I’ve been reading Patrice Tanaka’s Becoming Ginger Rogers. It’s a memoir and in it, Patrice shares her journey into ballroom dancing and how it changed her life. Sound familiar?
I never get tired of “life changed by ballroom” stories. Her story has so many familiar elements; it’s like reading a letter from a friend. While I was sitting in the shade by my apartment complex’s pool on Monday, she related the story of her first ballroom competition. I was, of course, instantly transported back to my own competition experiences and was struck very hard by a strong desire to be in that world again. Like right now.
A few days earlier, Teacher made a comment to me during one of our lessons. He suggested that I look at some local competitions instead of the Holiday Dance Classic in order to save the cost of travel and a hotel room. There were two I could consider in October: the Orange County Dancesport Challenge and the Hollywood Dancesport Championships. The OC Dancesport is at the beginning of October and Hollywood is at the end. During the lesson, I balked at the idea. That would mean being ready to compete a whole two months earlier! Not to mention having the money saved and available two months earlier.
But by that pool, with kids splashing and their parents chatting in the background, I was feeling inspired. Reading how Patrice felt after her first competition was like reliving mine. All I wanted was to get out on that floor again and dance. I could be ready two months earlier! I resisted the urge to text Teacher right then and there to start planning, since it was 4th of July and even dance teachers need a holiday break.
Instead I started comparing the potential October comps. I’ve written before about how I go about choosing a competition. Both comps were local enough that I wouldn’t need to pay for a hotel room. I would have to take a day off of work for Hollywood, whether I danced smooth or rhythm. For OC Dancesport, smooth was scheduled on the Saturday, so no need to take a day off for that one. But Hollywood was at the end of the month, giving me a few more weeks to prepare and save money. On the other hand, OC Dancesport was a lot closer, which would save me travel time/cost. In the end, the deciding factor was the prize money for the scholarships. OC Dancesport was offering $50 more for first place in the closed scholarships. Drive less and possibly win more money? Ok! Who needs a couple extra weeks anyway?
Then my inspiration started to turn a little insane. I still wanted to go to Holiday. It was the one comp where I had semi-final rounds in my heats, which meant I got more dancing out of my entry fees. Plus it was in Vegas, and last time Roomie and I had a lot of fun “doing Vegas” from seeing shows to people watching in casinos to eating the best pancakes ever. You don’t feel so weird walking down the Strip in your full ballroom makeup.
My good sense left me completely as I began to scheme in my head. I’d want to go for multiple days anyway. Maybe Holiday could be my first attempt at nine-dance! Dancing rhythm AND smooth would certainly make the trip there more worthwhile! Right??
I started playing with my projected budget to see how my bank account seemed to be faring in the next couple months. A couple big expenses on the horizon, but I was also still waiting for sales from Amazon for my Dance Diaries books. That extra income could offset the extra expenses. I could make this happen. I’ve done it before. I could make this happen.
Roomie was supportive and excited when I told her the idea. She had full confidence that I could figure out how to pay double the entry fees and double Teacher’s fee two months after paying for a local competition. I went to bed Monday night like a villain who had just hatched the perfect evil ploy to defeat her nemesis. That is, crazy-determined and in denial about anything that could go wrong.
I did not wake up the same way. My first thought when I revisited the idea in my head the next morning was “WTF was I thinking?” Not so much about the money though. I’ve come to realize and accept that I am pretty darn good at figuring out how to pay for these things and I’m starting out in a decent financial position. The WTF feeling came when I thought about being prepared to dance nine different dances in about five months. Four or five of those dances (depending on which style I enter at OC Dancesport) would need to be ready in three months. WTF was I thinking? I got an icky feeling in my stomach and I was glad I restrained myself from immediately bringing Teacher in on the idea. I needed to be reasonable here; I needed to think this through.
I had a lunch lesson scheduled with Teacher. He is competing with students and his pro partner through the rest of the week and Tuesday lunchtime was the only time he could fit me in if I wanted a lesson. Without Patrice’s words and my in-the-moment nostalgia to influence me, I pondered my crazy idea of changing my comp goals to maybe one in December to two before the end of the year, which would cost me the equivalent of three if I danced two styles at Holiday. It was a nice dream, but not realistic and almost stupid from a financial standpoint. I was ready to dismiss the idea and go back to the much safer/realistic dream of maybe going to Holiday to dance one style.
But then I started to feel disappointed. And lost. I felt a familiar fear pipe up, that there will always be a reason I won’t be able to compete. There will always be something else that should get my wallet’s attention. If that’s true, how will I ever get back to competing? If there will always be something to stop me, why bother setting competition goals at all?
Well, wait a minute. Setting goals doesn’t cost me any money. The only thing goals do is provide me with direction and purpose. The money is another issue that can be dealt with over time. And if it gets down to the wire and I just don’t have quite enough saved, then I just redirect it to the next goal.
Just adding some logical reasoning to my crazy idea made me feel better; I had something to shoot for. It was ambitious, but if you’re going to dream, dream big!
When I told Teacher my idea, he just grinned and said “ok, yeah, let’s do it!” I couldn’t tell if he was surprised or amused or just thought I was crazy. By the time I have another lesson with him next week, the proposition should have sunk in and I can find out what he really thinks. My main concern/fear/demon pulling on my sleeve is that I don’t have enough time to prepare. I think I could be ready to compete in smooth in three months for OC Dancesport. But smooth AND rhythm in five months for Holiday? With only two lessons a week (when Teacher isn’t out of town), I’ll have a grand 45ish minutes per style per week. I can’t just focus on one style for the first three months either. It doesn’t seem like enough, but I’ve decided to trust whatever Teacher says. If he thinks I’ll be ready, then ok, I guess I’ll be ready.
It’s a little terrifying, but at the same time almost a relief to have a big challenge to work toward. The good thing is I have no experience competing in rhythm, let alone two styles in one comp, so I won’t have any expectations to create extra anxiety. And at this point, it’s still a far-off fantasy that I’ll be able to put the money together.
But heck, let’s go for it! Why not?