Considering a Return to the Dance Floor

June 23, 2009 at 11:30 PM (Dance, Happenings, Musings) (, , )

This weekend, I managed to escape my part-time job briefly to catch some of my friends compete at the Yankee Classic, held at the Boston Marriott Cambridge.  As some of you may recall, I used to enjoy competing myself not too long ago, but I had to take an indefinite hiatus from dancing in order to focus on more pressing matters . . . such as as graduating.  Obviously I would have loved to have stuck with the dancing, but I’ve been surviving well enough without it.  While I was excited about seeing my friends dance again, once I arrived at the competition, I was reminded of all the things I didn’t miss: fake tanning, expensive entry fees, pre-comp stress, hordes of ill-behaved children, and other less delightful aspects.  For most of Friday night, I was firmly convinced that I would never get into competitive dancing again.  Yes, I miss dancing, and I’ve been making more appearances at social venues, such as Ryles Jazz Club, Balera School of Ballroom Dance (my fantastic dance studio), and, once this rain lets up, Spice Bokx at Hotel Indigo on Monday nights.  I really haven’t been experiencing any competition longings.

That is, until late Friday night, or perhaps on Saturday night.  Seeing all of my friends celebrating their competitive and performance victories left me feeling slightly left out, and many of my acquaintances from the dance realm asked me when I would be returning to the competition circle.  I wasn’t planning on it, but I do miss wearing those pretty dresses . . .

So, here it goes: gentlemen, if you are a Standard dancer over 5’7″, and would be interested in practising and maybe competing Amateur, shoot me a message.

I’m not expecting anything any time soon, but I’ll keep you all posted.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Love of My Life,” Santana Feat. Dave Matthews
“Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Simple Minds
“Lady (Club Mix),” Modjo
“Say It Right,” Nelly Furtado
“Lebanese Blonde,” Thievery Corporation

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Eastern Aftermath

February 24, 2009 at 9:40 PM (Dance, Goals, Happenings) (, , , , )

As you may recall, I had a competition this weekend.  For me, a competition typically entails a week of tanning, three (or more) weeks of stress, and months of practise.  This time I just opted for the week of tanning.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t a premeditated decision.

Johnny and I decided to dance on Tuesday.  Our events were on Friday.  Frankly, I didn’t have time to stress, and you can imagine that we didn’t squeeze months of practise into three days.  Given the circumstances, though, I can’t complain too much about our results.  I won’t get into specifics, but I will say that I managed to bring a few blue ribbons home, and that my video from the event didn’t totally nauseate me.  The weekend was successful and fun, but that’s not to say that I’m satisfied with my dancing.  Nope, not by a long shot.  I’ll be competing with Johnny later this year (either Tri-State in March or Yankee in June), and percentages of blue ribbons I acquire aside, I have a lot to do before then.

Overall, Balera had a great weekend.  In Pro-Am, Russell’s students took first in Bronze Standard and Silver Rhythm, Vivian’s students took first in Silver Rhythm, and of course Johnny and I had sported some blue ribbons in the Silver Standard category.  In the amateur ranks, Balera occupied three fifths of the Open Rhythm final, earning second, third and fourth positions.

Today’s Tunes
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” Seal
“Shadows,” Blue Man Group
“Brown Derby Jump,” Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
“Cream,” Prince
“Politik,” Coldplay
“Can I Tico Tico You,” Lou Bega

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The Joys of Tanning

February 18, 2009 at 9:11 PM (Dance) (, , , , , , , , , )

I stand before my computer in the second most uncomfortable state I know, the first being physically injured or ill: waiting for my tanner to dry.  Although not painful, it is incredibly awkward and, frankly, pretty vile.  It’s sticky, smelly, dries out the skin, and stains clothes.  And, all too often does it turn out orange, as opposed to toasty brown.

So why, do you wonder, do I waste my time, money and pride on this rubbish?  Because, in this case, it’s better than the alternative: showcasing day-glo white legs (and other body parts) and blinding both spectators and officials, alike.  I wish I was exaggerating, but unfortunately, I am that pale.  As some of my coaches have put it, if I’m going to put the money into the lessons, the dresses, the shoes, and the competition, I had better complete the look with the “healthy tan,” the perfect hair, flawless makeup, and manicured nails.  See the pretty lady on the right?  I’m supposed to get that colour.

Having a family history of skin cancer, I avoid the tanning beds.  Although a good spray tan can get the job done, it’s expensive, and when I need to decide between getting an easy comp tan or eating for a few days, I typically go with the latter.  That leaves me with the goo in a bottle.  Although drugstore products are fairly reasonably priced, they aren’t manufactured with the performing arts in mind (and often result in an attractive orange tint), so I visit sketchy online vendors with outdated security certificates and buy special goo.  So far, I’ve found success with a combination of three products.

