Friday, October 14, 2016

Our brief foray into a dance cult

We went to the dance studio with what I thought was a simple request- teach us some basic waltz steps and help us choreograph our first dance. I paid the not so small sum of $300 with the promise that's that what would happen over a period of 6 private lessons with our teacher.

Spoiler alert! That didn't happen. Here's what happened instead.

Lesson 1: We explain that we have a very limited amount of time since David had to return to France for the summer. We want to start learning to waltz because the first dance song we chose was the Blue Danube Waltz. We do spend about 5 minutes on the waltz, but we spent most of the time learning the basic steps of the foxtrot, tango, and some other thing I've already forgotten. I let it go since it was the first lesson, and we did have fun. By the end, David was hardly stepping on my feet anymore ;)

Odd moment of the day: while warming up dancing with each other, two other random teachers we'd never met cut in to dance with us, and with cheesy fake smiles spent several minutes pitching other events and the studio we could attend and pay for. While dancing the whole time, of course. There's something quite unnerving about someone you've never met dancing with you while trying to get you to spend money.

Lesson 2: Proceeds pretty much the same way. My pleas to learn the waltz are brushed off in a patronizing way with a speech that we're not ready to focus on that until we're comfortable with all styles. 

Odd moment of the day: As we're walking out the door, our teacher we signed up with for 6 lessons mentions that the next week, we'll actually be working with someone else, because that's the studio policy. Because you obs learn more that way, according to her!

Lesson 3: We work with a new teacher. He was actually willing to spend the whole time working on the waltz, so we felt much better about things.

Odd moment of the day: In the middle of dancing, he has us take a break and pulls us over to the trophy case. Then we got a super intense speech. "Dance is not just for your wedding. Dance is a lifestyle. Don't you want to have hobbies together?? You MUST feel comfortable in nightclubs. Let me tell you about our trophy system. It will be so much new and wonderful information." Me- "Actually, we had a similar thing for ballroom classes at BYU." Him- his eyes widen as if he has never heard anything so ridiculous "No, THIS IS FRED FREAKING ASTAIRE. IT'S SO DIFFERENT AND WONDERFUL." Then he explains the level system, and it is literally the exact same thing that we did at BYU. The speech ends with a plea that we set dance goals as a couple not just for the wedding, but for our LIFE. I finally got him to stop talking by explaining that we were moving to France and were not going to sign up to do dance exams and competitions.

Teacher explaining to us what dance really is...
Lesson 4: We continue to work on the waltz with the new male teacher, with no explanation as to why our original teacher didn't take us back.

Odd moment of the day: He lets it slip near the end that actually our original teacher is moving to L.A. and that's why she wasn't teaching us anymore. I guess instead of telling us that, she made up an elaborate lie that it was the studio policy for other teachers to step in so you learn more lol. I should note that she did not move to L.A. while we were still taking lessons. She was sitting in the studio doing nothing every time.

Before we left the studio, we make a plan to start learning choreography the next week. We tell him the song we want, and he PROMISES to have the whole dance completely choreographed. He has elaborate plans to do skype lessons with David over the summer so he doesn't forget anything.

Lesson 5: What do you know??? When we arrive at the studio, it turns out we're going to work with a 3rd, unknown person! Teacher #1 was sitting behind the desk doing nothing, and Teacher #2 was working with another client. So I guess they just shove us with whoever is available... with no warnings or apologies. We didn't hear one word about the choreography that Teacher #2 was supposedly going to work on all week. I guess that was a lie too? I didn't even bring it up because at that point they'd been so unprofessional I didn't want them to help anymore. Teacher #3 did help us again with the basic waltz steps, so at least there was that.

Odd moment of the day: I ask Teacher #3 to help us work on a basic waltz step that I remembered from college and wanted to incorporate in the dance. She flat out told me no, because according to her we weren't ready and it was her reputation on the line if we didn't do it well on our wedding day. Exact words "My name is on this dance now, so no." Yes lady... because everyone at my wedding will know that you helped us in this 1 lesson and they will tell all of their friends and it will ruin your reputation. Yep.

So basically, it was so disappointing overall. We did NOT get what we paid for at all.  I didn't even do the 6th lesson we paid for. We were able to learn the basic waltz step, so at least we got something out of it. We also gained something to laugh at together. I think that's going to be our shared hobby instead of ballroom dancing together. Every single week we were there, I felt super uncomfortable with their pushy pleas to come to their other events and sign up for other things. 

My dreams for what our first dance would be didn't quite work out, especially since we were apart for the whole summer and couldn't work on it together. I ended up choreographing something myself and keeping it pretty simple. We only had time to run through it twice before the reception.

Thankfully, it didn't end up being a train wreck. I liked that it was unique and not your typical first dance. The Blue Danube Waltz is special to David because it was a big family tradition for them to watch the Vienna New Year's concert (on TV) every year.

In conclusion, do not pay to join Fred Astaire dance studio. Unless you're into that whole cult thing.

I guess if you made it through my whole rant, then you deserve to watch this :)

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