Once Upon A Time In The Land of Eight, There Stood A Castle, Very Great

…except it hasn’t really been that great lately, has it?

Hey! Look at that! I’m still alive! It’s only been… almost six months since I’ve posted anything, and several months since I last logged in here to read anything that anyone else has posted. How is the dance world? Still keeping on keeping on?

My calendar told me that today was the anniversary for this site, marking eight years since I posted my first inane rambling about dance online. Let me tell you, this eighth year has certainly been a major change from the previous seven. I’m sure you know that though, so why am I telling you? But in case you didn’t know, it’s changed pretty majorly. Pretty. Majorly. Indeed.

And because of that major change, I don’t really have much to say. What hasn’t changed though is my regard to dancing in my life. 

Sure, occasionally I will see some posts that friends do online about dance things they are out doing, and sometimes I talk about dance with the few people I talk to these days, but for the most part dance doesn’t even cross my mind lately. There are other, safer hobbies that I have taken up to fill all the time I used to spend dancing, things that don’t require me to leave the house and be around people. And weirdly enough I am perfectly content with that. Plus, it certainly makes my cat happy. She can sit with me and get pets while I do things at home, which is something she couldn’t do when I was leaving the house all the time to go out dancing.

How has dance life been treating you? Have you thrown yourself back into it already, or are you like me and still hunkering down and staying away from people? No matter the case, I hope it is making you happy, and that you are staying healthy in the process. We’ll have to wait and see what year nine brings us, won’t we!

Note – I thought about putting together some elaborate picture to honor this eighth anniversary, but the shelves where I used to keep the Lego castles, and the table I used to stage the pictures I once took weekly are currently being used for a different hobby. Sometime over the last six months I packed away all the Legos I had put together and put them in their actual storage spaces, because I kept bumping them and breaking them. 

Instead, here’s a picture of a what a lot of my collection looks like now – neatly tucked away in this drawer where I keep them. Yay! Neatly bagged and organized, like some kind of weirdo!

Everyone’s Gone On Without You

It seems like we are moving closer to the ‘forgetting all about the pandemic’ stage of things in my area. A couple of weeks ago we moved into the next phase of opening back up here, which officially allowed dance studios to resume business partially. As I mentioned in past weeks, some studios already had instructors teaching lessons in those studios under the radar, so this change allowed them to start officially advertising those lessons to the wider public. I’ve seen the notifications that were sent out, and it sounds like everyone is excited to get back to work.

Parties are also starting back up at studios around me. These are still only allowed to have a limited number of people attend, so if you want to go you have to reserve your spot ahead of time. Some of the classes are advertising that you can attend the class virtually if you are not fast enough to secure one of the limited in-person spots. One studio I saw was even going to hold a “Grand Re-Opening” party in a couple of weeks. It’s so weird to think about like that, but I guess that they have been closed for around six months, so this really would be like a reopening of sorts for them.

I am not planning on attending any of these events. While I understand that the organizers are doing their best to keep everyone as safe from exposure as possible, the reason why I’m actually not planning on attending is really… I’m just not interested in going.

Wait, what?

Yeah. To be completely honest here, I’ve had some time to reflect on ballroom dancing in my life, and looking back I have to say that accepting the offer to move into competitive dancing completely and away from just having fun has left this black cloud hanging over me. I’m not excited about the idea of going back to a dance studio anytime soon. Once I opted to move to being a competitive dancer, I spent so much time in studios working on the dancing I had to do for my coach that all of the fun was taken out of it. So even the idea of just going back to the studio for parties and things right now just doesn’t hold much appeal for me.

Since things have opened back up, I have gotten calls from my dance coach. He wanted to know how I was doing, how my dance partner was doing, and when we were going to meet up to start training again. I didn’t have an answer to that. I don’t know if I would want to go back to spending most nights of the week at a dance studio practicing to meet the high expectations that were placed on me as a competitor. It just… doesn’t feel like it would be a good choice.

The farther away I get from the last time I was actually on a dance floor, the less I feel like pulling out my dance shoes and jumping back onto one. There’s something really nice about the more relaxed pace that I have found for my life during the shutdown. I don’t have to worry about rushing out of the office and trying to work out and eat dinner as fast as possible most nights so that I can be someplace else to dance. I have time to just be quiet, to sit on the couch and pet the cat, which I know makes her happy. I can focus during my workouts on the movements that I am doing in the moment rather than trying to remember all the movements I would have to work on during practice after my workout is over. That makes a big difference in how much I enjoy my workouts.

