The piece of “trivia” in the comic seems rather dubious to me. However, after reading Fred’s autobiography Steps in Time, I can definitely assure my readers that Mr. Astaire had a thorough dislike of his signature top hat, white tie, and tails. As for the man himself, a quote from Imdb states:
People think I was in born top hat and tails.
All I can say to that is it must have been awfully stifling dancing in a get-up like that.
Digression aside, one of the odder things I love about ballroom are the clothes. In fact, I think ballroom is the only area of my life where I truly love what I wear. Personally, nothing makes me swoon more than a sharp-dressed man. The definition of a “sharp-dressed man” seems to have changed over the decades (as most of the boys in high school seemed to think “sharp” meant having their pants hanging off their bums). As for me, a nice tuxedo is all I need. If you have tails, that’s a bonus. Unfortunately, my knowledge is sorely lacking in this area of ballroom. so this is more of my own experience. If any of my readers has more general knowledge, do tell. (Hint, hint)
I’ll start of with what little I do know: Latin/Rhythm is meant to show off the dancer’s body. You want people to stare at your lovely legs and arms. More specifically, you want them to marvel at how well you’ve trained them. I don’t know why this is particularly emphasized. I just know it is. My Latin dress reminds me of the 1920’s flapper style. Oh yes, personal story time. I showed a picture of me wearing my Latin dress to one of my teachers because the previous discussion had been about a possible talent show where I could dance. (The talent show was mostly wishful thinking on all of our parts.) I joked with him, saying that I probably couldn’t get away with dancing sexily at a Baptist university. Hence, no Latin. Upon seeing the picture, he stated, “You know, you should wear some real clothes sometime.” Don’t worry. He was only teasing, and no harm was done. Plus, I showed him the picture knowing that’s the reaction I’d get. *mischievous grin*
As for Smooth/Standard, I have no knowledge whatsoever. Just an opinion. I actually aesthetically prefer both men and women’s wear for this specific kind of dancing. It may be my great love for Fred Astaire, or that little girl inside of me that wants to be a Disney princess. Who knows? When I wear my Smooth dress, I like to think of it as an extension of my body. The way it should move and flow should be so seamless that the dress should be visually inseparable from the body underneath it. That’s the kind of dancing I want to achieve.
P.S.: My next post is going to go deeper into the concept of contra-body movement position. I’m learning it, and I think it will help cement the concept to write it down. Plus, it’s been the subject of two lessons with DP now. See you, then!