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Contrary to how things may have seemed, I have still been dancing this year. I’ve managed to qualify for Blackpool twice over, something I hadn’t managed before.   The first was in a men’s only competition, but one where there were enough men to have a semi-final first.   Normally it’s a struggle to have enough for a men’s only competition so to have a semi first was a shock.   Thankfully I got over that and with both I made it into the final and therefore got my qualification. In the final itself I didn’t rank highly, but I had qualified which was the important thing.

The second time I qualified was for me more satisfying.   I was nervous dancing with a new teacher but at the same time there was the ‘relief’ that it was a straight final.   However this one was different as it wasn’t a men’s only event but a mixed. Previously I’ve not been successful competing in the mixed events so that was also weighing on my mind. I went back to the first event of the year where in a mixed event I had only succeeded in placing better than someone new to dancing in one event and hadn’t even managed that with the other (being barged by another couple hadn’t helped on that one). Despite the nerves, and I know I can dance much better on both dances, I managed to come third and second which were my best result, and to do so in a mixed event was pleasing.

I have no illusions about Blackpool, but am looking forward to it knowing that I can give it my best and that I will hopefully do better than previous years. Next year I’ll have the new challenge of dancing at the Pre-Bronze level (still low I know), but having taken my exams, (and passed), it will be interesting to see if I’m back to square one!

I’ve also started sequence dancing as well. This started partly as a way of getting more out of the competitions than I was, often driving a couple of hours to have 4 minutes on the dance floor going out in the first round. With something else to dance I could at least take it up to 6 minutes of dancing, increasing the value for money element by 50%!

It’s something that I have taken to and enjoy as much as the traditional ballroom and latin dancing and I suspect that in some respects it’s helping with the other dancing styles. I’ve also received encouragement from others who have been competing a number of years already, which is good for my confidence! Starting in May I decided that I would take things slow, see if I enjoyed it and if so, then look to start competing in 2017. (Sequence dances are set for the entire year so this would give me the opportunity to practice some of them without trying to quickly learn and qualify for events towards the end of the year). I’ve now passed my first exam, the lofty heights of Social Dance Level 1 and am looking forward (somewhat nervously) to entering the competitive fray next year.