Standing in the middle of a crowded dance floor. Excitement filling the room. Bright lights hanging above from luxurious chandeliers. Glistening wooden floors. Neatly fastened bowties. A sea of sequins and colour.
A familiar sight to a ballroom competitor. It always makes me feel eager to get up and dance. I see a mass of colour, which reminds me of each dance. The deep reds and dark purples make me think of passionate tangos. The lilacs remind me of slow foxtrots. The pale blues suggest a waltz. Bold yellow and green shades suggest upbeat quicksteps. I can see them now dancing around the floor. False eye lashes fluttering to the maximum. Men standing tall and holding their partners close. Gleaming white smiles and perfectly positioned feet. Well maybe not the feet bit. There are a few toes pointing in the wrong direction.
Ballroom dancing is taken very seriously. By those who take part. And those who support them. I danced competitively for six years with Edmonds School of Dance in Leeds. I left when completing my A-levels and getting ready to go to university. I wish I was still competing and keeping ballroom alive.
Every part of it is enjoyable to me. The spray tan the week before and the additional fake tan the night before. The early morning wake-up call on the day of the competition, making sure the make-up is just right, pinning up hair and redoing it several times until I thought it was perfect. The nerves and excitement as I stepped onto the floor, trying my best to get every step right, and relying on my partners frame to guide me through the dance. Remembering the rise and fall of the Waltz, bending knees in the Tango, the ‘quick-quick-slow’ rhythm of the Foxtrot. Stood on the side-lines watching team mates as they take to the floor, feeling the same tension and joy of the floor that is felt by everyone.
The ecstatic feeling I got when I was re-called to the next stage. The tension I felt when the girl next to me flicked her heel into my ankle and knowing I must carry on anyway. The snide looks from other groups of dancers who envy my style and dress. It’s a very competitive and serious business when you are in a ballroom. Everyone is out for themselves and their team, no one cares if they hurt people along the way.
But at the end of the day, all the aches and pains, scratches and bruises are put aside as we wait to hear the end results. Nothing has ever beaten the feeling of winning a competition. Hearing the words that mean you are the champion in your field; “And in first place, Rebecca Mennell.” That did not happen often enough, but when it did I was thrilled. Everyone cheering for me as I walked on the floor, my Mum’s grinning face as I had my medal and trophy handed to me. The happiness as I had my photo taken with my partner, knowing that all the work had paid off and I was good enough to achieve the top award of the day. I had made it. Nothing beats that feeling.