TRAVEL HERE – SHALL WE DANCE?
Well, my bestie’s big weekend arrived, The Texas Lone Star Ball. Some time in the Fall she had gotten a new dance partner and I’ve been sharing her with him on weekends as they took lessons and practiced.
Around the first of the year, Deborah asked if I’d be available to go with her to their first competition in mid-March. I love any excuse to hang with my bestie and I try to see her dance any time I can, but I’d never seen behind the curtain at a competition, so sure, I was ready to check it out.
Friday, she picked me up around two and we headed off to the Galleria Westin. We checked in, took our luggage to the room and unpacked for the weekend. Then we hit the mall. Now, we are big shoppers, that’s for sure, but we weren’t casually checking the sales. We were on a mission. Deb needed pantyhose – not the big box store variety with reinforced panty, but sheer toe-to-waist pair.
See, while Dancing with the Stars competitors just come out with as little in the way of clothes as possible, in real competitions, each style of dance has a mode of dress. Deb would be dancing both Smooth and Latin numbers. Her smooth ensemble was complete, but she needed the panty hose for Latin. The ladies are supposed to wear fish net hose for Latin and apparently that’s a very uncomfortable prospect if you don’t have a regular pair on hose on underneath and in Latin, you also have open toed shoes and a very, very short skirt.
So, we hit Macy’s first and they recommended WalMart. Knowing WalMart didn’t have what Deb needed, we tried Nordstrom’s instead. Back in the day, the hosiery department was part of accessories and held pride of place on the first floor of any department store. A wide variety of brands in rows of self serve counters vied for your attention with promises of sleekness, durability and style.
Heck, I can remember when there was no self-serve. You walked up to a counter and discussed your hosiery needs with salesclerk which would then pull out selections for you to choose from. The your selection would be put in a thin box with tissue and sometimes a ribbon. I miss those days.
At Nordstrom’s we discovered hosiery had been demoted to the second floor and resided in one lonely fixture with very limited choices, but that put them lightyears ahead of Macy’s, who thought you could only get pantyhose at the big box stores.
That done we had one more small task. Though I’d been talking to Bill for days about the dance competition, he waited until thirty minutes before my departure to freak out about my absence, which resulted in me forgetting to put in a dress-up outfit for the Gala Dinner. Deb wasn’t even sure how dressed up they would get, but if everyone else was decked out, I didn’t want to be sitting there in the jeans and sweater set I’d be wearing the rest of the day.
I hit a store called Image, which had throw away fashion on the cheap, where a found a black swing jacket with silver glitter woven into it. At Lovisa I found a cheap rhinestone necklace to dress up the turtle neck sweater I’d wear under it. I was gala ready!
Dinner at Oceanaire
While Deb’s been dancing in competitions for a number of years, she’s always done it on the cheap, skipping the money eaters like Gala Dinners and expensive restaurants, but her new partner goes first class. So, she decided to go all in this time and I had the privilege of going with her. That meant dinner at Oceanaire with her partner and his teacher.
The prices on the menu were not the denominations Deb and I usually see. Sure, we’ll splurge on something like a birthday dinner, but Oceanaire was expensive, no two ways about it. There’s two ways to go about a meal like that. You can go in budget first, eat a Caesar salad and be practical. Or you can dive in with both feet and break the bank. Deb and I went for the latter.
We started with escargot, had the Seafood Mixed Grill for our entrée and finished off with cheesecake. Each and every bite was out of this world, but we ate so many bites that when we finished we felt like balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. After dinner, Deborah and Aimee (the dance instructor) went up to the room to try out hairstyles. I read for awhile, giving them a thumbs-up now and then, but eventually fell asleep. I woke up at mid-night, had to get ready for bed and then go back to sleep.
Why I Will Never Dance in Competition!
The alarm went off at 4 AM. Deb needed to be on the floor rehearsing at seven and she had a lot to do before then. Stage make-up is the first hurdle. A little lipstick and mascara will not do on the dance floor. Then there are all the things that go on before you put on your gown – this kind of hosiery, that kind of undergarment, etc. and so on. Then getting on the gown is like suiting up for a joust.
At that point, Aimee came in to go after the hair, which had been in hot rollers while the rest of the activity was going on. This is a big deal. Hair can’t just be fluffed up, it also has to be anchored into place so that it won’t fall as Deb makes her way around the floor. Apparently, there are hair pros who start styling even earlier than Deb and I woke up, but Deb doesn’t feel as if she’s in that league yet and she also doesn’t want to spend the money. They ended up with something which looked very 40’s starlet and I doubt a pro could have done any better.
After the hair was glued into place with copious amounts of hairspray, it was time to add the jewelry. The jewelry we’d selected for her smooth performances, a shimmering full length gown in in gunmetal gray decked out with pearls and crystals, was long dangling clear rhinestones earrings and a clear rhinestone necklace. The piece d’resistance was her bright red elbow length gloves which matched her bright red lipstick.
Meanwhile, I fell into a pair of jeans, a pair of sweaters and a pair of boots I’d brought to battle the extreme cold of the ballroom. I put on some makeup, but my hair was a total loss. That was OK, with peacocks like Deborah running around, no one was going to pay any attention to me anyway!
A Day of Dancing
At 7AM Deb and Richard, her partner, were on the floor to warm up. I was in charge of keeping up with the dance heats and videoing their performances. It’s more difficult than you might think. From 7:30 AM on into the evening, every 90 seconds there’s a new group marching out on the floor for their heat. Deb and Richard had 24 performances and then Richard has his pro had at least that many more.
Though Deb has explained how the heats work and how they score it doesn’t quite click with me. Some points are awarded for just showing up to dance and for the number of heats that you dance. When you are out on the floor, multiple judges are looking at multiple levels of competition. So, even though everyone may be dancing a Paso Dobles or a Viennese Waltz, there will be various age groups and categories of the dance competing at the same time. You and your partner may be the only Intermediate Silver in the Senior Amateur competition and you may end up with first place, but it was actually the only place.
You can usually tell some of this, like who’s dancing with a pro and whose dancing with an amateur, by the number the man wears on his back, but then there are amateurs like Richard, who dance with both and who dances in everything from Intermediate Silver to Full Gold levels. Yes, it’s confusing.
The morning was given over to smooth dances waltz, foxtrot, tango and Viennese waltz. Then while the country dancers took over the floor, Deb ran upstairs and put on her Latin outfit, changing everything from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. I have to confess, I thought the second half of the day was more fun – salsa, samba, paso dobles, bolero, even the hustle! Though I would have loved to get on the floor and rock out a bit, one look at the precise costumed dancers on the floor kept me permanently bolted to my chair, but I might have chair-danced a little.
By the end of the day, all the sambas and rumbas ran together and I did good to keep from falling asleep. The judges changed out every hour. I was glued to the table announcing heats and taking photos. I love DEb, but I was done.
Wrapping It Up
The Gala Buffet didn’t have much pizazz to it. I could have saved myself a few dollars, but we didn’t know that. After the buffet, the dancers went in to participate in the awards ceremony and see more dancing. I went to bed. I didn’t go to sleep until later, but I read while I reveled in the quiet of our hotel room, hoping the ringing in my ears would go away some day.
The next morning we got packed up and met for breakfast there in the hotel. After that we loaded up the car and headed home. I was glad to get there. I had a quiet day at the scrapbooking table and finished up my 2022 everyday album. I am now officially caught up.
Come back next week, Deb and I will be attending the Bubbles and Bunco Brunch to benefit Lone Star CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) – a fun party with bottomless mimosas and a great cause. All the other usual things will be happening, too. So, stay in touch.