December 25, 2003
Ohio: Part III (The Show)
Originally written while intoxicated
After the team dinner (at which Chris did not spend team money to buy us all margaritas, and I don’t want to hear any such vicious rumors), we all went to the Ohio Star Ball, which was the professional dance competition going on at the Columbus Convention Center that same weekend. As part of our entry into the Collegiate Comp, they’d given us tickets to the Saturday evening performances (a $50 value, as Chris was to find out), so we felt we should go.
After the glorious night we’d spent traveling and not sleeping, and the highly charged day at the competition, most of us just wanted to go to sleep. As soon as the dancing started, though, we paid close attention (except for Tracy, who I will assume was carried into the auditorium, as I don’t recall ever seeing her awake once she finished dinner, when she curled up in one of the booths next to our table).
Because I’ve kept myself to a rigid schedule of writing about this whenever nothing particularly shiny otherwise attracts my attention, I can honestly give you a minute by minute account of every dance we saw, down to the costume designer’s choice of rhinestone manufacturer, but if I were to do so, the experience would be so clear to you that you might never venture out to see it yourself (or something). And I could never live with that on my conscience. So I’ll restrict myself to telling about the flashiest and most adorable.
Like the kids.
They had kids here in this competition. Or, at least they were small people. My personal theory is that they must have been midgets who studied dancing for decades, but were born on February 29th, and thus are able to enter in the children’s events on a technicality. But anyway. These small people were amazing. They brought out the top finishers in three categories: the <something>6, the <something>5, and the <something>3, where <something> is a word I forget. Since the smaller numbers were obviously younger children, and the 3’s were already bordering preschool, we were wondering if the number 2’s could do much more than toddle, and postulating that the number 1’s were nothing more than women in the late stages of pregnancy.
The kids danced a Jive for us, and damned if they weren’t just fantastic at it, too. It will reassure you to know that the smallish girls tended to wear dresses that were significantly less revealing than standard latin dresses (which looks like what you are left with when you start with a nice sexy dress, but then are forced to bandage twenty people with massive head wounds). Wisps of fabric aside, these kids could dance. At some point later on they brought out some more kids, and these ones did a Paso, of which all I remember was the final move, which was, I think, supposed to symbolize the bull charging and hitting the cape. The girl fluttered to the ground (and, yes, she actually fluttered. I have no idea.) and the boy pulled his arms in two large circles back behind him, arching to over his head. When his hands got in front of him again, they pointed strongly as he charged his entire body into a quick lunge in the direction of the girl as she fell. The effect was impressive, dimmed only slightly by my continued imitation of it for the next two days.
Then we watched the professional finalists do their showcase dances. Each couple got 90 seconds to do basically whaterver they wanted to music, with style couting for a lot.
The couple that took second place did a tango to that song whose name escapes me at the moment (and I’m on way too slow a connection to listen to them and figure it out), from The Matrix, dressed as Trinity and Neo, even down to the sunglasses. The tango they danced was really cool, and matched the music well. The only problem with their showcase was that they spent an awful lot of time just walking around the floor and not dancing.
The first place couple absolutely deserved it; they were so cool, and I still can’t figure out how they did it. When the music started, they were both in black jumpsuit-looking things with the logo of a shoe-shine shop on them, and the man was sort of in the middle of shining the woman’s shoes. Then she ran and he rolled onto stage as the music (which had something to do with Shoe Shining) started. They did some free-form stuff, sort of jazzish, for a while, and then the woman started spinning. As she spun, the top of her jumpsuit unfurled to become a full red gown. Finishing her spin, she grabbed the sleeves of the man, pulled off the front of his shirt, and put it back on inside out, which turned his outfit into a tuxedo, and they immediately started dancing together. It hardly mattered what they did after that.
We watched them dance the actual events as well, and I noticed that, while each latin dance has its own character, all the standard dances besides Quickstep start to look the same with dancers as good as these. There’s so much syncopation and lifts and such that you don’t really see the basic character of each dance as much.
And then it was over, and we left for the hotel, Tracy slung over someone’s shoulder, for a well earned night’s rest.