Friday, April 16, 2010

The Golden Moments

* The writer requests the reader to read the previous post, before starting this, to get the complete golden moment :) *

The next morning, I woke up, disoriented. I groggily remembered what day it was, and what I was supposed to be doing.

I yawned and stretched.

PIDC. The competition. Brilliant dancers. Hot guys who could salsa!
Nah, who was I kidding! Hot guys can't salsa. (Me prayed that God send some guy to prove me wrong and not be gay either! And not be married. Or a teenager)

I moved slowly, the way I move when it's morning and all I want to do is snuggle into my warm bed and dream away to glory. But, that wasn't happening today.

You have bigger things to look forward to today.

I laughed to myself. The things I say to pep myself up! I had already packed everything the night before (making my mom feel proud of me) and so, with nothing left to do in the morning, I resorted to making inquiry calls for my costume, while I waited for my ride. The early morning network congestion ( I don't know why I've added the early morning there, with Airtel, it's almost always congested ) allowed me to send a message, to which I got a short reply "I'm carrying it"

By the time we reached the venue, whole 10 minutes early due to my constant "Move it people" whine, I was super excited.

Oh my god, there ARE international instructors here. They are ACTUALLY here. This is so awesome!

I did my happiness dance, which goes.... oh never mind.

The workshops started on time, and I flashed my "Ha..I told you it would" smug smile, which was greeted by the "Oh please" rolled eyed look. The first workshop of the day was Flamenco, and it involved clapping, slapping yourself on the arms, thighs, and stomping your feet. Throwing a tantrum to the powerful flamenco beat, if you will. And was it fun? Oooo yeh!! It was followed by a Salsa workshop by two super cool Americans, the guy being a total darling, and the girl being sizzling hot. The day progressed through workshops (bboying, cha cha cha, mambo), all of us gushing over the styling in each dance, and very happy about getting this opportunity to learn these different styles.

Post lunch, we decided to go for the Competition Level Salsa dancing workshop, thinking it would add to our confidence level before the competition. It did not. What it achieved was the complete opposite effect, and then suddenly, we didn't want to go up on that stage. That feeling heightened, when we came to know who the judges would be.

We were asked to report at 4 o'clock for the pre-competition instructions, and at around 3:30 pm, my partner realized that he had left his costume at home.

I said three things.

Gooooooooooooooooooo get it!!!

He didn't get the original costume. The black shirt we had decided on, he couldn't find. So he got a purple one instead. I was wearing golden. And by that time, we both gave two hoots to the "costumes should match" concept.
Now would be a good time to explain how the competition is conducted. There are heats. The judges select two couples from each heat, to dance in the finals. The music is played on the spot. So, you dance impromptu. All you have to do is follow your partners lead, dance so that the judges notice you and audience hoots. ( This requires an array of actions and emotions, for example, winking, shaking the bum in a sexy-but-not-slutty way (NOT easy to do :p), smiling, and still staying on beat). Ah, piece of cake.

I was freaking out. My partner (let's call him A ;) ) noticed.

A: Heyy... relax. We are going to rock it. Relax!
Me: Hmmm....
A: Just your stuff. You'll be awesome. Chill. Relax.
Me: Ahan..hmmm....
A: It's going to be fine, trust me.
Me: We are so doomed! Why are we doing this again!? Oh my god, we are going to bomb on stage!
A: Cheeeeeeeeeeel!


Me: Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!

I couldn't oh my god anymore, because they were calling out the numbers. We were couple number 6.

And could we have couple number siixxxxxx on the stage please.
That was us.

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!!

And then, something within me took control. I walked on that stage, with my partner, arms stretched out to greet the audience, a huge smile on my face. My partner spun me, and both of us stood next to each other. And posed.I guess it looked confident. I could see the judges in the front. Heads bobbing. The spot lights glared into me, and I could barely make out where the audience was. I kept smiling though. With chin up.

The song, Michela, came on. The hoo-haa chorus blared through the speaker. And I felt a surge of confidence. My partner lead me into a cross body lead. We had a mini sequence decided, which included most of the salsa steps we had learnt, and the salsa shines. We performed half of it. And then we kept looping the sequence.

