Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dance Aloha Ball - A Flooring Experience

pictures courtesy of Sandy K:  riding on the coat tails of my teacher Yanna 

A little off center but good enough!

you take the baton, no you take it!

 Some days start off with the sun shinning and the birds chirping only to redirect slowly and painfully into a dreadful denouement.  Other days start rottenly foreshadowing the course of the day riding one wave after another of a progressive panic of despair, helplessness and chaos.  Only two other possibilities exist.  The day is good at the beginning and at the end.  But on October 25th, 2014, I experienced the last possibility, as the day began in frightful disarray only to end happily, almost magically.  Ostensibly, this “happy ending” was expected by just about everyone else attending the Aloha Dance Competition in Kona other than me.

A one-day competition, the first year of its existence, follows at the coattails of the traditional Hawaii Star Ball (HSB) competed in September, representing the future of ballroom dance competition in Hawaii.  Parenthetically, while the HSB has survived more than a few decades, the recent transfer of ownership to David Alvarez projects a sense of renewal and rebirth.  Indeed, it seems like the Hawaii ballroom dance scene has two new dance competitions to consider and enjoy, not just one.

The Sheraton Kona is the new name for the previous Kona Surf Hotel that I loved in the 80’s when I travelled frequently to Kona to teach the local medical providers basic skills of newborn resuscitation (all in my former adult career as a neonatologist and medical leader in Pediatrics representing the regional pediatric center, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children).  It is set on a glorious stretch of beach; the ocean spreads endlessly as it surrounds the resort truly providing the sense of paradise.  However, from what I can remember, the improvements to the hotel from 30 years past seem more cosmetic than substantial or purposeful.  There is a musty smell that permeates some of the hallways, perhaps from the proximity of the ocean, perhaps from decades of use and abuse, perhaps from the blood and sweat of the hotel staff as they dutifully scrub their way across the campus of the resort with their brooms and mops.  My safe did not work, my phone did not work, and it was so dark in the hallway that I had to squint each time I attempted to insert the key card into my door slot.   Nothing was wrong with the room, it was spacious enough and the TV worked miraculously, but overall, it was not as upscale as I had expected.

All of these defects were offset by the prime location of my room…. literally a stones throw away from the ballroom in the Convention Center adjacent to the wing of the hotel that I was luckily assigned to.  This facilitated the five changes of clothes that I would need to accomplish to get through the marathon day that I had agreed to when I signed up for this burgeoning dance competition.

Arriving the afternoon before, with little time to spare to clean up for the opening reception; then later in between schmoozing with the participants and organizers – Ron Montez and Tony Meredith at the ocean front reception, I ventured a detour from my programmed evening activity to conduct a pre-competition inspection of the ballroom. 

What I saw there was less than comforting.  First, the ballroom seemed large enough for the smallish competition and at one end there was a decent sized practice floor of decent quality.  But, at the same time, the hotel staff was laying down a competition dance floor or what they imagined was a dance floor.  In fact, it was a palate of 8x4 unfinished plywood sheets that was painted with mahogany to disguise the rough, uneven and splintered surface.  These sheets were aligned dreamily to remain contiguous by snugly placing them adjacent to one another over a wooden lattice frame to provide a cushion over the ballroom carpet. 

BUT, what I saw in that floor was unacceptable – there was NO way I could dance on that floor, no way anyone could dance on that floor!  I returned back to the reception, keeping my secret intact until I could corner Yanna – and then I vented in frustration.  I don’t think she believed me until we found our way to the ballroom après the reception.  But behold a miracle of miracles; the plywood dance floor was being disassembled in favor of the practice dance floor, which was in the process of changing places such that the plywood was being relegated to the practice location.  Thank God someone had sense enough to figure it out!

It was clear that the practice dance floor transformation to the real deal was not going to an be an easy task, nor was it large enough to fill the requisite area, even if the hotel staff was willing to pull an all nighter to get the job done.  But before we signed off for the night, we were promised that more of the same semi quality dance floor was on its way and we would be ready to go on schedule at 8AM.

