Friday, June 22, 2012

Catholic University of America Competition - Nov 1994

Catholic University of America (CUA) competition
Nov 4 - 6th 1994

Key people:
Liz Atkinson
Stephanie Behrens
Tom Gilbert
Pam Klepal
Pat Walsh
Jessica Messer
Michael Posner
Mom (Liz'z mother)

General award info (in case I forget to mention it later);
    The + is in case anybody jumped in and was not in the program
6th American Rumba - Beginner - 25+ couples
6th American Rumba - Intermediate - 15+ couples
7th American Cha   - Intermediate - 11+ couples
2nd West Coast Swing - 4+ couples
4th Hustle - 10+ couples
8th Intl Tango - Intermediate - 8+ couples
4th American Foxtrot- Beginner - 20+ couples
6th American Foxtrot -Intermediate - 10+ couples
2nd Intl Rumba - Beginner - 14+ couples
4th Intl Cha - Beginner - 15+ couples
3rd Intl Samba - Beginner - 13+ couples
6th Intl Rumba - Rookie/Vet w/ Stephanie - packed floor

CMU placed 2nd in American Team Comp
CMU placed 2nd in Intl Team Comp (3rd cha for us)

General Background info on the comp:
34 people went
Lots of newcomers
In Washington, D.C.

OKay... now that that is out of the way- lets get started... I'll just begin with the car ride. We planned on leaving around 2:30 and ended up leaving around 3. The people in the car were me,Liz, Tom, and Stephanie. See Liz and I had a conversation about a week before about who should ride in our car. Because we had already decided that Pam and Pat, and Liz and I would stay at her mom's place in Virginia. Since both Pam and Liz drove, we wanted to make sure that the people who were staying with us could be as crazy and zany as the 4 of us... so we were trying to choose our car well. We knew that Jessica (this is the jessica that was in Houston) and her partner, Mike, would go with Pat and Pam because there is an extremly strong friendship there already. Liz and I decided that we definately wanted newcomers with us just to meet and bond with more people and to hook them a little bit more. We decided on Tom and Stephanie b/c we thought that they would fit in with the rest of us the best. We were not disappointed. They fit in perfect!
    Stephanie fell asleep relatively quickly, so Tom, Liz and I talked for a while. When Stephanie woke up is when the fun and the bonding started. I'm not sure how it all started, but during the remaing course of the trip, she would pat my head or we'd make faces at each other. At one point we all ganged up on her for a tickle. And we teased Liz a little.. The start of a GREAT weekend. We went to Liz's house to drop our stuff off and relax for a littlre bit.
    We met Liz's mom who we just called Mom for the entire time and talked for a bit. Then we went to the general dancing/ mingling thing that was going on. They also put on a couple of demo's.... WOW! One of the jives had just an amazing set of aerials. Just amazing. Aerial after aerial....I'm sure that the girl had no clue where she was. The dancing was fun... nothing memorable, but just fun. I met a dancer from CUA who is also from Houston and we talked a little bit. It was here at the general dancing that we met up with the other 25 people. We got everything settled and arranged for the next day and then we (Liz's car + Pam's car) returned to Liz's. We talked for a little while and eventually ended up going to sleep at around 2:30 or so. In terms of sleeping arrangements, Pam and Pat slept together in a bed, Jessica slept in a bed b/c of her bad back. Liz and Stephanie slept on the floor upstairs, and Tom, Mike, and I slept on the floor downstairs. We thought that we didn't want to shock the newcomers so soon by having everyone sleep together. See if Liz and I slept together and Pat and Pam slept together... that kinda ment that everyone slept together. I gave Pam my watch to wake up to (kinda been tradition since Illinois) and we were to wake up at 5:30 - in order to have time to get ready and get there by 8:00
    So while the girls were putting their faces on, the guys were complaining about the lack of sleep. We had the usual competition breakfast of one or two bagels and maybe a muffin.... and we left for the comp. Mom accompanied us to cheer, take pictures, and supply food. Yeah! Go Mom! :)
    The comp was set up as follows : American Rythym, Intl Standard, lunch, American Standard, Intl Latin, dinner, Team comps, social. In each section there was newcomer, beginner,rookie/vet, intermediate, and adult. We had signed up to dance as much as possible because it gets really boring otherwise. This plan kinda backfired. See, as you know, we only learn international style. We know maybe the basic and one move in the american style dances.... we signed up for them just to dance. You dance once - get eliminated, be happy. Well we didn't get eliminated. In almost every dance American or International we made it to semifinals or finals. So we ended up dancing Beginner, Rookie/Vet, and intermediate with all the callbacks. So I think that I figured out that I competitively danced for about 9.5 - 10 hours total for the day. It was awesome.
