Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Get On The Floor Debuts at Sterba's Holiday Showcase 2013!

Hey Everyone!
What an exciting weekend! Saturday had me all in a tizzy over my finals. Since I left Ballroom I have enrolled in college (affectionately referred to as "College...Round 2") online. I'm majoring in Medical Office Management, and this semester was rough! I had to finish by Saturday at 5:30 so I could be in the car to start work at 6:30. Well I spent HOURS laboring over Anatomy and Physiology II and Algebra I finals. I was exhausted by the time I got to work! I also tried to keep in touch with the excitement brewing at Get On The Floor because Sunday would be their debut at the 14th Annual Christmas Showcase hosted by Sterba's DanceSport. Work finished around 12:30am (ah Holiday Retail) and I rushed home to finish up some contact stuff before trying to sleep hard and fast to get to this new event, in a new to me location.

Steve and Franny our Get On The Floor Pros!
Most of you know me as a Ballroom Competition "Professional Spectator." A quick count has me attending over 50 ballroom competitions between local chain regionals and larger national stages like St. Louis Star Ball, Wisconsin State Dancesport Championship and even one trip out to Ohio Star Ball. Not to even mention the smaller independent competitions in the more immediate area like Indiana Dance Challenge, Chicago Harvest Moon, Windy City Open  and Chicago Crystal Ball just to name a few! Whew! This from a girl who has never set foot on the dance floor in a competition! I am a ballroom competition fan like some people are fans of sports teams. I love them because they remind me of Elizabethan Theater on crack... (excuse the term) Back in the day of Shakespeare people went to theater to see and to be seen and that is exactly what ballroom competitions are like.

Now I had NEVER been to a Showcase before! I had heard about them, and I certainly know what a showcase dance is. It's a routine performed by any combination of pro/am/student pairing or group. Generally much more theatrical in nature than a competition or DanceSport routine. They can involve props and be choreographed to music and they are largely a lot of fun! This was an event that was entirely comprised of Showcase routines, no competition, no judges, and as I would find out... very little whooping and hollering.

Prior to my arrival I made sure I was prepared as if I were going to an all day competition... I brought my snacks, a first aid kit, my make-up, safety pins, a change of clothes for the semi-formal evening, and my dance shoes of course! (There is always general dancing at some point). I know Get On The Floor had done some Showcase events in the past, but I never really talked to anyone about what to expect or what they did there.. so... I planned as best I could for every scenario.

I arrived at the destination a little late because my brain was wrecked from finals and work, but thankfully I didn't miss any of my new studio's routines. That would have made me feel really bad. Bonus of having a tall teacher, as long as he's standing... I can probably find him in just about any room! As I rushed to the table in my daytime outfit (competitions are generally casual during the day) I noticed that I was surrounded by folks already dressed in their semi-formal attire! Whoops.... oh well, I'll keep that in mind for next time.

Steve made quick introductions at our table and I sat for a few minutes trying to get the lay of the land. Our table was nicely located right next to the spot on the floor where all the couples were entering. That happens to be my favorite spot, because you get to see everyone as the come on and off the floor, and we were also close to the bar for later (my other favorite spot in the ballroom). There were a LOT of people there!!! I've seen competitions that had fewer attendees for sure! I spoke to Franny (Manager/Instructor of Get On The Floor) and we decided to head out to the changing room to work on some makeup. We had a bunch of time before anyone at our table was up.

While in the changing room, which was an actual room, with tables, coat racks, a mirror and water bottles and everything...(this event was top notch) and Franny and are discussing some things I hear one of the girls say "Everyone wants a Brittney Bump, no one can do a hair bump like Brittney." I knew immediately who they were talking about.... I look around and behind me is TNT!!! (aka Brittney Bartler) I chimed in, "Well there's only one Brittney I know that's known for her bump, hey Brittney!" We chatted for a quick second and we then both went back to our tasks...  Somehow that made everything feel more normal... I've had several discussions with pros while everyone is in various states of hair and makeup.

