Showcase – the good, bad and ugly

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First, I’m going to issue a disclaimer. Putting on an event like a Showcase is complicated and there are lots of things that need to come together. Things aren’t going to go perfectly.

Despite that, I have a few complaints I’d like to take up with management. Well not really with management but I’ll just air them here. I mean what’s a blog without a little complaining from time to time. There’s good stuff as well but let’s just get the problems out of the way.

We’re in a hotel that is part of a major chain and they have many rooms set aside for meetings and the like. They turn a big one into the ballroom with a floor put down just for the event. And we take two smaller rooms to serve as changing rooms.

Not going to complain about the space because there was enough room that you weren’t on top of people trying to do quick changes between the routines and heats but there was only one coat rack. Seriously?!? I’m sure this place had plenty lying around. With all of the instructors and many of the students bringing in multiple outfits for dancing styles, routines and for dinner afterward, hanging space was at a premium.

When you don’t dare taking something off the rack because you’ll never be able to shove it back into the rack.

Second complaint is the room temperature. I know all the ladies are always cold but these things always start with smooth which generally requires multiple layers for the guys. Crank the AC down to start with. The room naturally warms up when people get moving. This one felt like the heat was on when we got there.

Perhaps an exaggeration

My third complaint is specific to me and involves my scheduling. Again, to give credit, scheduling 280+ heats is a challenge. Plus, since JoNY was dancing with multiple different partners, I think they tried to keep the heats with a certain partner relatively close. That said, I did the majority of my smooth heats right at the beginning. Technically not at the beginning because they did a round of solos first but right at the start the smooth heats. See the hot room comment above. I’ve heard of hot yoga but hot ballroom dancing? The only saving grace was that the hotel supplied towels. But the majority of my rhythm heats were towards the end of the day. So I did a lot of dancing early in the morning and late in the afternoon and a lot of sitting in between. Enough so that I did start to get cold in the afternoon when the AC finally kicked in. And my energy started to drag from inactivity.

The last complaint is just the number of heats. More is not always better. Sometimes it is just more. I mean they had over 280 heats scheduled plus solos and some formations. The schedule was to start and nine and end at five. Do the math. With 285 heats and allowing 90 seconds per heat, that’s 7+ hours and add in an extra 45 minutes or so for solos and a couple of breaks because judges are only human and nobody can really sit in one spot for 8 hours. So we’re right at the edge here. The only way this stayed on time was if one heat started right after the other which never happens. Got so far behind that they started ending the heats at perhaps a minute or less.

On the positive side, when we got there, there were little bags for everyone that had your heat sheets and number. And there were copies of the program with your name on them as well. I think this is because most of the instructors were busy getting things set up so there wasn’t anyone to coordinate the handing out of the stuff so they made it self service.

And, despite the lack of rack space, there were plenty of tables and places to sit in the changing room so most of us just staked out a little space on a table for our stuff.

This year, I brought a duffel bag to hold a lot of the extraneous costume bits and then carried in the dance wear in a garment bag. Thought seriously about just bringing a suitcase which several other guys ended up doing. Can’t believe how much crap you have to take but it wouldn’t be a Showcase without costumes for the routines so I do it to myself.

So now I’ve spent all this time talking about the associated bits and pieces and I haven’t mentioned my dancing once during that entire rant. You might have picked up a clue when I said I’d discuss the bad first and the dancing wasn’t covered there.

As I said the day started with the smooth routines so we did our Fox Trot and I was happy with how it turned out. The only glitch was the gold chain fell all the way into my pocket during the dance so it may not have been clear why she was reaching into my pocket but I think people figured it out. They liked our “twist” ending so the day got off to a good start.

I think I may withhold judgement on the heats until I see the critiques. The good thing about having multiple heats is you can screw up a couple of times and still have chances to fix what went wrong. We kind of got mixed up on how to loop the Waltz the first couple of times but sort of got it together in the last two.

The next section of solos was all the rhythm ones. That includes Argentine Tango which gets put in the rhythm round even though it has Tango in the name. That meant I was doing two in one section. Could be worse. The other student from my studio who was doing three routines had to do all three in that section.

The West Coast was first and it also went well. The best part of that was getting a couple of opportunities to look out in the crowd and find someone to connect with. And then give them some kind of strange face because that was the theme of the routine. Haven’t yet watched the full Argentine Tango. Parts of it felt good. I watched the end to see the dip which seemed OK. I was looking down to make the circle before it work and that didn’t play that well.

With the individual dances, I was happy with the Cha-Cha, Rumba, Swing and the Bolero. The Mambo killed me. Couldn’t hear the timing in a lot of them and the first one got horribly messed up. Not sure I want to see the critiques on that one.

I had all three solos videoed on my phone by another student and I’ve actually watched two of them in full. And, yes, I cringing through most of it. I hate looking at myself. I know it is supposed to be a good tool but I can never get past the cringy part to pick out what I should be focusing on because everything just seems not so good. What I find a bit strange is that the videos always seem slower than how the dance feels. I’m watching this part of the Fox Trot when we are going from one corner to the other and it almost looks like a casual stroll – which it certainly wasn’t. Maybe for me, the videos are just creating things that aren’t there so they aren’t a good learning tool for me.

I’ll probably still post them on Facebook though. I mean people seem to like watching them. I’ll wait to get the judges feedback though because maybe I can use that as an intro. I had this kind of crazy idea of just posting one here. I’ve kept reality out of this but I also know it isn’t as anonymous as I thought. But then I watched them and decided I couldn’t do that.

I’ll certainly have more to say after tomorrow when I get all the feedback. And I need to do so more thinking about where I go next in my dance journey.

Oh, before I totally wrap this up, I’ll just say the pro show was awesome as always. To be honest, it is the only good part about the dinner after Showcase. I’m not a big fan of this type of dinner food. Our choices were steak and salmon and I went salmon cause I’m just not a real big red meat eater. The cake for desert was good. The dinner was just kind of average. If they didn’t do the pro show, I’m sure I’d skip out.

On a totally unrelated note, we have measurable snow on the ground. It started late this afternoon and my driveway has a dusting. If I can end with a peeve, our mail guy never gets here before six and sometimes it is after seven before we get mail. In the summer, it is no problem to walk on down to the box. But, on a night like this, I’m just tempted to leave it sitting in the box overnight. Really don’t feel like putting on layers and trying to navigate a potentially slippery driveway just to pick up a few bills and boatload of catalogs since it is the gift buying season.

And, with that, I’ll call it a post.

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