Worst Teacher
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The Worst Dance Teacher in History
Spring, 1977

I was interested in Disco Dancing long before Saturday Night Fever had even come along. I made it a point to sign up for every dance class I saw advertised.

One night I showed up at Stevens of Hollywood for a Courses a la Carte Disco class.  (Courses a la Carte was a predecessor to Leisure Learning).  It didn't take me long to decide the instructor, Ms B Brady, was the worst dance teacher I had come across to date.  This is an opinion that never changed over the years.  Let me add she was the only mediocre dance teacher I have ever come across.

That same night,  I did something very disrespectful.  Out of boredom, I began to show another student a line dance I had learned elsewhere. Although at least I kept my voice down and tried to be inconspicuous, I admit this was awful behavior.  

To my surprise Ms. Brady came over and said, "That is a pretty neat dance you are doing; will you show the rest of the class?"  I did not realize she had been watching.  More than slightly ashamed of myself, I did what she asked.  I taught the entire class my line dance.  

I never returned to that class. 
I was way too ashamed of myself to ever go back.

Nevertheless something very important came from that night.  I got to view a Whip demonstration. The owner of the studio, Mr. Lance Stevens, and his wife Cliann performed the Whip in front of our class in an attempt to drum up interest for their upcoming Whip class.  I was very interested.  I had never seen the Whip before and thought it was fascinating.  Little did I know the Whip would someday become the love of my life.

Through a series of events, s
ix months later I signed up for a Whip class at this same location based on my memory of that single demonstration.  Mr. Stevens was impressed by my dancing.  Amazingly, he came up to me the following week. He said his Disco instructor had just quit.  Would I like to become his new Disco instructor?  I did not hesitate for a moment.  I accepted on the spot.

This was the enormous break that launched my dance career. 

I do not know whether Mr. Stevens fired Ms. Brady or she quit like he said, but I realized I had taken this same woman's job.  The irony was inescapable.


Three years later I am now a dance teacher out on my own.  Stevens of Hollywood was two years in my rear view mirror.   One Friday night at my new dance studio, I was teaching a Beginning Western Swing class.  In those days we taught Circle Turn in the first week of that class.

I had a new couple in my class.  They had not taken my previous Twostep class. They struggled quite a bit. I assumed they hated me since nothing I told them seemed to make any sense. I was a little frustrated myself.

Then to my surprise, at the end of class this couple came up and said they really liked my class but were confused about how I danced the Twostep. It seemed to them that each of my steps traveled forward. Well, actually, yes they did!  This revelation seemed to boggle their minds.

Seeing their confusion, I asked, "So how do you do the Twostep ?"  I frowned as I watched them. They had been taught to go 1 Quick forward, feet together on the second Quick, backward on the first Slow and in place on the 2nd Slow. Their dance was sort of forward - together - back - forward. But when you looked at it, the overall effect was they only actually advanced on first Quick! 

That backwards step on the first Slow was a killer.  Out of four steps, only one step advanced down the floor!

After watching them I grimaced and asked, "Gee, don't people ever pass you on the dance floor?" 

The young lady started to cry (yes).  She blurted out painfully, "Do they pass us?  People pass us all the time!  Even worse they run into us!   I yell at Jeffrey to go faster but they still pass us!" 

Jeffrey nodded solemnly, crestfallen at his inadequacy. He shuffled his feet nervously.  He had a serious hangdog look about him.

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I sensed this was an extremely sore subject for the two of them. Jeffrey in his pitiful attempt to catch somebody, anybody, on the floor, would take a stride on his first quick step that even Shaq O'Neal would be hard pressed to match.  You had to see it to believe it possible. Sympathetic yet morbidly curious, I asked who had taught them how to Twostep.  It was Ms. Brady.  

The moment I heard that name, my heart went out to them. I patiently taught them to pass their feet. Jeffrey had a hard time adjusting his first step.  In our system, the first step is our smallest step. In Jeffrey's system, it was the only step that actually traveled!  He had to switch from a huge step to a tiny step. It took a while, but he got the hang of it.  The couple left smiling.

They say doctors bury their mistakes, but it is clear that dance teachers definitely have the power to cripple.


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