When we got off the stage, I was on a high. My heart was beating fast and I kept picturing us, from an eagle eye view. Were we noticed? Did we dance on beat? Would we make the cut?

I was jumpy, and I moved about, venting off that excess energy. Salsa was to be followed by the cha cha. Cha cha was not our strong point. All throughout the "practice" sessions, we had been going off beat. And it had to go cha cha 1,2,3 on the cha cha 1,2,3 beat, else you would be disqualified.

4 couples were on stage for the first round in the first heat, and we were centre stage. Few seconds passed by as hours, and finally Santana's Oye Como Va came on. It had a nice introductory music. I felt that surge of confidence again, and my mind took complete charge of my body. I circled my partner, doing the "girl around the guy walk", and then, instead of turning back to him, I went towards the judges, doing the cha cha lockstep in combination with my own styling. I went right to the front of the stage, giving the judges no option but to notice me, and I did a hip twist, pouted at the audience and sashayed back to my partner. He smiled, happy, and we caught the beat.

The cha cha had infused a confidence in me, and an alluring, bewitching aura surrounded me. I felt seductive, charming, attractive. One and a half minute of pure, unadulterated dancing. I wondered what professionals felt like.

We bowed to the judges and the audience and walked off the stage. My partner was simply excited over the cha cha performance.

A: It wasss aweesommme!
Me: *giggles*
A: We are so going to win!
Me : Shut up!
A: Ok, atleat get into the next heat. Finals!
Me: Ok, that seems possible.

We could see the judges handing their score sheets to the volunteers. Techno beats had now replaced the very smooth Santana, and I felt my heart beat in rhythm to it.The sheets were gathered, and the host walked up on stage to announce the finalists for the salsa heat. There were 9 couples, and 4 would be selected. Our previous heats' routine started playing over and over in my head.

Had I spun correctly? Did he do his cross body leads correctly? Why didn't we do the flick? Oh wait, we did. Did it look like a flick?

The host spoke.

And the first couple into the finals isssssssssss....any guesses?

Okay, I honestly don't know the numbers of the couples who made it in. I remember there was a 2, and a 1. And maybe a 3. My heart was pounding so hard, that it drowned out all the other voices. It just kept a filter for 6.

Say six. Please. We can't be out now. Oh crap, we are out.

Couple number not 6.
Cheering. Applause

Keep cool. There are 3 more places to go.

The next couple is...numberrrr...... any guesses?
Some yelled 4. Some yelled 6. I yelled along with them. Silently.

Couple number not 6!
More cheering. More applause.

2 more places to go. My partner held my hand.

Okay, so two more places to go. Could we have couple number.. 1/2/3/4/5/not 6/7/8/9 on the stage please!
This was it. There was one place left. My mind was blank now. I had some emotion, which I can't aptly describe, coursing through me. I imagined composing a "I didn't get through" message to my family and friends. I imagined their sympathetic replies.

No, no, say couple number 6. Say it. Now!
He took a long pause. I hated him.

Anndd last but not the least....

He turned to look at all of us, an understanding, sly smile on his face. Like he found our anxiety amusing, and understood how much importance his next few words held for us. He took his time basking in that self importance.

Couple number..... Couple numbeerrr....
Oh just kill me!

Oh my god, I just died. Before I had time to react, my partner had already taken my hand, and was pulling me up the stage stairs . As if on autopilot, I put on a radiant smile, glared back into the spotlights, and sauntered onto the stage. This time, front, corner, left.
They made us turn around so they could see the numbers clearly. Completely taken over by a stage high, I finger signaled our number, and wriggled the 6 standing fingers about.

Host: You don't act it out, you dance it out!
Audience + Me : *laugh*

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the judges laughing too. Had I just earned myself a brownie point?

More at ease now, our pose came naturally. I felt lighter inside, and gauging from my partners grip, I felt him feel ease out too.

Careless Whisper's latino version started to play. Buying time to catch the beat, I performed a body wave, with my hand extending over my head and then coming down to settle on my hip, and from there I gave it to my partner. He refused to take it. He didn't feel the beat was right. Without wasting time or showing shock, I quickly did the same thing again, with a little more oomph this time, and now when I gave him my hand, he quickly lead me for a cross body lead ending with a spin.