I’ll begin the near week-long process with Super Braun Classic Self Tanning Liquid, which, until recently, had been discontinued (I just checked danceshopper.com, and suddenly it’s available for purchase again.  Yay!).  As close to daily as possible, I apply some of the tanner to a sponge (also available on danceshopper for $3.95 plus tax and shipping) – this stuff has a consistency only marginally thicker than water, so application by hand is out of the question – then apply it to my skin shortly after showering.  Super Braun is a translucent liquid that takes forever to dry, murders my skin and smells like toxic waste – though I’ve grown accustomed to it – but offers a pretty dark colour in only a few coats.  In addition, there is bronzer in the solution, which serves as a great guideline when tanning.  I rarely miss a spot.  Danceshopper sells 150mL for $29.95 plus tax and shipping.

The night before a competition, and occasionally the morning of, I’ll also use Pro Tan Instant Competition Color.  I’ve never actually bought it.  Instead, I’ve managed to scavenged half-used bottles from friends who have no longer needed it.  However, it’s available on bodybuilding.com in two bottles: 4 fl. Oz. for $10.20 plus shipping, or 8.5 fl. Oz. for $17.40 plus shipping.  Another watery tanner, Pro Tan comes with its own cute little brush for application.  It’s a cheap quality, though, so I’ll stick to using my own sponge.  Although Pro Tan provides instant dark colour, especially when applied over preexisting colour, most of it washes off in the shower.  With that in mind, I only use it the night before and/ or morning of a comp after showering to keep as much of the colour as possible.  Pro Tan also smells disgusting, and unfortunately, rubs off all too easily on costumes and clothes when I don’t wash off the “excess” colour.  Luckily, however, I don’t think it stains clothes too much.

The most recent addition to my tanning repertoire is a product of Spray Tanning by Aero Tan, SexSymbol.  This product is a recent fad among both amateur and professional ballroom dancers, and I have to admit, the colour is the most non-orange I’ve ancountered so far.  The smell isn’t atrocious, either.  I buy my Aero Tan from Brian Bercury, a friend of mine, student at Balera, and owner of Take the Lead Dancewear.  A 5.3-Oz. can sells for $22.00 plus tax and shipping.  I spray this product directly onto my skin and rub it on the morning of a competition (in lieu of the morning coat of Pro Tan).  It washes off, and gets all over clothes, but as far as I’ve found (I’ve only used it a couple times, so far), it washes out alright.  Some dancers will only tan with this product, but I have tried applying it to my untanned skin and didn’t get an impressive result, so I’ll only use it if I already have some colour.

I do use a few other products, depending on what what I’ve finished off and what-not.  Last summer, I stocked up on MAC’s Skinsheen Leg Spray in “deep dark.”  It’s advertised as a bronzing spray for legs, but I’ll use it everywhere, save my face, for competitions.  Like Sexsymbol, I can only use it on top of a preexisting layer of tanner and only on that day, since it washes out (although not as easily as SexSymbol, I’ve found).  It almost has a mousse-y, creamy consistency, and I also apply it directly to my skin.  Like Aero Tan, as far as tanning products go, it doesn’t smell half bad.  I hope MAC brings it back for summer 2009.

When I don’t have Super Braun onhand, I’ll substitute Flash Tan, which, like Super Braun, is available through danceshopper.com.  A 125mL bottle costs $24.95, plus tax and shipping.  I’m actually not a big fan of Flash Tan.  It’s not nearly as effective as Super Braun, and although it is a lotion and doesn’t dry out my skin as much (or smell as awful, for that matter), it contains no bronzer, so it’s tricky for me to apply even coats.  Streaky legs are a common result of this product.  I’m actually working down my inventory (only one bottle left!) and planning on finding another tanner.

In between tanning coats, I try to moisturise with my Victoria’s Secret’s Ultra-Softening Body Butter from the Secret Garden Collection.  Vickie’s sells 7-Oz. tubs for $10.00 plus tax and shipping (or 3 for $24.00 plus tax and shipping, or 5 for $30.00 plus tax and shipping).  I wouldn’t have bothered trying this product, but while I worked at Victoria’s Secret (which I hated, by the way), I received a complimentary container in order to provide customers with personal testimony.  I grabbed the pear glace, since the smell was the least offensive of the bunch (I can’t stand lovespell, and can’t understand why it’s the most popular scent in the Secret Garden collection).  As it turns out, I actually like using it, and it does reduce the dry skin syndrome.  I guess Vickie’s got the personal testimony it wanted.

And on that note, my tanner has just about dried.  I’m off to more productive activities!

