On Friday, October 14, 2016, I competed in a Fred Astaire ballroom dance event, Octoberfest. The event was held in Milwaukee. I competed in smooth dances. This included Fox Trot, Waltz and Tango. I danced with Larsen, my Fred Astaire instructor. The smooth dance events were all held on Friday, while the rhythm events were on Thursday and dance combo events on Saturday, which I did not compete in.
I arrived at the location for "hair and makeup" at 7:15 am. This included associates and employees of Fred Astaire prepping many dancers with stage makeup and fancy hair.. The morning schedule for these people was very busy, some even starting at 5:00 am.
My first dances began at 9:30 with compulsory dance events. Chris was able to come and support me for the morning, and was the only non-dancing spouse to be in attendance. :) I danced fox trot, tango and waltz with Larsen. These events assess the basic moves, so Larsen leads the dances and hopes that I know the moves! Every dancer for every event is scored. There are 8-10 judges sitting on the dais, all of them are very talented dancers. While all of the dancers on the floor at any time are all doing the same dance, I am not necessarily competing against them. Because the instructors have more than one student at the event, the schedules must accommodate all of the dances. There are typically 7-8 dance couples on the floor for each event. The actual floor for dancing is temporary. Similar to a wedding, the floor is made of connecting squares. Because the floor is not uniform, dancing was more of a challenge due to my Parkinson's. When stepping on each foot, the contact was not consistent, so my balance was impacted. Dancing on a real wood floor is preferred!
Back to dancing - each dancer is identified by a code, for example mine is B2. This code identifies my skill level and age group. I can compete at my level or any group of greater skill. Larsen signed me up for dances, which included some higher levels. Four times during the day, the judges take a break and awards are presented. All dancers go back on the dance floor where the announcer quickly states each event along with the award winners. As your name is called, you are given a little sticker, about the size of a dime. Stickers are given for first through third place. I earned all firsts for the morning events. The next set of dances were also fox trot, tango and waltz, but Larsen can add any dance moves to each event. This set was where Larsen added me to a more difficult heat, and I finished third. Larsen had to tell me that my score was awesome.
The afternoon events were routines that were choreographed at each Fred Astaire dance studio. My routine is a waltz, which I danced three times. I scored well with firsts and seconds. I finished dancing at 4:30 pm, and looked forward to a restful Saturday!
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