Medal Ball – The good, the bad and the ugly

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I’m guessing all studios have some kind of celebration as people achieve certain levels in their dancing and Saturday night was our Medal Ball for the studios in the general area.  In my fat period, I used to hate these events because they don’t make nice looking jackets for fat guys and you can forget about the whole vest thing.  Also, I was always hot so adding extra layers was just not a good idea.  Not saying that I’m Mr GQ now but I’m better able to pull off the look and now I’m always cold so having an extra layer works for me.  Don’t get me wrong, at heart I’m a jeans kind of guy but I don’t mind dressing up every now and then.  Also, I’ll take any opportunity to dance on a crowded floor because that will help at Showcase.

But, mainly, I went to show support for all the people who were moving up.  I remember being them and what it felt like.  In a way, it is one of the dirty little secrets of the studio.  Couples come in to learn to dance socially with each other and suddenly, they are talking about checking out of a level and then having to dance in front of a large group of people.  They usually have a number of couples on the floor for the beginning levels but it is sometimes the first time that people have danced when others are specifically looking at them and I remember how that felt.  There was one couple checking out of Bronze I and they had to do a waltz which isn’t in their program (at that level, you don’t get to pick a dance) so they found out about that a couple of days before the event and then got a crash course right before and I saw them practicing in the hall and I remember exactly what that was like.  I don’t know if having someone else there to say “nice job” after they finished or “you’ll do fine” when they were nervous helped, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  And they all did very well by the way.

I’m probably a little biased but I think our studio does a better job than some of the others in the area.  It probably helps that my instructor and her husband are serious pros and I think they really want everyone to meet a certain standard so they generally don’t rush people through levels.  There is one studio that seems to specialize in that.  They had three people checking out of Silver 4.  Two were ladies without partners and both looked like they were just being dragged around the floor by their instructors.  Even watching them in the general dances, I just didn’t see that they were really at that level but I am biased.  For the record, I’m not focused on levels anymore.  As I’ve said several times, I used to be focused on steps and learning new steps meant advancing up levels and that was the sign of progress.  But, I want to be the whole package which means the posture, the shaping, the timing and maybe even a little Cuban motion (OK, I learned my lesson and I’m not opening THAT door again).

One of the instructors from another studio was part of the little group that went to Dance-o-rama last summer.  The guy she was working with didn’t attend so she grabbed me for a couple of dances and was going on and on about what a good time they had and how we really needed to do another one and pushing to see when I was going to go again.  I was noncommittal because I haven’t decided what the right course is for me going forward.

And, just to show you that I still have my issues, the beginning of the event was truly awkward for me.  There was a wine tasting starting an hour before the event was scheduled.  I don’t drink much at all, and I’m not a wine person so a wine tasting held no interest for me especially when it added to the cost of the event.  I timed it perfectly and got there just as it should have been breaking up but it had run long and they weren’t ready to open the main ballroom where the event was going to be held.  I saw the studio owner coming out of the room and he told me it would be a couple of minutes so I could just hang out in the lounge outside the ballroom.  Can’t really explain it but the thought of sitting there as people came up from the wine tasting and looking like the lost little kid who wasn’t invited to the party, threw me into a mini panic.  I went to find a place to hide and actually found a hidden little area one flight up from the main room and just waited there for 15 minutes.  Ironically, at one point, I heard my instructor and her husband talking about me.  He said something like “I know he’s here because I saw him earlier” and sent her to track me down.  At that point, I was afraid they were going to come up the stairs and find me but they didn’t so I managed to slip in after the room had filled up.  Got the “where were you” questions which I just dodged.  You can take an introvert to a party but you can’t make him mingle.  A little sad, I know but I am what I am.  You would also think that at a dance where you are expected to dance that I wouldn’t have a problem asking people I don’t know to dance since it is sort of expected but you’d be wrong.  I did however dance with a couple of students from our studio who I hadn’t danced much with so that’s as far as I got.  Yes, that was the ugly part.

But, despite the rocky start, I did manage to have a good time so the evening was not a total loss.  Got to see my instructor and her husband do a waltz at the end of the night.  They always let some of the instructors do pro shows at the end of these events and since these two are the best in the area, they always go on.  And it is always worth it to see really high level dancing even if it was just one number.

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