A n00b’s Guide to…Going to Watch a Ballroom Competition
OK, FIRST THINGS FIRSTIT’S GOOD TO HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT COMPETITORS ARE ACTUALLYTRYING TO ACCOMPLISH WHEN THEY COMPETELIKE, WHAT DOES COMPETETIVE BALLROOM EVEN ENTAIL?SO, THE FIRST TOPIC THEN:HOW DOES “COMPETING” INBALLROOM EVEN WORK?
If You Ask Most People What Comes To Mind…• So, I guess most people would assume that a ballroom comp might go something like this: – Each couple picks a song, and choreographs a dance number to it – When they’re “up,” they go to the floor and perform their dance to their song – And then judges score that performance – The best score wins
You know, like on Dancing With the Stars!Or that Silver Lining…um, Bi-polar DancingGuyMovie.(aw, maaaan…no pictures of that messed-up lift they…“did”? The internets havefailed me – you’ll have to go watch the movie to see it, I guess)
But, that’s not how it actually works• First of all, (except for one particular division*) you don’t get the floor to yourself when you’re competing• You dance “against” your competition, at the same time, to the same song.*It’s usually called the “cabaret” division, if you care…and if you do, you’re the only person at thecomp who does (other than the four total people competing in that division), I can promise you.
Oh, and also:• You don’t get to know the music ahead of time – You do know ahead of time what dance you’re doing, though. (…so, if you know you’re dancing a Tango, then you at least know that whatever they play will be something you can dance Tango to.)
…AND THAT’S BASICALLY HOW “COMPETING” IN BALLROM GENERALLYWORKSNOT TOO COMPLICATED RIGHT?SO, NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW THE COMPETITION WORKS…HOW TO UNDERSTAND WTF ISGOING ON AT A BALLROOM COMP:
Ballroom Competitions move pretty quickly – There are a ton of people signed up to dance, and the organizers have to get to all of them quickly enough… – …to make sure there’s still time at the end of the night for all the professionals to get wasted at the Pros-only after party in Suite 1605It can sometimes be a bit hard to follow what’s going on…
I Find It Helps to Think of It Like You’re Going to Watch a… Track & Field Meet – So, you’ve got a bunch of different “events” happening: – Each broken into “heats” so that everyone gets a chance to compete over the course of the day – It’s a similar setup at a Ballroom Competition…
The Ballroom Comp Version of “Events”• The “events” are a combination of 1. The dance you’re doing (waltz, rumba, tango, etc.) 2. The skill-level you’re competing at: – Bronze (Beginner/Beg-Int Level) – Silver (Intermediate Level) – Gold (Int-Adv) – Open (Advanced)• For example: I’m competing at the bronze-level, and one of the dances I’m doing is Waltz.• So, “Bronze Waltz” would be one of my “events” for the day.
The Ballroom Comp Version of “Heats”• …actually, uh, they’re also just called “heats.”• And they work pretty much the same way as they would at a track meet: – They break up an event where more people are registered than can dance on the floor at once• The Bronze-level dances typically have the most entrants, so there will be a sh*t-ton of bronze heats over the course of the day
There are also Multi-dance Events• Think of these like the dance-version of a pentathlon/decathlon• For ballroom, multi-dance events are set up by dance-category…
Multi-Dance Event Categories• There are four general categories for multi- dance events: o Rhythm o Smooth o Latin o Standard Rhythm & Latin categories are the Rhythm & Smooth are the “Latin” dances: Rumba, Cha-cha, “American Style” of their respective Mambo, and Samba – to name a few dances Smooth & Standard categories are the Latin & Standard are the “ballroom” dances: Waltz, Tango, “International Style” of their Foxtrot, Viennese-waltz, and Quickstep respective dances• Or, if you prefer an “aaargh!! less words!” explanation of each one…
Try This Handy Little Matrix “Latin” “Ballroom” Dances Dances American Style Rhythm Category Smooth Category International Latin Category Standard Category Style• I’ll be competing in the Smooth category for the multi-dance events …so, that’s “American” style “Ballroom” dances
AND, THAT’S BASICALLY HOW COMPETITIONS WORKSO, THINK: TRACK-MEET BUT WITH DANCING INSTEAD OF RUNNING,JUMPING & THROWINGYAH?OK, NOW HERE’S SOME PRACTICAL TIPSON GOING TO WATCH ONE OF THESETHINGS:
1) Buy a Program!• And I’m stressing the singular here: don’t buy one for every person if you’re with a group …unless you thought that, back in college, when you had to shell out money for a course-pack (not a textbook) it WASN’T a scam. Then, by all means, buy away. Oooh, nice binding on that, professor. They charge you an extra $0.50/book for that at Staples? Point is, you only need one for the group, you won’t need individual copies
You Do Need One, Though…• There are going to be HUNDREDS of heats throughout the day, you are guaranteed to lose track at some point No joke, I’ve had my parents come to a comp before, and when I’d finished and went over to see them, they said: “So, when are you dancing?” It can be easy to get lost if Is this heat 104? 257? Ghaa! They all look the SAME!! you don’t have a guide.
How The Program Helps• All of the heats are numbered in the program – Before each heat starts, the event’s MC will announce it’s heat-number• After a while, you’ll get a sense for how long a “heat” lasts (hint: not very long)• From there, you can roughly figure out how long there is to go until a heat you want to watch is coming up
2) Arrive With a ~1-hour Buffer• In the days leading up to the comp, I’ll be able to give a pretty specific time for when I’m dancing (like, within a 15-minute- …but time tends to move differently or-so interval) inside a ballroom competition (it’s Science, don’t question it)• Comps sometimes run late, but often they can run up to 1 hour ahead of schedule• There’s no way to know until day-of, so the safe thing is to just show up a little earlier than I’m “supposed” to be dancing
3) Bring a Light Jacket • Whoever it is that’s in-charge of temperature control at every-ballroom-comp-ever just LOVES using the A/C. I took a picture of two people dancing at a ballroom competition once, and the shot included part of the crowd as well. This is how the photo came out*. I know, weird right?*disclaimer: that didn’t’ actually happen, I’m just an idiot. But it is hella-cold in the ballroom. (p.s. did I do the hella part right? I’m still new at that.)
4) Don’t Sweat “Table Assignments”• Theoretically, when you buy a spectator ticket, they’re supposed to be linked to a particular table around the dance floor – Like if you were going to a dinner-theater…um, thing• But it never actually works out that way.• You can pretty much sit wherever there’s room* What the organizers have in mind The reality of the seating arrangements (*Note: Except maybe for Friday/Saturday Night Sessions, but that’s not when I’ll be dancing)
5) Dress Code…ish (I guess)• I’m dancing during the day session, and honestly you can pretty much wear whatever you want to that. – Well, OK. Not ANYTHING. But, anything you would normally wear to a place where other people will be, and will see youIf I were dancing in the evening session, however, dress forspectators would be semi-formal. In case you’re interested.
6) Please DO Cheer & Yell Like Retards When I Dance• There’s not always a lot of that going on at Ballroom Competitions – But that’s mostly because people are lame, or have lame friends. – Not because it’s particularly wrong to do.
SO, YEAH. THAT’S ABOUT ALL YOU SHOULD NEED TO KNOW.EITHER THAT, OR I’M FORGETTING ALL OF THE IMPORTANT STUFF.BUT ONE OF THOSE, DEFINITELY, THOUGH.SEE YA NEXT SATURDAY! - Mike out