Well Mini Match has come and gone... and ever since my first dance on the floor I have been trying to capture and hang on to every feeling I had all night so that I could accurately get it up here for you all to read.
So lets start with an overview of my lessons earlier in the day first up Largo at 12:45. I arrive a bit early and get into my Mini Match attire as designed by Bonnie... complete with Bonnie's Belle Gown tags. I had to wear my outfit for that night, I would NEVER EVER do any kind of a performance without some semblance of a dress rehearsal! My first concern moments into my lesson is Mambo... so we work on that, and I'm trying to count along with Largo... but something is messing me up.
"Stop counting!" Largo states, rather frustrated.
"But I thought I'm supposed to count too." I reply kind of confused... I am supposed to count right???
"No, not you... you just follow." Largo tells me.. in that very you're better at following so stop thinking and do it kind of way.
So I did.. and you know what.. it worked!
By the time we got to Rumba I was feeling wobbly, it wasn't right, even Largo was questioning if I'd be ok for Mini Match... I wasn't in pain so much as I think it was pre-performance jitters. I had time to shake them off.
Lesson over.. I have a 40 minute rest period to ice what I needed to ice...
Next up RT... where we also review my dances... Especially Meringue and Tango.... I was such a following mess by the end of my last lesson I was worried... but I took frame up with RT and I once again got that feeling I sometimes get when dancing with him... it's like my dancing has come home. Must be a first instructor kind of thing I don't know, but I like it. We ran through everything, oh and I told RT that our Salsa has to be good, Captain was one of my sponsors and her request was that she sponsor my Salsa... AND she's leaving the very next day to move to Maryland so it REALLY REALLY had to be good! Which means there was one step in particular that I didn't want to do. Which we fought about a little, but it wasn't so bad..
There was one part of the lesson where RT was leading me into something I hadn't done in a long time (He's been my only Salsa dance partner for the last 5 months at least... which means I've been getting 10 minutes of Salsa every month... not NEARLY enough to stay on top of everything!) Anyway... I misread the lead and went in a completely opposite direction... but he was still pulling me in his direction... which caused a big pull and my almost falling and his hanging on to me so tight to try and keep me from falling that I have the fingerprint bruises to prove it... in the end I'm totally fine... and we drop Salsa for a minute to Fox Trot only to have me ask RT if he's ok about 100 times. I was concerned that because I outweigh him by so much that he could have really hurt himself trying to keep my butt off the hardwood. In the end I think (hope) he's ok.
Once we both felt we had reviewed my set for the match RT wanted to Rumba... I agreed because my Rumba with Largo was off...so I was hoping to make myself feel better. It did... it has been so long since RT and I have danced any of the dances we're used to doing... between my Cha Cha routine and then Mini Match we haven't worked on Rumba in a long time! It used to be that I couldn't have a lesson without doing at least one Rumba! So I was very glad to sneak that in.
Lessons over I jump back into my regular clothes to run some errands and get ready for Mini Match! After the lessons I really wasn't nervous for the match... I was feeling pretty good actually. Until I got back to my place in just barely enough time to shower and doll up for this event. I needed to be at the South Barrington Studio as close to 6pm has humanly possible so that I could get my heat sheet, test my shoes on the floor, try and grab some seats for my family, and check on a few of my dance friends who were very nervous to dance in front of everyone. I think helping them out really in the end helped me out.... until I started to wait for my family to arrive. THEN I wanted a drink.
As it got closer and closer to 7pm I was getting more and more anxious. I had my heat sheet highlighted, I finally had found my parents and got them to their seats, asked my dad if he could video for me (and for you all). THEN promptly realized this studio was going to get VERY crowded and VERY hot! By the time we started the room was already hot and sweaty. In my heat sheet or program, there were 81 heats listed... each with at least 4-5 couples on the floor that's a LOT of competitors! At the height of it there were 255 people in that ballroom... all cheering for their own studios....it was the craziest organized chaos I have ever seen.
So here's the deal... each student (or student couple) represents their studio and gets graded on a proficiency scale (like grades in school) then the whole studio's total is averaged together into one "grade" so that studio's like mine with a large number, are on even level with studios like Michigan Avenue who had a smaller number of students on the floor. It's a great way to become familiar with a competition format while also trying to generate a team atmosphere.
And now... for the dancing!
