn’t thought of that!  If you follow my main website, catherienarts.com, you might have seen my Studio Tour series of videos from the beginning of this year.  I basically showed my studio in the process of cleaning it up, but I also talked about what I do, in the various divisions of my work.  If you’d like a refresher on the basement studio, the tour begins here :  http://www.catherienarts.com/page/6/.  Below is the “before” picture of the studio, when it looked like a tornado had struck.  And stayed a long, long time.

If you look at the back of the room, you might notice the mirrored wall.  So if we made the basement into the dance studio, the advantages are:  twice the room as the corner bedroom, and mirrors already hung.  Oooh.  Good points in it’s favor.  The only drawback to this plan is that underneath those shiny linoleum tiles is a cement floor.  That’s hard on the feet, especially in heels.

In case you wondered, yes, all of my clay studio stuff would fit in the corner bedroom.  Well, not all of it; I mean, there’s still the closet by the garage door and the closet in the basement.  And there would have to be some fairly creative use of office space, in order to get all three tables and my old steel teacher’s desk into the corner bedroom.  But I might be willing to trade floor space for sunlight and warmth!

The biggest disadvantage for my studio being in the basement is that it gets very little sunlight, and I have a touch of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, which basically means I get a little droopy in the winter when there’s not a whole lot of natural light.  I make up for that by having a gazillion lights on in the basement.  But they’re compact fluorescent, and sometimes the little bit of hum they emit gives me a headache. On top of that, the basement is the coolest place in the house, and for most of the year that means it’s 68-72 degrees down there.  I usually wear a sweater, even in the summer.  I gripe all winter long about it being cold down there.

If I moved the clay studio up to the corner bedroom, then I’d have two windows letting in the sunlight, and as much heat as I’d like.  That appeals to me very much.  But I wonder if I’d feel a little claustrophobic up there.  It would be pretty packed, unless I decided to reduce the number of work tables.  We could do wall brackets and shelves, for things like the jewelry supplies and the Memorial Bead order tubs.  I dunno for sure.  It would require my studio to be in a state of disarray for a week or so while we made the transition.  Plus… I hate moving.  So those are the disadvantages of changing studios.

Going back to the dance studio, if we put it in the basement, we can invite a few couples over for dinner and dancing — that appeals to me very much.  And we  can hold private beginner ballroom classes whenever we wanted.  Another advantage.  We really couldn’t do those things if the dance studio were up in the corner bedroom; there wouldn’t be room for more than one couple.  Which is just fine for Allen and I, if that’s what ends up happening.

If we did go with a basement dance studio,  that would mean we’d have to do something with that cement floor.  But if we put in a wood floor over the top of it, that’s going to cost us money, and there’s the potential for flooding in that room, since it’s a basement.  I’d hate to invest in a dance floor only to see it ruined sometime down the road.

We are going to make a decision, one way or another, in the next few weeks.  And I have leanings both directions, so I’m not sure what decision we’ll make.  But I’ll post here when we do.


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Cha-Cha-Cha!

Allen’s getting ready to leave for work, but in the mean time, we’re watching Youtube videos of Cha Cha dancers.  It’s another one of those dances whose basic steps are pretty simple, but like Lego blocks, can build on one another based on the unique pair of dancers and the amount of creativity or flair they decided to include.  We’re talking about this thing they do with their legs, and how do they do that?  A certain roll of the hip, a flinging out of the toe… he’s almost late to leave for work because the time flew while we discussed it.

It used to be that boys and girls in America were taught how to waltz.  Dance classes for awkward ten-year-olds was as commonplace as popsicle stains on their best white shirt.  But as a our culture and popular music changed, those skills became less and less useful in peoples’ daily lives, until they came smack dab up against something traditional like a wedding, or their grandparents’ 50th anniversary, or a senior prom.

At which point a boy usually panicked, no matter his age.

“I don’t like to dance,” he would say.  It was an excuse that became a stereotype.

“I don’t have any rhythm,” my husband would say.  It was a creative variation.

It was fairly effective, for awhile.  I would try to cajole him into dancing with me, and he would tell me about his struggles with a semester of ballroom dancing lessons in college.  In his defense, he really does have issues with rhythm.  But out of love for me, he tried.  It helped that I’d never even had the benefit of any classes, so we were pretty much on level ground when we started trying to learn.

There weren’t Youtube videos back then.  There wasn’t an internet back then.  But there were books, and his memory of classes.  We would muddle through tripping over one another at weddings.  We giggled alot and got out of time with the music.  And I loved every minute of it.

Then came The Movie.  Shall We Dance? it asked.  And they did.

That tipped the scales for me and made me want to dance.  Not just to fiddle around in embarrassment at weddings and whatnot.  But to really,  actually, know what we were doing on the dance floor.

Fast-forward a number of years, years of learning to waltz on the living room carpet, of trying to figure out the rhythm of a tango in an L-shaped kitchen.  Lots of laughter, of teaching our kids a basic waltz box step, of watching our boys ask girls to dance on New Years’ Eve and surprising them with knowing what to do.  Rather a useful skill, for men, really.  Amazingly useful.  Usually it’s the woman dragging, cajoling, or browbeating her husband to the dance floor and then being embarrassed because he doesn’t know how to lead.   Imagine her surprise if he had risen from his chair, offered his hand, and asked her to dance without so much as an arched eyebrow in his direction.

We found that it has given us one more thing to do together that we enjoy.  It’s healthy, too.  For the heart as well as the body.  Allen does this little… I dunno what to call it, but it’s this little wiggle to a certain song that he really likes, and that wiggle just melts me.  See — that’s me, in a puddle, just thinking about it.

New Year’s Eve turned into “Hey let’s teach a few steps next New Year’s Dance”, and now it’s becoming “Hey let’s give free dance lessons once a month”.   (All of which has been Allen’s idea, by the way.  I think my enthusiasm is like a drug to him, and he really sticks his neck out for that.)

We teach just the basic step, a turn, a traveling step, and some variations — nothing fancy, just enough for people to look like they have a tenuous grasp on what they’re doing at a wedding reception.  It can’t hurt.  And you can’t beat the price:  it costs nothing more than a little embarrassment. People see that even though we are the teachers, we regularly flub up in the process.  I mean, we can barely dance ourselves.  It reduces the expectations they have on themselves a LOT.  If our inexperience bothered them, no one has said anything.  I mean… whaddya expect for free?  Definitely not Fred and Ginger.

Does it make you curious?  What do you see in your mind’s eye?  Is it two overweight, middle aged, rhythmically-challenged people stiffly wiggling their way across a dance floor?

You’d be right, of course.  But that’s only what’s on the outside.  Looking a little deeper, you’d see there’s a pair of rather happy little hearts doing a fairly decent rendition of a Cha Cha.

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