My 2-year-old daughter and I drove over to the Dwight Armstrong Performing Arts Conservatory on Friday morning, July 19, to watch dorm 3B and their sister dorm participate in a Philadelphia Youth Camp dance class.
Loma was especially excited for this class. She even put on a nice dress, got her hair done for the occasion, and babbled to me about dancing throughout our short car ride. When we entered the building, dorm 3B was already there composing their dorm song under the guidance of counselor Michael Davis and assistant Bill Wallace.
I was told that Reid and Daniel G. were out sick. The only positive I could think of from this situation: 3B has two other Daniels, Daniel B. and Daniel V., so at least the Daniel confusion was reduced by a third for a limited time only.
But dorms 3B and 3G weren’t the only dorms to occupy the dapac that morning. Dorm 6B arrived for song-leading practice soon afterward and informed me that one of their campers was visiting pyc First Aid to remove a fly that had flown up his nose. I told them how a bug had lodged itself in my ear many years ago and thrashed around inside my head for several days. It was the absolute worst. All who heard the tale were horrified.
Dorm 2G, captained by my sister, showed up a couple minutes later for speech class. As usual, she remarked that she never sees me while looking directly at me. I reminded her that I had just seen her a mere five days ago, as she passed by cycling headquarters.
Dance instructor Shane Granger and assistants Leah Carroll, Owen Pulis and Brianna Lorenz escorted dorms 3B and 3G into the dance room directly across from the main entrance to the building and then started class four minutes early—the mark of true professionals.
Equipped with a hands-free microphone, Mr. Granger recapped and demonstrated the basics of the cha cha with Miss Carroll. Then the boys and girls teamed up and drilled the steps over and over—1, 2, cha-cha-cha, 3, 4, cha-cha-cha—rotating partners every five minutes or so.
With the basic steps firmly in mind, the campers advanced to the cha cha break, spin-break, under-arm swing, and chase. While demonstrating the under-arm swing, Mr. Granger said something that corrected me deeply: The male isn’t supposed to just hold his arm up and make the female go underneath; he’s supposed to keep moving and switch places with her. As Mr. Granger explained, the male should pretend that there’s a spotlight on his chest and endeavor to point it at the female for the entirety of the maneuver. I have always been extremely lazy in this regard.
For the second half of the class, campers switched from the cha cha to the east coast, an abbreviated form of the swing more suitable for faster songs. They learned two uniquely named moves: the hurricane and the tunnel. The hurricane is a flailing, arm-contorting, twisting, spinning, whirling dervish of constant action. Several campers were mildly vexed as they tried valiantly to remember the numerous steps.
The tunnel transports the crouching female under one arm, behind the male’s back, and then under his other arm. This move was completely new to me.
Continuing the trend from the start of class, the dance crew kept the campers for four extra minutes—a total of 98 minutes of intensely focused dance practice. Mr. Granger awarded tickets to five boys of 3B: Daniel B., Tiesto and Aiden for trying hard, and Jordan and Jeremiah for exhibiting dance dexterity and dominance. Mr. Granger said he wanted to give tickets to everyone but reminded the group that he isn’t running a charity.