First heat up is Fox Trot... GREAT I had to start the evening off with a smooth dance... well at least it's my strongest smooth dance... I try and weave my way to the floor and as I look up from trying not to step on little fingers and little toes of children surrounding the floor, there is RT's hand ready for mine to take me to our spot on the floor which did make me feel a bit better. What can I tell you about my Fox Trot... well it was the first in a three heat stretch... I remember that it definitely took me the first few measures to feel like I had my feet under me... I think you can see that I smiled about half way through and that was the moment when I knew I could do this and have no problem.
As I came off the floor Bonnie was one of the first people I saw and I was greeted with, "I don't ever want to hear that you can't dance smooth ever again!"
Which I did kind of try to fight her on.. but I was having too much fun. :-)
Next up was Meringue which RT and I had just gone over steps in my lesson that day... sadly my dad didn't get my camera to work for that dance... I don't have any video.. but was Also danced with RT and I think we had some fun with it.
Third in this short stretch was Mambo with Largo. I remember finding him on the floor telling him which dance it was and then saying "Please take care of me during this one!" I was really really worried about being able to stay on the correct beats! Then just as the music started I remembered Largo earlier in the day "No, not you... you just follow." and I did! I was a little tense about it.. but I did it... and at the very end I said to him "I did it and it was on time!!!!" I was quite pleased...
Next was East Coast Swing, I knew they were going to pick a slower song for this.. but when Largo and I heard it we both laughed a bit... Largo has a strong distaste for anything that is remotely related to country music, and I like to tease him about it. So the fact that we were dancing during this song was amusing. Aside from that... it was just a swing... the song was a bit too slow to have fun with our steps. Definitely not my best work.
T-A-N-G-O... uh oh... TANGO is here! Actually just like before I saw RT's hand as my eyes came up from the floor filled with little people... and he says to me "Salsa right?" and he's all excited...
"Uh no.. heat sheet says Tango."
"No, Salsa is now."
"No I'm telling you the heat sheet says Tango!"
(It's always good to start a Tango after having a hushed mini spat right?) :-)
So then we hear Jackie say into the microphone that it is in fact a Tango and RT rushes to get me all set in line of dance and off we go... if it wasn't Tango I would have been laughing the entire time... as it was I had a hard enough time keeping a straight face...
As far as my Tango's go... it wasn't bad... as far as the way I'd like to be able to Tango... needs SERIOUS work... but it didn't help that RT and I kind of fell into our old faithful of talking while dancing... I don't recall all of the mini conversation.. but I remember that I said I couldn't smile in Tango, and made my face serious, he agreed, then said something else, and I told him to stop talking or he'd make me smile. And seriously folks... what you see in that video is ALL I'VE GOT for Tango... :-) Basic, Promenade, Corner Step, Corte (it's there when we're dancing by the post), and that throw out move, that I have no idea what you call it. But yeah.. that's it... and I maybe will start working on it to make it better.
And after waiting around for a while.. it was the dance I most dread... the WALTZ... I had been near my mom before this heat and I told her... this is the Cinderella dance..(she loves Cinderella) watch me screw it up... Now in watching my Waltz... I really don't have much to say about it except that it doesn't look NEARLY as bad as I thought it would... AND by this point my sister had arrived and brought with her cards numbered 0-9 so she could hold up scores for me... she ended up holding up scores like 21, 11, 22, all higher than the assumed "Perfect 10" RT and I enjoyed that a lot! Somewhere towards the middle of this waltz though, my rise and fall got up and left the building... I remember feeling that happening and knowing I couldn't get it back... but aside from that.. for a dance I feel like the biggest elephant clod hopping on the floor while I'm doing it.. it doesn't seem to look that bad. Still... I'm putting it back in the vault where it belongs. :-)
Ok... Smooth is over... next up is CHA CHA with Largo... yeah baby let the fun begin! Largo and I dance a lot of cha cha... and our favorite little move to play with is the hip bump at around 0:30 seconds in... although I have to tell you from getting into that position to waiting to do the bump sure felt a lot longer in the moment... I love that the brain messes completely with the perception of time! This is where I was having some fun! I also saw RT cheering me on from the floor... literally sitting on the floor like right in front of me... funny I never thought of him or Largo ever cheering for me... it's ALWAYS the other way around... so that was kinda trippy. Again... I probably only looked at him for a split second.. but felt like we could have had a conversation in that moment. Then the last step he lead is one we have fun with too.. (right around 1:03 in the video) and I messed it up.. thank goodness they stopped when they did... I said to Largo as he is inexplicably patting my head "I can't believe I messed that up!" Cha Cha was my favorite dance of the evening thus far.
