I finally figured out what the heck IVDC stood for! I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the V. But now I have, and just in time too, because sadly it’s over and I have to wait an entire year for it to come around again. For now, I’ll have to console myself with my memories.
And what memories they are! This weekend, though utterly exhausting, was one of the most fun weekends I’ve had. So much happened that it is going to be hard to remember it all to put into a blog post, but I’ll do my best.
Getting spray tanned was a really weird experience. Especially considering that it was decently chilly outside, it was odd to walk out of a salon smelling of fake tan and being brown in a country full of pale people (with the exception being the entire DanceSport community who single-handledly kept the spray tan companies in business this weekend). I felt like the worst Californian ever: I got my tan out of a bottle and I was cold in March!! Definitely a first for me. After my friend Rachel and I finished our tans and our wild goose chase around M&S trying to find plastic cutlery, we met Bizzy at St. Anne’s College for coffee and killing time before walking to the coach for our 1:45 pickup.
It was a long coach ride all the way up north to Blackpool, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to sleep. In hindsight it was probably all for the best since the last thing I needed was to induce a crazy sleep cycle earlier than I did. But the ride dragged on without any sleep break, so it was a good thing I was sitting with all my friends who kept me awake and entertained with funny stories, raps, and an oldies sing-along/serenade for the rest of the bus. I reaffirmed why I am a dancer and not a singer, but some of my friends actually have lovely singing voices (Bizzy especially!).
We were running a bit behind and so we had to literally drop our bags in our hotel rooms before rushing off to our restaurant, where the Italian owner was hilariously not thrilled at our presence (to be fair, we did book out the restaurant for a night and then show up nearly an hour late, though we did call ahead to warn him). He became a little passive aggressive, refusing to serve those of us who weren’t ordering drinks water and grumbling every time he brought out a plate of food. He even went so far as to ask if my table was finished and could leave so that he could have the table back! There wasn’t even anyone waiting haha. But everyone took it all in stride, I think because we were all just focusing on the competition tomorrow and slowly counting down our hours of possible sleep. Dan and I did a quick grocery store run (nearly getting lost in the sketchy part of Blackpool, though I’m beginning to think that the whole town is kind of sketchy) to buy food for the next day and then parted ways to our separate hotels, ready for bed.
I should have known better. My room was me, Bizzy, Rachel, and Pippa, all of us are good friends and we are girls, obviously. Therefore it was stupid to think that we were actually going to get to bed on time instead of staying up half the night talking and reading Cosmo. Because that’s what ended up happening, and we squandered the chance for maybe an extra hour or two of sleep. For me it’s all worth it since these girls are awesome and we had a ton of fun eating chocolate and spray tanning the boys who would come to our room for Bizzy’s expertise. With the alarm set for 5:45 am, we finally all fell asleep.
All too soon, we had to wake up. Luckily I had done my hair the day before and just slept in it so all I had to do was a few touch ups and my makeup and I was ready to go. An hour early. Sitting there, for an hour, mentally beating myself for not taking advantage of an extra hour’s sleep and now unable to because my makeup would smear. Curses. Poor BIzzy was stressed because she had to do three people’s hair and false eyelashes, and do the rest of her makeup, and everyone but me had to pack their stuff (again, I did it the night before because apparently I am just that over keen). The hotel was serving us what ended up being a pretty decent breakfast for only a 30 minute window so I went to grab food while the rest of my room finished getting ready and met me downstairs. Unlike the last competition where I was so anxious I was having panic attacks every 30 seconds, I was perfectly calm, even able to eat a normal breakfast! It was night and day difference from two weeks ago, thank goodness because I was a wreck that day.
We arrived at the Winter Gardens at around 8:30, giving us an hour to warm up and finish changing before the Beginner’s Waltz commenced at 9:30. Dan and I have a tradition, unintentionally, of running our dances each twice before doing anything else, and then once everyone else has rushed onto the floor, we set up our stuff and relax. It helps us not be frantic and take advantage of an open floor, quite the novelty in the Ballroom Dance world.
