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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Good morning crew,

Last Sunday morning I went downtown with the wife to her ballroom dancing showcase.

What a day.

We had to be at the ballroom at 8 a.m. and the showcase was scheduled for ten solid hours. I couldn't imagine what could possible take that long until I got there and experienced it.

The wife had signed up for ten dances and to me that seemed like a lot. In my naivete I pictured the wife and her dance instructor on the floor, with maybe two or at the most three other couples, doing a full, choreographed dance number in front of a panel of attentive judges while an audience looked on in appreciative silence.

In reality it was more like a madhouse. First of all, there must have been about 200-250 people in that room and it was organized like a wedding reception. Everybody was packed into a jumble of tables surrounding a big dance floor while the MC, the DJ and the panelists were seated at a long head table.

When the first dance was called about 25 couples mobbed the dance floor. How in the hell, I thought, were all of these people going to do a routine? The answer was; they didn't. When the music began they all just started to improvise. Within the prescribed style, of course. It was 50 people all trying to foxtrot around one another in a big, elbow bumping, toe-stepping, jostling maelstrom. It was actually pretty fun to watch.

But the most unusual part of the event was the cheering. There were eight or nine schools from the greater Chicagoland area represented, and the members of each school who weren't dancing were cheering on the members who were. And loudly, too. At times it was hard to hear the music over, "Go, Donna! Woo hoo! You go, girl! Shake it!" And other such exuberances.

And then, about 60 seconds into the melee, I was surprised again when the music faded and the MC called out, "Thank you dancers. Dancers for heat 2 to the dance floor."

There was a brief shuffle of people as new dancers took the floor and a few seconds later the MC announced, "Heat 2, your dance is the tango. Music please." And it started over again. Just that fast.

I turned to one of the participants sitting at my table and asked, "How many 'heats' are there today?"

She glanced at her program and said, "250."

No wonder they were planning a ten hour day.

"And how many dances are you participating in?" I asked again.

She ran a finger down her dance sheet and said, "Oh, about 35."

Suddenly the wife's ten measly, little dances sprinkled throughout a ten hour day seemed naive, timid even. But then, she was paying per dance. Ten heats was probably a car payment. I could only imagine the fortune this woman was shelling out.

So I turned to the wife who was sitting on the other side of me and asked, "When is your first dance?"

She looked at her sheet and said, "Heat 57."

It was going to be a long day.

When the wife finally got up to do her first dance, around ten in the morning, I could tell she was pretty nervous. I took her tablet and followed her and her instructor to the dance floor to record the event. But she didn't have much to worry about.

With the jumble of people cavorting around the dance floor I could barely keep track of her with the camera. And when I took a half a moment to observe the judges sitting at the head table I noticed that almost all of them had their heads down marking on pieces of paper, or texting on their cell phones, or reading comic books, or whatever they were doing. What they weren't doing was watching the dancers. I doubt any one of them was going to be able to single the wife out of that swirling kaleidoscope for particular criticism (or praise for that matter).

In my opinion she didn't need their evaluation. Not that I am an expert, but from what I could tell she was doing just as well with her two months of experience as other dancers with a year in or more.

And so the hours trickled on. One of the advantages of having so much time in between dances is that we had several opportunities to leave the ballroom and wander over to the hotel bar on the other side of the building, which was a needed distraction with all the screaming going on in there, believe me. At one point we even left our hotel to discover that we were only a few blocks down the street from the Trump hotel. It didn't take much encouragement to talk me into walking over there and checking out THEIR bar, which was a little adventure in itself. But I'll save that story for another time.

After the showcase was finally over there was a cocktail hour, and then a dinner, and then a floor show by some of the professional judges and instructors. By the time we limped out of there it was over a thirteen hour day. My head was pounding and my feet were killing me, and I had spent most of the day sitting at the table. The wife, on the other hand, was ecstatic. She can't wait to get her evaluations later this week, for whatever they're worth.

Personally I'm glad she got so much out of it. The problem is that she is already planning on attending the next showcase in December.

Laugh it up,

Joe

joe@gophercentral.com

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*-------------- Guaranteed to Roll Your Eyes --------------*

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