The atmosphere was electric, with nervous tension in the air as 5 couples came out for the final waltz number that could be played. But the only thing that was going on in my mind was one simple fact, “I love this, I was meant to do this. This is what I trained for and this is what I am gonna do fabulously well”.
If you have seen my status on FB over the last few days, you probably already know what I am referring to. Oh yes, the 4th Maharashtra open DanceSport Championship 2012. I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined that dancing, that too ballroom dancing, would be so well received in a state that is famous for its classical dance forms. In total there were over 150 entries, surprisingly there were many from smaller towns too. I know this sounds clichéd, but you should have been there. Such exquisite dance forms, all danced with panache and excitement – the chacha, jive, rumba, samba, argentine tango, waltz and the Pasodoble. Other categories included the salsa and bachata. I knew that if I had to compete I needed all the practice I could get.
Ballroom dance is a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world and various facets are looked at such as physical strength, agility, stamina, fitness, partner-work, discipline and interpretation of music. Standard ballroom consists of the quickstep, waltz, tango, Viennese waltz and foxtrot whereas latin dances include chacha, jive, rumba, samba , Pasodoble.
My partner Avantika and me decided quite late that we wanted to take part in the championships, (to tell you the truth I think it was after 15th august) and so with that in mind we started practice in earnest. Initially she preferred to dance just in the single dance category, but I managed to convince her that we should also perform a standard dance a.k.a. the waltz. That was the easy part. Then it started – all the practices – we had to do so much in such little time. I still remember the last night before the competition. I still hadn’t gotten my shoes and I had to go to the tailor at 11pm to collect my altered costumes!
15th September: This was D-day, the day we were all waiting for and I still had not gotten my shoes. So I called up Jameel Shah and he said that he would come to Bandra station and give me the shoes. Can you believe it, the show was gonna start at 2.30 pm and I would get my shoes at 1.15pm. Yeeesh!!! Talk about cutting it real close. Well suffice to say Avantika reached the station before me and she managed to pick up the shoes from Jameel. We finally got into the train and reached the NCPA around 2.15pm and what a sight it was. Everyone was all dolled up already. All the gents were in their tuxedos, latin outfits and whatnot. The ladies? Oh boy, it was a sight to behold. The amount of makeup on their faces made me think they were running out it. Bright red lipstick and flowing deep cut dresses… it was competition time alright! The best thing about being a Latin dancer is that it’s a very close nit community – there were so many others that we knew. I even got to meet Shannon Benjamin, it was such a long time since I last met him. Finally, we got ready for the initial dance parade and I must say that it really was simply awesome. There were so many participants, from Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Goa. Like most others, I was surprised that participants also came from smaller cities such as Nashik and Kolhapur even though they do not have many dance schools in those parts of the country – that itself speaks so much of the confidence in these dancers.