Monthly Archives: March 2013

Lead and Follow

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Most architecture schools have a Beaux-Arts Ball every year.  This comes from the tradition of L’Ecole de Beaux Arts, the famous Parisian/classical school of architecture, which had a Ball de Quatr’Arts every year (the Four Arts Ball)–a fancy masquerade event where all the students and professors got together and partied.

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(For the sake of the author’s wish to remain as anonymous as possible, if you recognize this place, please don’t mention it and instead simply observe the beauty)

My school’s Beaux-Arts Ball was this past weekend, and it was at an undisclosed very beautiful location.  I believe it was built around the turn of the 20th century (I could be wrong) and is ornamented so intricately it’s gorgeous.  The ball was held in this location last year as well, and the first thing everyone did upon walking in was go “OOOOH!” and start photographing the inside.  Monumental staircases, balconies, alcoves, and the most delightful gilt detailing–all done in a sort of Indian style, with bodhisattva and elephants all over.  It is funny to me that everyone finds this place so beautiful because my school tends to lean in the Adolf Loos direction: ornament is crime and structural rationalism is pure and elegant.  It is also proof to me that beauty is not dead and still has an effect on the soul.

However, the discussion of the gorgeous location is not the point.  The point I am trying to discuss is the loss of actual dancing.  I am in the swing club at my school and learned quickly that you can do West Coast Swing to most pop songs.  But not most “house music” because it doesn’t really have a rhythm that can be danced to.  You can sway from side to side and step on alternate feet and move your arms and call it “dancing,” but there’s no actual technique or lead-and-follow or footwork involved.  What has been lost is the beauty of the partnered dance, where there is a clear lead and a clear follow and the leader’s job is to make the follower look beautiful.  The follower’s job is to do whatever the leader tells her and make sure she doesn’t go too far from him.  I spent the entire night counting the time of the “music” in my head, trying to find one that could have West Coast danced to it.  The selections were few, far-between, and not very good, so I was glad to find one once in a while.  But only one of my guy friends actually knows how to dance West Coast and he was elsewhere… so I tried to do it on my own.  It’s really, really hard–that particular dance is a slot dance, and I require momentum and control: in short, I need a leader.

When I looked out at the dance floor, I saw what looked like a writhing orgy of black and skin (architects always wear black; I stood out in blue).  The style of “dance” was what is called “grinding,” and it is pretty much obscene… not to mention that very few people show up to Beaux-Arts sober (being in the sober contingency is a little frustrating sometimes).  The whole thing made me sad.  What has been lost is an appreciation for culture and beauty, as well as any skill in dancing whatsoever.  Most dances which would qualify as “ballroom” dances are inherently gendered: the lead and follow is built in.  It requires sacrifice and submission on both parts; the leader is in charge of making all the decisions, whether he wants to or not, and the follower has to obey, whether she wants to or not.  Otherwise, they’ll go nowhere and probably run into each other.  And I really like that; it means that “Do you want to dance?” becomes a question which doesn’t involve some guy trying to rub himself all over you with music so loud you can’t hear yourself think and instead an opportunity for humour as you try to learn his leader-signals (each leader has his own little quirks) and follow what he tells you to do, while sometimes (or often) having to stop and say “wait, WHAT?” if his signals don’t translate to actions well.  It requires genuine attention on the part of both parties, making the social aspect more apparent as you can actually talk to each other.

Everyone should know some kind of real dance, even if just a little.  Gentlemen, learn to dance; especially if you are actively looking for a nice young lady.  I can virtually guarantee that she will be quite impressed if you know how to dance properly.

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Give the world a soap box…

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Yep, it’s called Facebook.  It’s horrifically annoying.  It’s almost even more annoying when it makes its way into the real world.

I have a number of issues with Facebook, yet I continue to use it for reasons of communication; and believe me, as soon as I finish college, I am getting rid of it and forcing everyone to e-mail, call, or *gasp!* visit me.  Nonetheless, I’m still there right now, and am therefore subject to whatever my friends want to announce to the world.  And sometimes my classmates decide to get into a heated debate on Facebook and yell about it in the middle of studio time (so it’s not like I can even just leave).

Dear world,

Facebook might be your soap box, but this is mine.  Here, nobody knows who I am; and if you do, you’re a friend.  Which means that most people who comment are more comfortable saying things–at least in my opinion.  You don’t know me… you have a right to a screenname, so I wouldn’t know you, either, unless you wanted me to.  Not a bad deal; the internet at its finest.

If Facebook is your soap box, please do me an enormous favour and stop expecting everyone to be completely okay with the flooding of our newsfeeds with political stuff.  Seeing the same stuff over and over again gets old; to be honest, I got really tired of all the pope stuff, too, and I do love Pope Francis.  If I want something, I’ll go find it myself.  I am tired of all the stupid red equals signs as profile pictures.  You seriously think that just by changing your profile picture to something political, you’ll make a difference to anyone, aside from annoying them slightly?  That suggests that if I changed my profile picture to something from an anime, people who don’t watch anime will start to care about it.  The answer is no, they won’t, and they’ll probably just roll their eyes at me for it.

You can’t change the world through Facebook.  You can’t change it through a blog, either, but at least I’m not forcing you to read this by nature of you being my “friend.”  If you read this, you came to read it.  Some part of you went out of your way to check my blog.  If I go to Facebook to stalk pictures from my school’s Beaux-Arts Ball, I am inundated with political commentary, whether I want to or not.  So much for everyone getting along and living and letting live.

I disagree with you, red-equals-sign-posters.  I disagree with you on the basis of natural law and the fact that marriage is about children.  I also disagree with you for even jumping on that bandwagon; you can’t come up with something more creative?  Honestly?  I’m rather disappointed.  If you’re excited about the legislation, post something, don’t just change your photo, and be prepared to back up your position.  Unless, of course, you live in the magical world where everyone agrees with you and nothing bad ever happens.

Irritatedly (but still in Christ),

Ink

Habemus Papam!

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I know this is all over the internet, but I don’t care.

We have a Pope!  Pope Francis (everyone is calling him Francis I but I heard that you don’t call him Francis I until there’s a Francis II).  The first ever Jesuit–but possibly one of the only sane and solid Jesuits these days.  I mean, just look at his credentials (which I found on Wikipedia, and I assume they haven’t really had much time to re-write his article from being Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio):

Member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Member of the Congregation for the Clergy

Member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

Member of the Pontifical Council for the Family

Member of the Commission for Latin America

…not to mention that he ticked off the president of Argentina for opposing homosexual adoption, citing it as a form of child abuse.  Wow.  I think we’re in hands far more conservative than the term “Jesuit” could ever bring to mind.

I’m proud to have gone to a Jesuit school now!