There were 180 Beginners couples, so we had our first set of heats in the Empress Ballroom and then moved into the smaller Spanish Hall until Quarterfinals. Our first waltz was…a disaster. We were in the last heat (of 10!) and there was this other couple who was literally gigantic. She was very tall and not slim, and he easily was three times my size. And they danced on top of us the whole waltz. No exaggeration, on top of us. Dan and I are not the smallest couple on the floor, but we certainly felt like it as we tried to maneuver around them and get stuck, try our fall away slip pivot and get stuck, start again after another collision with them and get stuck. Utterly ridiculous. From that moment on, Dan and I had designated them our arch nemeses for this competition and made it our goal to never….dance….near….them…again (say that with a really menacing tone, it works better). After the first waltz we moved to the other hall where 10 heats became 16 and we had some long waits before our number. The dances went wonderfully smooth though from there on. Both of us were cool as cucumbers and spent the waits hanging out, singing along to the music, and just spending time with each other. We never panicked (and by we I mean I), we never stressed (again, I), when we collided we were able to get back on track without showing any hesitation. Dan was even adorable enough to have baked our team brownies. Isn’t my partner the cutest? 🙂
I hate to say we sailed, so I’ll say we glided our way into the Quarterfinals and back into the Empress Ballroom. Here occurred perhaps the funniest moment of the entire competition for us. Being the last couple on the floor meant that we had very limited choice as to where we would start our routines, so sometimes we ended up crossing the entire floor length to find a place, holding up the competition a tad. So before what would turn out to be our last quickstep, we decided to run to the other side of the ballroom and enter from the opposite side so as to not embarrass ourselves walking all the way across the floor. We ran behind the stage, expecting a cross over like there was at Warwick and ran straight into…the judge’s lounge. Where our judges were taking a short break. What happened next was literally straight out of an old fashioned slapstick comedy movie. We slid into the room, froze with our hands straight out, looked at each other shocked, and ran right back out. The Three Musketeers would be proud. I don’t think that had anything to do with our only making semifinals in both Ballroom dances, but it was certainly a source of entertainment for us the rest of the day. Our friends Rachel and Vincent, Polina and Aarne, Naomi and Felix, and the amazing Bizzy and Louis all made a ballroom final!!!
I knew that Latin was going to be more of a challenge because we just learned two brand new, harder routines two weeks ago, and this last week I’ve been really ill so I didn’t go to rehearsal, meaning Dan and I had not practiced our routines all week. I think it definitely showed to us, but thank goodness we both know how to social dance and could cover up and mistakes we made (I love my partner!) and kept making it through the rounds with only minor collisions (in the beginning) and lots of fun. I did keep having the problem of being sniffly all through the dances, which believe me is not something you can easily deal with in the middle of a Cha Cha or Jive! But again, we love just dancing Latin and I think it really showed, because we again made it through to semifinals in both Latin dances and finaled in Jive (coming 5th), putting an awesome capper on a great dance season with my wonderful partner (can I add anymore gushing in that sentence, because it totally deserves more gushing)! Latt and Emma made the Cha Cha final and Vincent and Rachel joined us in the Jive 🙂 We also Quarterfinaled in our second Rock N Roll competition of the year (and no it did not go straight to quarters, there was a round before that). Next year we are thinking of actually putting together a legit routine, or at least learning some new moves, and competing it seriously.
The rest of the evening was spent much like what Dan and I did in between rounds in ballroom: hanging out with friends and enjoying spending time together. We really were the calmest we have ever been at a competition, and I think it had a lot to do with our conversations during the week about just going to spend time with each other and dance because it makes us happy because no matter what a judge or coach says, that is the real reason we started dancing in the first place. It put such a peaceful atmosphere around us the whole day, another thing I am infinitely grateful to my partner for. The team ended up losing to Cambridge, but we had the perfect solution with which to forget that that one point loss even happened: Flamingo.
No not the bird. Well, yes the bird, but also the name of the club we were all planning on going out to in the wee hours of the morning. As we accumulated in the bar area of our hotel, half of us still in ballroom hair and the other half trying to emulate the much sought after “porn star hair” (don’t ask) to varying degrees of success, and in corresponding various states of club attire, we headed out to the club that “used” to be a gay club but turned out to still be a gay club and was open until 6 am. It was so nice to be able to dance and not be concerned about whether or not it was in a syllabus!! All of us went a little bit….let’s say crazy and leave it at that. Though Dan will never forgive me if I don’t admit to having been classified as acting crazy far before the actual club–in an embarrassing/totally awesome demonstration of sober delirium, I bell kicked all around Blackpool singing our Beginners’ Team theme song (Flying by the Little Penguins) and doubling over laughing every time we stopped moving. I’m pretty sure that no one believes that I had had only one sip of wine last night. I don’t blame them for thinking that, because from what I’ve been told I was acting like a hyperactive and innocent five year old. We finally left the club at around 4 am, but didn’t get to sleep until nearly 5:30, only to wake up again at 8:30 for breakfast, fall back asleep until the coach arrived, and staggered onto the coach, filling everyone in on the antics at Flamingo.
I promise I’m almost done.
Then it was another five and a half hour journey home to Oxford, where I again did not sleep at all, partly because the seats were not comfortable and partly because I am again feeling really ill and driving in a coach was only making it worse. Luckily my amazing friends picked up my Vice Captain slack for me and told me that they would take care of it and that I should just rest. And I’ve spent the rest of the day unpacking from Blackpool and packing for Zurich, and I leave in about two hours.
So to close, I want to thank my amazing friends and dance partner for this incredible weekend. I love you all so much, and am so proud of how far you’ve come in your dancing, and I really cannot gush enough. I really will cherish the memories of this weekend, and cannot wait to make more of them!
Especially thanks to Dan. You really are the best thing that happened to me at Oxford and I am the luckiest girl to have you as my partner!!! 🙂
And now, two hours of sleep before Zurich.
Good night! See you in a few days!