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Well, I’ve already given away how last night went with the title of this post.  That won’t stop me from talking about it though.

I almost had a major screw up right from the beginning.  I somehow thought doors opened at 5:30 and the event started at 6:00 but it actually started at 5:30 with doors opening at 5:00.  I was the third person up in the first heat so I arrived just in time to get my seat, have a brief warm up with Mindy and then I had to make my way to the little ballroom/warm up area off the main floor.  Fortunately, I had made the decision to come to the event in my smooth outfit so a change wasn’t required.  (I brought other clothes to wear for the rest of the event because I need to wear that smooth outfit again in a couple of weeks at the Famous Franchise Showcase so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in it)

We all dance for different reasons.  Last night was an example of why I do this.  There is just something about walking across the dance floor as the DJ announces your name and everyone watches as you go to take your place.  I was actually more nervous at the rehearsal the night before than I was last night so it wasn’t nerves.  Just listening to the sounds of your shoes on the wood floor and thinking “this is really going to happen”.  There is no way to back out now.  Well, I suppose if I just turned and ran, nobody would stop me but you get the point.

It’s weird the things that flash through your head when doing a routine.  We did our little intro and then you get into dance position, wait for the right beat and off you go.  Remembering to slow down right off the gate so you don’t get too far ahead of the music.  There were two places where I had to hold an extra beat so she could finish her steps.  Remembering where I was supposed to keep my body towards hers.  We nailed the first long wall and the first short wall flies by since it is basically all quicks.  Then, the next long wall is technically easier since it is a grapevine with us facing each other (nice because I can look at her and we can share a moment during the dance).  Then the roll out and just reminding myself of how to get around her and then the second short wall is over and we are nearing the finish.  Flip flops and keeping my body towards hers.  Into the pivots remembering how she told me to step (and hearing someone cheering me on as we did them).  Finally, two little roll outs where she does something so I have to make sure not to fully extend my arms.  Last one and we both explode away from each other, bow and the moment is over.

It was kind of like I had a bunch of mental post it notes that I was referencing during the routine.  Once we passed a part, I just picked them off the board and discarded them.  It would be a funny image if they were real just to see a trail of little post it notes all over the floor.

Could I find flaws?  Of course I could, I’m not perfect.  But I’m not going to.  The routine just flowed from one end to the other.  We hit the last mark just a beat or so before we wanted to so I just held there for a bit before rolling her out.  The funny thing is I don’t remember counting in my head because I was just going through my mental post it notes of little reminders of each step.  Think I had done it to music enough that I was able to feel the music more than having to count it.

Got some nice feedback after leaving the floor.  Hilde had videoed it on her phone and she sent it to me and I actually watched it during a break and I could finally see the good things.  We were sitting with a really advance amateur couple (more on them later) and she was telling me that I did well and said it was one to be proud of.

Sometimes, somebody makes a small remark and it resonates.  And, I am proud of that routine (it is OK to say that, right??)  I know that fear of speaking in public ranks right up there but that’s because most people don’t dance.  I’ve given presentations in front of upper management and big project teams.  I don’t enjoy it but there are ways to get them on your side right from the beginning because you have total control of the floor.  With dance, you have no words.  There is only you, your partner and the music and together you have to win the audience over.  With dancing, you are communicating without words and you are putting yourself out there and you are totally exposed and vulnerable and asking people to watch you and hoping that they’ll respond to what you do.

Here’s another way to think about it that I’ve brought up before.  I’ve been training to do this routine since November.  OK, that sounds more impressive than it is since I’ve only taken one lesson a week and there were several lessons off due to vacations and illness.  So, maybe I had 20-25 lessons in that time.  Still, you’ve invested a significant amount of time in something and you’ve got one shot.  The people in the audience didn’t see the lesson where you did three perfect runs in a row.  They will see this one and only this one.  I try not to think about this side of it since it would add even more pressure but when you do a routine and it goes smoothly, you can think about that and it gives you another reason to be proud of what you’ve done.

So performing like this hits a couple of things.  There is the exhilaration of doing it which is like a thrill ride but without the motion sickness.  When you get through, you can look back and just go “yeah, I did that”  (really “we did that” but you get the point)

Just some other random notes about last night.

Mindy told me she was wearing her pink competition dress so I wore the closest tie I could find which was a lighter shade of red.  She said something about not having many opportunities to wear it.  I was curious about that but since I’m a very private person, I’m not going to pry.  I figure if someone wants to tell me something, then they will.  But I was glad she got the opportunity to wear the dress so it was a nice touch.  (She did a routine with another student later in the event and didn’t wear it for what that’s worth)

Back to the amateur couple I mentioned before.  They had just won a senior level at a comp somewhere outside of town so they are really good.  They did a waltz and it was beautiful.  They just conveyed so much emotion in the dance and there was really such great chemistry between them.  I’m sure every move was choreographed to the most precise detail but they made it all look natural.  When they got back to the table, Hilde and I were telling them how much we enjoyed it.  She said something about how she started off rough but that he was there to help her through.  I found that interesting on two levels.  First, I guess no matter how high you climb, it is always seems to be easier to focus on what went wrong and not what went right.  Secondly, is that this is why dancing is a partner sport.  You have to be working together to help each other out.

They also had a couple of kid doing routines.  To be honest, I had some mixed feelings about it.  Don’t get me wrong, the boy was amazing in his cha-cha.  He was all hips and his moves were sharp and on point.  There’s a high level of talent there for someone that young and I can admire that.  But, on some level, it felt a little cold.  It was like he was a dancing android just programmed to do all the steps and to do them correctly but there was no emotion or feeling behind any of it.  The girl he was dancing with was good, although not as good but it was more like two people dancing their parts and dancing them very well but not really telling the story of the dance.

That’s probably the thing about dance because you can watch it for different reasons.  I guess I’m just the type of person who needs to feel so I want a couple to really show me something I can relate to.  Talent and skill level is great but I want more than that.  I want them to move me.  To each his own, as they say.  But, given the choice, I’d rather watch the older couple.  The moves may not have been as athletic but the feelings were real.

Spent the rest of the night dancing with Hilde although she sprung me for a couple of dances.  At one point, she said she enjoyed having a designated dancer.  The only problem for me is that today my shoulder is really sore.  We were dancing and she says to me that I have to forget about being subtle so I had to be a bit more forceful than I’d like in leading.

So last night was a good night.  Now, I just have to think about what to do next.


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