Head’s up, this is a longer post because it was a super eventful day, but it’s worth it I think haha
I’m pretty much useless today. I’ve spent the entire morning passed out asleep, I can barely focus on walking around much less cleaning my room or dong homework, my feet ache like no other, but it was totally worth it!
Yesterday was the Beginners Ballroom Team’s first competition at Nottingham University! The day began with a miserable 3:30 am wakeup to shellac my hair into a bun and cake on makeup, including false eyelashes that I haven’t had to wear since my previous dancing days (and let’s be honest, half the time I didn’t wear them then either). My hair didn’t move the entire day though so I guess it was worth the no sleep. Then I met one of the other girls who lives on my street outside and we walked to where the coach was picking us up, at 5:15 am, in complete fog. The walk normally doesn’t seem that long, but it is when you are carrying a mini suitcase full of dance clothes and shoes and supplies and work that you haven’t admitted to yourself won’t get done. And the whole grocery store of food shoved into a tote bag as well, can’t forget that fun part of the weekend.
The beginners all piled onto a coach and headed for Nottingham, barely recognizing each other with the crazy hair and makeup. We made a short pit stop for breakfast and were in the competition by 9 am.
We had about an hour to finish getting ready and warm up before the competition was to start with Beginners Waltz and Quickstep first round. The beginners all line up and are divided into 5 heats of about 15 each. The first round didn’t really cut out that many people, I don’t think. I lost count of how many rounds we did total per dance, but eventually it gets down to 2 heats for quarterfinals, one heat of 12 for semifinals, and then one heat of 6 for finals. But going back to the start of the comp…
Waltz was our first dance and Dan and I (couple # 269) were in the fourth heat. Our waltz was really clean and on time, especially when you consider that it was our first ever time taking the floor in a competition! We weren’t really nervous because it’s waltz; we both felt comfortable enough to make it through the first round as long as we stayed on time. I think we may have had a minor collision, but when you consider how many BEGINNERS are in a single heat, collisions and traffic jams are the rule not the exception. Quickstep round 1 was another story. For some reason, I completely panic at quickstep. Maybe because it’s the one dance I had never ever done before, maybe it’s because I can never seem to hear the timing, I’m not sure, but it is the only dance that I forget my choreography and how to follow and how not to trip over my own feet. This is where I become the luckiest girl to have Dan as my partner. The guy was amazing. He kept us on time, mumbled out the steps to me so that I could follow along, maneuvered us around people and got us back into the dance when I would stumble. He was incredible! Any success in that dance was 100% due to him.
Dance after dance after fiasco of quickstep after waltz, our number kept getting called back. We had some breaks in between as they would do heats from the Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Ex-student competitions as well, but it literally seemed like every other heat was a Beginners’ qualifying heat. Almost every single couple from Oxford made it through the first two heats of both dances! And as the couples were whittled down, Oxford’s percentages got higher and higher. Which is pretty amazing when you remember that the other schools have a 4 week head start on us as our term begins so late. Then it was time to announce the beginner ballroom finals for waltz and quickstep…4 of 6 waltz couples from Oxford and 3 of 6 quickstep couples!!! And for me, at least, the shocker of the entire day…Dan and I made BOTH finals! Yes, even the kiss-of-death quickstep! And luckily our last quickstep was our best, as was our waltz, and we ended the ballroom portion of the day right before lunch and got ready for Latin (results are all done at the very end of the day so we had no idea what we placed, we were just happy quickstep was over).
Onto the Latin half of the competition.
Dan and I were not really nervous for Cha Cha or Jive. Cha is the dance we have practiced the most and the two are the ones we have the most fun doing, and since fun is the whole point of the day, we stressed less about the Latin dances and how we would do in them than we did in ballroom (ok, than I did. Dan was cool as a cucumber all day). The Latin portion works the same way as the ballroom, whittling the couples down until there are finals of 5 or 6. As expected, we had a complete blast dancing our two routines. I know Neil will probably tell me that I didn’t use my knees enough, and people on the team saw a judge or two put us through to the next round because every time I raised my arm, my dress raised too and exposed my shorts (thank goodness for conservative dance spandex!). So not all dance judges are gay. Though we may need to put Dan in tighter trousers to get the gay judges on our side as well. And it was awesome to watch the more advanced levels as well. It gives us something to aspire to. Then we had semifinals in both dances, and in Ryan Seacrest form, the current amateur Latin World Champions did a demonstration performance in a long commercial break before the announced the final couples.
Thanks Ryan Seacrest for doing that all the time and giving everyone else the go-ahead to do it to.
The demonstration was incredible, and then it was final announcement time. Dan and I did not make the Cha final, but we did make the Jive final, so three out of four finals in our first competition is not bad at all 🙂 And our last jive was the most fun we had had. We also got some pretty cool news because of it…the main team was short two Latin couples for the team match, so Dan and I and one other beginner couple were slotted in on the E team! We were temporary main team Jive competitors! 😀
Next up, before the team comp, was open Salsa and open Rock n’ Roll competitions. Nick and I (another beginner) decided last second to enter Open Salsa…never having danced together apart from one dance at a ball…no routine…no idea what we were doing…pretty much just a completely stupid idea after dancing all day (remember, there were about 6 rounds per dance for the comp plus practice time and the team trial coming up in an hour). Or so we thought. Somehow, by some utterly ridiculous judging snaffoo or stroke of luck, Nick and I made it through to the semifinals haha. That means we were in the last set of couples to be cut prior to the finals. No idea what happened, how we did it, or what the judges saw in us, but it meant that we each got another semifinal notch on our dance belts 😉
So with three finals and two semifinals in five dances out of the way, it was time for the team trial. They put us both in main team Latin costumes so Dan had to wear a chest exposing shirt and I was in one of those sparkly, swishy dresses that completely expose your back and are straight off of So You Think You Can Dance. So. Much. Fun. Totally worth having to dance three more times to get to wear that outfit. I felt like a real Latin dancer! And I was doubled over laughing at Dan’s shirt on the sidelines. Our team qualified for Division I, but didn’t make the semifinals. Again, had too much fun to care and was just so overjoyed to be able to dance on Main Team and represent Oxford in a sparkly dress. And to do more Jive 🙂
Last thing was Award Presentation (after a massive conga line started by the Oxford team and growing to include the entire comp, and then the Macarena, and then Grease Lightening). Dan and I were really not expecting to do great in Ballroom so imagine our surprise when we not only got SECOND in waltz, we got THIRD in quickstep!!!! (funny insert, I fell down the stairs getting off the podium for the waltz award. Yup, I’m graceful). I mean, I thought we were going to be knocked out first round, so to make it all the way to third place is incredible!!! And my friends Polina and Arnie won both of the Ballroom dances, so Oxford was 2 for 2 first places in the Beginners division. So proud of you two! Then was Latin. The first places continued as two more of our friends won the Cha first place, and then it was time for Jive. They kept calling numbers for the 6th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd places…then second place…and it wasn’t us. Meaning…WE WON FIRST IN JIVE!!!! 😀 *giddy happy four year old dance* Soooooooooo happy and proud of us that I can’t even put enough smiley emoticons. And even more pride-inducing, it meant that the Oxford Beginners team SWEPT the first place awards!!!!!!!!! And remember, we were two to four weeks behind every other school!
After Oxford A Team accepted the Award for the Team Trial (yeah guys!) it was time for our final waltz and getting back on the coach for a fun three hour drive home after a perfect day 🙂
Of course having been up dancing for 24 hours straight, I slept through my alarm and therefore my research meeting this morning, and missed my lecture. But I think I need the rest because next week…same thing again at Warwick! Keep it up Oxford!!