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Author: Tyler Preik

A Year’s Worth of Flying: Drone Review

A Year’s Worth of Flying: Drone Review

I purchased my drone, a Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K, last August and have been flying it pretty regularly ever since. My first impression on opening the case….it’s huge!

The actual dimensions are 16.5×16.5×8.3 inches and weighs in at 60oz full payload (with camera and battery). I brought it into work one night and a coworker brought his own, a DJI Phantom 3. The size difference is quite noticeable, the Typhoon being perhaps a 3rd larger, but of course they have two different body styles.


Let’s start with the controller. The ST10+ ground station is a good size at 4.5×7.4×9.5 inches with a built in 5.5 inch, backlit LCD multi-touch screen. The picture on the screen is nice and crisp and only seems to lag when flying the drone near it’s distance limits, or if there’s an obstacle in the way, and then only partially.

Controlling is quite simple with two joysticks. The left stick controls yaw (the direction the drone faces) and altitude. The right stick controls forward and back movement and side to side strafing. It takes a bit of practice to get these all going and flying smoothly with regards of where you want the drone to go, but become second nature after a few outings. There are two wheels on the sides of the controller. The left controls camera angle from straight ahead to straight down, the right is for flying speed.

Above the right stick is the flight mode toggle. Smart Mode keeps things safe so the drone will fly close to the pilot, but stops at 26 feet and goes no closer. In this mode you can also use the Follow Me and Watch Me commands, respectively. Angle Mode is where most people do their flying once comfortable. The drone will fly everywhere you send it, no stopping, no questions asked. Just make sure you avoid the trees. Lastly is Home Mode. Flip the toggle down, and the drone flies right back to the controller. This is handy if it’s at a distance and you lose sight of it, just make sure there aren’t any tall objects nearby. You won’t have control of the machine unless you toggle back to one of the other modes.


Taking pictures and video is super easy with the controller. The button on the top left will snap a picture, and on the opposite side the button will start or stop video recording. The photo and video settings can be changed quickly and on the fly, with basic photography settings on the main screen, or by going into the settings button on the bottom right of the screen for changing video quality/frame rate, audio, photo color settings and file selection. If you want to do this while flying, the drone will hover nicely in place until you are done and ready to go again, as long as it isn’t too windy. Also the drone comes with a neck strap which you can hook to a spot in the centre of the controller in case you need to use both hands for changing batteries or for whatever else is needed.

Nice bright touchscreen and all the info you need while flying!

The drone itself has a nice sleek design. It’s grey and black with orange and silver lettering. The legs have soft pads to cushion any hard landings, however I prefer to grab the gear and then stop the motors instead of landing straight on the ground if there’s no good flat spot to land on.  There are four lights, one under each motor, and have differing purposes. During normal flight, the back two will be red, the front two white so you can always tell which way the nose is facing. This is especially helpful during night flying. Also, when the batteries get low the lights will start blinking and the controller vibrates to let you know to find a safe landing spot soon, or risk a crash. The camera sits at the very front edge of the main drone body to counterbalance the weight of the battery at the back and is easy to slide on and off if you want to shoot with the modular handheld unit it comes with. More on that in a minute though.

I’ve flown in all types of weather the last year and have to say the Yuneec Typhoon handles most of it quite well. If there’s a bit of a wind blowing, the drone will lean into it to stay as level as possible, unless it’s too strong and starts to move away if you don’t use any input. Flying is this type of weather is not recommended. I did a fair bit of winter flying as well and only noticed a bit less battery life, the drone handling as well as always. As far as I can tell, the camera operates just as well in cold weather as in warm, if a little noisier when used on the handheld unit. The Typhoon feels and looks solidly built and able to handle a few hard landings and possibly crashes if they aren’t too severe. I have yet to test this theory, but hopefully not anytime soon.

Flying at Elbow Falls
Bit of winter flying. Always remember your gloves!

