Ghosts of Ballroom Past and Ballroom Future

A year ago, on this Thursday (although it was December 11 in 2014), I was in Las Vegas dancing in my second-ever ballroom competition, the Holiday Dance Classic. I didn’t sleep the night before, made my morning tea with hot water from the bathroom sink because I had no money left after getting myself TO the competition, and had an amazing time dancing.

It’s weird that it was a full year ago! It is cool, however, to look back at the four competitions I’ve danced in and see how far I’ve come.


Holiday also marks what would have been my first repeat comp. What would that have been like?

Up to this point, every competition I have attended (or almost attended) was a new one for me. A whole bunch of first times! I have additional nerves associated with being in a new environment, even if it’s similar to others I have already experienced. Which got me thinking about how Holiday would have felt this time around.

Would I have been more relaxed because I’ve been there, done that? Or because I would have been competing at the silver level instead of bronze, would the new environment nerves simply be replaced by new level nerves?

I also wondered how it would have felt if I was still working on bronze and returned to Holiday to compete this year. Pro-am competition is an odd thing in that you can’t really get a sense of where you rank among your fellow dancers. Everyone follows their own path when it comes to choosing which competitions to enter. So you don’t compete against the same people all of the time. Sometimes you have no one to compete against at all! In reality, your victories are very specific.

I could say I won at Holiday. But actually I only won at the 2014 Holiday Dance Classic, in the bronze division of American smooth, age group A. There were other winners in age groups B and C, and in the three other dance styles. And in the youth divisions. And when I say I won, I refer to the scholarship round, which means I won against whoever entered that specific round, not necessarily every bronze A smooth dancer at the comp.

On one hand, I want to dare to say I was a top (bronze A smooth) pro-am dancer based on the fact that I also won at the competitions I entered after Holiday. On the other hand, there were only two others. And at the 2015 California Open, I hardly competed against anyone. You’ll notice I say “was” because I haven’t competed in almost 8 months. A new bronze A smooth winner will be selected today at Holiday. Do my past victories even count anymore? There are other dancers who have the means to enter many competitions every year and some of them probably also consistently win. Where do I stand compared to them?

I suppose this is a conundrum for anyone in a competitive sport. You’re a winner until you’re not. Or you’re a winner as long as you stay in the game and keep winning. I don’t get too caught up in the idea of ranking though.  I know any victory or title is temporary at best.

The only ranking I really look at is how my present self compares to my past self.

Which brings me back to wondering how I would have felt at this year’s Holiday Dance Classic compared to last year. If I was still working on bronze, would returning to Holiday be less exciting because I already won at that level at the comp? Or would the need to “defend my title” keep me engaged? In my head, I have these check boxes for my competitions and the one for bronze smooth at Holiday is already checked.

I have this fantasy that I will be able to experience as many competitions as possible, so I can check off more boxes. Kinda like coloring in states on a map of the US as you visit each one. But that means a lot of travel and a lot of expense. I am sure there are pro-am dancers who just stick with the same set of competitions, and maybe even the same level, year after year. I want to keep growing and experiencing though, and that means new competitions, new levels, and even new ballroom styles!

I am hoping I will find a way to get back to competing in time for the 2016 Emerald Ball. I won the bronze A smooth scholarship in 2015. I want to see how I would fare in the silver round!


2 thoughts on “Ghosts of Ballroom Past and Ballroom Future

  1. Nick Moore says:

    I’ve found from dance the worst three things to ask myself are: Could’ve, Should’ve and Would’ve. Even until a few weeks before my first competition they would slip into my thought process. But as soon as they were banished with ‘luck’, my internal feelings to dance and the idea of comps improved.

    You know your skill level, and challenging yourself is probably the best reward… A medal is always a nice accolade though!


  2. Natalie says:

    Though I dance in collegiate competitions, I’ve found that I’m more comfortable when I return to a comp for a second (or third) time. I’m always a bit more relaxed because I like knowing where I am 🙂

    Good luck getting to Emerald in 2016 – I’m rooting for you!!


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