The Dance-O-Rama post, part 1

2 Sep

[This post got to be waaaayy too long, so I'm breaking it up into two parts. Here's part one.]

Last weekend was Dance-O-Rama.

I’ve been having trouble putting my thoughts and reactions into words, hence the lack of a post til now. There is just so much to sort out!

It was an incredible weekend. And an exhausting one. And an emotionally-charged one. And a thrilling one.

I did not sleep much the night before we left. I had to be up early, as I had to be at the airport by 8:30. I had my packing list all done and everything laid out on the table. So that morning, it was just check the item off the list and throw it into the suitcase. I had figured out that my dresses would fit in my garment bag which would actually fit as a carry-on. Sweet. So no need to worry about my dresses or my shoes getting lost.

Thursday had some downtime. We had a few hours after checking in before all of us from our studio met, then we had a few more hours before dinner. Downtime at an event like that is not good for me, especially since I didn’t think I’d have any so I didn’t really bring anything to do during downtime. And me plus nothing to do equals thinky place.

Put me in thinky place in a social situation, and my shyness kicks in. So at dinner, due to the thinky place and this event being outside my comfort zone, I got shy. And quiet. Started shrinking into myself again.

But dancing started the next morning. I was very excited for that. Breakfast was at 8, dancing started at 8:30 (my teacher wanted to do warm-ups at 7:30), my first event was a solo at 8:32. Thursday night, I got to sleep around midnight and was planning to get up at 5:30. I woke up at about 2am and couldn’t get back to sleep until 4. So I started the competition on about 3-4 hours of sleep. Awesome.

My solo was the foxtrot open, which had been going well in practice. And it went very well here. The floor was bumpy; my heels got caught in the cracks a few times. But my posture was good, and I felt like I nailed it. In fact, my text to KB was “first solo done. kicked its ass”.

Then the heats started. The first day was closed, and the heats started with smooth. So I took the floor with my teacher (at around 10:30), and we started dancing.

And the traffic killed me. They had so many entries, they had to do two heats at a time by splitting the floor in two. So it was about 8 couples trying to do smooth on half a floor. Lots of near collisions, a few actual collisions, and I got flustered. You can’t practice for that kind of traffic. Everyone else seemed to be doing so well and handling the traffic so much better. The afternoon was rhythm, and it didn’t get much better. Lots of arms flying around. I just felt like I was the worst one on the floor during my heats and that I couldn’t deal with the traffic issues, and I felt like that all day. Except for my lindy hop heats. Those seemed OK.

But overall, my confidence took a big hit that day. My teacher thought I was doing well, but in my head, it didn’t seem like it.

That night we had the costume party dinner/dance. It was a ’50s theme, which was fun. I hadn’t really recovered my equilibrium yet, but tried to have fun anyway. I was also worried about the all-around heat I had that night – at 10:38pm. (The last heats that day were right before midnight.) The all-around heat started with a semi-final round. It went well – my teacher said it went great and was the best dancing of mine of the day and was the best I had done the cha-cha ever – but I didn’t make the finals. Not that I expected too at that point.

That night, I got to sleep shortly after midnight. I had to get up at 6 the next day. And once again, I woke up around 2 and was up for 2 hours. And at that point, I was going to quit dancing. Period. I thought that there was no way I was good enough to be a dancer, I wasn’t good enough to be at that competition, and I wasn’t fun enough to have people want me around. (Can you tell I was deep in the thinky place?) That morning when I got up, I started crying in the shower. I had wanted to cry all day the day before but kept fighting it. And I fought it in the shower because I didn’t want to have red eyes for everyone to see, plus I felt like if I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop for a long time. I mentioned to my teacher at breakfast that I was very close to a breakdown but that I knew he couldn’t do anything to help me because he had to dance so much.

The heats that day were open. And I knew my opens were solid. At the point of the competition, I was better at dancing open than closed. So I knew Saturday would be the better day for me. Plus, my friend JF who lives in Chicago came to see my morning heats. Which was an awesome boost for me.

But once again…half a floor. Lots of couples. Traffic. Thinky place. Feeling worse and worse about my dancing, my ability to hold my own against the other couples on the floor, and about me. Frustrated I couldn’t pull myself out of this and angry that I was getting in my own way of having fun.

That afternoon, the rhythm heats started. At one point, my teacher had a long-ish break. (With five students there, he didn’t get a lot of breaks of any sort.) I don’t remember what he said to me, but I told him about my closeness-to-breaking-down and what I was feeling. And I started crying. (Did you know you can cry with fake eyelashes on? Yeah, I didn’t either. Turns out you really can.) And as always, he was incredibly supportive and helpful and direct with me. We talked for a few minutes then he had to go dance. I had about 20 minutes before my next heat, so I just stayed in the area outside the hotel ballroom. Because I couldn’t stop crying. Tears were just overflowing my eyes no matter what I did to try and stop. Then my friend JA, who is another student from my studio, came outside. I had had some brief conversations earlier with her about the emotions of this event, and it turns out she was experiencing some of the same thing. We talked for just a few minutes, and then bless her, she started trying to divert me by talking about fun IPhone games like SongPop. (Which, yes, is awesome and I now play it.)

Then I went back in to do my closed rhythm heats in full bronze. And at that point, I was so tired and I wasn’t fighting a breakdown, and I knew my teacher was concerned for me. So I just danced. I was resigned to not doing as well as the other couples, and I was a tiny bit relaxed because I had gotten out some of that emotion. And the opens actually felt good.

Dinner-banquet-awards that night, followed by the professional competition. Which was amazing. Jaw-dropping. Mind-blowing. And very fun to watch.

Breakfast the next morning wasn’t as a group, so I actually missed a lot of my group. My friends MS and CS were there as was my teacher. MS and CS and I were trying to get on an earlier flight. We did but it wasn’t until 3pm. So we walked around the city for a bit, and it helped to just spend some time with them. Then off to the airport (which took over an hour) and then a quick lunch. Then get on the plane and go home.

I was exhausted when I got home. I unpacked, got Chinese food with my roommate, and then probably just watched Netflix all evening – I really don’t even remember. I went to bed kinda early, I think. I did take my insomnia meds so I would be sure of getting a decent night’s sleep.

Then I woke up the next day (I had the day off work) and started to think about it all.

To be continued…

7 Responses to “The Dance-O-Rama post, part 1”

  1. Marsha September 3, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    Oh Cathy. I am sorry things did not turn out as you imaged they would, and I am so sorry about the split floor. Traffic can be scary, especially if you have never been in the heavy variety before. I hope you can find a silver lining as you review your days at DOR. And I hope you will not think that placing is the same as dancing well, and achieving personal best. We all come from different places and begin with different innate abilities and previously learned skills. Feeling good about how you danced (which you clearly did several times) under circumstances beyond your control is a very good thing. Competing at a large venue is a different skill from dancing and practicing. You just experienced your first time. Be kind to yourself.

  2. Robyn C. September 3, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    I am just SO dang proud of you!!! Look at you taking on this HUGE competition and powering through it! Look at you getting caught in the thinky place but SHOWING UP and DOING IT ANYWAY!! No matter the scores or placements or any of that – YOU DID IT!! I am just SO proud of you!

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