Dances: Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-cha, Mambo
Yesterday was day two of Seattle Star Ball, and since some of our friends and practice buddies were competing early on Saturday morning, Jeff and I headed out to SeaTac to cheer them on, provide moral support, and in Jeff's case, shoot some great photos.
This event brought back a lot of memories for me because it was here, exactly one year ago, that I had my first ever competition experience. This time I was just an observer, watching our friends get nervous for their pro-am events and trying to reassure them, helping them talk through their self-critical analyses afterwards, and in my case, whipping out my sewing kit from my purse to tie shoe buckles together, fastening and unfastening necklaces, zipping and unzipping ballgowns, and generally trying to make myself useful. I was kicking myself for not bringing all of my hair and makeup supplies; normally I'm an over packer because I would always bring backup things just in case things go sideways, but this time I hadn't even thought about it because I wasn't competing.
Everyone danced well, and after the morning session the afternoon involved a few of us walking about looking for food options, which brought us first to Subway for sandwiches, then to Jack in the Box for one vanilla milkshake (only one of us wanted a milkshake and the rest were "real ice cream or nothing" types), and then, true to form, we "ended up at Denny's" for ice cream. We were talking about how one never really plans to go to Denny's, you just end up there. Well...we just ended up there. Then it was back to the hotel for preparations for the evening's events.
Back at the hotel, everyone was busily getting ready for their various events, and I helped one of our friends who was dancing pro-am standard with Simeon with her hair; she had brought a grand total of a small false pony tail, about 9 hair pins, a hair elastic, and a bottle of hair spray and a small comb. Anyone girl who competes knows that in general, you need a minimum of about 2 hair nets, a bottle or two of hair spray, (maybe different kinds) hair gel, about 4 dozen pins, a brush, a comb or two, several hair elastics (thick and thin clear?), and in general some kind of hair ornamentation. Elmer's glue helps too. So here I was, trying to make a neat, standard comp worthy bun with much less than sufficient materials. In the end I got a hair net like effect by spraying and compressing the bun by hand to glue down all the little wisps and frizzies, and repeating this process until the bun was acceptable, and then I sprayed and froze everything with the hair dryer until immobile. The most fun though, was gluing down Jeff's spiky Asian mop. I guess he got inspired by all of the preparations and decided that this would be a good time to test out a competition hair style, since the spiky look is generally not standard kosher and we've talked about what he's going to do with it come competition. So I laid into him with a comb and the hard core hair spray (glue) that our coach uses, and between Simeon and I and a hair dryer and brush, in about 30 min. we had an Asian mafioso on our hands, or at least that was the general consensus. It was so different that I couldn't get used to it, and generally didn't like the effect much, but our coaches said it wasn't a bad competitive look. I think that next we're going to go for a more Victor Fung inspired look with the sides shaved close and the top long and slicked back.
Since I hadn't originally planned to attend the evening session, I had worn jeans and was worried about attending the later much more formal part of the competition (since I had decided to stay) with jeans...that just seemed like a big no no to me. So I went down and browsed around at one of the local dancewear vendor's booth, and tried to find some practice pants or a skirt that I could slip on for the evening and of course use later for practice. I was getting discouraged because all of the pants were too short and the skirts much too expensive for what they were (especially since I sew), and then one of the shop owners took this crazy looking jumpsuit off the rack and said that it was intended especially for tall girls. After looking at the price tag, which seemed relatively reasonable, I slipped into the dressing booth to try it on. It was basically flowy black pants and a cowl neck black and white sparkly top, but in one piece. Maybe a bit more dramatic than I usually go for, but then again, I like sort of artsy clothes when done right, and everyone around said it looked really good. So I bought it! I think it will be fun to wear for social dancing.
The competition itself was fun to watch. Our coaches' students did very well; I was quite happy for them, and then we got to see Simeon and Kora compete professionally as well, which is always a lot of fun. A special treat was getting to see show dances by the invited guest couple, Andre and Natalie, world show dance champions. They are Latin dancers, but I loved their style, so classy, smooth, and very heavy on the rumba side. If I ever were to dance Latin, I'd want dresses just like Natalie's; they were long and slinky and elegant...a much classier look than what you usually see in Latin. I could see why they were show dance champions; they are brilliant performers...their love for their dancing and their ability to draw you in to the story they were telling was so compelling.
Jeff and I also ended up dancing a few of the social dances played between heats in the evening, a waltz, foxtrot, and mambo. I also danced a cha-cha with a one of our competitive friends in his tail suit (hi Thio!) while Jeff danced with his wife in her big white standard gown. It was great! Jeff and I did not take kindly to the cracks in the competition floor though, and due to the huge crowd and that and the general excitement, our dancing was a little rocky. That's okay...it was just that dancing was in the air and we just had to get out there and dance at least a little bit.
Following the evening session, we joined our coaches, some other competitors, and one of the judges for a very late dinner before heading home. For me it was about a 21 hour day...but a good time was had by all. I don't think it's possible to avoid funny experiences at a dance competition, but why would anyone want to? A worthwhile if exhausting day.