Where: New York City, New York
Place: Stepping Out
Address: 37 West 26th Street, 9th Floor / NY, NY 10010
Reviewer: Robert Abrams
I was on the subway car at my home station when I realized I had forgotten my camera. I jumped off the train just in time. As a result of this delay, when I got back to the subway station (with the camera), what should pull into the station but the magical mystery train.
This turned out to be an appropriate omen because Stepping Out's grand opening party for their new space was indeed magical. The place was packed with people. The decorations were elegant. The wine was drinkable. The music was energetic. All in all, it was a great event.
The space looks to be quite large. Since there are several rooms, they are able to play at least three types of music simultaneously (ala the Starlight Ballroom in Sunnyvale, CA). The main room is relatively large. It is unfortunate that the main room is broken up by two rather large columns. Still, this clearly was not a problem for social dancing (both line of dance and spot dance varieties), and it shouldn't be a problem for teaching private lessons. It does present a problem for performances, but this can be overcome with creative choreography.
Stepping Out put on a comprehensive show. Students and teachers showcased everything from International Standard to Mambo to Flamenco. The Flamenco was danced quite emphatically. The choreography could have stood some slight adjustments to acknowledge the performance in the round. This could have been done by building on the direction reversals already present in the choreography, and perhaps by adding some collective revolution movements, but even this is a minor criticism which arises out of jealousy of the people sitting on the other side of the room, who, by such fortunate circumstances, could look into the eyes of the dancers. Given the overall quality of the dancing during the showcase, it is clear that Stepping Out has a vigorous program of instruction.
At one point in the evening, the DJ announced a two-step. I am something of a contrarian by nature. Since I now live in New York (where no one dances two-step), I find myself wanting to dance it. It was only after someone insisted that she dance with me that I realized this was a country two-step, and not a nightclub two-step. I haven't danced country two-step since some friends and I went to the Saddle Rack in San Jose, CA. This was about two years ago. Keep in mind that I had a couple of group classes in CW two step, and a few private lessons with a teacher who is a dear friend of mine, is sweet, a nice person, a great dancer, and deserves to find her beshert, but who is not a CW two-step expert. The trip over the hill (this is Santa Cruz slang for anywhere from about San Jose to Palo Alto) to the Saddle Rack was the one and only time I have been out dancing CW two-step. (In case you do go to the Saddle Rack, be forewarned that despite this being a country western club, where you would expect them to serve steak, or at least a decent hamburger, given that they raise a lot of cattle in the country west, the only food to be had at the Saddle Rack is a sausage and hot dog vendor who sets up shop right outside the club.) Anyway, the two step at Stepping Out started, and at least I remembered that CW two step starts on the quick-quick. My partner kept saying "Smooth, smooth" which confused me no end since this was clearly a CW dance, and not a Smooth dance. I took some of the cowboy jaunt out of my step, and she seemed happier. As we continued to trot around the floor, I started to get daring: turning her from a closed hold to a shadow position, leading her backwards, and both turning under our arms. Some of it may have been actual CW two-step steps. Most of it was probably just improvisational riffs off of foxtrot (since rhythmically CW two step is just the reverse of foxtrot). Near the end of the number, I nearly ran us into someone and more or less had to Volta myself out of the way. It was one of those, Oh my G-d I am about to kill her I had better calm it down and go back to basics moments. I did go back to basics and we finished the dance without crashing into anyone. She thanked me for the dance, but I have no doubt there was at least a small part of her that was thinking, What the heck was that.
Stepping Out's grand opening was attended by a couple cast members from Swing!, the Broadway show. A head of state (the dance equivalent thereof) also paid his respects (looking quite dapper I might add).
All in all, it was a great event. Stepping Out seems poised to make important contributions to the New York dance community.
The floor was packed.
Stepping Out's owners dance a Mambo.
Buzzards and Monkeys flock together.
They are having fun performing for the crowd.
The Manhattan Prarie Dogs strut their stuff.
Passion shines from his eyes.
His clothes may be casual, but his dancing is first class.
Bold and Beautiful.
Stepping Out's staff performs a little Salsa Rueda.
The guy in the middle, who did an able job announcing many of the numbers, finally gets a chance to dance.