We got back to the ballroom way too early on Saturday for the Open American 6-Dance. This is becoming a pattern: I am paranoid and I like to be early, plus I tend to round our scheduled time down to the hour in my mind, so if our heat is at 1:40, I remember 1:00. And then, as the competition program reminds us with its caps-lock on, we are supposed to be in the ballroom 30 minutes before our event. Thus, 1:00 becomes 12:30 and we are an hour ahead of our scheduled time. BUT! Comp organizers have a pathological fear of Running Late (a not-unreasonable fear if you assume you have to build in time for the ambulance to come) and, as a result, comps often run early. I was still gluing on my eyelashes when Daniel came to the dressing room door to ask if I was ready because our heat was coming up. Mild panic ensued but we were ready in good time, unlike one couple whose number the announcer was calling when we were already on deck. The lady rushed in holding the gentleman’s number and shouting “We’re here! We’re here!” Her partner was still changing his clothes. (Note to prospective competitors: DON’T BE THAT GUY.)
In the end, we all made it onto the floor for the quarterfinal. Most comps that we’ve been to will place between 5 and 8 couples depending on the event. If an event has more couples than placements, then everyone dances and some couples get cut while others get recalled to dance again. In this case, there were 17 couples signed up, so the quarterfinal would recall 12 from the original 17 and then the semifinal would recall 6 from 12 to dance in the final. We went onto the floor with mixed feelings: 50% “let’s just have fun and whatever happens, happens” and 50% “we might commit seppuku if we don’t get recalled.” We figured our chances were good to survive into the semifinal since 70% of the field would be recalled.
I thought about our new friend Patricia Tuttle, who is a gorgeous Standard dancer, and danced all the Smooth dances with my very best posture. We made a mistake in the foxtrot–as usual–but recovered okay. After a short break for costume changes, we were back on the floor for the Rhythm dances, which are definitely our stronger dances. Almost as soon as we stepped off the floor after the swing (last Rhythm dance), the recalls came up on the screen and #112 was there. We were into the semifinal but now had a bigger hill to climb since only half of the semifinal group would go to the final.
Rather than change outfits again, we danced the Rhythm half of the semifinal first. Then we had what seemed like a long break: some awards, and then lunch. But in order to keep running on time (see a theme here?), they made the lunch break very short. We cautiously ate a bit of lunch in our Smooth costumes (my gown is white, fer cryin’ out loud) and by the time I went back into the ballroom to check the schedule, they were calling our heat. Off we went to dance the Smooth half of the semifinal, on a more crowded floor this time. In the quarterfinal they had split the heat so that only 8 couples were on the floor at a time, but for the semi they put all 12 of us out at once. We managed the floorcraft okay. It helps to have a low number (ours was 112) because you enter the floor in number order. In this event we happened to be the lowest number so we got to walk out first and stake out our starting position. But we made another mistake in the foxtrot and we had made a mistake in the cha-cha. We left the floor with no expectation that we’d be in the final, but satisfied that we’d given it our best effort.
And then the recalls for the final came up: 112 134 161 166 186 212
Can I just repeat that first one for you? 112. OMG! Whee!
Having made it into the final, we almost didn’t care about our placement. Almost. I preferred not to come last but we doubted we’d be in the top 3. Sure enough, we came 5th of the final 6 but we were both very happy with that result. We finally danced that %$#@! foxtrot clean, Daniel kept his head together in the cha-cha, and I didn’t panic in the rumba. 5th of 17 is a huge victory for us after missing a whole lot of finals over our competitive history. It’s probably the highest placement we’ve achieved against a field that size. We were doubly pleased to end the weekend on a good note after all the stress of Thursday and Friday. All that was left was to shower, change, and enjoy the competitors’ banquet in the evening. Hooray!