    It was so funny, my only lesson in American rumba was a 10 minutes lesson with Mike (who has taken lots of American, but no intl) on Wed. He showed me the basic, the hand to hand, and the underarm turn. This was the first dance - that is all that we did.. the basic, hand-to-hand, and the underarm turn. We made all callbacks and got 6th in BOTH beginner and intermediate. INTERMEDIATE - where people having been dancing this thing for YEARS! I was floored - I didn't understand why until the next day at the workshops. We learned at the workshops a lot about what the judges look for. And that's where we cleaned up for the whole time.... we had the style. We had the attitude, the look, the overall prescence of good dancers. I concentrated lots on my hips and my arms on the cross overs.... Also in terms of the whole day I NEVER looked at the floor, be it in promenade or fan or any of the other times I normally do. I was always looking at Liz or the audience.
    Since we were out on the floor so much, and since we aways had a smile (I did a very good job in this deparment) we made a lot of fans. Aside from the very loud CMU cheering section, we had fans at every corner of the room. As we would circle the room in the Smooths, everyone was cheering for us as we went by. Sounds of "GO 27" filled the room.... this is not an exaggeration. Since I have a hard time in smiling in the smooths, I focused on audience members as I was dancing... this made it much easier to smile. I would always try to pinpoint who was cheering for me, but I had a really hard time finding them in the crowd. But it was so AWESOME!!!! IT gives you so much energy and makes your dancing so much better when you have fans.
    We started off a little poorly in Intl Smooth, but I fixed that after about 5 dances... I was having a problem keeping my frame.... I was trying to avoid traffic more with my left hand than with my right. Oh and traffic was definately a BIG problem. The floor was rather small - about 2-3 waltz turns long and 1 waltz turn wide. That with 20+ people.... quite a challenge.
    I think what also helped get us some fans was the West Coast. There were only 4 or 5 couples out there. And according to my teammates, we should have taken first. I also believe that we were the best looking couple out there. I'll come back to this when I talk about Sun... b/c I found out why we didn't get first.
    But here is the most interesting part..... I don't know if you've gathered this or not, but the Latin's are my favorite dances. Intl Latin was the last event of the day... We danced Beginner and Rookie/vet... but we could not bring ourselves to dance intermediate. We were just so exhausted that we couldn't do it.... and we were extremely content with that decision. I'll pause here and let the impact of that settle.....We were not ABLE to dance our favorite dances, and we were HAPPY that we didn't.
    Then we broke for dinner. We had about an hour for dinner before the team matches... this was a nightmare. We were making a trip to Wendy's and somehow ended up taking about 15 orders for food... let me reprase this - I ended up taking about 15 orders for food. Pam, Pat, Jessica, and I went to Wendy's to get food for everyone. What a nightmare. We spent about an 45 minutes there trying to get this ordered. Please note, that it took us about 1/2 hour to get all the orders and money from everyone, ten minutes to get to Wendy's.... so we were about an hour late returning.... All that we missed was the awards, which we had Liz pick up for us. (We got more energy back after eating, so that we could continue to dance) But we got back from Wendy's right as the team matches were starting. The team matches are a set of four couples who dance one dance and the total score for those 4 couples determine if your team placement. We had enough people for 4 teams. That was awesome. We mixed the teams fairly well with one person per team who could take up any slack if the others didn't know the dances. But we did have one super team composed of Me & Liz, Pat & PAm, Danny & (someone, I don't remember right now), and Andrew & Fei (Our best couple all around). Liz and I danced Am Rumba, and Intl Cha. The best thing was Pat and Pam's Jive and swing... they got so into it. They had SO much fun while they were dancing. Can we say glowing? They were just fun to watch. So we ended up getting 2nd in Americna and Intl. The funny thing is that NOONE knows American very well. And to do this against 10 other colleges (I'm not sure how many teams/ college).