If you want to record something in a tighter space that’s closer to the ground, the modular handheld unit is perfect for this. Sliding the camera and gimbal off the drone and onto the unit is super easy and straight forward. Once you download the CGO camera app and turn on wifi, you connect to the camera and then use all the same settings through your phone. This is very handy for getting up close and personal with your subject matter, if that is what you like. Also it’s handy for recording audio since any audio from the drone will just be the propellers buzzing and therefore unusable. On the top, there’s a battery power light showing green or red if the batteries are close to dying, a mode button which enables camera pitch control, and a thumb wheel to control the pitch. I would have to say I use the handheld just as much as the drone itself. When I’m done flying, I usually switch over to it and get some ground shots before heading back home. Overall it’s quite a nice unit and a fine addition to the package.

Out and about shooting with the handheld!

I purchased the drone along with some extras as part of a package deal from Amazon for $1199. In the main box came the drone, the controller, two sets of propellers, the modular handheld unit, a neckstrap, two batteries, a battery charging unit, controller charger, controller sun shade, a battery car charger, a microfibre cloth, and a 32 GB micro SD memory card with adapter. The extras were another battery and battery charger, another set of propellers, an extra set of landing gear, and another 16 GB micro SD card with adapter. Buying separately, all this would set you back another couple hundred dollars, but the package deal saves you most of that!


One extra thing I purchased afterwards and completely worth the money was a drone backpack, this one made specifically for the typhoon. It has a covering for the main body and socks that go around the motors to keep them safe and dry. Inside, the main compartment is separated into two sections, the front being the largest, and has mesh pockets for extra batteries, chargers, etc. There is a small zippered pocket on the top of the backpack which looks like a spot to keep the camera, however it is just barely too small to fit the camera and attached gimbal. If you rotate everything, it will fit but only just. I only keep the microfibre cloth and the handheld unit batteries with the extra memory card in it.

A must for traveling: Yuneec Typhoon Backpack

Overall I’m quite pleased with my purchase and have spent many hours flying and filming or just taking pictures, trying out the different settings as I go. Obviously with how technology goes, there are newer drones out now with more features and are more compact. I may upgrade later on, but for now, the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K does me just fine!

If you want to check out everything listed, just click the links below!

First Scouting Trip!

First Scouting Trip!

Last summer when I started getting the idea about droning and possibly making videos with it, one of the first spots I knew I had to fly and film was this beautiful waterfall about a 40 minute hike up behind my dad’s place. I’ve been there many times before, especially when I was trail running back when I lived in Invermere, and have seen the additions to the area. There’s a lookout platform with a picnic table overlooking the larger falls, and looking down and around, getting to the bottom from this point would be rather dangerous, slippery rocks and logs included. However, I have traversed enough of the area and one day stumbled upon the path which leads to the bottom. The safe route, as it were.

From the viewing platform, a pathway meanders through the woods, over a couple small bridges and by benches, ending near the road and an emerald pool.

Crossing the road, another pathway picks up which leads to some smaller falls. Here, a proper bridge crosses the stream, taking up the trail again which loops back around to the road. There is another picnic table on the far side of the bridge, and a couple benches to sit and enjoy the scenery, one regular, and a wooden swinging one!

If you look close, you may be able to see my companion for the day. She blends in well in the winter.

I took a bunch of pictures on this trip and some video to see how I might want to shoot it. I have some ideas, some of which are sure to change, but if the sun is shining, and it’s not too windy, I think it may just turn out alright. I’ll need to wait for the snow to melt and the ground to harden up again, so a video will be a little bit down the road, but I’m well on my way. In the mean time, enjoy the winter scenery. I sure did!

