Back in March one of this region's more reputable ballroom competitions was underway... I had originally planned to attend, then decided not to. Until Friday March 13th at about 3pm, when I found myself searching online for airfare from Chicago to St. Louis. By 3:30 my flight and hotel room were booked and I was going to be AT the St. Louis Star Ball! I don't usually make spontaneous decisions like this... I knew a few people that were going to be in attendance, and I knew several pro couples that were going to be showing their stuff that Saturday night. I was very excited!
I didn't tell many people that I was going... just enough so that I'd be covered. I called my sister and told her of my plans. My sister, knowing my tendencies to over plan and never do anything of this nature, "What are you thinking?? It takes you 3 days to pack for anything, you'll never make it in time!!" - That statement still makes me giggle. Well it didn't take me three days, and I did manage to fit everything into carry on bags (one suitcase, one messenger bag). That one suitcase did contain, five possible outfit options for the next 24 hours... I know... but I had no idea what to expect for attire!
As with all things ballroom, competitions are a place to see and be seen. It reminds me of what Theatre used to be back in Shakespeare's day. So upon my arrival at aprox 2:30 Saturday afternoon I headed up to my room, unpacked, ironed, changed in to "daytime outfit 1" and headed down to get my tickets for the afternoon and evening sessions. In the process of making my ticket purchases, the gal behind the desk asked me if I was there with anyone...I said no, but I am a part of Fred Astaire Chicago if she wanted to seat me in their general area that would be fine. So my tickets were set... I knew I'd be near someone from my area, I just didn't know who.
While perusing all the dresses, baubles, and sparkly things that vendors had out on display I ran into the only other student that had decided to come from my home studio. We chatted for a bit, and I then wandered around the ballroom watching the pro/am dancing on the floor. The room was smaller than I had imagined, half of a large hotel ballroom, but definitely adequate and done up very nicely. While checking everything out, I happened to see Largo watching the floor. I approached his chair from behind, leaned over and said in his ear "So, are you gonna kick some butt tonight or what?"
He turned and was VERY surprised to see me... We talked for a bit, I had heard the previous night's results, so I asked about how he felt about it (he and TNT did quite well), he had some minor concerns over the condition of the floor, but overall he was in good spirits. I hugged him good bye and went about my own business. I don't like to bother the pros too terribly much if they are competing, I know each and every one has a process to prepare and I don't want to interrupt that. So I headed out to the lobby bar for a late lunch. On my way I ran into FAF, DWH, and HFC... I got to congratulate both FAF and HFC on their wins in Rising Star (FAF with TSD in American Smooth, and HFC with STP in American Rhythm). DWH and her partner CWS (still new to the competing world) were getting some of their strongest results too, and I was happy for that as well. After a brief chat I went and had my lunch... then wandered around the ballroom again where I saw some former FADS students who were there competing with their new pro. It's nice to know that they didn't stop dancing. Then it was upstairs for a short rest and preparing for the evening session.
Dinner was uneventful, I simply dined in the hotel restaurant... alone, which is my usual status when doing things...(wearing outfit #2 of 5) but a gal has got to eat before these comps start... the evening sessions can go on for a long time! After dinner I had about an hour to get all dressed (to my understanding semi-formal attire AKA outfit #3 of 5) for the evening of spectating. On my way back to the ballroom I ran into a friend from the Michigan Avenue studio, we chatted for a bit about the couple from his studio debuting in Theatre Arts, as well as another smooth couple from his studio (RTS and her partner in fact). It was going to be a fun evening for sure. Once we entered the ballroom the two of us hung around the entrance to see who we could run into and wish luck to, that and our seats were on opposite sides of the ballroom (which is good for shouting for the same couples, not very conversation friendly). We managed to see the Theatre Arts couple (I will have to get them nicknames, cuz I have a feeling I'll have reason to write about them more), and RTS with her partner and then it was time to find our seats. My seat was on the same side of the floor that the couples were entering the floor from.... so I got to see the rest of the pros from my studio as well as who the competition was. I found my seat with ease, to my surprise, I was directly in front of the other student from my studio, and RT!
