To round out the week last week, and get in one last practice session before heading out to the Dance Death Arena to compete, I went to the social dance at the Electric Dance Hall. Lord Junior wasn’t there that night since he was already out competing with one of his pupils, but Sir Steven was there to keep the music playing (and keep all of us in line). The party was a lot of fun. Somehow we ended up with all but two of the people at the party being under the age of 35, so we had a good time being young and silly without having to worry about what a bunch of old people thought of us. HotDog was up to his usual tricks and was trying to get the phone number of a couple of the girls who were there that night. One of them looked like she had just completed high school, so she might have been a bit below his normal age range, but he was having a great time trying to teach her all the dance steps he knew. Deja even managed to sneak away for the night to come out and dance with us, and I know that Abracadaniel looked super happy to see her. I was glad to see her too. It had been so long since she last showed up, I was starting to think that she was dead as a dancer. To make sure that I practiced things just like I said before heading out, Sparkledancer and I agreed to dance all the ballroom-style dances together that night, focusing mostly on our American Smooth routines since that’s what we would be doing first. Things got funny at some points because everyone there knew we were practicing for the next day, so a couple of times everyone just sat out when Sparkledancer and I took the floor and made us dance by ourselves. That made it awkward, but funny. There was one girl there that night whom I had never met before, but she spent time trying to convince me that I needed to have a super serious Tango face when I danced. At one point, a Tango was put on, and everyone else cleared off the floor so that Sparkledancer and I were dancing by ourselves again. I made it as far as it took before I could catch sight of that girl, who was standing over in the corner making gestures at me with her hands around her face, and I started laughing really hard. I gave up dancing the Tango at that point and everyone else there started laughing with me. I guess that shows that I have a really hard time holding (or even having) a serious Tango face.
So as I mentioned, this weekend was competition weekend for me. I made my way back to the renowned Dance Death Arena to sort-of duke it out with other dancers. I say sort-of because I don’t actually compete to do better than others. I really only sign up to compete as a way to force me to focus on learning and improving. The pressure of performance is enough to motivate me to do that. I wasn’t signed up for a ton of things, so the entire competition was just a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday morning for me at the venue. I was surprised to see when I got there that Judge Dread was one of the judges at the competition on Saturday, and on Sunday the frightening Lord Dormamu was in the front of the floor judging. I wondered that day what it would take to get an adjudicator’s license. Then I could go out and judge things like this! I bet there’s some kind of exam to take. All the certifications that I have to get for work require passing an exam, so I bet being a certified judge would be similar. I wonder how hard that would be…
Before we talk about the fun things that I saw, I just want to throw this out there: I don’t know who it was in the world of dancing that decided that all Viennese Waltz heats should be done before nine o’clock in the morning, but that person and I need to have a serious heart-to-heart discussion. The first thing I had to do Saturday morning was Viennese Waltz, going on the floor just before 8:30AM. I don’t know if there would have been any amount of warm-up I could have done that would have made me feel ready for that event. I am really not a morning person, so I just felt like that round was horrible. It probably wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but I was still not fully awake, and all the caffeine I forced myself to have early in the morning didn’t help any, so I feel like it was terrible. That was OK, since I expected it to be terrible as soon as I got the listing a while back and saw that Viennese Waltz was going to be so early. Why in the world would they do that? I tell you – the next competition I decide to do, I’m going to look at their historic heat listings, and if they also do Viennese Waltz at the buttcrack of dawn, I’m not going to sign up for that. Once we got past Viennese Waltz, we had some time to kill before our next round. I ended up in the back of the spectator section with Sparkledancer, watching all of the Senior-division dances. In front of us there was this other dance pair that looked like an older woman with her instructor. He couldn’t have been half her age, if that. She was fawning all over him, putting her head on his shoulder, wrapping her arm around his back, leaning in close to him whenever he started talking. He did not seem too interested in her attention, since he would subtly lean away from her when she leaned in, and when her head was on his shoulder he would tilt his head away from hers. It was rather amusing to watch. I had almost as much fun watching the ‘dance’ the two of them were going through in front of me as I did watching the actual dancing on the floor. After the break, we got to do our three other American Smooth routines. Those felt really good to me, and I had a lot of fun doing them. After we completed the Waltz, there was some technical snafu, so the emcee asked the DJ to put on another Waltz and had everyone on the floor started dancing again until they figured things out. The Foxtrot was probably my favorite. Once we got all the way around the floor once, I totally broke routine and Sparkledancer and I were just doing figures that I thought were fun, because that’s what I think dancing should be.
