Balancing the Scales

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(Author’s Note:  The following post is likely going to contain lots and lots of bragging about what went right over the last couple of days.  No doom and gloom lies ahead)

So how does it feel to do two Showcases in two days?   To do five solo routines in two days and a bunch of assorted other heats.  To put yourself out there in front of a lot of people you don’t know.  Well, pretty darn good but it wears you out.

The contrast between the two was interesting.  It was kind of like having a wedding reception in the church basement with a pot luck dinner vs having a wedding reception in fully catered reception hall.  Now that is not to say that you can’t have a good time in a church basement because you certainly can.  It is just to give you a relative idea of what we are talking about.

But, I have to give Studio B some mad props.  They’ve got some really good dancers there.  This was the first time I’ve been able to see some of them perform and … WOW!  The guy who seems to be the main instructor there has won awards at comps and he was wonderful to watch. He did a jive which he make look effortless which is really the magic of dancing.  You see someone execute a complex move with the same ease as just walking down the street and your head kind of explodes a little.

I could see the difference in the ladies he danced with.  At the Famous Franchise, unless you are seriously into comps and have the right teacher, they don’t put the focus on what it takes to do well at the comps.  They focus on the steps and not the technique.  Here, I could see from the ladies head position that this guy was drilling technique into his students.

There were two great amateur couples as well which is also something you don’t see too much at the Famous Franchise.  One couple had been dancing for 30 some years.  They met while dancing so its a beautiful dance love story that just hits the secret romantic part of me that I try to hide.  And there was a couple who had competed before and then life things happened so they were just getting back into it and this was kind of a kick off program and they were spectacular.

So, how did my two dances go?  Well, I screwed up part of one but we just kept moving and I got to a place where I could fix it and move on.  The second one went much better.  Hilde was there and she videoed my first one and when I told her I messed up, she said she couldn’t tell.  See, stop focusing on what went wrong.  Just keep moving and keep smiling and nobody will know the difference.

The super talented instructor I told you about earlier.  At some point in the evening, we were in close proximity and he looks to me and tells me I did good out there.  OK, I’ll take that.  I had several other people tell me the same thing.  One guy even complimented me on my timing.  (YES!!!!)   But, more importantly, I had fun doing both.  Again, I thinking I really should have been a performer of some sort.  I just feel so alive doing these things in front of people.

I didn’t get to see Hilde do her performance but we were talking about it afterwards and she was focusing on all the things that went wrong and I was telling her to focus on what went right.  She asked me if I believed that and I said I always believe it when I’m telling it to someone else.  We laughed about that.  It is the perfectionist trap and it is tough to avoid.  A long time ago, I read a book that suggested you need to put more weight in what others say to you rather than your own feelings because we are all imperfect judges of ourselves.  I lose that lesson so many times and maybe I need nights like that to remind me.  If people like what they see, then I’m better than I give myself credit for and I should start giving myself more credit.

The social dancing portion of that Showcase when about as expected.  Which means I basically danced with Hilde or sat.  Yeah, still working on that.  At one point, the lady from the amateur couple who had danced for 30 years came over to talk with me and I was too slow to ask her to dance so she asked me.  I didn’t stay until the end because I did have the other Showcase the next day so I needed some sleep.

Now, on to the Famous Franchise Showcase.  The event started at 10 AM and the ballroom was open at 9AM.  Fortunately, I’m a guy and I don’t have to worry about makeup but there is still a little time required to tame my hair and I really don’t know much about men’s hair products.  But I got it under control and gathered all my assorted costumes and props and got there about 9:15.

They started with the smooth dances but they did a lot of the off dances first which meant my two Peabody heats and three Quickstep heats were up early in the show.  It turns out that I’m the only one doing either Peabody or Quickstep so I basically got five solos.  (More people should do Peabody because it is fun).  Right before doing the first one, the DJ/MC tells the audience that one of the judges had won something in Peabody.  Oh, like I need that extra pressure.

The DJ/MC was the same guy who did the out of town Showcase where Kid T and I made our debut last year and he also did our Showcase in the fall so I knew him.  I think the fact that I was out there by myself early in the day just lead to him paying more attention to me during the day.  He like to add little things like “looking good number 301” to spur the crowd and I noticed him calling my number a lot.  I caught his eye several time just because I do that (always look eye).  There was also a funny moment in the bathroom at a break where he was telling me how great it was I was doing dances like Peabody and Quickstep.  I went to wash my hands and the sink had one of the sensors that never seem to work for me.  He starts in about how I’m so fast I’m fooling the sensor.  Same thing happened with the towel dispenser.  Worked for him, wouldn’t work for me.  Yes, its a silly thing but it was a fun moment.  Oh, I should also mention that in addition to the DJ/MC thing, he’s a dancer and world champ Lindy Hop guy so it is always nice just to get some recognition from people who dance.

The one problem with doing five running dances early in the morning is that you become a bit hot and sweaty.  I won’t go into details but I’m just glad they had placed towels near the door and I made use of them.  In all the talk about the glamour of ballroom, they never really mention the sweat which is about as non glamorous as you can get.

