So over the past few months, my recent participation in my University’s Ballroom and Latin dance society has taken over my life. I’ve been to 6/7 competitions, practised for at least 2 hours every other day, and fallen absolutely head over heels in love with it.
Last weekend marked my final competition. We’d done pretty well in the competitions before – coming third in Jive in our first ever comp, and 3rd in Waltz at the beginning of February. However, considering the amount of practise my partner and I both put in, neither of us were completely happy with how we’d done.
This competition was the big one. The National competition, with nearly 200 couples in the beginners section alone. I at least was starting to worry that we wouldn’t do too well – in fact, we both agreed that if we could manage to get into the Quarter finals – so the top 24 out of about 180 couples – in ballroom, we’d be happy. We didn’t expect much of Latin at all, because our success rate there is strangely sporadic.
So we travelled all the 6 hours on the coach to Blackpool, home of ballroom dancing, with the entire society, and prepared for one of the biggest competitions of our lives. I always get ridiculously nervous the morning before competitions, and I was trying to ignore the slightly nauseous feeling in my stomach as we stood up for our first Waltz.
I screwed up massively. I was so nervous that I messed up the timing and became stiff. I was worried we wouldn’t get through the round, having seen the level of competition. However, we were called up again, and again in the Quickstep, and again and again until, barely having realised what was going on, we actually danced in the Quarter finals for both Waltz and Quickstep! We’d actually made our goal!
They started calling out the numbers for the Waltz Semi-final, and when ours wasn’t called, we assumed that was it, but still were pleased with out progress.
But then. Semi-final Quickstep time. Our number was called. Now, I’m not the kind of girl who shrieks a lot, but I did when I heard that, and my partner had to drag me onto the dance floor because I was in such shock. I came off shaking, deliriously happy, claiming that if we went out in the first rounds of Latin, I would still be delighted with how we’d done. I hadn’t even considered getting into the final: it just wasn’t something that could happen to us!
But it did. We were called up once more, and this time I felt tears prickling my eyes as I walked up. Standing waiting for the music to start was exhilarating and terrifying, and I was making a strange shriek/whimper sound which I couldn’t control. I think my partner thought I was having a nervous breakdown.
At the end of the evening, it was revealed that out of 180 beginners couples, we came 4th in Quickstep. In the country.
But that’s not all because in Latin, even though we hadn’t expected much, we ended up Semi-finalling in Cha – much to my shock and, admittedly, horror. I always hated Cha! I won’t deny that there was more shrieking as our number was called up again and again and, although we didn’t final, we were one point off, putting us in 7th place in the country!
So out of 180 couples, we came 34th in Jive, 15th in Waltz, 7th in Cha and 4th in Quickstep!
I only started six months ago, and I can’t believe how much I’ve come to love ballroom dancing. I go to bed with the steps going round my head, I’ve spent countless hours in the dance studio practising, my feet have permanent blisters from my shoes (for four months now), and when I’m not dancing I want to be dancing. That was my last competition, as I won’t be at Uni next year, and I’m going to miss it so much, and yet I’m so grateful that we went out on a high. It was honestly the best weekend I’ve had in many, many years, and I feel honoured to have competed with (*and beaten*) so many fabulous dancers.