Calgary Parks #1: Pearce Estate Park

Calgary Parks #1: Pearce Estate Park

I was wondering which park to explore in the city that I hadn’t been to and mentioned it during a coffee break at work. One of my coworkers named off a few and I decided on Pearce Estate Park, which is only a 12 minute drive away and not hard to find. I checked the weather, the temperature having dropped below zero again, and picked the warmest day I would have off, Saturday. I charged up my drone and headed out just after lunch, taking my special touchscreen gloves and hand warmers just in case. Better to have them even if I don’t use them, which I ended up doing between battery changes. Good thinking ol’ chap.

I spied this odd-looking structure through the trees off the trail and stopped to read the nearby plaque. It was the “Lorna Jordan, Bow Passage Overlook, 2014” made from rundle stone and basalt columns. Perfect place to start. I found a dry spot on the wall and pulled out the drone for pictures and some video.

View from the top. Definitely an interesting looking structure…

I landed the drone when the first battery got low, stuck it in my backpack, and continued on. The walking path I was following meandered on by the water and went under a railroad bridge. I thought I might get some good shots of the bridge and some of the open water nearby. Just as I got the drone airborne, this fellow happened by…

It’s a little hard to tell, but he’s holding ski poles and was doing some cross-country right beside the pathway. Good for him I say! We have to just use what we have sometimes, instead of making excuses why not to do what we enjoy. I saw him again as I was leaving, going through the middle of the park. I’m sure he got a good workout, and enjoyed some nice scenery along the way.

I took some pictures lower near the water, than flew up for some panorama’s. I was on a bit of a time crunch so couldn’t cover the whole park, which means I have a nice excuse to go back, probably during warmer weather. For now though, the winter shots are nice enough. Hope you enjoy them!

Is it just me or does the water on the upper left look like a whale?

Downtown Calgary off in the distance to the right. Hopefully next I go out I can get some blue skies to go with the beautiful landscapes.
On Conversations

On Conversations

Last September I took my vacation from work and went to visit friends and family back in Chilliwack, and noticed something, mostly about myself but a bit with others as well. I never used to be much of a talker, but it seems some things change. Now I can talk and talk and just about never shut up, especially on certain subjects. Don’t misunderstand me, I still have quiet moments where I just don’t feel like talking, or if the subject matter doesn’t interest me, especially in a group setting where I’d rather just listen. But one on one, or even a group of three, I’ve noticed I’m a lot more vocal than I used to be.

With this however, something has caught my attention. One example is when I went to visit my sister for an evening. It had been more or less a year since I had seen her so we had much to discuss, and really only a few hours between putting her kids to bed and then going herself. So we talked about the many happenings in our lives, and I can’t say for certain who would have talked more, but it seems it may have been me. It’s not that my life is busier than hers or any such thing, but one thing leads to another and on and on it goes (sorry Lisa!).

There is something I realized a little afterwards. Conversation with others is good, great even, especially when we all hear about people just staring at their phones and losing the art of conversing, but when we DO have a conversation with another person, we must remember to listen at least as much as we speak. Some people love to talk and talk and sometimes it seems they don’t even realize they are still talking, but remember, conversation is a two-way street.

You may not remember what you were talking about with someone else, but if the other person was genuinely interested in what you had to say and really listened, there would only be good vibes afterwards and you would look forward to speaking with them again. Likewise if the person seemed bored and distracted, there’s not much incentive to keep going. I’ve had situations like the latter happen, and it’s really not much fun. I would have to say, however, it was partly my lack of conversational skills and self-confidence that really killed it before it went anywhere. Practice does help and I’ve pushed myself into talking more and getting out of my comfort zone, but there is still more to learn once we reach that next step.

In this day and age of texts and instant messages, don’t forget to have a one on one with people once in a while. It’s still the best way to connect and catch up. If you can’t visit face to face, give a call or skype/facetime with those you care about. I don’t get many calls so I always appreciate when someone takes the time to see how I’m doing and how life is going. I must remember to do likewise, and hopefully I’ll let the next person talk my ear off. Don’t forget: listening is a skill just as much as talking! So….listen away my friends!

