Ballroom dance seems to be one of those hobbies that people think are fading into the ether. Well, they aren’t right, and they aren’t wrong! Most people don’t even seem to think ballroom exists outside of the cinematic universe, or maybe it belongs in the old houseparties of old, like in Austen. Or, something only on Strictly!
Truth is, I thought the same too! Before I got to university, I would force my younger brother into helping me learn how to do the steps on the television. Then we would leap around the living room pretending to be dancing at the Yule Ball. Occasionally, we would pull this trick at family parties, just to reinforce to the extended family that yes, we really are odd.
Then, when I got to university, I was wandering round the freshers fair, wondering how on Earth anyone was supposed to pick something to do, when I found a sparkly stall with a beautiful dress and excited people. It was the Ballroom and Latin american dance! So, maybe I could waltz around a ballroom like a princess in a fairytale.
I ended up waiting a whole year before getting stuck in again. And suddenly, I found a dance that I loved! Ok, the Waltz and I still have a few unresolved issues, and the cha cha and I will probably only just be modding acquaintances, but I loved it. I loved learning new steps, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the fact that clumsy little me could feel so graceful! I genuinely had old friends messaging me, asking why I was dancing in heels when I could barely walk without tripping up! It reminds me of the quote about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers ‘Ginger did everything he did backwards and in high heels!’.
And then I started competing. And I was determined to do well. And eventually, partnered with a fantastic female lead, in matching dresses and fake tanned, we finaled in jive at Nationals! And I realised that it doesn’t matter if you don’t win! Just being able to dance, and be determined to dance your best, exhausted with pain in the balls of your feet, that was the fun of it all!
It’s now final year, and I’m a member of the committee, because I may have been a new starter, but I loved dancing and I loved the society. Some of my best friends are crazy dancers like me!. And I switched to lead, dancing Same-Sex and having an absolute ball (pun intended). I love learning new steps, new routines, practising steps we already know, and that amazing feeling when you finish the routine, and you know you did well. Getting through rounds doesn’t matter if you have danced your heart out! Well, its certainly an added bonus!
So now, I’m sat having had my first ever spray tan, a little worried I look like an oompa loompa, with sparkly nails and a bag full of glitter, waiting to go to the annual university circuit Nationals! to dance in Blackpool with my amazing partner, and to succeed the best we can, regardless of whether we acquire shiny trophies to add to our collection. I am so excited to be cheering on my friends, winning together and losing together.
So, like any sport, winning is awesome, but its the learning, and the working towards a goal that I love the most. And in ballroom and latin especially, you have to be able to work well and trust your partner to do their share, because you can’t win on one person holding all the weight. You have to share responsibility, help each other out, practice till you can’t stand one another. They’re your primary teammate, and everyone else is your extended family. Dancing these past two years has been one of the best decisions of my university time. I have loved it, I have hated it, I have been frustrated by it, I have worried over it, and here I am, still loving it, still trying my damndest to do the very best I can.
So here is to a marvellous weekend at Nationals, doing the dancing I love, with the people I love!