Pumpkins Grin In Their Despair…

Oh man, it’s Halloween. Did you hear something about a Halloween dance field trip going on last weekend? Because there was one! That seems like a good story to tell on a night like tonight, doesn’t it?

Because many of the people from the Land of the Loft had never actually attended an event held at the Great Dance Hall before, those few of us whom had been there AllHallowsEve1before invited everyone that was going to the party that night to meet us outside the building an hour before the party started. There was a place to eat within walking distance, so we decided that we could all go get dinner together, and then all go to the party together. So, clad in our costumes, we met up to eat, getting some laughs from the other people in the restaurant, and then made our way over to the party.

This year’s party theme invoked the haunted ghost towns of the Wild West. The Ladies of the Dance Kingdom were all dolled up as old-fashioned saloon girls, and the Lords were all cowboys. All the students were told to just come in costume, and it didn’t necessarily have to be a costume that matched the theme, but many people did. When everyone started arriving, they had cordoned us off in the downstairs ballroom of the Great Dance Hall so that they could finish preparing everything in the upstairs ballroom where they would soon present us with some kind of skit to get the party started. People had come bearing treats – various spooky looking desert and snack items, all to be entered into a contest to see who had brought the most holiday-themed food. As we all wandered about, mingling with people from the other lands within the Dance Kingdom, a hush fell over the crowd as the King came and stood in front of the door to the upstairs so that he could address his subjects.

The King talked with everyone for a while, giving everyone in attendance the rundown on the Halloween party. He started by asking everyone in attendance to raise their hands if they had attended each of the previous year’s parties (this being the 8th year that they had thrown one). There were many people present that had attended last year (myself included), and then the numbers dramatically decreased going back farther into the past. The farthest back we got was one couple who had attended the third annual party, but no one there had been members of the Dance Kingdom before that time. Then he went over the game that he had created, the game that they have played every year during the Halloween party (more on that later). When he was finished describing the rules, he had been informed that everything was ready upstairs. With that, he opened the door to everyone, instructed them to quietly head up and stand along the striped wall, and the festivities began…

The first year, when the Princess and the King talked of throwing a big Halloween party, the King had a brainstorm. He came up with a game based on Clue that incentivized everyone to dance together and have fun. The game he invented could AllHallowsEve2be modified to fit in with each year’s theme. This year there was a skit put on by all the Lords and Ladies of the Dance Kingdom that told the story of the murder that everyone would be trying to solve. The sheriff (played by none other than Lord Fabulous) set the scene in a saloon, where the cowboys were trying to impress the saloon girls. One lady (played by the Princess) was being favored by two cowboys (played by Hot Tottie and Lord Bradley). During a tap dance number the two cowboys put on to impress the lady, a fight broke out amongst the gentlemen in the back playing cards. The fights spilled over into the tap dancing cowboys, and soon all the men were involved in the mix. During the fight all the lights went out, and when light was restored we found that the lady had been murdered. As the sheriff explained, it was up to all of us to figure out who was the murderer, where the deed had taken place, and what the weapon was that the killer had used.

As he talked, the saloon girls wandered through the crowd and handed out a card to each person, and the game began. The game was simple enough: your card identified one of the options for one of the three categories (person, place or thing). When you danced a song with a partner, you got to look at their card and they got to look at yours. Each of you could then cross that item off your list. If you danced with enough people, eventually you would cross off four out of the five items in each category and you would be left with the answer to the sheriff’s questions. Just like Clue, for those of you who have played that. First person to get the correct answer and report it to the King without cheating would receive a prize. With that, we danced!

Since they had put out tables for food in the downstairs ballroom, all the dancing remained upstairs, and with all the people who had shown up it was really warm up there. The only person whom I don’t think minded the heat was Sir Steven. I swear that man does not sweat. But we had a good time. There was a lot of Latin dances and very few ballroom-style dances, which I would also attribute to the amount of people on the floor. It was much safer to do dances that did not travel as much. The ballroom at the Great Dance Hall, while bigger than the one at the Land of the Loft, is smaller in size than the floors we would be on for a competition, so there wasn’t much to work with. I did do a particularly dangerous Waltz number with Sparkledancer during the evening, so I can testify to that. I will tell you that I did not win the Clue game they were playing – didn’t even come close. The group that I had come in with had taken up refuge at a table in the back by the windows, and with everyone so close by we were just having fun switching amongst ourselves and a few other random people who got too close and were pulled into our midst. I don’t think I even crossed off any of the items on the list I was given except the item on the card that I was personally handed.