But this is Kona, not Chicago, not Los Angeles, and not Miami.  Things are much more complicated in Honolulu, but they are pure chaos on the neighbor islands when it comes to deadlines and task completion.  Nevertheless with fatigue setting in as the night begged for closure, so did my eyelids converge on the day before the historic monster one-day dance competition in Kona, Hawaii.

The next morning revealed only that the competition dance floor was not completed, and the competition would be delayed by around 2 hours (actually it was 2 hours/ 15 minutes).  In all, there were 5 iterations as the hotel staff tried to complete the ballroom dance floor, three separate floors, and in the final iteration the two closest looking floors were pieced together and sometimes even taped together to complete the job.  Floors being secured, then unsecured, moved here, moved there…thank God there was an abundance of husky young men to labor nonstop to finally find a solution that would work.  And in the end, it did work and the competition finally started, promising a long day for some of us, including myself with multidance events scheduled for nearly 11pm.  And the floor was fine to dance on, after all the toil and needless worry and the unnecessary expenditure of energy……..

But it seemed like I was the only one who was freaking out.  The dancers were unimpressed and seemed unconcerned; I was the loner, fretting and anxious, my stomach churning with dyspepsia as the hotel staff buzzed around doing and undoing floors, and redoing floors. The scene in the ballroom was flooring! …and comical.  In truth if playback were possible and the speed turned up a notch faster, it would closely resemble the humor filled chaos of the 1020’s silent movie legends, the Keystone Cops (Kops).

From there, everything fell into place and students and professionals and amateur couples got in the groove and to the business of the competition.  Despite the quality of the floor being less than optimal, there was truly no difficulty that I encountered with my feet getting blocked by floor corners or seams.  Indeed, the size of the competition matched the size of the dance floor very comfortably.  I am particularly crazed with fear of collisions with other couples on the dance floor. It only happened once for me at the Aloha Ball, which of course is never acceptable or optimal but I’ll take that statistic anytime. 

Divino Ritmo had a huge following of students, and others from Honolulu and other neighbor islands communities had solid representation in the crowd.  Many just there as spectators, nevertheless, a happy and friendly crowd of supporters all rooting us on, saying nice things to us about our dancing and overall having a good time.  It was also nice to see our best Honolulu amateur couples competing against one another; the quality of the dancing was indeed quite excellent. And there were several spectators who attended both Hawaii competitions who commented that the quality of the dancing was at a higher level in Kona.

As one who has experienced an endless stream of health issues this year including this last month or two…. accounting for a silence streak of non blogging, I was truly worried that I would not last the day, worried that my feet or knee or brain would give out or my will would deflate like a burst balloon.  But it didn’t happen.  A little caffeine brought the brain back to life, and my feet and knee never betrayed my desire to do my best, and to last to the end.  As it turns out the comp turned up the speed and an hour was saved from the revised estimation of time.  My last heat ended at about 10:00pm.  This allowed me to rush to the bar far across the hotel campus to secure a few glasses of wine…my favorite sauvignon blanc….Kim Crawford…. before it closed at 10:30pm.

For such an auspicious start, the competition worked remarkably well, and I believe that everyone enjoyed it very much.  I can be included in this group.  There are many lessons to be learned for the organizers, and we all expect that next year’s comp will avoid the mistakes of the past.  It was a shame that so few could enjoy the dinner set on the ocean front hotel lawn adorned with beautiful tables and white tablecloths and a full buffet (second hand information). There to enjoy the food, the sunset, and dining against a backdrop of the majestic Pacific Ocean, its powerful but soothing music; humming its waves toward shore, while beating its drums at shore break and when colliding with the hotel’s barrier embankments.  But alas, with the given time constraints of the competition timeline, the best that competitors could do is quickly fill up their take out boxes and return to the competition ballroom to get ready for the next heats or simply to continue to spectate. 