There is an instructor from another studio and somehow, we are bros even though there is a huge age difference.  I did get to sit with them at the Showcase last year (when Kid T and I were pushed to the kids table) and I guess we bonded because now he’s all happy to see me whenever we have one of these events.  And, his studio likes to form little cheering sections so they’ll set up on the edges of the dance floor and do the wave and start screaming out to their dancers.  Because we are bros, he seems to have adopted me so I got a lot of cheering when I danced near them.  At one point, there was what appeared to be a girls high school soccer team staying at the same hotel and they were naturally curious about what was going on.  He invites them in and suddenly they are all cheering for me as well.  It threw me off one time.  When you aren’t expecting it and a group of high school girls starts screaming your name, it can be a bit distracting.

Back to the dancing.  The three solos went really well.  I did the Quickstep with Sunny at the first break and then did the Viennese Waltz and Peabody with Kid T at the second break.  The only problem is that the floor was much smaller than ours and these are all dances that move so we had to map out how to bend and flex them to make them fit.  I guess OwnerGuy was only able to see the Peabody because he was busy doing his solos with his student but he comes up to me as we are leaving the floor and tells me I really nailed it.

We did manage to do the open routines.  The smooth ones went fine.  Did two heats of each and managed to move them around the floor and through the other dancers.  During the first Viennese Waltz, I actually blanked on the routine (which was really just my solo) and switched back to closed.  It came right back to me once we got off the floor.  The Rumba and Swing routines were good.  The Cha-Cha was still a little frantic and hard to do with the traffic but, overall, I was happy with how they went.  I had other moments when I forgot things and had to revert back to something else.  There is always that initial moment of panic when you go “Crap, I don’t know what to do”.  This would be the good thing about doing rep after rep after rep because if you can get over that first panic, your body can pull something else out of memory and you just keep dancing and keep smiling like nothing went wrong.

Aside from OwnerGuy, I got some nice feedback from some of the other male instructors at other studios.  I’d see them in the changing room and they would just make a point to tell me how good I was looking.  Don’t want to get a super ego but I’m just taking in all the data points.

At dinner, I was with Kid T, Sunny and two couples who hadn’t done a Showcase before.  They got on the subject of what they liked about it and one of the ladies said our Peabody routine was her favorite.  She did add something about she’s no expert but that doesn’t matter to me.  I dance because of how it makes me feel but there is this part of me that wants to share that with everyone else.

Anyway, let’s just leave it with me getting used to saying “Thank you” a whole lot of times.  Take the compliments without saying things like “but you didn’t notice I screwed up”.  I’m learning.

The dinner was country themed so I naturally bought a nice shirt.  I may have mentioned this before but we have a little rewards program at work and I use that to fund all of my costumes and props.

Image result for sully western shirts

Above is the actual shirt.  Go big or go home.  There was an instructor from another studio who I’ve run into many times who came over to get a picture of me with her.

OwnerGuy almost flips when he sees it.  He tells me that I’ve got the shirt so I should really just start doing country dancing.  And, Kid T loves it so it would be perfect.  And, yes, I’ve done country dancing before and it is fun.  It just means more money and more time and more memory so I’ll have to think about it.  The dances were mostly country themed and there was one that you could do several dances to but Kid T says we can do Shuffle so I’m sticking with the basic (walk, walk, triple step, triple step) and we are just weaving through the crowd of people doing swing, cha-cha, hustle and who knows what else.  Yeah, it was fun.  Later, there was a two step that came on and another lady from the studio came to ask me to dance because she loved the song and wanted to dance but her husband didn’t want to do two step.  She didn’t know much two step so she told me I’d have to talk her through it which was fine so I’m just leading her around the floor with my “quick, quick, slow, slow”.

Sorry, I’ve really rambled on.  If you’ve made this far, I commend you.  I probably should have broken this into two posts but I’m on that post performance high so I wanted to just ride that wave.  I’ll just share one more sort of humorous anecdote from the day.  The lady who designed my smooth vest and rhythm shirt was there.  Think she has an exclusive deal with our Famous Franchise since they seem to bring her in for our Showcases.  She has a men’s smooth shirt where she had added some white striping to the collar and cuffs and the buttons down the middle.  I’m probably not explaining it very well but it stands out and it is unique and I’m all about the unique.  It is a little snug and it makes me feel a little like an overstuffed sausage but the vest hides the bad parts so all you see is the white lines in contrast to the black velvet strips on the vest.  It got the Kid T and Sunny seal of approval which just sealed the deal.  So the designer was telling me that I wouldn’t need to wear a tie and that it could work as a Latin on its own but she starts to unbutton it and then tells me that I’d need to wax.  Yeah, I’m not THAT into this.

I called this balancing the scales because this is a crap ton of work that goes into it.  Do the two nights of fun really balance out all the work.  If I was logical, I’d say they don’t.  But I’m still riding the post event wave, so I’ll just say they do.  I’ll let you know how the critiques come out and where we go from here.

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