I’m back! Not that I went anywhere, I just left my computer off. I definitely needed the small, temporary release of pressure. Other parts of my life are stressful enough; my writing should counter that. When it starts to contribute instead, I know I need to take a break.
To get back in the swing and sway of things (ballroom joke), I thought I would describe for you the razzle dazzle of a ballroom competition!
The competitions that I attend are always held in a large ballroom inside a swanky hotel, like a Hyatt or a Hilton. For a weekend, or however long the comp goes, there is an amusing juxtaposition of vacationing families in casual clothes like shorts and t-shirts and competitive dancers in fishnets, rhinestone-drenched dresses, and an entire drug store’s supply of makeup and hairspray. They are a preview of the glitz and glamour that awaits you as you enter the ballroom.
You’ll need a ticket to enter, even if you are competing. The tickets usually have table or seat number assignments on them, but for the sessions that I’ve attended, Teacher has always just grabbed whatever area he felt like for his students. The bronze pro-am sessions never get that busy, so no one’s ever gotten upset that their seat was taken. The assignments matter more for the sessions where the pros are competing.
Be prepared for sensory overload! Rhinestones and fringe and feathers will be everywhere. Music will be playing for dancers on the floor or the MC will be announcing the next event. Competitors will be running to the on-deck area or the bathroom or to say hi to friends.
Once you get settled at your table, you’ll probably want to put your dance shoes on and warm up. But where? You have a few options. You’re likely to see a few people doing dynamic stretches just at their tables to warm up muscles. Others will be practicing bits of choreography or frame in an open walkway. There is usually a small practice dance floor hidden behind a curtain near the on-deck area, but it always seems crowded. I try to find a quiet corner to warm up. My anxiety gets aggravated by the big crowd, so I kill two birds with one stone by warming up in a corner away from everyone.
Your teacher will probably do a little warm-up with you too, even if it’s just to feel the frame connection before you get out on the floor.
You’ll receive a heat list when you check in with the competition, which will give you a general idea of what times you’re dancing. It will also be available on the comp’s website at least a few days before the comp starts. It’s important to listen for your heat numbers though. The comp can run early or late, and sometimes they switch heats around. Always head to the on-deck area (corner of the dance floor where people wait to get on the floor to dance) a couple heats ahead of yours.
Programs are also available for purchase at the comp, which will contain the full schedule including who is dancing in what events. The program will also tell you when there is a break to announce awards. I usually just borrow someone else’s program because I can’t spend the extra $20. Be sure to note which heats you are dancing in a row, so you’ll know if you should stay on the floor after your first dance. Also take note of longer breaks in between heats. These are the times when you should hit the bathroom if you need to.
After a section of single dance heats is finished, it will be time for awards! Not every comp announces the placements for the single dances; sometimes you have to go to an awards table where they’ll look you up and tell you your results. If they do break for awards, the MC will go through each heat and announce the first, second and third place winners. Three judges will be lined up with stickers and/or vouchers for each place, and your job will be to listen for your heat numbers and name. Listen carefully, the MC talks fast! It may sound silly but I love getting to collect my stickers!
The vouchers are even better. They are good for a discount on a single dance entry at the comp next year! It is usually $1 to $3 depending on the placement. It’s not a lot considering entry fees are around $40 per entry, but who doesn’t love coupons?
Scholarship dances are done after the single dance events. You will dance all of the associated dances in a row. Your placement is based on all of the dances, not per dance like with the single events. Scholarship events are your chance to win some money! Depending on the comp, cash prizes are awarded to at least the top three students. They always break to announce winners of the scholarships because then everyone gets to line up for a picture.
By the time you’re finished, you’ll probably be exhausted. Between giving it your all in your dances and the endless sensory stimulation, competition day takes a lot of energy! You may even feel blue or depressed in the few days after the comp. Don’t worry, it happens to me too. Check out how I deal with my post-comp blues.
Ballroom competition will be an experience you’ll never forget. You get to escape reality and lose yourself in a magical world where everyone dresses their best and when the music plays, people start dancing!
But be warned! It will also be an experience you’ll probably want to have again, so you better start saving those dollars!
Don’t forget to check out other posts from the 31 Day Writing Challenge!