The competition finally over, student awards were announced and top teacher and studio awards followed.  Lucas received the number one top teacher award and Yanna was 4th.  Of course, Divino Ritmo was number 1 studio.  Wow, that was a lot of work in one day!  And I just want to mention once again how much of an opportunity this was for students who generally could not afford the luxury of participation in mainland competitions including a bunch of young keikis competing for the first time.  The age span of the dozen or more students competing with the Divino Ritmo professionals spanned almost 60 years!  My body belongs to the older group (second oldest) but my heart resides in the younger one. 

The professional show included a youthful complex formation exhibition.  This was such a complex presentation, done with precision and originality that it was arguably the most interesting formation choreography that I have ever seen.  The other part I remember was a cute cha cha done by a group of male professionals including the event organizers……  I could have missed other parts of the show running back and forth to the bar and generally being elated that the comp was over and that I survived it without a meltdown.  Not only me, everyone I talked to, Divino Ritmo students, students from other studios, bystanders and visitors from the neighbor islands and elsewhere were all positive about their experience.  And most were delighted by their performance during the competition.

Finally, I even survived long enough to attend the after competition VIP party ostensibly held in one of the organizer’s suite.  This was a first!  There I drank a glass of champagne and ended the evening chatting with a youthful, lovely lady who also attended the competition. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why Blog?

I enjoy writing which is why I blog.  But I also take delight in having anonymous visitors ostensibly reading my posts, new and old.  Many readers who know me only by name volunteer a few nice words about a particular post or how they enjoy my writing style. I take great pleasure in entertaining people and the rare occasion that a blog is truly entertaining, engaging or funny.

My blog is a little more than 3 ½ years old with 237 posts which averages to about 5 ½ posts per month….a little more than once a week.  Nothing to write home about, but I write when my fingers carry me to the keyboard, not because I feel I need to, have to or are expected to.  Its almost like going to the bathroom…there is little thought in that decision.  So does my movement to the computer to blog resemble the movement to and in the bathroom, sometimes with similar results.

Never expecting for my blog to have any real credibility or value, which it categorically doesn’t, my individual posts have unexpectedly increasingly ranked high on a number of Google searches.  My recent blog on my experience at the 2014 NV Ball Dancesport Championships is an example…..this blog shows up on page 1 of a Google search (understandably, the Google search engine query results are forever changing).  Other dance competitions such as the Blackpool Dance Festival - 2011, Hollywood and Heritage also show my blog very early in the listings.  There are other examples of blogs that also appear very early in Google searches, but I won’t bore you with a further laundry list of meaningless examples.  Suffice it to say, they are not all dance competitions but represent a reasonably wide variety of topics and even people.

Now, I have always been somewhat careful in what I say on these posts realizing that readers may take offense or even revenge on comments made that rubbed them the wrong way.  Sometimes I have gone back to edit individual posts within 24 hours of publishing them that I feel in retrospect may be offensive.  Unfortunately in doing so, I remove some of the more titillating snippets that have potential entertainment value and or humor.  But nothing is worth risking ones life for, not even a funny blog. 

The point is that now, more then ever, my posts may be exposed to a broader reader audience.  I cannot guaranty, as in the past, that they will fall into the abyss of the trillions of web based personal vignettes that are published every day that are found on Page 101 or later on a Google search.  Indeed, I have to contend with the possibility that my posts may indeed influence the views of others, and as a result, this places a burden of responsibility to be objective and honest in my reviews.  I suppose this is nothing more than what you could find on Yelp, Trip Advisor, or websites devoted to reviewing anything from A to Z.   But since I generally do not invest any time or effort in those venues, I am only concerned with the potential for positive and or negative effects of the contents of my individual posts.