Dancing on Sunday ended up being less fun than Saturday. We started a lot later that day than we did the day before, so that was one major positive point (it certainly made things feel much better for me). The rounds we did that day had about twice as many people as the previous day’s rounds. Normally that wouldn’t be too much of a concern – I go to plenty of social dances, and many of those have more couples on the floor dancing than the heats I was in. The Waltz we did first went really well, and I felt pretty good when we got done. The Quickstep ended up being the issue. Due to another couple on the floor, I had to break routine, and I lost Sparkledancer. She had a hard time getting back into sync with what I was doing, and I ended up just trying to default into basic Chasses and Lock Steps to try to help her out. When we got off the floor after that, I could see she was frustrated. Up next we did the Tango, and that one went pretty well again. I thought we might have been able to shake off the bad Quickstep with that going so well, since it’s still pretty weird for Tango to feel like a good dance style for me. The Foxtrot was next… and that was… well, we had to start on one of the short walls, and just like Quickstep I ended up having to break routine because of someone else on the floor, this time it happened really early in the heat, and I really lost Sparkledancer by doing so. At the next corner I tried to start back at the beginning of the routine, but I couldn’t get her back with me. Every corner from then on I ended up just starting at the beginning, hoping we could get back in sync, but I think the pressure of performing and the negative feelings from the Quickstep had gotten to her, so she was just lost at that point. We got off the floor, and she was a wreck. Apparently there was also something that happened after that in the lady’s dressing room afterward, but she won’t talk about it too much. Despite all the other things going on, and the people we knew competing that day as well, she wasn’t doing too hot, so I took her to her house so she could change out of her fancy dress, and then we just sat and talked for a while so I could make sure she was OK.
For a while I thought I had lost her as a dance partner – it was pretty easy to see that getting lost like that really bothered her a lot. I think I managed to calm her down, and let her know that we weren’t doing this for any reason than to force ourselves to practice and improve overall. We didn’t stay for the results on Sunday, but I could guess they wouldn’t be good. So after the whole experience, Sparkledancer and I each walked away with a ribbon from dancing on Saturday, and that will be a nice keepsake from the event to go on my growing shelf of dance mementoes. I also have my competitor number to add to the shelf as well, since it was still pinned to the back of my vest when I got home.
Sparkledancer and I met up with Sir Steven yesterday night to look at things that we needed to work on based on what he saw while he watched our Standard heats – some things that needed to be fixed, other things that needed to be worked on to move beyond Bronze in that style. We looked at the Spin Turn in Waltz for a while. Later in the evening, Sparkledancer pointed out something funny to me that I didn’t notice while we were working on the figure: when we were going back over the technique we had looked at a while back, where I have to lead the lady to stretch away from me by pressing forward toward her with my hips, Sir Steven was demonstrating Sparkledancer’s part for her by dancing with me. He would dance with me by getting right in a close contact frame, and would pretty much stay that close while I pushed my hips into him. Yet when he would do the same figure with Sparkledancer, he stayed in more of a practice frame with her, keeping several inches of space between the two of them. You would think that he would do the opposite – keep several inches of space between the two of us, and getting up close and personal with Sparkledancer. When she pointed that out to me, I thought it was really funny. Since I mostly work with male instructors, I’ve gotten so used to having to dance with them occasionally to demonstrate things that it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I failed to see things from her perspective until she pointed it out to me.
This weekend I will be heading back out on a dance field trip to the Grand Dance Hall for their big yearly dance party, and I’m super excited. There will be a lot of people there, so this has become my yearly test to see how much I’ve managed to improve my floorcraft skills over the last year. Anyone else planning on attending the party with me? Maybe I’ll see you out on the floor!