We leave for Gumbo tomorrow in the early afternoon after I finish teaching, with one last practice session on deck for this evening. This will be the great driving-to-competition experiment: is the wear and tear of a 9-hour drive worth the financial savings and the freedom to haul along as much stuff as we want? Might we actually have fun on the road? With my new car, the satellite radio trial still active, 2 drivers, and my smartphone, we are hoping to make it fun. Daniel likes to drive and wants to voir le paysage (see the countryside) along the way and I am going to bring some books to read. And, no matter what, it will be vastly less expensive than flying.
My computer room is covered in luggage and piles of clothes as we get ready to pursue our road-trip experiment. As advertised, the great thing about not flying is that we can relentlessly overpack; thus, I am taking two complete sets of comp wear (one stoned and one unstoned), two “after-five” dresses for the Friday night welcome dance and the Saturday night banquet respectively, four pairs of tights, three four possibly five pairs of shoes, makeup, practice clothes, pajamas, random shorts and t-shirts, a swimsuit, and the necessary (read “overlarge”) assortment of toiletries. Daniel has culled through his collection of black pants, black button-downs, and zipper ties and chosen the ones he wants to take. I have obsessively re-checked the dress code to make sure we don’t get invigilated: the organizers have said that they are checking costumes at registration, so we need to make sure everything is in order. I will never forget the first year that we danced Adult level at the Triangle Open and had to borrow a black tie from a college kid because we had not paid close enough attention to the dress code restrictions for Adult. The dress code is not complicated, but it’s strict.
We dance Adult and Senior I Silver Rhythm on Friday afternoon, then Adult and Senior I Silver Smooth on Friday evening. Both Smooth events are semifinals, so our first big challenge will be to see if we can get recalled into the final. I’m glad we’re dancing Rhythm first; starting with Smooth and leading off the day with a waltz is hard, but starting with a cha-cha will cut right through the nerves. Saturday late morning we are doing the Open American 6-Dance, which is big enough to start with a quarterfinal. That means we have to make 2 recalls in order to be placed. Meep! We will dance the first 3 dances (don’t know if they’ll start with Smooth or Rhythm), then have a break to change outfits, then dance the other 3. Those who make the cut will repeat the process for the semifinal and again for the final. The event is only open to Silver level dancers and below, so we have as good a chance as anyone, I suppose. If we dance well Friday, our placements should suggest how well we might do Saturday. If we flame out on Friday, then Saturday will be our chance for redemption.
Of course, we are also supposed to Have Fun and I am looking forward to the trip in general as well as the chance to perform, which we always like. Ann Durocher-Steven, one of the organizers, told us after our first Gumbo that she doesn’t know anyone who seems to have more fun on the dancefloor than we do. Good technique is important but it seems like the most memorable couples are the ones who really engage with the audience. If someone–even a high-level competitor–has beautiful technique but looks like (s)he’d rather be somewhere else, then something is missing. I can’t imagine spending the hours and days and years required to become an advanced dancer if I weren’t going to enjoy the payoff of dressing up and dancing for an audience. No matter how we might feel about our placements, we always have a good time while we’re out there.
Off in a few minutes for the all-important pre-comp mani-pedi (now with more hyphens!). I have been looking forward to this for days, to the point that I actually dreamed about it last night (the pedicure, not the competition). Is that weird?