A Year of Exploration

A Year of Exploration

Most people use weekends to catch up on sleep, get chores done, or Netflix binge. For the most part I do as well, although I don’t binge watch tv shows. I always shop for the week, do household cleaning/laundry, hit a parkour class if there’s one happening, or fly my drone. Last week though I went and bought a large wall map of Calgary, 42″x55″, to be exact and put it across from my desk so I can see it every day.

Calgary is a big city, the largest I’ve ever lived in, and I’m sure home to many many neat things to see and do, of which I’ve only just started looking into. So I got some non-permanent markers with the map and going to start plotting out places to see. This will take some time so you may not see much right away, but know that it’s in the planning stages.

Firstly, the parks around the city. I’ve already visited a couple, taken some aerial photos and hiked a little, but some are quite large and will take a couple visits before I can explore them in any depth. Nose Hill park is one of the closest to me, so it will be one of the first. It’s also one of the biggest in the city.

I will update as much as I can on here, while working on future adventures. I’m sure lots of people have traveled around Calgary before me and written or posted pictures about it, but a quote I recently saw fits in nicely here, “Discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.” So stick around if you are so inclined, you may see something you never have before.

Let’s go exploring!

An Evening of Painting in Calgary

An Evening of Painting in Calgary

I spent a few days over Christmas at my sisters place, and she mentioned going to this thing called PaintNite. They take place in restaurants, pubs, or clubs around the city, and all you have to do is show up, everything being provided. I looked into it and it seemed fun, so thought I’d give it a go.

I drove to the Windsor Rose Gastropub in the Southeast of the city, luckily late enough that traffic wasn’t too bad. It seemed to be a quieter night, only 11 of us there, and I was the only guy, but no worries. I walked in, grabbing an apron on the way and signed in with Rachel, the instructor.

Rachel and our painting for the night, ‘Niagara Sunrise’

I found an empty spot at a table and got comfortable for the 15 minutes before we were going to start.

The way all masterpieces start: a blank canvas and some blobs of paint. Also noteworthy, do NOT drink the water in the red cup. It’s only for cleaning your brushes when needed…

As we got going, Rachel walked us through what to do. Which brushes to use for a desired effect (we had 3, each with a funny name she gave to make sure we used the right one), when to clean the brushes, or just dip it into another color to combine them. It was a two-hour event, but the first hour went by quickly, probably from all the concentrating of trying not to screw up and at the same time to keep up with Rachel. She was painting her own as well, and would walk around and show what she had done to give us an idea, also answering any questions we had.

After just over an hour, we had a short break to allow the paint to dry, then continued on and started with smudging in the mist from the waterfall and layering the water with all the colors. Lastly we added in the streaks of sunlight, and Rachel announced we were done. We could stay to touch up or visit if we wished, but a couple people left right away. I stayed a bit longer to talk to Rachel about technique and added in some more details on my own.

As it goes, everyone’s painting came out different, and most seemed happy with what they accomplished. Mine could have used a bit more work, but I didn’t want to stay too long and start messing it up. It was a pretty fun time, and I’ll probably go back at some point, but for now, I have a nice personal painting hanging on my wall.

After two hours of hard brush stroking labour…
Breathe: Learning Parkour

Breathe: Learning Parkour

I found a parkour gym in Calgary last summer and have gone mostly once a week since then, as long as my work schedule allowed for it. The first class was interesting. We started with a warmup by running around the gym a few times, then went into stretching. Breathe has an 8 level system and, surprise surprise, I started with the level 1-3 class and got a nice white wristband to go with it. After stretching, we started with a level 1 skill and slowly progressed to level 3.

I don’t remember exactly which skills I learned that class, but one was a vault over probably a five foot box. I remember this because my legs were so sore and stiff the next day but I still had to work. That was a fun time I tell you. I moved pretty slow over the next couple days until things loosened up again, but after shocking my legs with repeated height drops, I think they have strengthened a bit. I still get sore now and then but nothing like that first time. The good thing is the skills are on a rotational basis, so it’ll take a few weeks before the same skill set comes back around. This helps to give certain muscles a break if they need it, and keeps the classes interesting.

