From this picture you can tell, I am a Ballroom Shark. If I stop moving, I’ll die.
Ok, not really.
My recap of Embassy Ball starts off in stark contrast to my Palm Desert experience. This trip, I would never be lonely, not for one second. Wednesday night I picked up my BFF Mrs Purple Shira at her home and together we drove down to Irvine. She had an inspirational playlist on her ipod ready. First song, the Rocky Theme Song, (*OF COURSE!) and it only got more inspirational from there, Eye of the Tiger, Don’t Stop Believing, Firework, if you can think of it and it’s inspirational, it was on there. Stopping only once at the Wallgreen’s for Fog Horn Hairspray Glue and snacks we sang and chatted the whole way down; only getting lost once when we missed the immediate turn into the Hyatt, oops.
Parking and check in was a breeze, we found the room and Mrs Purple Shira and I were dining in the Hotel restaurant by 9. I ordered many drinks and ran into everyone I’ve ever encountered in the Ballroom world while dining, and they all were lovely, came over said hello and wishes of good luck were exchanged. Could I feel more loved?
In the morning after falling asleep to Miss Purple Shira’s white noise maker offering of the “Song of the Humpback” (we thought it was going to be inspirational. It was not. It became quite annoying after 20 minutes, luckily we set the timer to turn off after 30 minutes. By the time we were both fed up with it, of course neither of us wanted to “wake” the other.)
The morning came too quickly and I arose to discover that it was now an official crime spree. My hair freshly died hair had slaughtered the pillow case. Oops. I flipped the pillow over and pretended to not notice.
Shira and I slowly rose at around 8. Doctor Who was on BBC America and we had Honey Nut Cheerios’ in a cup. No spoons required (or found in the hotel room). It was awesome. I’ve known Shira since college, we had classes together and then lost touch for about 8 years. We had both multiple times tried to find each other but both of us had the appropriate privacy walls up on our facebook accounts. Then I am not making this up, one fateful day, I went to see Miss Tina do a fund-raiser “Dancing with the Rabi” and while talking with someone I did not expect to see there a woman walked up to the person I was talking to, she turned to me to pardon herself from interrupting and screamed, it was Shira. I, in turn screamed back, we embraced and the rest as they say is history.
Flash forward and there we were in our PJ’s munching Honey Nut Cheerios’ and watching Doctor Who. It was like we were back in college. God we are weird, in an awesome way.
I finally rose to begin the transformation. Makeup, first. Hair next. All the time Shira played the ipod “Getting Ready” mix. There were a lot of show tunes. Shira would sing to me when my anxiety rose and I started incessantly dancing around the room. I invented a bunch of dance moves that really were only enhanced by my “I heart NY” PJ’s and half makeup/hair look. You really can’t Stop The Beat.
Katie was on her way but I couldn’t wait too long so I decided to start the dressing. I dropped my PJ bottoms to put on my fishnets and there was a knock on the door. One leg in and the door flew open AND YOU KNOW THE CLEANING LADY WAS RIGHT BEHIND KATIE. Door closed and the stupid zipper on the dress was ridiculous, the tab pulled off and we had to use pliers to get the zipper up. Once in, I was prepared to live in the dress. Katie finished the hair, I put on the bling, snapped some AWESOME pics and headed to the ballroom.
We made it to the ballroom and I had a text, “I’m here!”. Gail had also taken a day off work to come. My heart was freaking out. We entered the ballroom, immediately spotted Youriy, gathered at the table and then I went for a quick warm up with Youriy.
After that, I didn’t stop moving. I was a ballroom shark. If I stopped moving I’d be consumed with nerves and die. This was it, one the big revelations. How to deal with keeping control, don’t let it get out of control. When I feel the nerves coming, jump, dance, stupidly if need be. Do the steps by yourself, shake it out, side to side, use a banana and tango. WHAT EVER IT TAKES. DON’T STOP MOVING. I think I started moving at around 9am and didn’t stop until right after scholarship, 3pm. (I think I stressed poor Youriy out a little. He had two other students to keep track of that were being good and I was the crazy one going rouge. At a certain point he was just like stay in the on deck area, do not leave. “Ok, Youriy. I’ll jump here. In this area.” )
On one of my walks around the ballroom I ran into ANOTHER one of my friends who was randomly in town from San Francisco that weekend and decided to pop in. Four people there for me. My heart doesn’t keep count, but it swelled enough to burst.
With everyone in my corner and I went out for the first heat. It was fine. And when I say fine. I was confident, I was happy, I was loose, my legs weren’t shaking, they were solid and responded to my commands, my mind was clear, there were no feelings of dread or vomiting. I was fully functional. This is a first.
We got off the floor. I had a break, Youriy did not. And then we went back out again. This time Rick and Tina were the competition and it was again, awesome! It was a bit weird to be on the floor with Tina and not dancing with Tina. But having Rick on the floor was great, it was like I was dancing with friends, only adding to my new found comfort level. But this time I was better than fine. I was actually having fun. I actually danced. I dance flirted with Youriy on the floor. I high five-d Marina when I exited the floor and she was going on! IT WAS ON FOR SCHOLARSHIP.
There was about an hour break before scholarship and I thought that there might be a chance that I would mentally break then, but I didn’t. I kept moving and my friends kept with me in shifts. They never left me alone, each coming over to tell me a story as I jumped and danced. They were awesome. (I keep using that word and it’s only because it’s the only right word.)
Scholarship round was on and well, I’ve never danced better in competition doing Smooth. I got off the floor and was rushed with hugs by three amazing ladies. Gail and Shira had tears in their eyes and Katie just had this look of pride and approval, all of which just felt incredible. This day was a total win.
I came to the second revelation. Yes, it is still a long road to travel down in smooth but, hang on, it is one that isn’t as long as I thought. There were moments that I realized that I wasn’t starting from scratch, where I want to be and where I am and where I think I am, these places aren’t in different universes. I have a map or and a really good GPS. Yes, I’m still going to be better at Lindy, but I danced well in smooth. There are things I need to work on but that is good thing, because that means that I will improve. When I watch the DVD, I’m not horrified. (If I can figure it out I’ll post video of the scholarship round.) There are things that I really do do well and I’m going to get better with the things that I don’t do so well.
I’m taking a break for the long weekend, but I look forward to walking in on Tuesday and asking my amazing Bulgarian, “So, what are we going to do now?” We only danced closed, there is the whole world of open to conquer.