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Rock and roll – how I got my groove on

1 Jun

It turns out I’m a bad blogger. This is not surprising! But nonetheless, it is a little terrible that this story has sat waiting to be told since February.

I started rock and roll dancing about June or July in 2011 with Feet with Heat and instantly was hooked. I could see I’d finally found my “thing” and decided that I wanted to do as much as I could! Unfortunately my partner G would rather (insert painful metaphor) than dance, so I went alone, but going any further than just dancing in class requires a partner. I was really lucky to meet a guy at dancing, D, who is fun to hang out with and fantastic to dance with, and we decided within a few weeks that we should have a few practices and see if we could get any better.

Me and D at Feet with Heat ball 2011

Me and D at the Feet with Heat ball 2011, where we danced up a storm with each other and the rest of our studio

Come early this year, our dance teacher decided that D and I were doing ok and should enter a small dance competition held as part of Rockin’ the Hutt, a street festival and fair in Lower Hutt, Wellington, on February 26th.

Now, I should explain that I do performance anxiety poorly. Or well, depending on your point of view. Anything that involves being watched, assessed, or judged turns me into a dithering mess. So it was with trepidation and a huge amount of personal development that I agreed to this craziness! But D was keen and supportive and I knew that we’d have fun so I signed up.

Of course, once the paperwork was done the important thing was what I was going to look like! I wore my skull and roses dress (yet to be blogged about) and arranged people to do my hair and makeup. Claire of The Vanity Case and Miss La Belle of Miss La Belle’s Hair Pretties were sharing a stall in the market selling Besame vintage makeup, vintage hair styling, and handmade hair flowers and pretties. So at 9 am I got my hair and make-up done sitting on a stool in the middle of the street!

Claire of The Vanity Case doing my hair in vintage victory rolls

close up of hair and fascinator

One of Miss La Belle’s psychobilly hair pretties, a skull on a butterfly, the perfect complement to my skull and roses dress! And yes, I am going to add a strap keeper to the dress. Photo credit: Julian Thomson

The wonderful Mrs C had also decided that D needed to coordinate and kindly made him a tie and pocket handkerchief that matched my dress. He looked great.

Walking the ring for the best dressed competition

D and I walking the ring for the Best Dressed competition. Check out D’s matching tie and pocket handkerchief. The handkerchief is made from the same cotton as my contrast band and has a tiny skull appliqué on the corner!

D and I competed in the rock and roll open (where you are judged as a couple), entered individually in the jack and jill (where you dance with lots of partners and are judged individually) and entered best dressed.

Dancing action shot

A bit of petticoat showing. Thank goodness for my slip! Photo credit Julian Thomson.

dancing action shot

D and I mid turn. Love how the skirt flares. Photo credit Julian Thomson

We also got lots of social dancing in between different competition rounds, trying to keep up with the wild rock and roll tunes spun out by Wellington’s own X-Ray Cats.I was a nervous wreck just before the open section, but D distracted me with kind words and bad jokes, and we made it through the competition without falling off the dance floor, which was a raised stage set up in the middle of the street. That was my main concern so I was happy!

Social dancing action shot

Social dancing with D’s dad, D in the background. The dance floor was busy! Phot credit Julian Thomson.

Social dancing action shot

Another gratuitous dancing shot. Photo credit Julian Thomson

The X-Ray Cats getting into the moment

Finally, at the end of the day the results were announced, and to my delight, we did well! D and I were shocked and thrilled to find we came third in the rock and roll open, and we now each have an actual medal hanging on the wall. I was even more shocked to discover I came second in the follows in the jack and jill. And to top off the day, D and I won best dressed competing couple, meaning we each got a tidy sum to put towards dance shoes from Kanikani shoes. I love my new dance shoes.

Triumphant best dressed winners and dance placers!

Not a bad start to competitive dancing! And just like that I was hooked. Since then D and I competed in a small club competition in Whanganui, on very short notice, where we surprised ourselves by coming 5th in a field of 7, which was very exciting as we were the only couple freestyling and not doing well-rehearsed routines.

Coming into cuddles, a great move. Skirt me-made and to be blogged about. Photo credit Julian Thomson

Coming out of sliding doors, another neat move. Photo credit Julian Thomson

And to top it off, on Sunday just gone, D won the leads in the rock and roll Jack and Jill organised by our studio and held at the Southern Cross bar. And I won the follows!

I’m still an absolute bundle of nerves before every event but I see this as a great way to do something I love and overcome a personal limitation. And who knows where to from here? There will be more to follow!