Now, what I have written above has almost nothing to do with why I started this writing.  Indeed, in seeing my posts gain forward momentum in Google ranking results, it has strained me to consider the differences with my involvement in blogging in contrast to Facebook.  I remember spending a considerable time in creating a Facebook identity - of the who I wanted to be and the image I wanted to project rather than the true me.  And I remember spending wasted hours thumbing through countless pages of dribble and meaningless comments from “friends” who I barely knew, but nevertheless, who were constantly invading my computer with nonsense that I felt somewhat obliged to read.  This was only one reason for deleting my Facebook account, which I have document in a previous post if anyone is interested.

Facebook and blogging are both forms of social media but the differences are noteworthy.  Anyone who reads my blog has to find it first, it doesn’t come at you with intent and purpose like Facebook or for that matter My Space, Twitter and God knows how many other social media sites that control your every moment and behavior. 

Reading individual blogs is presumably an act of free will.  Either you read the blog periodically or you are searching the web for some specific topic, event, person, place, etc and come across the posting on your Google search. 

Social media sites seem to encircle you with information, presumably welcomed, but nevertheless limited by the audience that you somehow agree to engage, sometimes willfully, sometimes passively, your worth being measured by how many friends you have and the captive audience of your forever expanding community. 

When I posted on my Facebook page, I was sometimes embarrassed to impose my comments on my shallow community of “friends”, not really knowing why I was doing so or the net worth of my investment in time.  Did anyone really give a shit that I came in 1st in a dance competition?  Did I give a shit when someone posted their news on my Facebook page?

In contrast, I will never know those who have chosen to enter my blog and read whatever posts they desire.  I follow the numbers and the audience with interest and curiosity but I never know why one posting suddenly becomes popular and has a few hundred views and others stay relatively quiet.  I get very few comments so I really have little insight into my reader’s interests or backgrounds, except they come from countries around the globe.  And that is the intriguing part. 

I write because I enjoy writing and to relive the moment.  But I also take great pleasure in being read and the increasing audience that I have been getting as well as the high Google ranking results of late. Thank you all!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

NV Ball DanceSport Championships 2014 - Chapter 3

Wearing my black shirt for Rhythm

Wearing my new vest and trousers for American Smooth

Wearing my formal standard attire for International Ballroom

A new velvet turtleneck Latin shirt was used to compete in International Latin

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NV Ball DanceSport Championships 2014 - Chapter 2

“Can you please wait for a minute, I’m expecting my friend to come down momentarily, she is never late”, I pleaded nicely with the cabby just outside the entrance of the Encore Hotel, Las Vegas.  It was the morning after we competed at our latest three-day dancesport series competition, the NV Ball.  I was already nervous, having agreed to the directive of my dance teacher Yanna to meet at 7:30AM instead of 7:00AM, my preference for departing the hotel to the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas for a 20 minute ride to the airport with enough buffer time to catch our depressing 9AM Hawaiian Airline cattle car flight back home.  Yanna is indeed NEVER late, but for some reason, the minutes ticked by with no Yanna.  Propping open the entrance door, I kept one nervous eye on the lobby corridor and one on the cabby who had loaded my luggage – including all of my worldly dance possessions - in his cab, my heart rate and anxiety level increased by the second. I could feel and sense her coming around the corner at any second but this deliberate visualization was all for naught - still no Yanna! A text message sent, a cell phone call made instantly connected to voice mail – still no Yanna, it was 7:38AM…unheard of lateness.  Was anything wrong?  The wildest fears suddenly pierced through my paranoid brain like an ice pick. Each second felt like an eternity.

Ran back to the cabby – “Listen, I need to go into the hotel and try to find her, can you please hang in here a few more minutes? I will pay you extra."  The cabby responded affirmatively.  Still with little trust or respect for the moral integrity of Las Vegas cab drivers (our cabby bringing us to the hotel four days earlier took me for twice the purse he should have), I had little choice but to risk the possibility of the cabby fleeing the scene with my luggage and never again seeing my carefully chosen collection of rhythm, Latin, smooth and standard dance outfits, not to mention the accouterments, all needed as prerequisite to stepping on the dance floor at the NV Ball or any competition in the future. 