Speaking of workouts… this also means that I don’t have to worry about my weight with all the weightlifting I do. My dance coach was constantly on my case about how big I was. He kept telling me that I needed to get back down to 180 lbs. (I weigh a lot more than that). His reasoning was that my shoulders were too big, so when I held my arms up while in frame I didn’t have a flat line going from elbow to elbow because my shoulder muscles were too big. If I don’t go back to dancing, I can keep all the muscle I already have, or maybe even put on more if I want! Hooray!

So what happens from here? I really don’t know. I’m sure that I will go out dancing again at some point in my future, but it probably won’t be anytime soon. I don’t know if I will continue to try and force myself to update this site once a week like I have done for so many years. If I’m not out dancing, there’s really not much to write about, is there? Maybe if I hear about exciting stuff happening in the world of dance I will make a note of it, but only if I find it amusing. Probably. Who knows?

This will give me time to focus on other things I am writing. Maybe you’ll see those somewhere on the interwebs in the near future, if you lurk around the same places that I do. But those items I write, if I finish them, will not talk about dance. I do have other ideas sometimes, after all.

I’ll still be lurking around from time to time. Feel free to poke me if you want to talk. 🙂

I Move This Fast, And I Make Mistakes

I don’t really have much to write tonight.

Actually, there are things I had in mind to write about… but I didn’t actually want to spend time thinking about those things tonight. In all honesty, I have put a lot of thought today into coming up with a plan for how to hand out candy safely on Halloween this year. We’re counting down the days to that holiday, and it’s my favorite holiday, so it’s important to me to think about what I’m going to do to celebrate. I know it’s still a long way off, but with how things are going in the world right now, I have to put more time into thinking about Halloween than I normally would.

The actual day falls on a Saturday this year. In the past stages of my life (i.e. pre-pandemic times), that would have meant that awesome things could happen on Halloween night itself. Either going out to a house party, or to a club to be around people, or to a ballroom dancing party, which is what I have done in these past several years of my life. I would be putting in time about now thinking of what kind of awesome costume I could wear that I could still dance in. That’s an important thing to think about!

This year, those things probably won’t happen. Since I do live in an area now where Trick-or-Treating still happens, there will still be something that I can do Halloween night to keep me entertained, which is passing out candy in costume. I just have to figure out the best way to do it so that A) it’s fun for me, and B) it’s safe for everyone involved. I have an idea I’m contemplating, and about a month-and-a-half to turn it into reality if that’s what I think will work best.

So, because that’s what I’ve been thinking about, the other dance-related things that I had made notes about to discuss are getting shelved until later. Sorry this week hasn’t been super exciting. But, let’s face it… the world of partner dancing isn’t as exciting as it used to be right now, so that’s kind of par for the course.

Until later!

Will The Real Shady Please Stand Up?

Hopefully this is the last time I write about the upcoming dance elections, at least until after the election is over. I might decide to write about the results, should said results turn out to be interesting.

Have you been keeping track of what has been going on? It looks like, based on the email that was sent out and the information posted on a website discussing the information that was included in the email in more detail, that all the appeals and reviews are done. We finally have all the names available to us that are likely to appear on the upcoming ballot. Are you excited? Probably not. It’s not a super exciting bit of news, if I’m being honest.

According to the information I saw, it looks like only five of the candidates that were originally rejected by the mysterious election committee for the various positions they submitted their names for in the upcoming election opted to appeal those rejections. Four of those five were subsequently reevaluated and approved to have their names added to the ballot. So… yay for them? I don’t know whether I should feel excited for these people or not. If you went on to read the committee’s write-up of why the candidates were rejected in the first place and what was done during the appeal to resolve those issues, you may be left scratching your head like I was.
Some of the reasons that candidates were rejected by the committee don’t feel like decisions that said committee should have been able to make, in my personal opinion. Like rejecting one candidate for what they felt was a ‘lack of experience’ for the position they wished to run for. The candidate felt that they had the skills necessary to hold the position, and had put down experience on their resume that showed they could apply those skills successfully. Shouldn’t it be left up to the voters in the organization to decide if what the candidate provided as proof of experience is enough to award them the votes needed to be elected to the position in question?