I’ve met some pretty cool people at the gym and the class sizes vary from week to week, also depending on what day I go, but it has been an awesome experience so far. I have a little bit of equipment at home which I want to use for calisthenics (body-weight) training which will help with parkour as well, but it’s to the gym I go to do the proper movements and training. Before and after class there are usually people hanging out and it’s not hard to find someone to help out if I have a question about a specific movement. The community is very welcoming and friends come easily.

The only issue I have found is space. There are lots of birthday parties happening for younger kids or sometimes it’s just busy and as such, space can get limited fairly quickly. However a new gym just opened up in South Calgary and I went to my first class there last night. It was pretty quiet when I walked in, probably because people don’t know it’s open yet, and there was only me and one other girl in the class, but Brodie, the instructor, started us off with some simple movements. The class was more an introduction to the gym and we moved around most of the space to get a feel for it.

The first couple obstacles we practiced vaulting over
Bar section to the right and back allows for a couple people to swing on or lower ones to practice balance closer to the ground.

I have to say, this gym is huge! It will be much easier to visualize and carry out a line without having too much worry of running into someone. There are numerous levels of height differences to either climb up or drop off, a nice open bar section with some others scattered around, a giant curved runup wall, and no foam pit here but a brand new air bag to jump into. You can either jump from level height at the side, or climb up and jump from six feet above, which gives a nice rush of air and adrenaline before you hit the bag. Also there are different sections of flooring, some harder than others. I did a couple front rolls on the nice padded area and the less giving “grassy” section. Both felt good but the harder the surface, the more you will notice if you roll wrong so having the option is a bonus.

Air bag! What they don’t tell you is that you are only allowed to jump if you assume the same pose as the “bag man”….kidding but it makes it more fun!
Overall view from the back end looking forward. There are tables up front for birthday parties or parents to relax at.

I’m looking forward to training at this new space. I don’t do the whole New Years resolution thing to get into better shape, this is more just a continuation of my training. The fact that the gym opened in January just gives a good start to the year with a new place to go and explore, even if it is further away.

So I invite you, come check out a Breathe Parkour gym and take a class or four. I’ve only been going for six months and it’s already been life changing. Hope to see you there!

Reviving a Friendship

Reviving a Friendship

Earlier this year I got back in touch with a friend/coworker from my Invermere days. We were friends beforehand and she was hired on at the bookstore I worked at. Needless to say we had a lot in common and had some interesting conversations while at work. But as things go in a small town, she was let go in the slow season and eventually moved back to Alberta. She was on Facebook but went offline for a few years until this spring and we got back in touch. Now we are good friends again and wanted to catch up with some visiting and shopping at the mall north of the city.

It had been about six years since I had seen her and was looking forward to meeting up again. We decided to meet in the food court. She texted me saying she was just going to get a coffee when I was walking in, so I went over to the cafe where she was standing in line, and stopped at the entrance. She was tending to her young daughter so I thought to give her a minute to finish. She glanced around after, and the next couple moments stick out the most in my head.

Her face lit up when she saw me, and I smiled as she rushed over and almost knocked me back with a huge hug. We chatted in line and then sat to eat and catch up.

I know it’s not unusual to be excited to see someone you haven’t seen in a while, but wouldn’t it be nice if we reacted that way on a much more regular basis? If we appreciate those who are in our lives, and care for them as strongly as we do, it should be shown more. We must not get complacent in showing how much others mean to us. Sure it can be easy when we see the same people day in and day out, but just try to imagine for a moment your life without them. How big a hole would they leave? Some bigger than others, but a hole nonetheless.