Other heart throbbing moments of drama followed, but the agent behind the registration desk finally consented to call the room, not without bitter protest, and after one failed attempt to unearth a human voice on the other end, I finally connected with an uncharacteristic woozy voice on the other end.  “OMG, the alarm didn’t go off, I’m sorry……go ahead without me, I will find my way.” Yea, right, it was already 7:46AM, and I was sweating whether I would make it myself……I thought to myself……there is NO way Yanna was going to get out of bed, clean up, finish packing, make it out of the hotel, find a cab to get to the airport skirting a long line of travelers waiting for the same, find the deserted Hawaiian Airlines area in the airport, decipher the check in procedure and navigate the baggage tags out of the Hawaiian Airlines “automated” kiosk, stick those suckers on to the luggage, deliver them to the blank faced Hawaiian Airlines agent ready to hurl them onto the conveyor belt, get though long lines of security (without Pre-Check as I was able to do), find, wait for and catch the tram to the D gates, and find her way down a long corridor to Gate D35.  Realizing the next flight to Hawaii is around 6PM, I was wondering whether I should just reset her reservations for that later flight to secure a seat.

As it was, I arrived with minutes to spare, but by the time I reached the gate, I was sweaty, panicked, and trembling. People were looking at me ready to call security to investigate this obviously agitated bearded Middle Eastern man on line to board the flight that they were also flying. Well needless to say, this experience was infinitely more stressful than competing in the 73 dance events of the competition.  

To reduce my stress, I wrote this blog on my flight back home to Honolulu, and I’m happy to report that somehow Yanna was able to muster up the will, with her quick mind and quick feet to do what I reckoned was impossible, and miraculously with time enough to stop at Starbucks for a soy milk cappuccino and a tasty muffin to snack on during the flight home!  While I was miserable, in pain, and timorous when she arrived, she was the picture of composure, smiling happily, and dressed impeccably as always while wearing her signature travel cap to boot! Go figure!!

I'm hoping to add just one more chapter to include some of the photos taken during the dancing by the dancesportphotography staff.  That may take a few days and will only include a few pics.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

NV Ball DanceSport Championships 2014 - Chapter 1


This was the inaugural year of the NV Ball, formally called the Nevada Star Ball, purchased with new owners from Brian and Susan Puttock.  Sadly, Brian passed away unexpectedly this year, but I believe that the sale of the competition took place before his untimely departure.  I had attended the Nevada Star Ball once in the past, the hotel as I remember was unimpressive but adequate. Like so many hotels in Las Vegas, it was filled with career gamblers whose diet consisted of cigarettes and whisky, whose skin was prematurely aging, wrinkled, and cracked by the bone dry Nevada desert air, whose focus on gambling was all consuming.  

The Puttocks

Still, as I remember it, the competition had always a healthy reputation as a strong medium sized comp – although I experienced it in an earlier period of my dance life with little perspective.  As best I recall, it was positive and fun although my expectations then were much less than at the present.  Indeed, I was just happy to get through my assigned heats without a melt down. I was content to just disguise myself as an alleged competitor dissolved inconspicuously into the crowd with other students, and to not be noticed or considered an outcast in this new world that I had ventured into. 

I have a particular fondness for Brian and Susan Puttuck who I have known (not personally until recently) for many years even before I began competing. I remember them as teachers at one of Wayne Eng’s Las Vegas Dance Camps.  I remember how kind and dignified they both were – recognizing them as British.  I remember how well they interacted together, exuding a lifelong enduring partnership and synergy in dance and marriage that is rare to non-existent in this day of disposable marriages.  I remember to this day how Brian and Susan expertly taught the basics of both International and American foxtrot in a few hours of group instruction, and that I subsequently reviewed their instruction repeatedly on the CD provided for many months after the camp had ended.

