The Ruminator

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Strictly DanceSport

The glitz, the glamour, the fake tan... It was like a tinsel explosion in a hepatitis ward.

It was in fact the 2005 National Capital DanceSport Championships.

A friend was competing this year, so along with fellow cheer-squad members, I spent a day and night in the whole other world that is DanceSport.

It seriously was like being on the set of Strictly Ballroom. You have never seen so many orange, sparkly people in your life. Outfits that would get a person badly beaten or committed to an institution if worn anywhere else. The fixed, glazed smiles. And a gathering of diamante decorations so large, it was actually hypnotic. And people really do sit in the stands screaming "Go 241!" as if it were a football match. You could even eat a meat pie and down a VB, so it was totally Oz.

You could also buy industrial grade fake tan. (Seriously. It comes in litre bottles, labelled ‘Dance Colour’. And explains the oompa loompa orange that most modern tanning lotions try to avoid.)

The night included a special demonstration by Michael Wentink and Tebogo, “International Latin American Superstars from South Africa”. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not dissing some incredible dancing. But the funniest thing was the multiple costume changes, which necessitated some portentous voiceover fillers in between dance styles. So we learned about the lovely Tebogo, who despite being “smaller than the tsetse fly” nonetheless moved like, well I can’t remember exactly, but let’s just say that she moved like the wind over the harsh African savannah, and you get the general idea. Michael, on the other hand, apparently possesses the “strength of the cheetah, the speed of the lightening.” Or was it the other way around?

I was also a little disturbed by the junior competitors, aged 13 to 16 (and some of them were very small), competing with pelvic-grinding intensity in the Latin numbers. And the announcers insisting on introductory remarks like, “and now, the sensual rhumba!” Like, no! No sensuality for 13 year olds! Certainly none of the girls would be allowed to go to a disco in outfits as revealing as their competition gear.

But anyway, certainly a whole new experience for me, and some fantastic dancing, including by my friend. And you’ve got to admire the dedication of people willing to undergo the training, the mockery, and the thousands of dollars it costs to put together a decent competition outfit.