You don’t need to give bear hugs to everyone every time you see them, just remember those important ones in your life and make sure to remind them what they mean to you every so often. They will appreciate it, I guarantee you. As for my friend Merieka, I’ll try not to squish her too much with a huge hug the next time I see her, but I make no promises.

Midnight Run

Midnight Run

It’s late, and the only ones awake are myself and my friend, the moon. I know she’s out there, waiting for me to tie up my laces and fly out the door to join in another dark adventure. The night is clear and autumn-time breezy, so that is exactly what I do.

I start with a walk up the inclined street, looking up in a silent hello as my friend peeks down through the treetops. As I reach the first side street I push ahead into a run, enjoying the immediate coolness of air flow. I start off strong and fast, but remind myself it isn’t a race and I’m not being chased, so I rein back to an easy jog. My neighborhood has a constant slope and I live at the bottom, so the first fifteen minutes are all uphill. ‘Easy does it’ I remind myself, the words of a favorite book, Born to Run, resounding in my head:

“Think easy, light, smooth, and fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad.”


So I ease back, moving just quicker than a fast walk. Before I know it, I’m at the stop light I struggle to jog to sometimes. A quick traffic check and I cross the street, deciding to finish the uphill with a walk. The top end of the neighborhood runs along a main road which is blocked off with a tall cement wall but has a nice grassy, tree strewn path beside it. I hit the grass running, staying in the shadows beside the wall and watch as the dark trees ghost by with the extra speed. This part is lengthy but enjoyable and, surprisingly, I finish it and can keep going, only stopping at the opposite end of the road to traffic check again.


No cars around, so I walk across, continuing to do so as I reach the sidewalk. My exercise isn’t finished, but it’s not the only reason I’m out tonight. She has waited, silently lighting my path until I choose to share. I exhale deeply, my breathing mostly stable now, and then begin. There is much to discuss between her and I, and I speak rapidly, pausing every so often to gather my thoughts. But she floats there, listening quietly as I speak of the past, and of the future. No judgements, no criticisms, only light and understanding.

I round the corner, the last of four, and now time is short. I walk a bit in silence, not quite wanting to voice the last and strongest of my feelings, for that makes it more real. I pause at another road, and spill the truth. There is no laughter, no smile, or even a hug. Just the quiet cool air and white light throwing shadows about. I may revisit those last words again, but for now they are just between me and my pale friend.


I jog across the road, and continue on, now on the home stretch. I push into a sprint, my feet quickly eating up the short distance left, and then relax again. My breathing steadies, my pace eases back and I slow to a walk around the corner of the house. I stop at the back door and wave goodbye to my lonely friend in the sky. Until the next night, when you will again light my way, and I will beat the rhythm of my ever pounding heart into the dirt, grass, and pavement. But that’s ok, the earth is strong, she can take it.

Until we meet again, dear friend, for another run, and another sharing of tales.


The Art of Motion: Learning to Dance

The Art of Motion: Learning to Dance

Way back in the spring, I got an invitation to my cousin’s wedding. I knew it was coming, of course, having seen their engagement update on Facebook, but now I had the particulars of the date and location. I was happy to see the invitation, but it came with one small problem.

I don’t know how to dance. Like…at all.

So one day a couple months later, I was talking to a friend about this and she suggested I take lessons and mentioned DANCEnergy in Calgary (thanks Merieka!). So I looked it up and found out it was only about 2 blocks away from the Parkour gym I go to, score! I dropped in before class one day and talked to the ladies at the front desk, got all the needed info, and signed up for lessons a couple weeks later. The package included 2 private lessons, one group lesson and a 3 hour practice party afterwards.

I was told only indoor shoes allowed on the floor so I had to go find a pair, which worked out since I needed some for parkour anyway. I was going barefoot until then but shoes provide more grip, and I can use them for both activities. Done deal.