The NVBall - 2014

Back to the present: the new owners of the competition are well known ballroom celebrities including Sam Sodona, the genius ballroom entrepreneur whose portfolio of national dance competitions rivals the number of Wal-Mart’s…ha ha…   Calling themselves the new “Rat Pack”, they include such notables as Sinkinson, Galke, Carmen, Watson and of course Sodano. 

A Gala Event jump-started the competition, which included some lovely dance performances, a live band and social dancing, unlimited wine, and a coronary artery targeted dinner – proving once again that my solid commitment to a red meat restricted diet is phony baloney – the steak was perfectly prepared, every bite more delicious than the next!  I even encountered a lovely Asian woman sitting at our table that I caught a few dances with who seemed to show an interest.  Sadly, my attention span, commanded tightly by the anticipation of the upcoming competition, was all too consuming to allow any outpouring of charm to exploit this unexpected serendipitous attention and opportunity.

The Encore Hotel

The venue for the competition was the Encore Hotel, a less costly and less upscale look alike of the Wynn, both connected at the hip by winding corridors, walkways and shops. I’m told; this is the premier hotel and casino on the strip! Certainly the price for the slightest purchase of anything, even a banana or cup of coffee would leave most mortals shuddering in shock. But the green bloodletting gets easier by the day thorough conditioning and submission, and with the resignation that you are a captive audience to this Las Vegas Empire with few options.

Both hotels are very lovely, and filled with interesting gismos and visual oddities, including gardens of beautiful flowers, and a lush green setting framing a man made waterfall entertaining those having dinner at the steakhouse or lakeside restaurants located in a large open enclosure.  Funny, remember this is the desert; we could have created this setting in Hawaii with almost no money, but not so in Las Vegas. 

There are many things to see at both hotels that I even felt were worthwhile, except the tulip sculpture, nearly a man size colorful bouquet of what is supposed to be tulips protected by a partial glass perimeter and 24-hour security.  This sculpture is strategically located in a corridor between both hotels.  To me, there is nothing of interest or beauty or design or redeeming quality to the sculpture, no detail that would identify the amorphous bulbous blobs of metal or plastic or whatever as flowers of any kind, no less my favorite flower, the tulip.  Truly, even the stems didn’t give their identify away; to me they looked more like inflatable helium filled party balloons suspended in air by colorful string. But its all about money in Vegas; this monstrosity somehow and for some reason commands a price of 28-30 million dollars....at least that was the word on the street.  And to me, that is the only interesting thing about this excuse for a sculpture. Indeed, I would not pay more than $28 for it, so the security guard had no trouble in declining my offer as I passed him early in the morning on my way to coffee.  

But Las Vegas has its glitz and culture – an anything goes mentality and environment that promotes decadence and self-destruction.  Anything can be bought with the right price – money has no real value except if you have none.  Being an upscale hotel, the clientele was generally not the depressing losers huffing and puffing on their cigs and pulling and pushing on the slot machine levers (old style..now just push button). In their place, there were a horde of vulgar, abrasive, rude, and loud drunk out of their mind young people, a competition for how short you will dare to wear your skirt, tight short shorts that could have just been paint on flesh, the outpouring of frontal flesh and bobbing soft tissue escaping from the minimalist fabric dress, all with drink and cigarette in hand.  It was EVEN too much for and old blogger like me to hold my interest after the first 50 look-alike manikins passed by.  Truly, I was more embarrassed for them – only if they knew how ridiculous they looked and how obvious a target they were projecting for even a semi-hormonal male expecting to score big in the casino and after.  And it seemed that this is Las Vegas at its worst – if a majority of young people consider this excessiveness and overindulgence fun, or something to aspire to, we are indeed in great trouble for the future of our youth and country.