Well if I can't watch RT dance and shout for whatever number is pinned to his back.... spectating with him is a reasonable consolation. We watched the Theatre Arts portion intently both wanting to hear great results for the couple from Michigan Avenue... they looked phenomenal! Their current routine is exactly what I think of when I think of the Theatre Arts division. We were rewarded.... for their first time ever competing in this style they came in SECOND! Wah Hoo!!! So happy for them! There was then a break for me... I was there to see the pros...and before the American Smooth starts they have the pro/am gold level scholarship stuff...which is nice..but I don't know anyone in that field at this time...and didn't feel like watching the dancing thinking "Yep, can't do that yet.... nope not that either." which is often what runs through my head when I watch pro/am stuff. So I left the ballroom for a bit and headed for the lobby bar, chatted with my friend from Michigan Avenue about how proud we are, and then before we knew it, it was time to head back into the ballroom.
American Smooth went great...KIT actually had a seat in the same section as well and joined us... everyone looked fantastic on the floor! I'm very proud of RTS and her partner as well as FAF and TSD of course!!! Rhythm was a tough one for me... I knew several couples on the floor, and this was the first time I'd ever seen Jackie Josephs compete. She's got that it factor...which you wouldn't know from talking to her... you can see it in some of the pictures floating around of her dancing with Jesse DeSoto... but to see it live on the floor... yeah that was a treat. Of course Largo was out there too with TNT, and HFC with STP, AND CWS with DWH... ACK!!! Every time I went to open my mouth to shout for a couple... I got hung up on what/who to shout for! I looked at KIT and I just said "Ok..that's it... there's too many of them! I'm going to stick with my pro." KIT glanced up at RT who was standing on my other side (she and I were seated). I looked at her again and said "Well I've got the two now!" and I preceded to shout for Largo and TNT for the rest of the night.
At some point RT and I were getting antsy.... watching dancing for so many hours, when you also know how to dance can be very hard. (He'll get out on the comp floor... he's assured me as such... it's just a matter of when) Rules being what they are, and instructor and student can't dance at a non FADS event...(special exceptions might be made, this wasn't one of them) it's silly I know.. but it's a rule... so because it's not an option... I don't think about dancing with him.... there was a Salsa/Mambo that came on... I don't even remember if it was part of the pro heats or a general dance... I was chatting with RTS and her partner about this and that... I do know that I always make note of any Salsa that comes on... Well RT started bopping around in his chair next to me... he took my hand and says "Chair Salsa!" I just start laughing...and moving my feet with his then suddenly he pulls me... but I've got my purse on my lap and I wasn't prepared... along with the tug I hear "Cross body lead!" HAHA! He wanted me to switch sides! I unfortunately wasn't that quick thinking...but I thought the whole Chair Salsa thing was very funny. Attempt at chair dancing over... We then went to the opposite corner of the ballroom with RTS to help her pick out some photos that the pro photographer had taken.... we all agreed that she needed to get at least one shot of her first Independent Competition. After offering my input (there were some very nice shots!) I went closer to the floor to shout for Largo and TNT a few more times. (The Rhythm portion had a quarter final, a semi-final, and the final... and by the time we hit the finals I still had three couples from FADS BG on the floor!)
I gotta be honest... FADS BG in particular... dominated the American styles of dance at the St. Louis Star Ball... I'm VERY VERY Glad I made the spontaneous decision to go down there. After all was said and done, I said good night and congratulations to all the pros... chatted a bit more with my friend from Michigan Avenue and then headed upstairs to my room. The next morning (outfit 4 of 5) I had breakfast....ran into some of the pros heading out to the airport (my flight didn't leave until later)... chilled in my room, watched a movie, checked out and headed for my 48 minute flight home.
I'm glad I've got some spontaneity in me... that was a lot of fun!