We looped the same sequence, with more confidence and style added to it. A bit of familiarity too. Somewhere in the middle of the sequence, his spectacles slipped off. But he was really good in recovering from that! Leading me with one hand, he quickly slipped them back on with the other, smiled at me nonchalantly, and continued the sequence. Admirable!
One and a half minute, and the final salsa heat was over. Now, it would be cha cha cha time. And then, the verdict would be out. Now only if we made it into this heat too, I thought. Again, 9 couples, 4 would be selected.

I was quite confident about being in the finals for cha cha, and honestly speaking, I thought we'd win the silver. But I guess I was getting too ahead of myself.

The host walked up on stage again. He garnered the audience's applause by stating what an awesome heat it was, and then spoke about the sponsors who made it possible to have such a brilliant heat. Okay!

Moving on with the cha cha finals.... the four random order... couple number sixxxxx....
The wait wasn't an excruciating one this time. I whispered to my partner, asking him to lead me centre stage again. And thats exactly what he did. We waited for the three other couples to join us.

The song came on instantly. I don't know the name. All I can remember is the way it started. Loud. Energetic. I was sold. I quickly glanced at the other couples. All of them had started dancing, either doing a fan, the hockey stick, or the chasse. I refused to do so. What else could I do? I decided to repeat the cha cha lockstep towards the judges. I'd just modify it a bit. I didn't know how until I reached the front edge of the stage. I looked directly at the judges this time, brought my hands up to my head, resting lightly on my hair, did a half spin, looked over the shoulder, back down to the judges, then up to the audience, and alternately lock stepped back to my partner, who, guessing I would pull that again, waited in pose, with a slight smirk on his face.

The rest of the sequence is a blur to me. It's like a tape being fast forwarded, till the part where we bowed and walked off stage. I had to perform in an hours time, so we were immediately shoo-ed to the changing rooms. Never being the kind to discuss a performance/test after having given it, I tried to remain inconspicuous to everyone around. At the same time, I was bursting with curiosity.

Suddenly, I heard a loud cry from behind, and felt myself engulfed in a hug.

You were amazing!! It was so good! Goldennn girrll!
I laughed nervously. Yeah? It was good? We didn't make utter fools of ourselves?

Noooooo!! Not at all! You are winning! Everyone was like that golden girl was goood!Believe me!
Okay, she was just being nice. I had to summarize that to, You didn't completely goof up on stage and people won't point at you and laugh.

Aren't you a surprise package?! That was not bad, not that bad. Actually!
There. Now that seemed normal.

You nailed it girl! That walk towards the judges for cha cha.... doneee! Doneee!!Sold!

By now, I was getting excited and nervous. In equally strong doses. I wanted to sit and ask more, hear more, and at the same time I wanted to flee and not hear anything, lest I raised my hopes too high, and got burned later. And had to send that "Oh, didn't win. But had good fun! Great experience" message. I was freaked out, and my mind was incoherent.

I quickly changed into my performance outfit, a teal, silver and purple masterpiece, which had initially failed to cover me properly. Now it fit snug, thanks to last minute alterations, and I was able to dance without worrying about what showed from where.

Rid of all the competition pressure, I thoroughly enjoyed performing on stage and loved the audience's encouragement. It, however, got over before it started. Stupid theory of relativity. (Hmpf, Einstein!)

We had a break after the performance, and before the prize distribution ceremony. I spent that time with other friends who had competed, those who I knew, so I wouldn't have to hear about how surprisingly good or pathetically bad I was. I kept getting occasional comments though, (honestly?) positive, and some friends kept gushing over the whole act. I got occasional smiles from random people, who must have recognised me from stage, and I felt the next one hour was going to be quite suspenseful. And I was antsy.

We were eventually ushered into the auditorium. The time had come, and after dazzling performances, which held us in awe, we were brought back to reality and were suddenly hyper excited.

The moment you all have been waiting for.... Prizes.. sponsored by bla bla bla..thanks to bla bla bla... so without further ado...bla bla bla..bla bla bla...bla bla bla... so without further ado...bla... here are the prizes for the Latin socials....
This meant the salsa. I spotted my partner sitting in the row in front and flashed him a quick smile. He grinned back. I laughed.