Competition Tidbits

During the competition itself, the organizers were always around, giving support and answering questions – this was a plus.  And this abbreviated competition stuffed Latin and Standard into one day, while Rhythm and Smooth were given one full day’s attention.  Since I signed up for all four events in addition to a solo presentation, my days were filled and busy, especially the last – which began with Standard starting at 7AM and ended at around 5PM waiting to hear that I was last place in the Latin multi-dance event that was contested in the C category. This was an event filled with capable and experienced women over 50 and one other obviously younger gentleman competitor who was pretty good in his own right who came in next to last.  

The competition was devoid of the depth to offer many of the usual multi-dance events that I sign up for.  As I approach 68 years of life, I usually go for the over 60 age category, and the senior or D category designation of over 65 or 66, but in the NV Ball, there were few opportunities to compete in multi-dance events that I am accustomed to.  Still I beat a few of the ladies in the Smooth multi-dance events giving me hope that I should not entirely give up on the idea of competing in younger age categories.  I was overall happy with my performance and in the gentleman only events; I only faltered in one heat over the four-day period (note: there were a bunch of uncontested heats so this accomplishment is not as grand as it might suggest).

Divino Ritmo Dance Studio

In addition to myself, Yanna competed with a teenage student rounding out the contribution from Divino Ritmo to the NVBall.  On the last evening, I was recognized as a top 20 student – actually I was fifth on the list, and my teacher Yanna was then awarded a top teacher award in the third position.  This of course was associated with a decent purse, so we were very happy to have Yanna win this top teacher award.

Overall Experience and Suggestions for the Organizers

There was a tremendous investment in this competition, being its first year under new ownership and highlighting a gala black tie opening event and a significant purse of prize money.  I believe the new owners impressed the students and professionals alike with this level of investment and commitment.

Overall, the quality of the competition was enhanced by the quality of the hotel, expensive as it was, but a necessary and enjoyable expense.  The rooms were outstanding, large, clean, and comfortable, with lovely views of the panorama.  The bed was really comfortable and you had in your possession a command center module that controlled every aspect of the room including the movement of the curtains from the recumbent position.  The air, anywhere other than the casino was clean and relatively easy to breathe. 

In Vegas, you have two problems; the smokers and the dryness of the air.  Either one can make you sick and or miserable.  Lesser hotels hosting unnamed other competitions in Vegas have produced a significant amount of morbidity in the dancers because of their aged air conditioning systems are uneven, faltering, and unpredictable.  Indeed, I have personally had some very rough moments attributable to the quality of the air controlling filtering and humidifying capacity of inexpensive antiquated hotels.  Not so in the Encore, the air was as clean and fresh as it could be in the places that counted: this was overall a great experience as a result.

I truly didn’t mind the three-day schedule and in some ways it was a welcome retreat from the usual week’s worth of competition.  I even didn’t mind stuffing Standard and Latin in the same day.  What I did mind is that it started at 7AM that day and ended late.  I would have been totally on board if the day began at 9AM or even 8:30AM expecting quite a number of us were competing in both of the last day’s events.

The ballroom was far from the main casino, registration area, and restaurants and cafes.  That allowed the air quality to be better controlled so far away from the casino mayhem, but it was problematic when it came to the nutritional needs of the students.  To rub it in further, there was a cordoned off area of drinks and snacks for the judges in plain site of the participants and competitors. 

Perhaps some bananas or some soft candies would have been nice, (there was water of course), but even if the organizers were not interested in investing in these amenities, having a satellite café selling coffee, tea, sandwiches, muffins, etc directly outside of the ballroom would have really saved the day for many of us.  I ended up stocking up on drinks and food from the sundry shop, relegating myself to eating a progressively soggy tuna sandwich festering most of the day in my bag to provide energy and prevent hypoglycemia. Not everyone was as prepared as I was, but I’m not sure that I did my stomach any favors. 

Finally, to the question that some might be asking, -  Yes, I would definitely return again to Las Vegas to compete in the NV Ball, as I believe others attending would also agree.