Stories from DCDI

by Sarah Luna

This weekend, I competed at DC Dancesport Inferno. It was an absolute blast, and my partners and I were fabulous. There were too many things to write them all out, so I’m going to stick with seven stories. There are four different categories of dance (Standard, Rhythm, Smooth, and Latin). We danced Standard and Rhythm on Saturday and Smooth and Latin on Sunday.

— 1 —

Practice makes perfect. My standard partner, DG, and I have been practicing new routines for a few weeks now. This was our first chance to try them out at a competition. We had competed at the Silver level at the Cornell competition, but we had the home court advantage. We didn’t know if our skills would hold up at a more competitive venue. He and I had completely overhauled our waltz routine, cleaned up our quickstep, and practiced so many tango links that we could practically do them in our sleep.

And our practice paid off! We made it to the quarter-finals in Waltz/Quickstep and semi-finals Foxtrot/Tango!

— 2 —

Sometimes practice goes out the window. Remember how I just mentioned that DG and I had had set routines for a few weeks? Well, we had just finished practicing double reverse spins in waltz…

DG: I love double reverse spins so much.

Me: I know! We can do them in quickstep, too!

DG: Wait, what? Show me! Whoa that’s so cool! We’re doing that now right before the quick open reverse.

Me: Are you serious? We have 20 minutes before we compete?!

He was serious, and we added that move in with only 20 minutes of practice. 🙂

— 3 —

Latin partner and I were also on fire on Saturday for the rhythm dances. We got callbacks for Cha cha, Rumba, and Swing after the first round. We got eliminated in Rumba and Swing after the second round. With Cha cha as our only dance left, we determined to make it the best cha cha we had ever done. We were going to have attitude and pizzazz and FUN! He walked me out onto the floor–right in the middle of all the judges–with a huge smile on his face. The MC announced: “Cha cha music please”, and song of all songs, it was “Sexy Back”. Nobody can have a mediocre cha cha to that song.

My partner threw every move he knew.  Even though we didn’t get called back, we walked off the floor knowing that we had just danced the best cha cha of our year.

— 4 —

After the two Saturday dances, the ballroom closed for a bit to prepare for the evening show. This is when the PreChamp and Champion dancers compete. (There are five different levels: Newcomer, Bronze, Silver, Gold, PreChamp, and Champ. I am Silver.) The best part of this was seeing our Latin coaches, Tal and Vlada, compete.


— 5 —

Given our success on Saturday, DG and I were super excited about Sunday morning Smooth. The Smooth dances are the American version of Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz and involve over the top movements and emotions. We had had a lot of fun coming up with routines for these. We got to the ballroom early to practice, but we missed the first round of Waltz/Tango. We jumped in for Foxtrot/Viennese and were determined to make the most of it.

Here’s our Semi-final Foxtrot. You can only see me for a few seconds (around 1:14, I think)…but listen to the song. 🙂

We got called back and eventually placed in 6th!

— 6 —

I was really sad that we missed our chance at Waltz/Tango. My partner saw that I was upset, so he suggested: “Well, why don’t we dance Gold?”

So we danced Waltz/Tango/Foxtrot/Viennese Waltz in Gold (remember, we’re Silver), and we actually looked good! We didn’t get run over, and I’m told we didn’t look out of place!

— 7 —

In addition to the dancing, what really struck me about this competition was the music selection. In addition to playing “Eye of the Tiger” during my foxtrot (which was amazing), they played “Kiss the Girl” for a cha cha and “Dontcha” for a waltz.

I love ballroom covers.

— 8 —

300 miles, 6 hours, a crazy deer, a burnt out headlight, and a sketchy gas station later, I am finally back in Ithaca. I should probably elaborate…but it’s 3am, and I have an abstract to complete.

Let’s just say I survived rural Pennsylvania, and I am so thankful that I have a partner who looks out for me.

T-minus two weeks till Ohio!