The runners up for Latin Socials areeee..... any guesses...?
The audience, probably as anxious to get on with it already, yelled random numbers. Some being 100, 4000, and -infinity.

The host, getting the hint, announced the runners up. They were not couple six.

I started typing the "Lost in salsa. Let's see, hope to get something in Cha cha" message.

And the winners of the Latin Socials arree....
I started picking out my message recepients from the address book. Mom, dad,

areee...couple number siixxxxx!
Couple number six, cousin, best friend,

What?! Couple number who won the Latin socials?

I sat dumbstruck in my seat. Someone behind tousled my hair and yelled a "I TOLD YOU". I heard plenty of congrats and woo-hoos. And I got up, and saw my partner waiting at the end of the aisle. I broke out into a light springy run, and felt a huge smile forming on my face. We went up on stage together, but not before exchanging a "We won? We won? Weeeeeeee? Wheeeeeee!!". I was pretty formal to receive the award. It still hadn't sunk in. Not until I saw the trophy and the gold medal was placed around my neck. Then, it started sinking in. Slowly.

We both got off the stage, still not sure of how we won! It seemed unreal. It felt awesome. We scanned the audience for familiar faces, and as we were about to head back to our seats, a volunteer told us to hang back. I looked at my partner, quizzically.

Maybe they want all the winners up on stage for a photo once all the prizes are out, I thought.

So we hung back, playing with our medals and gazing at the trophy.

So moving on, we now have the winners for the Latin Cha cha beginners....
I looked up to cheer, and caught a volunteer from my dance school winking at me. She smiled slyly and looked away. Realisation dawned on me, and I turned towards my partner, excitedly.

Me: We are winning the silver in Cha Cha!!!
A: Yeah? Really?
Me: Yeah! P just smiled at me now, and why else would they make us stand here?! Or maybe she was just smiling like that? No, but why would she do that? I think we are winning the silver!
A: Awesome!! I like what you think!

I liked it too. A silver and a gold. That would be so awesome! I thought of the message I would send now. "One gold, one silver. :D :D :D". And the replies! Oh, the replies!

In runners up we have..... couple number not sixxxx.

What?!?Weren't we winning the silver? Had I gotten ahead of myself?Drat! Why did I have to imagine that message! Now I'll have to compose a "One gold" one. We weren't winning silver!Then why did she have to smile like that! Where is she?!
I looked up and now I saw her grinning at me. Was she stupid?

Why was she grinning now? Like I'm going to win the gold... ooo my god.. was I going to win the gold?
I looked over at my partner. He was checking out his medal, oblivious to the flurry of thoughts I had raging in my head.

You don't win two golds. Who wins two golds? You don't win two golds. Maybe it's the winner picture. Then, who was winning this? Could somebody just tell me!
My partner now looked at me, suddenly as curious.

And the is a good day indeed for them, is couple numbeerrrr sixxx!!!
I gasped.

You DO win two golds! I had just won two golds! Two golds! Meee? Meee? Meeee!!
I was so happy! I looked at my partner, and he had an incredulous look on his face. We both bounded up the stairs. Another trophy. Two more medals. Incredible!

Holding a trophy each, and the medals clanking against each other, we rushed into the audience, and immediately found ourselves in a big group hug. Everyone was so happy! There was cheering, hugging, yelling! Euphoria! I was still in shock, in suprise, it just wasn't sinking in.

Call your mom!You won!
I quickly took my phone from a friend, and after realising there was no network connectivity (I can't believe Airtel has those sentimental "express your emotions" ads), I texted everyone I could! And it read, "Two golds!"

In seconds, I got a plethora of calls and messages (Thank you :) ). All jubilant. All proud. I
couldn't wait to get home.

I didn't stay for the party that night. I rushed home as soon as possible, and hugged my mom and dad, and showed off the medals with the enthusiasm of a 6 year old. We clicked pictures and I showed them the video of the dance and pictures of the event.

I was on a tired high, and after eating some rice, simply due to my moms insistence, I dozed off. I had a dreamless night.

But I had the most amazing next day morning.

Golden dress. Golds. Golden girl.

I leaped out of bed.

I couldn't wait to start the day!

P.S. I passed the test too :D