Other rejections that were documented make the committee look bad. Like the blurb they wrote about one candidate who had asked to be added to the ballot for a delegation position. The person had submitted all the documentation required, but the committee had still rejected them. When the person appealed that decision, the committee disclosed that they had asked the candidate via email to write up and submit to them some sort of candidate statement that they wanted to include with information they would be distributing. That email the committee sent to the candidate had gone to the candidate’s spam folder, so the candidate didn’t see it until after the submission date had passed. With no acknowledgement to their email they had sent, the committee had gone ahead and rejected the candidate for lack of written statement.

Except… as it turns out, in the organization’s own documentation, the requirements say that a candidate “may” submit a written statement, not that they must submit one like it says for the other documents that the candidate had provided. So whether this person saw the email before the required deadline or not, the committee had no grounds to reject that person for not including the written statement. If they want to require such documentation from candidates, they will have to go back after this election cycle is over and have the candidate requirements rewritten to include it as a requirement rather than something the candidate “may” include with the other information they turn in.

Silly committee…

Some of the ethics concerns that the committee used to reject candidates were interesting. The one candidate who had requested an appeal and was still denied had a whole laundry list of weird things that the committee had written up to justify their rejection. None of the things they wrote down were illegal per se, but reading through them made me grimace a few times at how questionable the actions seemed on paper. Still, the write-up provided by the committee only tells the story of these ethical concerns from the committee’s perspective. I wonder if the actions would sound different if the candidate had a chance to talk about them with the voting members of the organization.

The documentation also talked about another candidate they rejected for ethical concerns, and this one I thought was interesting because they did not provide enough information to really determine if the actions they thought were questionable were really something to be concerned about or not. This candidate had disclosed that they were one of the leaders of a dance club in their area, and that the dance club held all their dance parties at a studio that the candidate also had an ownership stake in. The committee cited that as a financial conflict of interest, and flagged it as an ethical concern great enough to warrant leaving their name off the ballot originally.

However, what they didn’t mention was what the dance landscape looked like in that candidate’s area. I think about how so many of the dance studios in my area have had to close recently, leaving the number of studios available where all the area’s ballroom clubs could hold a party very limited. If you happened to own/partially own a studio, and also wanted to help run a ballroom club in your area, and there were no other studios in the area where you could hold your club’s parties, can you really hold that against someone? Sure, they may stand to profit slightly from the event, but if there is nowhere else that is nearby to use, can that really be called an ethical issue?

If this was really enough of a concern to reject this candidate from the ballot, the least they could have done is include in their rejection documentation a count of how many other (non-franchise) dance studios/venues were within a twenty mile radius of the studio that the club was currently using. That way they could say for sure that there were other options that the dance club could have used that would not have caused any financial conflicts of interest. Without that information, it’s hard to tell whether what this person was doing was actually unethical, or just a decision that was made based on limited dance resources in the geographic area.

I guess the bigger takeaway from reading the provided documentation about the candidate rejections is this: if you have what seems like a fairly decent sized pool of applicants for all these elected positions, but you have a committee that rejects a large portion of those for one reason or another… what is wrong with this organization that you don’t have more candidates who are actually qualified willing to step up and run for these positions?

Take the top position in this organization, for instance. As I mentioned last week, out of five (or seven) candidates who originally threw their hats into the ring for that position, the committee rejected all but one. A few of those candidates appealed, and now the list the organization sent out says that there will be three candidates approved to be on the ballot.

That’s a step in the right direction, but… in releasing the details of why the others were rejected in the first place, it really makes me question how, in an organization this size, you can have so few qualified applicants apply for the position in the first place. Only one candidate of those three was able to pass whatever ethical/experience bar that the election committee determined was needed for a candidate to qualify for the position in the first place. Why is it that no one else who could pass that bar would want to be considered for the position?

If a larger number of your candidates are rejected for ethical concerns than are rejected for lack of experience, that makes it sound like there are no good people who want to step up and help lead from these national positions in your organization… only ethically compromised people seem to want these jobs. That’s troubling, isn’t it? What is the organization doing behind the scenes that is calling to these people to add their names to the ballot, and keeping the good people away?

It feels like shady business in the world of dance politics.