I’m going to write a post about the Latin routines that Victoria and I have come up with fir the competition.

For those who don’t know, I’ve done ballroom for about a year now. It’s fantastic. My level has no guys, so girls lead other girls. It makes us stronger, better rounded dancers in the lead-follow dimension, but does distract us from learning one routine and learning it really well: in fact, what usually ends up happening is that the girls all learn the follow steps (for Latin/Rhythm, they’re objectively more difficult/numberous), and then cram the lead part when they need to.

So any of the girls on the team could probably get into the final round of any Latin/rhythm dance if we were to dance with one of the more senior guys, but because we have to lead each other, it’s slightly more shaky how much we achieve: it’s a bit like cramming “The Rudiments of Small-Plane pilotry” before that family trip you chartered that two-prop for. (I am guessing that a two-prop is a small plane. But I might have made up this entityt.)

Anyway: You may also be confused as to what I’m talking about when I say Latin/rhythm. There are four types of ballroom dances: you can think of it as two attributes with two possible values each.

1. Is it ballroom or not?
2. Is it international or American?

For the first question, ballroom revers to graceful, long-dresses, proper-looking, big-step, elegant dances. The pair’s step size is equal to min{follor.step, lead.step}, and both people move equal distance. The lead, for the guy, is through a stiff frame (both arms), and is much more …rotational. Think of hugging a very large tray of hors d’ouvres and offering it from side to side. Guys wear stiff shirts with probably a bowtie, and girls wear dresses with sleeves and significant twirl.

In contrast, “not” ballroom is best described as “hipsy:” These dances have the story of love and rejection, lust and heartbreak; the woman moves around the man, and the man really doesn’t move much. Whereas in the ballroom dances, the man leads with both arms and in a rotational way, the man’s lead is much more likely to be with one hand, and more in-out/linear. There is a premium in being able to send the girl out and bring her in dramatically. As for costuming, girls wear, in general, barely anything: it’s usualy a thin coating of sequins or fringe to emphasize hip movement. Guys will wear tight pants and an open-chested shirt.

The other parameter, international v. American! So technically, at each level of either gruop, there’s a syllabus. On our team, anyway, there’s an implicit permission to think of American as a set of moves that you compose loosely, ad hoc, and International as a looping sequence of prescribed moves that must be done.

There are also differences in the dance positions themselves: in International ballroom, you don’t let go of the partner; in American, you get to separate and do openwork; in the same vein, in international latin, there’s great importance on having always a straight leg and shap turns: the dancers’ axes should be orthogonal up to rotation. (oh my god did I just say this)

Anyway: our routines.

Break to fan
Natural Top to fan
Hockey Stick
Pick up to closed
Breaks d.c.*

Break to fan
Hockey stick
Underarm turn
Natural Top
Hip twist to fan
Alemana with hand strongly out ut d.c.

Clockwise underarm turn
triple step -> walk walk -> triple step/ rock (whisk, but I need to detail it)
Jive walks
Counter-clockwise underarm turn
Stop and Go
American Spin unwind into c.!!

* da capo

So you can see that there’s lots of similarities. Everything starts with a move that gets the dancers into open position, but it comes right back in to do something rotational. I mean, it’s latin. I think goin in and out from the center is exactly what defines Latin.

There are some adorable dancers! just really happy-looking 20-somethings sending other 20-somethings around the floor. (The younger dancers aren’t actually as interesting.


Holy shit, we actually got a callback for chacha! The routine got modified, since I was very confused about how to do the requisite hip-twist/opening out from natural top to fan (in fact, I was even confused about natural top…), so we skipped it and instead, just went into basics, then open breaks to fan. It worked out really well.