Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dance like nobody’s watching

Wow oh wow oh wow!

I had the most incredible dance weekend ever, and that’s despite my encountering a number of rather silly problems which caused me to miss a number of workshops.

This wasn’t the same as previous weekenders where I was determined to get to as many workshops as possible in order to make up for my suffering my usual lack of confidence on the dance floor. Instead, because the boy and I attended Robert & Nicola Royston’s novice dance intensive (eight hours of dance theory and drills over Thursday and Friday), our heads were rather overloaded and we inadvertently ended up taking it easy on Thursday night (i.e. we fell asleep, woke up at 2 am and decided to sleep till morning rather than go for the social).

On Friday, as it was the boy’s last night at the event (he had to go off on business on Saturday), we ended up hanging out with our dance friends, imbibing copious amounts of alcohol and then hitting the dance floor close to 4 am. We ended up dancing till 6 am – and I even managed a dance where a friend told the boy that I “looked really good” and that I was “really working it”, comments I’d not ever heard before. That guy even asked me for a second dance later!

That became our first ever entry into The Breakfast Club (i.e. the legion of people who stay up all the way till breakfast is served at 6 am).

After that, we went to bed, and the boy got up in the late morning to catch his flight. I was really wondering how I’d cope once the boy had left. It’s not that I need him to be around, but having a person I could go back to every couple of dancers to reset myself was something I’d come to rely on. A security blanket so to speak. So, off I went to a few workshops in the afternoon (after dealing with a stupid leaky spot on my face which kept me in the room for an hour) and then I got a bit more sleep. I ended up hanging out with some people I vaguely knew from dance class in London but hadn’t really spoken to. so that was nice. Then it was time for the pro show, and, following that, our dance teachers’ room party.

The room party turned out to be pretty busy; I don’t think I expected so many people whom I didn’t know. Also, they turned out to be from the advanced levels or better, so that was just a little intimidating. When the party ended close to 4 am, I followed my teachers to the “cool room” so to speak and found all the pros there on the dance floor. I stood there for a few minutes, decided to take my chances on the more crowded main room (the “less cool room”) and, in spite of the gender imbalance there, found myself sweating after a few dances. While I’d set myself a target number of dances to hit before I could go to bed, I lost count after a while, and, at 5.35 am, my teacher dissuaded me from going to bed (my feet were aching) and I found myself in The Breakfast Club for the second day in a row.

Then came Sunday. Got up at 10.45 am in an attempt to catch a workshop from two people I’d not learnt from yet, but had heard loads of good things about, and… disaster struck. I’d found my phone hadn’t charged at all. It wasn’t because the charger hadn’t been plugged it at all. Rather, my phone had given up the ghost. So, with 20% battery left, I ended up having to do a factory reset in a last-ditch attempt to get my phone working again before checking out. Thank goodness for Google’s auto-backup function and the hotel’s high-speed wi-fi, or I’d have freaked out over losing my photos and videos!

After checking out, I sat myself in the lobby for two hours while waiting for my phone to charge to a suitable level which would get me through the rest of the day. I saw one of the pros whom we’d taken private lessons from having lunch by himself and went in to say thanks. I ended up having a nice conversation with him for much of his lunch (which I apologised for, seeing as he was eating after all, but he said the company was nice as he’s constantly travelling).

Later on, after the competition finals, and after eating a Caesar salad which gave me a tummy ache, I set myself in the main ballroom with a few friends and even managed to get in a few dances despite feeling very, very tired. One of my dance classmates whom I haven’t danced with in ages said I’d “gotten really good”, which was nice to hear – although a huge exaggeration! Another person asked me for a dance, and, to be honest, that was a disaster as I just couldn’t get into the song at all and was off-time for much of the song. My lead said it was fine, but, as the next song came on, I said, “You know what? That dance was terrible, and I apologise for that. I insist we have another one so I can make up for it,” and off we went. We even hit a few improvisations which is always, always brilliant. But what made me happy was my insistence on a chance at redemption, just knowing I could do better than I had. I’m pretty sure there was a time when I’d have let the first song get to me and just fled the floor. It was a good moment, recognising how I’d grown.

It was now 10 pm, time for the Invitational Jack & Jill, the event I’d forced myself to stay for even though I was exhausted and it would mean my getting home at a very late hour. And I’m glad! If I hadn’t stayed, I would have missed some incredible performances.
I tell you, YouTube doesn’t even come close. After the last performance, I grabbed my bags and ran to get to the station. I ended up missing my last connection by minutes and having to take the last bus home. I got home just after 1 am and was in bed by 2.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like very much, certainly not compared to people who regularly go to The Breakfast Club, or who hobnob with the pros, or who compete. But, for me, the whole weekend was an eye-opener, not just in understanding more about dance technique, but testing, challenging myself in getting out there onto the floor and just asking someone to dance. It’s not something that comes easily to me at all. I was even trying to psych myself up in the first two days, but just turned it on its head and just thought about it in a different way. I don’t know what I did – parts of the weekend are a blur thanks to the lack of sleep – but something worked, and I’m just so happy about that.

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