Competing is terrifying. There’s nothing more you can say. But they are an important part of our dance community for many reasons. Competing pushes you in your dancing which in turn pushes the level of the entire community up. Competing is also a way to share your own ideas about the dance which helps others have more ideas about the dance. That is why I love competitions.
This past weekend I was at the US Open which is a westie event., as you all probably already know, but they do have one division of Lindy which is a strictly. My friend Steve asked me if I’d wanted to compete with him there and I jumped at the chance.
The U.S. Open is a HUGE event. Mostly because West Coast Swing is more mainstream,they did make a movie about it, and because they have more money, and therefore most of them (who love it enough) can be a westie full time (while Lindy Hoppers are like superheros and they have a second life/secret identity sitting behind a desk somewhere). Not only is it ENORMOUS it’s very official. They have a backdrop, assigned and raised seating, and professional photography. At the competitors meeting the organizers used a microphone to talk. Yes, really.
I usually don’t get nervous for competitions because I’m just happy to be dancing more, but this was ridiculous. We came down the steps (and the MC said my last name wrong) I couldn’t even see the audience, never mind the judges because the lights were so gosh darn bright. The next thing I remember is blurriness interrupted by Steve’s face every so often and intense nausea. So intense I threw up in my mouth a little as we were leaving the floor after our spotlight. After the contest I couldn’t stop shaking. It was weird. We went back to our hotel room and my legs felt like jelly and I had a little breezy knees action going on every time I took a step.
You might think that this kind of sucks. But I beg to differ. I am so glad and so proud of myself for doing it and you cannot get that amazing feeling of accomplishment any other way.
If you’re thinking about competing I say go for it. First off, there’s no other feeling like it. It’s a chance to showcase your own unique point of view as a dancer and you’ll feel so good and so proud of yourself for actually going through with it.
Second of all, it enriches the entire dance community. The more people there are competing the tougher the competition is and the harder everyone will try to succeed and improve in their dancing, which will push you to improve your dancing to keep up. It’s perfect.
Third of all, it is inspiring. You dance like no one else and no one else dances like you. When you compete you showcase your unique style to the lindy hop world (especially if the video is going on YouTube) and that will inspire others to do new things which may in turn inspire you!
Don’t think of competing as a way to win things or earn recognition. It’s a venue to show what you love to the audience and get better at it at the same time. WIN-WIN. No matter how you place.