Then, a few weeks ago at one of the regular Friday night dances, one of my "Westie" friends persuaded me to sign up for the Toronto Swing Dancing Championships that were taking place in the city for the very first time. Before I quite knew what was happening I found that I had forked over $$ for the entire weekend's registration AND signed myself up to compete in the newcomer Jack & Jill* competitions! I figured, there were so many people in the newcomer category that no one would have the time to stare at just me during the competition. Later I found out who my "competition" was and seeing that there were some folk who had been dancing for way longer than I had (but had never before competed), I was even more reassured knowing that there was no pressure at all!
I was lucky enough to draw a good partner, and we went out on the Saturday afternoon and had a good time during the competition. When people asked me how I thought I'd done, honestly, I considered not nervously hurling all over the dance floor an accomplishment in itself! Even during the award ceremonies on the Saturday night, I was so sure that nothing would come of the competition that at one point I even considered skipping it and going to dance in the Salsa room next door!
It's time for the Newcomer category and they call out the 3rd place winners. And we know the guy! Cheers and clapping and hooting......
.....they call out the 2nd place winners. Another couple from our dance group!!!! But wait, everyone thought that she would win first place FOR SURE. I turn to the person next to me and indignantly vent about how I feel that S and L should TOTALLY have won, and how she's so good... yada yada. I'm so busy being indignant that I totally miss the fact that
MY name is being called - as FIRST PLACE WINNER!!!!! Many hands yank me out of my chair and push me towards the podium where I stagger (in a very UN dance-like manner) to collect my plaque. My partner is giving me a huge hug (huum, he smells good) and everyone is shouting and cheering and all I can manage is a generally goofy smile and a "thank you" before I stumble back to my seat. As the realization of actually placing, let alone WINNING sinks in, I find myself literally trembling with happiness and OMG, I think I'm now actually going to barf!!!!
Yes, I forced the judges to stare at my ass!!! Brilliant move I thought!
Other than my frequent urges to barf on the dance floor, the weekend was absolutely filled with fun times whether it was trying out some new moves during the workshops, or dancing till 5am each night (morning?) or just hanging out with the "Westies" who I might add are some of the nicest people in the dancing circuit. I must have learned about a hundred new moves on the dance floor from people from all over Canada and the US; many of who I hope to see at subsequent events.
What was most special for me was that I finally felt that I "belonged" to the dance community; that I wasn't just a stranger who showed up for a dance every now and then. People knew who I was (not only because of the win) and knew my name and best of all, I knew who THEY were and was able to smile and nod and greet them back.
I've enjoyed dancing for as long as I can remember. This weekend just made me realize why I love it so much.
*For the non dance savvy readers - a Jack & Jill is a popular form of competition where participants sign up as individual competitors and partners are determined through random selection or a draw. The couple is judged as a unit with points for leading, following, music syncopation etc.