    One a side note, and as a completely random thought. The towel was the best gift EVER. I used it continously. It helped SOOOOOOOOOOOO much. It saved me from being completely and totally soaked and disgustingly wet. I was damp but not drenched... the towel on the otherhand was soaked clear through. It is late Monday and it is still a little wet. It was GREAT! thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.
    Then there was a general dancing. That was so much fun. I danced with everyone from CMU who I hadn't danced with yet.... then I went to dance with people from other schools. This was the best. I went to the corners where I had heard people cheering for me. I stood there and said really loudly "Who here cheered for me?" Then when somebody acknowledge this I asked them to dance. What a GREAT line. I loved it. Also one of the newcomers on our team... named Jee Sun.... is such a great follower. We polkaed and swung together.... she is such a delight to dance with. She didn't have a clue what I was doing, but she followed it beautifully. Oh there was also a contest for who could do the best straight-legged cha. You couldn't bend your knees at all... then they made it so that you couldn't smile, and then they had the girl lead the guy. It was very amuzing
    Anyways... after the social dancing, and after we got kicked out of the ballroom for being too loud - we hung out in the parking lot for a little bit. We somehow ended up doing a 4 person Cha cha.... The way we did this was have someone on your shoulders and someone on your partners shoulders.... that was highly amuzing. Then when we finally departed - we went to go get some ice cream. And then we CRASHED really hard. I was a little disappointed, b/c I thought that Pat & Pam and Liz & I would switch and I'd get to sleep with Liz, but she was sore and her back hurt, so she ended up sleeping on the floor. Oh well.
    Then on Sun... there were 4 workshops taught by Dan Calloway. Dan Calloway! This is when he went over dress, posture, and other things that the judges look for (all those reasons why we won American). Well at the insistance of some of my friends who thought I should have come in first in West coast, I asked him what he thought of it (he was a judge). He said it was a very good WCS, and I had a good style and a good lead, but that my posture for it was bad. Crushing blow, kinda. It was a great compliment - but guess what is going to be absolutley totally fixed in me now :).
    Anyways... he also covered latin motion and stong movements in smooth. I learned TONS!... I also bought a couple of dance books from him that describe all the steps (kinda like the manual for dancing).
    We drove home talking about the comp and remembering... but we were all REALLY tired. When we got back, I was ready to fall asleep by 7:30.... No I was falling asleep by 7:30. I unfortunately didn't completely reach my goal of being completly finished before I left. I had 5 questiosn to answer that on a normal night would take me 45 minutes, but b/c I was so tired, took me 5 hours. I even took a nap from 11pm to 1 am b/c I couldn't stay awake. The funniest thing though... sometime when I was either just about to fall asleep or just about to wake up... sometime when I was "awake" but dreaming... kinda like I was dreaming but I was able to direct where the dream was heading... I dreamed that I was sleeping in American style, when I normally sleep international style, but I had confidence that I was sleeping in American style properly.  (I'm not joking about this one) :)
    Anyways... this weekend annihilated all the homework,tests, meetings, and all that other shit for the last month. It was absolutely worth it. And b/c of this weekend I told liz "Let's go to England"... so I am going to England. B/c I'm anticipating that england will be at least 4 or 5 times better then this weekend (is that even possible?!). If that is the case then 4 or 5 times more shit can be annihilated. The best thing would be for the shit to remain constant and for England to be 4 or 5 times better... Then we are left floating. Yeah!
    One final thing... please refer back to the list of goals that I had set at the the beginning of last week. Look at what it says for this weekend. Look at what I accomplished... Decompression, fun at social dances, top three places with 2 dances with Liz - one being rumba, 2nd in WCS, not getting frustrated, retain everything from the workshop... the only thing I didn't get was top three places in rookie/vet and the not having ANY homework Sunday night.

Hope that is descriptive enough.
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