With the sun rise still a long way off, we gathered at 5:45am ready for the day’s adventures. For the new members of the team, this was the first competition of the year, and though ‘raring to go’ is seldom a phrase which can be applied to people at such an absurd hour of the morning, everyone seemed excited to get onto the dancefloor and experience what it is like to compete on the university circuit.
Although the competition was hosted by Warwick, it actually took place at the Tower Ballroom in Birmingham. This was a lovely lakeside venue with a wooden, atmospherically lit dancefloor. We arrived at 9:00am, and after queueing for about ten minutes in the fresh November air, were let inside to get ourselves settled.
The competition started at 10:00am with the ballroom rounds. Warwick’s structure is a little different to that of the ‘friendly’ competitions regarding compulsory dances and the conditions to progress into subsequent rounds. Waltz and Quickstep are mandatory for competitors of all categories and for the Beginners are marked separately, as is usually the case. For the Novice category, however, couples must dance well in both dances to progress into the next round (this is called ‘two dance’), and for this year’s Intermediate couples this was true of Waltz, Quickstep and Tango (three dance). Advanced at Warwick added an extra dimension in the form of Viennese Waltz. Warwick is also strict in that many team members who would normally be able to dance in the standard categories are required to dance in Ex-Student (this is for those who are dancing for the university but no longer studying), meaning that they could be up against competitors of any ability. Congratulations go to Matthew Taylor and Anna Hughes for progressing into the semi-final of this very difficult category, which also adhered to the three dance rules of Waltz, Quickstep and Tango. Space on the dancefloor was quite limited at Warwick – the positioning of tables for trophies had given it a strange, banana-like shape – and it was nerve-racking watching Andrew and Katie among the fast-moving Intermediate couples, as they all swerved around trying not to be involved in high-speed collisions!
Whilst progress was disappointing for some of us in the Novice, Intermediate and Ex-Student categories, many compliments must be extended to the Beginners, who did exceptionally well against some very tough competition. Every single member of the Beginners team – Connor Fitzgerald, Anna Krivoshlykova, Serena James, Marc Short, Aimee Chung, Gareth Pearce and Brigit Smith – got through at least one round, and special congratulations go to Connor who got through in Quickstep, Jive and Cha Cha Cha!
Team challenge took place between ballroom and the afternoon’s Latin rounds, giving members of York’s team the opportunity to take to the floor in unrestricted dress and dance some of the dances which were possibly not available to them in their category.
After team challenge, the competition advanced swiftly on with the Latin rounds. A similar format to the morning’s ballroom section, these consisted of the Cha Cha Cha and Jive – single dances for the Beginners category, two dance for the Novice – with the addition of Rumba as the Ex-Student three dance round. A huge congratulations go to Lydia Teale and Katie Peeling for making the quarter-finals of Novice Latin – a very impressive feat given the strict progression rules and challenging competition. Some of York’s team also enjoyed themselves participating in the Open Samba round.
The day ended with the Team Match in the evening; this is where the students of a university get to compete together as a team, dancing without step restrictions and in unrestricted dress. York’s members were divided into three teams – A, B and C (this was an amalgamation with some students from Birmingham to make up numbers) – and team C’s progress was very pleasing, putting York into the semi-finals.
After an exhausting day, we left the ballroom at about 8:30pm and headed back to York, arriving home slightly after midnight. Now that all of the team members have experience under their belts, and are hooked by the idea of getting back onto the dancefloor, we look forward to the final competition of this term (Manchester Winter Friendly) on Saturday 5th of December.