Editorial: Like many people, Laura took dance classes when she was young only to give them up during her teenage years. Fortunately for us (and her) she rediscovered her love of the sport last year and came along to Wright Rhythm with her Mum and younger brother (One of a number of familes who dance at the school). Since then she has become an integral part of the school, dancing on the Supadance team and regularly partnering at all levels. She also qualified for the IDTA Nationwide Latin finals, so last week she competed for the first time at the imposing venue of Blackpool's Winter Gardens. Now she has written an account of her experience...
Published Monday April 07 2008, by Laura Klysz
Friday 4th April
After a restless night worrying about routines, I woke up and looked in the mirror to see an orange monster, but the fake tan still wasn’t dark enough. So once again I applied the orangey/brownish liquid and walked like a zombie until it had dried. I did some last minute packing, checked I had my costumes and got in the car for the 5 hour drive to Blackpool. Along the way I ventured into a service station and received some very strange looks. Not only do I look like I’ve rolled on a red clay tennis court, run through an army’s muddy obstacle course, I also have the longest false nails ever. I am truly embracing the Essex Girl in me; all I need now is some peroxide and white heels. Oh and of course a designer bag to match!
In the car I listen to my music tracing my steps through each routine, with various hand gestures as I do so trying to take into account all the advice given over the past 6 months. I can hear the teacher’s voices in my head saying “use your centre, stay grounded, performance not exhibition, keep your shoulders in line”. If I can get it right in my head, I’m half way there. I want this so badly but who knows what will happen on the day. I have so many people wishing me the best of luck, I want to do well for them as well as for myself. Fingers crossed!
4 hours in the car and I can see a sign for Preston, Blackpool is almost in my sights. Oh crumbs, there go the wings of one hundred butterflies.
We arrive at the hotel where I’m amongst fellow dancers who also look like they’ve been “tango’d”. Everyone seems quite subdued and you can see the anticipation across their faces. Good Luck cards and presents are handed out between the school with emotions hanging on a thread. More tan is applied before going to bed. Tomorrow is the big day and the start of good things to come.
Saturday 5th April
My sheets are orange! Oh dear, the cleaning staff at the hotel are going to love me. Lots of detergent on a 100 degree wash should do the trick!
The juveniles and juniors are competing first this morning but the adults aren’t until later in the afternoon, so I have some time to kill. I explore what Blackpool has to offer and as I walk along the pier fighting against the strong wind that brings a chill to my bones I can’t help but look at my watch and wonder how everyone’s getting on. It’s a great excuse to whimp out of the rollercoasters and head back to the ballroom to show my support and help calm some nerves.
As I walk into the ballroom I’m overwhelmed by the glitz and glamour of it all and my stomach somersaults with excitement. The dancefloor is huge, the balcony’s go on and on, the lights are bright and the stage is lined with trophies. Wow, I can’t wait to get out there and perform to the crowd.
The youngsters have done brilliantly, achieving several places in their Latin finals. Can the adults do as well in their ballroom and meet the bar which has been significantly raised?
Yes they can. The waltz’ and foxtrots were danced with elegance and grace, the tangos with intense passion and the quicksteps with energy and flair. The school is having a great day, let’s hope the same success can be replicated tomorrow.
Sunday 6th April
Today’s the day when I compete in the adult Latin 16-24yr category. There seems to be a thousand butterflies in my stomach now. I close my eyes and take some deep breaths but now my imagination has taken over and I’m running frantically in a butterfly enclosure, the vibrant colours send me into a spin. I open my eyes and there’s not a butterfly to be seen, just the hideous floral pattern of the hotel’s curtains. I kick into auto pilot by scraping back my hair into a bun and apply some heavy make up.
Charlie (my brother of 10yrs) is dancing first. He’s not phased by the intensity of this competition and walks onto the dancefloor head held high presenting his partner with professionalism. He dances brilliantly and when he reaches the final tears start to well up in my eyes, I’m choked and so very proud of him. I think we might have a champion in the making.
Right, I’m ready, or am I? Yes I am, I can do this! I start to warm up and have a few general dances on the crowded floor. I get called over and told to take off my fishnet tights. Yes, I hate wearing them and can’t wait to get them off. But…there’s a queue for the toilets and no other private place to whip them off in time before my first round. So with the help of some mums we take a pair of scissors to them :o)
Ok, now I’m ready, but I feel sick and can’t face eating much to give myself some much needed energy. Thank god for energy drinks induced with scrupulous amounts of sugar.
It’s show time! Cha Cha and Paso Doble are my first dances. Nerves get the better of me and my Cha Cha isn’t as quick or sharp as I would have liked but I can’t be too hard on myself I’m dancing with an injury and it’s my first National competition at Blackpool. Pull yourself together, Paso is next. I really enjoy myself in this dance and feel I danced it well. Let’s hope I did enough to get a call back for the next round.
My number is called and I can’t quite believe it. My confidence is boosted and we have a Rumba and Samba – my favourite dances. During the Rumba I get someone else’s heel scraped down the edge of my bad leg – Ouch! I keep going and perform as if nothing happened. The music for the Samba starts and I’m transported to a carnival in South America. I love this dance! It’s all over so quickly, you only have a few minutes to show what you can do in your well rehearsed routines, but it doesn’t always go to plan. As soon as I’m off the floor I let my face show the pain that is now throbbing across my quadricep. Ice and Deep Freeze spray is applied to help numb the pain. This is not going to get the better of me, I want to get out there again!
My number is called to dance in the quarter finals. I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. My dances are the Cha Cha and, "Oh no!", the Jive. I get through the Cha Cha ok, but my leg wont hold out for the Jive. I try my hardest to keep smiling, kicking and flicking as much as I can. I get through the round but can’t help but feel a little disappointed that I couldn’t do my best. On the other hand I’ve performed all five dances and exceeded my expectations. It’s time for the semi finals and my number isn’t called. I had my fingers crossed and was hoping to give it another go but it wasn’t meant to be. I cheer and support my fellow dancers in the semis and finals and can’t wait for the post-competition celebrations that are yet to come that evening.
Back at our hotel, there’s a private party for all at Wright Rhythm. Although the dancers are tired and emotionally drained the spirit is still high and the dancing doesn’t stop as they take to the disco floor to cut some shapes to some 80s favourites and some other pop classics.
What a great weekend. I can’t wait for next year.
Before I sign off, I’d like to say a big thank you to Gilli, Paula and Mark and to everyone that’s made me feel welcome and part of the Wright Rhythm family.
Lots of love to you all, you’re all champions in my eyes.