Back in the ballroom I find two of my friends that can only be described as members of my original (and still existing) dance family. I stopped by to say hi, they both dance with Brittney and were with her group for the day. I then went back to the Get On The Floor table because I'm in the process of establishing my relationship with them. For the longest time I was known as the student from Buffalo Grove, even if people didn't know my name wherever I went...they were likely to remember the studio I was aligned with... I now need to change that part of my reputation.

Steve and Franny put together a class act let me tell you. They had photo holiday cards, with favors for each participant at the table and Steve set up his tablet to display some of the photos and adverts he's been using to promote the studio. The event organizers also had favors for each guest. I was ridiculously impressed! Both my new studio and the event organizers know how to make each person feel valued for their attendance and participation. The Get On The Floor staff also provided some "cheer supplies" in black and white pom poms that I'm sure you'll see every time we're out now. It was tough to know when to use them though because the room was really very quiet. Of course one wouldn't really cheer during a Showcase as one would during a comp, but even in between dances it was tough to know if we were being the most enthusiastic or if we were dangerously close to the obnoxious line. Being that we are all helping to make a name for Get On The Floor we picked and chose our times to use them. I little later in the day the Owner of Sterba's (who was also dancing with students) noticed and encouraged us to use them... way to go folks! That's just the kind of noticing we want to go on!

I must practice dancing again, and I must practice taking photos of dancers too.
Our more seasoned amateur couple was first up for our group, they performed a really fun Rumba/Cha Cha, they have been dancing with Steve as their instructor since before he started this studio, in fact they had started out as a wedding couple (learning a dance for their wedding reception) and just kept it going. Which I think is AWESOME and they are dang good! As I got to talking to them it seems we have a lot in common with our general dance industry experience. I look forward to chatting with them more, and I definitely look forward to seeing them dance again!

Next up for our group was Steve with another of his more established students. They did a Viennese Waltz and it was lovely! This particular student has arm styling I really envy, and she moves very well, Viennese Waltz is not easy at all and they did a great job and making it look like it should... effortless. She clearly enjoyed herself and it will be fun to see where she takes her dancing!

This picture does not do this dance justice!
Our final amateur couple, was probably one of my favorites. They're newer and I LOVE new to ballroom people! They did a routine with both Steve and Franny where they started out pro/am the gentleman with Franny and the lady with Steve in what started out as a Fox Trot, but then as the couples switched partners the gentleman and lady together alongside Steve and Franny it became a sweet East Coast Swing. I loved it! I loved even more that THEY loved it! I had the opportunity to speak with the very kind lady a little later in the day and I was so pleased to hear she and her husband enjoyed themselves. I look forward to sharing the floor with them in the future as well!
The happy Fox Trotting East Coast Swingers!

Somewhere about Act 9 one of my original ballroom family had an Argentine Tango routine with Brittney, and boy did they smoke it! I can tell you that I have been dancing with and sharing the dance floor with this friend for quite a while and in the last year or so he has become a really good dancer and as I learned as he asked me to dance both a Bachata/Rumba and a little East Coast Swing a really fun lead!! I'm so proud of him! He's also the friend I flaked out on when we went line dancing, so happy to know my piss poor Hustle didn't keep him from asking me to dance again! (I unfortunately forgot to take pictures...I was too busy watching)

In between our studio's numbers were several other numbers... 11 acts of 10 or so dances each. Here is what is truly remarkable about the organizers. Over 100 of those entries were added in the last week before show date. This happens a lot in competitions and from a spectator stand point you're on your own as far as food and beverage goes, and it's kind of rough, which is why I always bring sacks and a couple bucks for water if I need it. Not with this Holiday Showcase! The organizer went above and beyond, in my opinion, to work with the venue to add butler style appetizers a few times throughout the day to make sure the attendees didn't get hungry... and they probably had to open the bar early too (not sure but generally the bar at these things don't open until close to dinner time). Class act through and through both from Get On The Floor and the event host Sterba's. EXACTLY what I'm hoping to continue to find as I re-enter the world of ballroom.

