Five Things to Do in the Black Friday Line

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

(Yes, people really do camp out outside the stores...)

You couldn't get me to go to the Black Friday* sales if my life depended on it.

Fighting with crowds and standing around in the cold are bad enough. But getting up in the wee hours of the morning? Hell no.

That said, I know a lot of people who enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of the event.

My sister Melanie (who designs the covers for the Improvisation Toolkit DVDs) and her husband go every year. My theory is that it's less about the sales, and more a way to get some time alone together during the holiday weekend. But don't quote me on that. :)

So for those of you who love Black Friday, I've put together a list of five things you can do to have some fun while you wait in line.

1) Secret Dance Practice

It's COLD out there! Even if you live in a warmer area, the early morning can still get chilly.

Keep yourself warm by doing some shimmy drills. Keep the circulation going in your hands by practicing your wrist circles and hand undulations.

  • If you're shy, wear a long coat. Nobody will be able to tell that you're dancing, rather than just shivering. If you're not shy, not-so-secret practice is a great conversation starter!

  • Bring your iPod. You'll want some music to inspire you.

  • It's more fun with a friend. Invite a classmate or troupemate along, and practice your routines while you wait.
  • If anyone else in the line looks curious, strike up a conversation. You could even offer to show them a few moves, if they seem receptive. (If you teach or perform, be sure to bring a few business cards.)

2) Virtual Dance Practice

Studies have shown that tennis players are more likely to hit a perfect serve if they visualize it several times first. The visualization tells your brain "hey, this is important - and I'm going to ask you to do it again." We can apply this to belly dance too, whether it's executing a perfect hip drop, or learning a combination.

Standing in line is a great place to do just that. So choose something you want to work on, and just imagine yourself doing it over and over again.

  • Be specific. "I want to make my snake arms more precise" is much better than "I want improve my arms."

  • Be sure to visualize every detail. What's happening in your hips, waist, hands, feet, gaze, and breath? What do you see, feel, and hear?

  • If you're visualizing a combination or choreography, focus on one small snippet at a time.

3) Air Zils

Working on your finger cymbals? A great way to kill time is to play "air zils". Just tap your middle fingers and thumbs as if you were playing your zils.

  • If you're shy, practice with your hands in your pockets, or tucked inside your sleeves.

  • Bring your iPod, and play along to different songs.

  • Be sure to "ring" your air zils. When you don't have the sound of the zils to guide you, it's easy to focus on closing your fingers, which trains you to "clack" your zils instead of ringing them. Focus on bouncing open after the strike, instead of on the strike itself.

4) Song Mapping

Whether you're working on a choreography or just your musicality, mapping out a song is a fantastic training tool. So bring a notepad, pen, and your iPod, and do some song mapping while you wait.

  • Be sure to bring gloves that are thin enough to handle a pen!

  • Everyone has a different method for song mapping. However you choose to do it, I suggest recording the major sections, how many measures are in each section, and any notable features (accents, instruments, etc.)

  • In your notes, be sure to write down the name of the song, the artist, the album, and the date. I've gone back through old notebooks, and had no idea which song map was which!

5) Video Analysis

Do you have an iPhone, iPad, or another portable device that can play videos? Load it up with some belly dance performances.

You can watch them just for fun, or analyze them for moves and ideas that you'd like to incorporate in your own dancing.

  • Don't bring your laptop. It's heavy, you won't be able to plug it in, and you don't want to risk it being damaged or stolen in all the Black Friday excitement.

  • Be sure to charge your battery before you go.

  • Bring a notepad and pen, so you can record your observations.

So What Do you Think?

Do these sound like fun? Too off-the-wall for you? Leave me a comment.

And if you actually do any of these, let me know how it goes! You can leave a comment here, tweet me, or say hi on Facebook.

* For those of you outside the US, Black Friday is the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday. Many people begin shopping for holiday gifts on Black Friday, and so many retailers offer special sales on that day, and open in the early morning. Because the discounts are deep and items sell out, some shoppers line up in the streets as early as the night before, to get a good place in line.

Photo by John Neidermeyer, used under a Creative Commons Non-commercial Share Alike 2.0 license.

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