In the middle of the evening they had a costume contest to pick out who was dressed the best out of everyone whom was there. Lord Bradley led everyone AllHallowsEve3around the room in a pseudo-conga line that marched in tempo to the music playing up at the front of the line, but moved really slowly at the end of the line. Other Lords and Ladies of the Dance Kingdom were spread around the room to be judges, and Lord Bradley wound everyone around all the people standing still for almost twenty minutes. Everyone in line was laughing pretty hard by the end, losing the ability to take the contest seriously. When the judges had reached their decision, everyone lined up along the striped wall once again and they announced the winners of all the contests. The costume contest was won by the Ski Bums from the Land of the Loft, who were both conveniently dressed as skiers for my picture!

…no, not really, they were dressed as something much more thematically appropriate to the party. But wouldn’t that have been convenient?

There was a second mixer game that was played in the evening that I put much more effort into participating in. The game went like this: the DJ played an East Coast Swing tune. After a while, the music would pause and Sir Steven would yell out one or more of three commands. Once command would make you freeze in place, the other forced you to change partners, and the third had the gentleman drop to one knee and the lady sat down on his other knee. The last couple on the floor to follow the command would be taken out of the game, until only one couple remained. Things started off pretty easily – the music would pause and one command would be shouted out. I stayed off to the side near some other people so it was easy to switch partners, and focused on just doing simple East Coast Swing steps so as not to miss anything. As more people were taken out of the game, Sir Steven started chaining the commands together two at a time so that you would have to do the first command and then the second. As we got down to the remaining few people, I hadn’t been eliminated yet, but then they started throwing in sets where all three commands were used. There were only two couples left on the floor, myself and Tall Steven plus two of the female students. We were pretty evenly matched for a couple of rounds, both of us managing to get everything done quick enough that no one could tell who was slower. In the end though, I ended up losing because I had the girl on the wrong side of my body when they paused the music and I couldn’t bring her to sit on my right knee fast enough and we just kind of tumbled for a few seconds too long.

After that was over, I needed to take a break to let the adrenaline flow out of my bloodstream, so I headed downstairs for a while. Almost all the attendees from the Land of the Loft, including Sir Steven and Lady Q, were all standing in a big circle AllHallowsEve4talking with the Princess. We had a nice long talk with her as she told various stories about things like how the King came up with the idea for the Halloween party and the themed game they played every year, how they really put some thought into the design of each of the lands in the Dance Kingdom so that each would have its own personality, and also about all the time and effort they put in when they bought the Great Dance Hall. The building is really old, so they remodeled a lot of it while saving some of the more historic pieces like the brick finish to the walls in the downstairs ballroom and the original flooring in the upstairs ballroom from a now-endangered type of tree that could not be replaced. You could hear her get a little choked up when she talked about how the Lords and Ladies (“the kids” as she called them) all signed their names beneath the floorboards before they laid them, and how hard it was for her to move from their old building into the Great Dance Hall. She said that on moving day she couldn’t bring herself to help, so she just sat in the middle of the dance floor in the old building and cried. The King told all the Lords and Ladies to just keep packing and moving things and just leave her there – he said he would be able to get another princess if she didn’t want to go with them.

When the talk wound down, it was getting pretty late. We all headed back upstairs to dance the last several songs of the night, and then the party was over. Everyone left meandered downstairs to collect their things, change their shoes, take a whole bunch of last-minute pictures and say goodbye to everyone. After a long night full of dancing, we all slowly stepped out into the cool October night, mostly to go home and collapse in bed. After all, there would only be a few days until we would all be back at the Land of the Loft to do more training!
AllHallowsEve5 Happy Halloween all! I hope you had a spooky night!

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