I show up to my first lesson and sit down for 10 minutes with one of the ladies, going over what I’m looking to learn (if anything), why I want to take lessons, what I’m hoping to get from it, etc. Then I meet Paige, my instructor. We decide on the Rumba first (all dances she teaches me are American style, international being a little different), and she shows me a simple box step. Step ahead with the left foot for a slow two count, then to the side with my right, and bring my left next to it, one count each. Slow, quick, quick.

Reverse order to complete the box. Back with right foot for two, to the side with left foot and bring right foot next to it, one count each again. Something like so…


                        Slow ↑, Quick → , Quick → ,                        Slow ↓ , Quick ← , Quick ←


We try this a few times until I start getting the rhythm, then she puts on some music. More practice. Ok, not too bad. I’m doing the movements but still feel very wooden whilst Paige is all rolling hips and pointed feet. But she says I’m doing good. Guess I’m just harder on myself.

Next movement, the Chasse. After the first slow, quick, quick, step right with right foot and transfer weight to it, then bring it back, step to the left with left foot, again with weight and bring it back. Repeat with right again, then step forward into another box step. So far fairly easy and I’m catching on pretty quick.

            Next up the Jive, a 1, 2 rock step movement. Step left with left foot, transfer weight to it and lift the right, then back to right, stepping back with left foot and taking weight off the right with a small hop, lifting the knee. And repeat. We do it a few times, then start talking about other things and I lose the rhythm. Ok, reset and try again, with music. Not bad. It’s basic but I can get it.

End of lesson one. Lesson two happens two weeks later, again with Paige.

The talented Paige and I

I totally forgot the Jive foot movements, so we recap for a couple minutes, and then head into the cha cha for more Latin dancing. It goes like so…


  1 ←, 2 ↓, 3 ↑, 4 →                    5→, 6↑, 7↓, 8←


Then into reverse order, stepping to the right after 4 and up instead of down, and repeat, with the cha cha cha being the quick sideways movements in between the first and second set of four. Being a dance with quicker movements, I start slow, but get a handle on it after a couple minutes. We try a few songs with different bpm’s (beats per minute) to practice speed. So far so good.

Now Paige says we have to work in the hip rotation. Basically rolling them in a figure 8. We stand in front of the mirror, which seems to make it harder for me for some reason, and she demonstrates. I try it….does not go well (in my opinion). Have to transfer weight from one leg to the other, while leaving both feet flat on the ground. I keep wanting to lift my heels as I move, might possibly need some weighted shoes for this one… . Anyway it feels funny, but apparently that’s how you know you are doing it right.

Cue the music. We try again slowly, this time with hips. Paige watches in the mirror, I don’t bother. Still feels a little funny, and I probably don’t roll half the time, but she gets excited when it does happen. Ok, break time for the hips.

Moving on to the so far extremely easy Waltz. Steps are…


1 ↑, 2 →,  3 →            1↑, 2←, 3←


You step ahead with left foot, right to the side, bring together. Step ahead with right foot, left to the side, bring together. And so on around the room we go. Paige says we have to act snobbish and NEVER look at each other. Faces to the side. I’m a pretty nice guy and wouldn’t act snobby to anyone, so the analogy doesn’t work too well for me. I just focus on the corner in either case.

The add in for this, stepping to the side but onto your toes, so there’s a rise and drop in height. Again pretty simple. We try another circuit around the room, putting in slow turns as we come to the corners. Nothing complicated here, so moving on.

We have a little bit of time left so we decide to try a Nightclub Country style dance. It’s pretty simple as well…


1 ←, 2 ↓, 3 →,              4 →               5 ↓, 6 ←, 7 ←


Moves 3 and 6 are just stepping slightly across and in front of the back foot, before stepping to the side, and repeating with opposite feet. We always start standing beside each other so I can see what to do, but when Paige moves in front, I usually mess up the first couple as I adjust to having her there. Again, just a bit of practice and it gets easier.

