Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Professional Spectating at its Best! The Windy City Open 2009

This past weekend, one of the biggest competitions the city of Chicago as to offer was going on at the Hyatt McCormick Place (McCormick Place being the biggest convention center in the city.) This competition is known as The Windy City Open, and is an independent competition, meaning that it is open to ALL dance studios. I attended last year and had a very nice time.. this year it was even more important for me to attend as I'm trying to still stay as involved in the ballroom world as I can, and I had several couples to cheer for!
I have to tell you, there was something about this competition that had me really excited... I don't know if it was just because I'd get to see some of my favorite professionals dance, or what... but I was just very much looking forward to this evening!
I arrived with some dance friends including ETP, and thankfully traffic wasn't bad as we arrived in plenty of time to pick up our tickets, look at the vendors with all their dresses, jewelry, couture wear and the like. It was nice to get a feel for the crowd as it was building. The doors opened promptly at 7:30, the first heat that was American Smooth was slated for 8:07pm. I promptly found my seat, which is a whole other thing about this competition... So let me digress here for a minute.

I purchased my ticket nearly a month ago, based on what last year's seating was... I purposely chose a more expensive seat because I like to be in the first row or "First Riser" as they called it. It's easier for me to flit around the ballroom greeting and talking to all the folks, these evenings very often last 3-4 hours and I simply can't sit for that long. Upon finding my seat in the center of the 5th row in a six row riser, with no chance of an easy exit, I didn't stay up there for long... Where as friends of mine who had purchased their tickets mere days before the event had MUCH better seats! It is my only real complaint about this competition.. but next year I will be ordering my seats over the phone to ensure seat placement, rather than leave it up to the online ordering form which, as it turns out.. is VERY misleading.

...I had to get that out... Ok.. so where was I.. oh right American Smooth event... there were enough couples to make it a Quarterfinal event... meaning that there were enough couples wanting to compete that the competition would go from Quarterfinal, to Semi-Final after some eliminations, to Final. Very exciting! I had two couples to cheer for in this event, RTS and her Partner and FAF with TSD.. and boy did I ever cheer! This competition for whatever reason is much more subdued then a lot of the others, so there isn't as much cheering... don't know why.. but I have found that a lot of the people around me don't like it when I'm yelling... Just because you can hear me clear across the ballroom with the music playing isn't a reason to not like someone :-)

My personal "wants" for this Smooth event was for RTS and partner to make Semi-Finals... they are still very new to the circuit and while their progress every time I see them is nothing short of awe inspiring, I knew it was a little too soon to see them in the finals for an open event such as this. FAF and TSD however, are a bit more seasoned and have had a lot more time together so them I wanted to make the Finals... but again.... still too new to win it.

RTS and partner looked fantastic! Once again, better than the last time I saw them dance... and YES! They made it to the Semi-Finals.. YAY... really proud of them!

FAF and TSD did better than just making the finals, they placed 3rd AND beat a couple that has pretty much consistently beat them all year... AMAZING!

While I love my smooth couples, we all know... American Rhythm is where I live and while RT is not currently competing, Largo is...with TNT of course... and then you've got CWS and DWH, plus STP and HFC... whew! This event also was a Quarterfinal event... so I was hoping for a Semi-Final result for CWS and DWH... and FINALS for Largo, TNT, STP and HFC. This event was exciting... there were a lot of good couples on the floor! Including those from the Fred Astaire Milwaukee Region... the Chicago and Milwaukee region are pretty much neck in neck as far as talent... with Milwaukee edging Chicago out a few times too many for my liking.. but it makes for some very exciting spectating!

CWS and DWH looked great...and achieved the Semi-Final result I was hoping for... and Largo and TNT, STP and HFC made the finals as anticipated... Along with the 4 other Milwaukee couples...

This is where it gets fun folks... the final in American Rhythm at a completely independent competition was ALL FRED ASTAIRE Professionals! If that's not a feather in the cap of that organization I don't know what is! We all watched the floor during that final intently... everyone looked great! Largo and TNT in particular looked AMAZING... I don't know what it was... and they're good folks, let me tell you.. but on this night, all the stars must have been aligned because they just were blowing us away!

Then it came down to results... all six Fred Astaire couples in a line waiting to hear where they placed... the room was positively electric... 6th place was called... a Milwaukee couple that usually places much higher... hmmmm.... curious... 5th place was called, and 4th... BOTH Milwaukee couples... ETP and I exchanged looks of amazement... could it be??

Now we're looking at 3 couples... two from my studio... STP and HFC have always placed higher than Largo and TNT... but even 3rd for them would be amazing... and in my heart I've actually been waiting for Largo and TNT to edge out ahead of STP and HFC... 3rd place was called... and two little girls ran out on to the floor to pick up some beads that had actually fallen off of TNT's costume... All my group and I could think was that this was the most tense we've been while waiting for results EVER.. and these two little dollies were making us wait longer! ACK!!!!

Once the children were ushered off the floor... 3rd place was called again... STP and HFC.... OMG.. NO WAY!!!! Every human being in that ballroom who knew anything about Fred Astaire and the rivalry between the two regions, and especially those from my own studio were screaming and yelling and OMG.... it was UNREAL... Then we had to hear who got second... pretty sure it was going to be Largo and TNT.. but still with the results that were just called... who knows if they edged out that remaining Milwaukee couple! 2nd place was called and it was Largo and TNT! 1st place and title went to the remaining Milwaukee couple... but that's ok... one heck of an amazing event just happened for those of us who are at Fred Astaire Buffalo Grove... It was an amazing and inspiring thing to see....
Intermixed in there was a very cool, albeit very dark (as in the lighting...VERY dark...) show by
Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis who are the current reigning world, European, and British Open Professional Latin Champions... they were very good and I'm glad I got to see them.. but really.. this night belonged to Largo and TNT as far as I'm concerned...
Congratulations to all "my" pro couples... good show to you all, and you all should be proud!

No comments: