Ballroom Team Match and Being a Spectator (Write31Days Day 25)

I know I said I would expand on the wonderful effects that ballroom can have on you today. But if you’ll pardon the delay, I attended my studio’s team match yesterday and was inspired in a different direction. I promise I’ll get back to ballroom effects tomorrow.

Yesterday wasn’t my first team match; I’ve attended at least four. The big difference yesterday was I wasn’t dancing, only watching.

For those just starting to explore the world of ballroom, a team match is basically a mini pro-am competition. Multiple studios usually participate, with one of them hosting the event. The format is the same as a regular competition, with the match divided into heats based on dance, skill, and age categories. Instead of placements, the students receive critiques from the guest judge. A team match is a great way to try ballroom competition to see if it is right for you without the added pressure and cost of a regular comp.

Team matches are also a great way to prepare for a bigger competition. You get to run through all of your routines with your teacher with other couples on the floor, just like at a competition, but in a more casual and familiar atmosphere. The last team match I danced in was in preparation for USDC.

Yesterday’s team match was Halloween-themed, so almost everyone was dressed in some sort of costume. Pirates, devils, and angels seem to be the most popular choices. Even though we were just spectators, Roomie and I dressed up too!

Halloween Team Match 2015

Teacher, still wearing a brace on his wrist, danced with three students in the morning smooth sessions and three in the afternoon rhythm sessions. Even though ballroom is a couples’ sport, as a student, you can wind up feeling like you’re part of a team, made up of your teacher and his students. I’ve grown close with a lot of Teacher’s other students, so even though I wasn’t dancing, I wanted to go and support my teammates! I did get to dance a tiny bit by leading one of Teacher’s students and a very good friend in a warm-up cha cha.

Warm-Up at Team Match

Why wasn’t I dancing in the team match? Money, of course. I don’t have any to spare.

As a dancer (yes, I’m calling myself a dancer!), it’s a little strange to go to a dance event and only sit in the audience. It would be the same, I imagine, for any other performer or athlete. You want to get out there and do your thing. But for whatever reason, you can’t.

A position like this is fuel for my demons. It would have been easy to drop into a dark place and let myself feel left out and unworthy. It would have been easy to have just stayed home and wallowed, or to have gone to the team match and felt sorry for myself the entire time. But it wasn’t about me, and I reminded my demons that when they started stirring up trouble.

So I went and cheered on my friends and the other dancers. They were having fun, so I was having fun!

If you’re like me and living with a strict budget, but you have found ballroom or something else that you can’t get enough of, keep in mind that at some point, you may have to sit on the sidelines. Ballroom offers so many experiences and you will want to say “yes!” to all of them. But at some point, you’re going to find yourself in a position where you have to say “no.” It will suck, and if your comrades are still in the “yes” position, it will feel like you’re being left behind.

But it’s just temporary. Just like me, you’ll figure out how to get back to “yes” and get back in the game or on the stage or wherever your heart is pulling you. Use your time as a spectator to play the important role of support for others. You know how challenging it is to get out there because you’ve been there. And you know how good it feels to have someone on the sidelines cheering you on. So be that cheerleader.

One of the many great things about dance is it is a beautiful thing to do but also a beautiful thing to watch. And you can be a part of it either way. During “watch-only” times, I find joy in watching people’s faces as they dance. Some have a mix of nerves and excitement. Some have pure fun shining out of their eyes and smile. It all reminds me of what I feel when I dance, and that helps me feel connected as a part of the dance, instead of left behind.

This team match is only the first of many events I will probably have to sit out in the upcoming months. I qualify it because I don’t want to give up on finding ways back to “yes.” But my demons thrive on disappointment, so I maintain a careful balance between accepting the unfortunate reality and working to change it.

I came across this meme on Instagram while trying to decide how to wrap this up. I think it’ll do.


Don’t forget to check out other posts from the 31 Day Writing Challenge!


4 thoughts on “Ballroom Team Match and Being a Spectator (Write31Days Day 25)

  1. BCBallroomdancer says:

    I completely hear you about having to take the time to spectate. I have had to do that a lot more recently than I would like, and I will be doing it some in the near future as well–not just because of my health, but for financial reasons as well. I have a plan for a ‘comeback’ competition in the spring, but that is very financially dependent on things like selling my old dresses and having no extra expenses crop up. Even then, I need at least one of Boss’s other students to be willing to go, if not more. It sucks, but it is part of trying to afford this sport–sometimes we participate, sometimes we watch.

    Liked by 1 person

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