Ok, lesson two is complete! Next up……(tension)…..the group dance, immediately followed by a three hour practice party. Dancing with a bunch of random people should be interesting, hopefully fun. I’m just hoping I don’t crash into and injure anyone. There is one happening the next night, and I plan on going.


Oh look, time jump 24 hours later. Just got back from the dance party, but that’s later on. First off, the group dance. There are two beginner dances, Nightclub and West Coast Swing, and two intermediate dances, Foxtrot, and Samba. I choose West Coast Swing, which luckily Paige is instructing. We line up, men on one side, women on the other. Paige starts with the men, showing a straight back and forward movement with slow and quick steps, than the ladies, and repeat. Practice time with a partner. We try it once or twice, then the men rotate to a new partner. Repeat a few times over.

After that we split back to our gender lines and learn the next move, a spin for the ladies. More solo practice, then partner practice, men rotating again. Once again the gender split, and the last move we will learn, a 180 degree turn for both people. Start basic back and forward, add in the spin on the next set, then basic again, lastly the 180 turn for both people, and back to basic to finish. Aaaaaaand repeat with new partners until class is finished.

Alright, claps and high tens all around. I’m a bit thirsty so its time for a water break while the dance party is being set up. The majority of the playlist is the four dances that were taught, with some others added in to mix things up. At the start of each new style, an instructor is at the front to give a quick lesson for the first song, and then set us loose to practice when the second comes on.

Dance party!

I sit the first one out to cool off a bit, then get asked to dance by one of the girls who was in my group. I haven’t spent enough time with each dance yet to just go and start without remembering which is which, though I do remember a few. The first couple songs are West Coast Swing, lucky me. We dance one or two, then break time again. After a couple dances I don’t know, I join the learning group at the front, and partner up with the girl across. The odd time it will be one from my original group, mostly not though. But it’s fun, even if I do lose the rhythm and steps half the time. And I notice there’s usually more women than men taking the quick lesson. Looks like there won’t be any shortage of partners for the night.

On one occasion I’m doing a faster country style and concentrating on the steps with my partner and I guess we moved a little too far out since one kind gentlemen informs us to stick closer to the center of the floor as the more experienced dancers are moving quicker around the outside. So we attempt again back towards the center until the song ends. Lesson learned: focus on what you are doing, but be mindful of the others on the floor.

I’m probably taking longer breaks than I need to, usually being an observer in these situations rather than taking part, but I’m pushing myself more to action these days. Paige finds me now and then for a dance, much easier when the instructor is there to help. Sometimes she’ll come over for a break and to talk, but being in charge for the night, there are many interruptions. Understandable of course, so I don’t mind.

The party goes to midnight, but after eleven it quiets down quite a bit and I end up mostly watching, only going on the floor when a familiar style is being played. More chats with Paige as the evening winds down and she goes off to dance a bit more with whoever is left.

If you are ever in Calgary and wanting to dance the night away, I highly recommend DANCEnergy. A friendly and welcoming atmosphere with amazing people who are always ready to help you out!

Overall a fun evening doing something I’ve never done before. I didn’t eat much beforehand with all my nerves on edge, but I ignore them as much as I can and start to loosen up a little during the class. With the dance party over, my intro package is done and I have to decide on where to go next. Most likely more private sessions with Paige and a couple dance parties when my days off allow it.  By the time you read this, my cousin’s wedding will be over and hopefully I managed to “drop it like it’s hot”, at least somewhat well.

So here I am, starting one of the first of many new things that push me beyond what I ever thought I could do. It’s scary sure, but at least it won’t be on the list of things that I regret not trying out because of some random nerves and being a little uncomfortable. If we are too comfortable in our own skins, then we aren’t pushing ourselves in the direction of our fears enough. I’m sure I’ll be nervous again for the next group class/dance party, but over time that will go away, and then…..well just watch how smoothly I’ll move. At least until I trip and fall on my face. But then that’s part of the fun of learning, isn’t it?