Today’s Tunes
“Tomorrow Is Such a Long Time,” Rod Stewart
“The Alcohol Diary,” Keepsake
“The More I See You,” Michael Bublé
“Hallelujah,” Rufus Wainwright
“Burn Baby Burn,” Ash
“Piggies,” The Beatles
“He Hates Me,” Sarah Johns
“A Distant Episode,” Till Brönner
“When the Bells Don’t Chime (Banjo Mix),” Brian Setzer
“Let It Rock,” Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
“Wonderful Tonight,” Eric Clapton
“2 Man Show,” Timbaland feat. Elton John
“They Just Want You to Be There,” Carly Simon
“Otherside,” Red Hot Chili Peppers
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” Stevie Wonder
“Let’s Live It Up,” Brian Setzer
“Hey There Delilah,” Plain White T’s
“When You Wish Upon a Star,” Erich Kunzel; Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
“Sway,” Dean Martin
“Shout,” Tears for Fears
“Sing, Sing, Sing (RSL Remix),” Anita O’Day & RSL
“Say It Like You Mean It,” Matchbook Romance
“Goodnight Goodnight,” Maroon 5
“The Way to Your Heart,” Soulsister
“Stay,” Small Sins

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And Suddenly, I’m Competing At the Eastern

February 18, 2009 at 5:40 AM (Dance, Happenings) (, , )

Oh well, I was never one for advance planning, anyway.  This semester, I decided to take a break from competitive dancing in order to focus on my classes and job search, but I’ll still take the occasional dance class, and I attend Balera’s Friday night shindigs religiously.  I’m not totally deprived of rug-cutting.  Today, Johnny and I decided to practise for a little bit, which we haven’t really done since November.

After maybe an hour of serious work on Waltz, Johnny was ecstatic.  We were moving smoothly, traveling far, and I was shaping decently, if I do say so myself.  Eager to show me off, Johnny caught Russell’s attention: “Hey Russ, check this girl out.” ::looks at me:: “Do what you just did,” he instructed as he led me into promenade position.  No pressure, now.  I only have my two coaches who are also the studio owners scrutinising me.  Somehow I still managed to repeat the long wall with Johnny, and it was clear that he was still thrilled with me.  Admittedly, I was feeling a bit better about my dancing, but Johnny has been the most positive coach I have ever had, and I do my best not to let his praise get to my head.  Russell, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in sugar-coating.  Getting a compliment from him is about as productive as prying the ring from Smeagle’s hands (Lord of the Rings reference).  Johnny looked at his business partner with glee.  “Isn’t she great?”

“Yeah, she looks good.”  I struggled not to collapse then and there.  “So why aren’t you competing this weekend!?”

Johnny looked at me.  “Well, I dunno . . . did you want to?”

Now it was my turn to beam.  This weekend is the Eastern United States Dancesport Championships, which, as far as dance competitions go, is down the street from my apartment.  I originally hadn’t expressed an interest because of my aforementioned priorities, but that didn’t mean that I’d miss competing terribly.  The Eastern is one of four major Boston area competitions throughout the year, and one of its organisers is Billy Morganti, who you may recall from an earlier post this year about my Superbowl adventures.  This one’s possibly the largest of the four, and is the only one that actually takes place in Boston (Dancing a la Carte takes place in Chicopee in May, Yankee Classic resides in Cambridge in May, and the Commonwealth Classic is a Lowell comp in November).  If nothing else, it was frustrating to think that I’d be skipping on a local competition.  Once my head had cleared itself of competition anticipation, I had my second thought of the minute:

Oh, (expletive), now I need to tan.

(For those of you who don’t ballroom dance, tanning is a vile, yet necessary part of the preparation for competition and performance.  I won’t get into it now, but I know what I’ll be blogging about tomorrow!)

Tanning aside, I’m pretty psyched for this weekend.  I have to admit that part of the initial allure of ballroom dancing for me was to get all prettied up and to perform for an audience.  As much as I love zipping around with Johnny on Friday nights, it’s not the same as the high that accompanies a rehearsed performance.

For those of you who have any interest at spectating at the Eastern, tickets are available for purchase here (and for those of you who have any interest in watching ME dance, I’ll be competing in Silver Pro-Am Standard in the A2 division on Friday afternoon at 2.30 and 4.00 P.M. in a sparkly, flourescent red-orange gown).

Eastern United States Dancesport Championships
The tradition comes to Boston!
February 19-22, 2009
The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers
50 Park Plaza at Arlington St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 426-2000
http://www.easterndancesport.com/
dance@easterndancesport.com

Tonight’s Tunes
“The Ballad of John and Yoko,” The Beatles
“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” The Beatles
“Here (In Your Arms),” Hellogoodbye
“All of Your Love,” Hellogoodbye
“Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” Billy Joel
“She’s Always a Woman To Me,” Billy Joel
“Your Every Color,” Train
“Following Rita,” Train
“Last Beautiful Girl,” Matchbox Twenty
“Kody,” Matchbox Twenty
“Every Breath You Take,” The Police
“Murder By Numbers,” The Police
“Can’t Stop,” Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Californication,” Red Hot Chili Peppers

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