Ohio adventures

by Sarah Luna

I have now had 19 hours of sleep and a shower.

This weekend, nothing went according to plan, but everything worked out. The team met outside of Helen Newman on Friday to wait for the bus to take us to Ohio. All that morning, I’d been paranoid that my Standard Partner (SP from now on) wouldn’t show up. No reason why; this boy is perfectly responsible. I just was freaking out. I had to stop myself from emailing and texting him asking if he was going to be there. I was so relieved when he showed up.

My Latin partner had notified me two weeks ago that he was unable to go to Ohio due to school work. I wasn’t aware of anyone else who needed a partner, so I planned on going TBA (dancers who need partners put their names and numbers on a sheet at the competition and find each other). While waiting for the bus, I happily discovered that one of the boys on the team did not have a Latin partner either, so we paired up. Yay, I would at least get to dance with someone I knew.

After a hellish (9 hour) bus ride, we arrived at Columbus, Ohio, and checked into the hotel. Even though it was 1am, I agreed to explore the city with two friends, and we set out. We found all the government buildings and explored the river.

The next morning, my TBA partner and I danced Latin. We didn’t make it to the second round for Cha Cha or Jive, but I was ok with this considering that we hadn’t practiced together at all.

After we finished, I wanted to change out of my Latin dress into more comfortable clothes. The hotel was only a block away. I thought I could handle walking one block without anything happening. But no.

Two men cross the street toward me:
“Dang girl you must be cold”
“You a model baby?”
“Damn, you’re a fine one.”

Awwwwwwwwwwwwkward. Why I continue to walk anywhere unescorted is beyond me.

Competing in the Ohio Star Ball granted us admission to watch the professional dancers. This event was so fancy that we had to wear full formal attire just to watch. I wore my “black-maiden-of-death” dress–cape and everything. Our Cornell group sat together in awe of these dancers. We critiqued the costumes and the movements and looked out for collisions. Our Latin coaches, Nikolai and Tatiana, and our Standard coach, Ronen, were both competing.

The most memorable dance was Nikolai and Tatiana’s rumba to Losing My Religion. Even though there were other wonderful couples on the floor, my eyes were glued to them. It was the most beautifully sensual dance I’d ever seen.

SP and I left after about three hours of watching. He was exhausted and needed to sleep. I didn’t think anything of it until the next morning when he texted me telling me that he had gotten food poisoning and had been ill all night. No dancing for him. I was really sad not to be dancing with him. Fortunately for me, another boy on the team (SP2) lost his partner to illness as well. Since we had about 3 hours before our heat, we immediately started to practice.

Now, SP2 is 6’4″. I am 5’4″. It was nearly impossible for me to keep up with him. Even in 2″ heels, I was hopelessly short. We practiced the waltz, the quickstep, and the tango. SP and I had had a better connection for the waltz and the quickstep, but SP2 had a better lead in the tango. (My cortes felt amazing.) I had to learn the subtleties of his lead. Each boy had a slightly different way of leading, and certain signals meant different things. When it was finally time for us to compete, we made it to the Quarter-finals for quickstep. Not bad. 🙂

So even though I didn’t get to dance with either one of my normal partners, my TBA partners and I had lots of fun. It was nice to hang out with the team, too, and just take a break from life in Ithaca. Thanksgiving this weekend, then another competition at Columbia next weekend, then a weekend of studying, and then home! Dance has sure made this semester fly!