Next up is Rumba, again with Largo... I love this Rumba.. it was a quick one.. so no long drawn out slows... and this Rumba with Largo felt just as solid as far as balance and following that my Rumba with RT felt earlier in the day.. so YAY... I was just having a good time... then I feel Largo's hand go down my head... (check it out at about 0:40 sec right by CWS' head you can see Largo draw his hand down the back of my hair!) There are a few theory's as to why my dance instructor just pet me... one.. he thought I was looking down which I often do during those walks and instead of scruffing my neck like he normally does, he pet me to remind me to look up.. or two.. he was just messing with me as we were in a pretty good mood when we were dancing together. I think it was option one though... because why else would he pet me like that? My hair felt like a helmet it had so much product in it so it wasn't to run his fingers through my soft flowing locks... Anyway.. had a really good time with this one too and really pleased with some of my arms... but unfortunately only some of them.
OMG Ya'll it's the dance I'd been waiting for all night... Captain and her husband were waiting for it too...as it was getting kinda late and they wanted to head out... and BOY was it hot in that studio!!!! Captain requested to sponsor this dance so RT and I were all kinds of ready to rock it out... just for her, hours before she left town.... it's the SALSA!!!! I had periodically been asking my instructors if they could hear the music... and I did the same to RT before we started.. he said that the speaker right by us was broken... which kinda worried me.. but if either one of us could hear the music I knew we'd be ok.. I was feeling pretty good about this one... The song starts.. and it's a song we've danced to several times... I tell RT "Oh, we've got this one..." and off we go! This dance felt exactly the way it's supposed to feel... fun, energy, playful.. and I can't even tell you how impressed I am with the way our arm looping came out and the way we nailed our side by side spin... (wich is unfortunately almost blocked from view by another dancer) for those two elements alone I am glad I have this video... all it does is make me look at it and make a LIST of things I need to fix... well each of these video's does that.. but I know what I want my Salsa to end up looking like... so it's easier to make the list. But Dang that dance felt good. :-) Right after this heat I ran over to hug Captain and her husband farewell... and found out that not only did she like the dance..but it was to one of her favorite songs... :-) I could have ended my evening on that note and been happy for life... but I had one final dance!
Last dance of the evening... Hustle with Largo... I like the Hustle, I always have, it was the first dance where I really figured out how to follow. Largo and I do warm up with a customary Hustle at the start of our lessons... so it's only fitting that I dance it with him... Being that it was the end of my night... and Largo had a lot of students out there...and I was SO pleased with the way everything went... I gave him the option of a nice relaxed three count Push Pull Hustle, or a regular Syncopated Hustle... he wouldn't even entertain the idea of a Push Pull. :-) And so we danced... can't really see too much unfortunately as we were exactly opposite my dad, with a post between us. :-) But it was fun... and that's what counts. As a side note, as I anticipated.. not a single twinge of pain... or ankle rolled... I need to perform more often, it feels better!
The rest of the evening wound up with each student receiving a participation award... and then the pro couples from each studio came out and did a dance in their style... a lot of the students there were SO new they'd never seen these routines before, or in some cases never saw a professional couple dance live and in person... so it was very special for them to see that... no only that but we have a pretty dang high caliber of dancers in this region, in Rhythm, Smooth, AND Theatre Arts... so that was all VERY cool.
In the end TEAM RED CHICAGO NORTH won!!! But not by much let me tell you, those ORANGE Michigan Avenue folks were right on our tails! Congratulations also to The Mean Green Machine of South Barrington for winning the "Most Enthusiastic Studio Award"! Well deserved! Although I've got to tell you, Burr Ridge had my favorite cheer... although don't ask me what it was... cuz now I can't remember... :-) and I love that Tinley Park has their own flag.
The evening as a whole was SOOO much fun for me! I'd do it all again in a second... and there are some moments I'll try to re-live for as long as I can keep the memory fresh.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, to Bonnie's Belle Gowns for my outfit and for the support, to ALL my many many sponsors!!! I truly would have been once again on the sidelines without you... to my instructors RT and Largo, they take such good care of me out on that dance floor! And to all my fellow competitors... GOOD SHOW!