Get On The Floor students and staff (Yes, Steve's hair did change color!)
Towards the end of the day I ran off to change so I could be appropriate for dinner and came back just in time for salad. We all chatted for a bit about the day and how pleased we all were with how it went and it was nice.... I somehow got the spot next to Steve.. (again odd for me as the professionals in the past always sat at different tables from the students, perhaps to avoid playing favorites..but still, it was odd for me). Then Steve spoke a little about his teaching style and it's always nice to hear how an instructor/pro sees his or her job. Then, (I swear I didn't do it, I very rarely talk about this blog outside my original dance family) Steve brought up this blog.... yikes! He said some very lovely things about myself and this little (okay huge) running memoir. Then he turned it over to me, but I was really enjoying hearing what he thought of it... because that never happens in a public setting. I've only talked about this blog with the professionals in private settings and occasionally behind closed doors. So I said a little about why it started and where it went and why it and I are back. Then, as has happened in the past when people find out I write, there were some comments about monitoring what one is to say around me because it will end up in the blog... Have no fear friends, it won't end up here... it will end up in the book.*wink*

As dinner ended it was time for the pro show... I love to watch the professionals dance... (ahem... 50 competitions, all professional) Steve and Franny had some creative participation ideas for their dance from us, which I wasn't too sure about to begin with... but after showing up as such a class act all day I shouldn't be worried... but then there were red glow sticks involved. Hmmm... Then Steve started talking about the lights.... This was a standard event ballroom no different than any other and there were no custom theatrical lights.... but Steve kept talking about dimming the lights. As I was trying to figure out how that might happen I was suddenly tasked with the job of making it happen. I was informed that it was verified with the venue that the lights could be lowered for one routine... so off to the bartender I went to find a venue manager who could educate me on the lights. (Always be kind to your bartenders people!)

Turns out, the ballroom was actually two ballrooms with two massive light switch areas, one on each side that had about 9 dimmer switches each. Huh... okay I was going to need help or we were going to have to scrap it... I ran to find Steve just to verify because I was not about to ask one of the students that danced today to help me, it would mean that they would miss out on a good portion of Steve and Franny's routine... I found Steve, apprised him of the situation and he asked me to make it work... so off I went.

Have I mentioned how awesome my friends are? I quickly checked the program to make sure that my two friends wouldn't miss their pro dance and quietly asked if one of them would help. My twice dance partner for the evening volunteered and we went over with the venue manager how to dim the lights. I gave my friend the cue and we stood in our corners to wait. I can't tell you what the pro routines looked like because I just became the lighting director for "Silent Night/Light 'Em Up". (I'm told there will be a reprise in a couple weeks, I hope I get to see that one!) The Get On The Floor students and some of our table guests all had their glow sticks at the ready and when "Light 'Em Up" started I systematically started lowering each dimmer by about 50% keeping an eye on the other side of the room to ensure that my friend was doing the same. Steve and Franny had some light up accessories they really wanted to pop for this number! It was a fun idea! The students at our table gladly played their part and stood with glow sticks waving! As soon as I assured the video tech the lights would be coming back up at the end of the number it was time to bring them back up to full. One last pro routine number and the night had three more social dances in it before it was over.

I heard some very nice feedback from some of the attendees and I think Get On The Floor made a great first impression at this pretty sizeable event....I look forward to more!

(And thanks for sticking with me on this post... as I get back into writing I promise I'll get more detail in fewer paragraphs) :-)


Sonja said...

Even a blurry photo of dancers can be a good one - thank you! :)

Miss Kat said...

Thanks Sonja! I hope to have many more (much better quality) to add to your collection as we will inevitably be sharing the ballroom again!