The last week and a half has been full of emotional ups and downs. It was good to be back together with my sibs and sharing stories about the parents. There was definitely the feeling of something closing as we drove back down on Friday.
Had a double lesson on Friday night to go over all the dance and the routines. OwnerGuy breezed in and out to make some minor fixes. Taking a double lesson after sitting in a car for a few hours and after an emotional week was interesting. Was kind of dead both physically and mentally. Not really how I imagined prepping for the first Showcase since the pandemic but life throws things at you all the time so you adapt the best you can.
Masks were optional everywhere. Instead, they had a supply of color coded bands at the front table. Green if you were totally comfortable with human contact. Yellow if you were still a little cautious. And red for mostly stay away. I think it was 99% green as I only saw one person with a mask.
Saw a lot of the “old guard” – the more advanced students who have been around for awhile. They had still been taking lessons but doing it during the day and not coming to the studio at night. We all remarked about how good it was to see everyone again. And everyone noted the number of new students and that there were so many people we didn’t know.
And everyone was just glad to be dancing again. It felt good to finally be back at an event like this. Ballroom is a second life for many of us. Maybe more like a fantasy life but something different from the normal routine. And grinding away on lessons requires a payout and that’s what an event like Showcase is.
I had a last minute issue with my smooth shirt because I knew the smooth heats were going first so I wanted to just show up ready to go. A small tear in the arm which my wife quickly fixed. I think it opened up again so that shirt may have seen its last days. The stitching around the buttons is also starting to go. I suspect they don’t make those to last forever though.
Had also forgotten how hot those things were. The fabric is stretchy but it really doesn’t breathe a great deal. Plus we moved Showcase to June because there are a lot of conflicts in May and June is generally hotter than May.
We had the usual organizational problems. For some reason (probably money), they like to pack as many heats as they can into the day but they can’t really do the simple math to tell them it isn’t going to work. There were 365 heats plus 36 solos. The solos were going to consume about an hour so if you could keep the heats to a minute, you could run the day in 7 hours. Of course, that allows for no time between heats and no breaks between sections to allow for costume changes. With 365 heats, every 10 second increase adds another hour to the total time. And with crowded heats, you need time for the judges to see everyone so you couldn’t keep things to a minute. The dancing part ended up running about an hour and a half over the scheduled time.
If you know that ahead of time, then you could shorten the heats with fewer people but they didn’t start doing that until the rhythm rounds at the end of the day. The rhythm dances always get the short end of the stick. But even then, it wasn’t consistent.
Part of the problem is that one of the studios has a lot of students doing international or standard style. And that studio seemed to have only one main instructor and he couldn’t be cloned so he had to dance with every lady who signed up for international heats. And they had 4-5 ladies who were interested. Which meant you had a long stretch of heats with just one couple on the floor. Not going to lie – it killed the energy in the room. Not that standard isn’t interesting but it just all started to run together.
It also felt like this studio specialized in some of the “off” dances like Argentine Tango and Lindy Hop so you had multiple heats of those with just one couple on the floor as the various ladies cycled through the one instructor. I get that it is a balancing act because people want to dance and they want people to sign up for lots of heats, but you really shouldn’t run over by that much.
I did my three solos. The Hustle was first, followed by the Rumba and then the Tango was the last. All of the solos were sandwiched around the international stuff. The one downside was having to put the smooth stuff back on to do the Tango. Not to get real gross but once you peel off that smooth shirt, you really don’t want to put it back on again in the same day.
My goals were to have fun and maybe show off a bit and both were accomplished. There were the normal bobbles you’d expect – especially with a new partner. Dancing at an event is different than lessons and that is true for both parties. Plus, PJ was dancing with several other guys so the transitions and keeping things straight were harder for her. Did not do my usual level of heats but it felt like the right level to do for the first time back after a long lay off.
One thing I’m trying to do differently is to not be as concerned with the feedback. I mean I want to know where I can improve but I’ve also relied on it too much for validation. Its an issue and a work in progress. Because the reality is that seeking validation from outside sources is a temporary fix. It won’t matter what others think or say if you don’t believe it yourself.
I mean it is nice to get feedback during the day. It is nice to hit a move and hear the crowd react. But you should use those moments as supplements and not as primary motivation. While we all have things that can be improved, that doesn’t detract from the skills you’ve acquired and the talent you possess. It isn’t ego to acknowledge your strengths and feel confident in your own abilities. And that’s what it really takes to not have to rely on others opinions to feel validated.
But I will take the critiques and continue to move forward. It was a long dry spell since the last Showcase and, after the week I had, it was nice to just forget about the world and be a dancer for a day.