Third Time’s the Charm (Do the Role Plays)

In which we are reminded to persevere and practice when changing or adding something significant and new to our sales patterns.

A few years ago, I went to Nebraska for a family wedding ceremony and reunion with the reception and party in the Historic Morton Barns, now converted for social and education purposes.  The wedding invitation indicated that the post-ceremony party would be “barn formal,”  that line-dancing would be a central part of the evening,  and that there would be a dance lesson three hours prior to the wedding for guests who hadn’t been getting out or dancing much. That described me perfectly.  After multiple “’I’d rather poke sticks in my ears” efforts to avoid it, I was instructed by other family members to show up for training.

Fifty other guests and I showed up.

The Electric Slide is four steps to the right. four steps to the left, three steps and a touch back, a forward-touch, a back-touch, a scuff kick, and quarter turn left.  18 counts. Have you got that?  I knew we were in trouble when we assembled guests asked for repeated demonstrations and practices of the first eight counts of the dance.

Bumping into each other, the barn walls,  and anything not pulled safely away, we practiced S L O W L Y  …  one-two-three-clap, four-five-six-clap, back-back-back-clap, forward-touch, back-touch, forward-scuff, one…  to the shouted counts of our four instructors (who, after about 15 minutes, knew THEY  were in trouble – we were rank beginners and the bride was expecting us to look sharp on the dance floor… at full speed…in four hours…without our instructors).

More repetitions, more again, then up to tempo with music.

Barn chaos. We couldn’t hear our instructors’ counts, we couldn’t see them well, our brains were CRAZED to remember  how many steps back, how many counts forward, when to scuff and turn, and dance 18 count line dance steps to 16 count line dance music.

During the reception, several iced teas into the evening, at 120 beats per minute, shoulder to shoulder with 100 other guests, we danced to “Achy Breaky Heart.”  I double – shuffle – skip-stepped  through it, my 16 count brain and body  somehow lost in an18 step dance.  By the end of the first song, I couldn’t remember anything past the first eight steps. If it hadn’t been for party momentum and family connections, I’d have given it up after my third lurch into the enormous guy dancing next to me.

The bride and the band (The Derailers, from Austin, TX…. FABulous) were not to be deterred. After a bit of a break, we were back on the floor for a second try. And, later a third… by which time all of us, me included, were working like a well-drilled team, adding a little sashay to the steps, and enjoying them.

Often, the first several role plays during training don’t go well….

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