Friday, June 8, 2012

Waltz Practice Video and Lessons Learned About Spending and Materialism

This was taped at my lesson yesterday.  The video quality is not great, but it's good enough to get a good look at my Waltz.  I'm pleased because I'm achieving smoother movement and a nice posture.  In competitive ballroom, the ladies head position is very far to the left.  This creates a dynamic separation between the man and the woman that looks beautiful when moving.  I've worked hard to acquire this skill and it has helped me to win a few competitions.  That and my wonderful and talented ballroom teacher, Marcel.     

Dance is magic.  When I dance, I forget the stresses of daily life.  I've danced all my life (belly dance, ballet as a young girl, show dance in local theater productions) in one way or another, but I just started ballroom 5 years ago.  I had always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance, but I thought I needed to have a partner, but that is not true. If you don't have a partner, you will dance with your instructor or other students.  My husband and I started out together, but then he started a massive overtime streak at work and could not continue.  Fortunately, hubby let me keep dancing and new dance passion was born.  Now, I compete on a pro-am circuit.  Pro-am means that a student dances with an instructor.

Ballroom has consumed and transformed me and my life.  I no long try to satisfy my desire to spend money on material things that are not treasured.  "Things" use to call to me. They owned me. If I thought something was pretty, I usually purchased it.  My home was filled with useless little nic-nacs that collected dust and took up real estate.  I had closets bursting with clothing that I didn't wear.  Nearly every day, I would open my closet and cry the familiar refrain "I have nothing to wear".  I had (and still have) credit card debt.

In the last few years, I began to understand that the rabid consumerism was a symptom of a lack in my life.  I had lots to pretty clothes, but was not satisfied with "me". I continued to want more dresses, more clothing.  I was bored.  I was craving stimulation and shopping was only effective until I brought home my new acquisitions.

When I started dancing, I was bitten hard by the dance bug.  Dancing began to fill that empty space.  I had some natural ability that was becoming refined and improving through instruction and learning technique.  The ache to buy, buy, buy started to wane a bit.  I still struggled for awhile to stay out of stores and keep my hands off the "plastic".  Credit cards were way too easy, and I had to learn to ignore them burning a hole in my wallet.  Eventually I took them all out.  I only use cash now.

I still struggle sometimes, although thanks to dance, I feel so much more fulfilled.  I would much rather spend my money on experiences than on things that I won't love in a short time.  I still LOVE clothes.  I read style blogs daily.  Sometimes I see an outfit on a lovely blogger and I'm tempted to go out and buy everything she's wearing.  When that happens, I think about how many dance lessons and competitions that I could participate in.  Most of the time, the feeling eases.

I still fall into old habits at times and head out for a shopping trip.  I'm much better now at thinking through each purchase and asking myself if it is something that I will love and use time and time again. Now, I go to the Goodwill when I need a fix and I can usually find good quality items to boost my wardrobe.  Now, I don't buy pieces; I buy items that become part of a very functional capsule.  I buy things that I will reach for time and time again.  This helps me spend less and feel more satisfied with what I have.  I'm better at reminding myself that my husband's generosity in subsidizing my dance should not be rewarded by another bill in the mail.  Dance has tamed the consumer beast in me and channeled my energies into an activity that challenges me to improve myself.  Dance has given me goals to achieve that mean so much more than having the prettiest dress in the room.  It has given me confidence and pride and sparkle.

Dance is magic!

If any of you are interested in learning to dance ballroom, I will be happy to give you some pointers to help you find a good studio.  If you have any questions about how to get started, just send me a message. I can also pass along makeup and dressing for ballroom tips, if you ever decide to do showcase performances or competitions.  I have learned so much about this.  Eventually, I will do some posts on ballroom makeup and hair, and about purchasing the right ballroom gown.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  As for me, I will be dancing tonight and tomorrow night!


  1. I was so struck by what you wrote about your interest in dance, as an antidote to shopping. In fact, I tweeted one of your sentences, but I can't get the video to work!

  2. Thanks Terri! Not sure why the video won't work. On my end it is ok. I will have to have a friend try to check it out on her computer.

    It has really worked for me.....although shopping is still near and dear to is not my true love.

  3. Thanks Terri! Not sure why the video won't work. On my end it is ok. I will have to have a friend try to check it out on her computer.

    It has really worked for me.....although shopping is still near and dear to is not my true love.

  4. I've watched the video now and you and Marcel move so gracefully about the studio. Several years ago I took a course in belly dancing...and I'm afraid that is what started my current interest in clothing & style. I began to realize that some of the effects of the dance were due to the costuming.

  5. Terri you are so right about the effects of dance being due to costuming! It's particularly true of belly dance. One thing that isn't enhanced by the costume in belly dance though, is not having good isolation. If you don't, then the costume draws attention to moving parts that should not be moving, so it can work in a negative way too.

    Costuming in ballroom enhances the dance because the bottom of the dress is usually very full and it swishes about your legs and your partners legs when dancing. The fabric twirls and swirls and adds to the floating quality of the dance. Ballroom dress have very specific fit requirements to be functional and beautiful. I am as addicted to scoping out the dresses as I am dancing. Something magical happens when you slip into a blindingly sparkly crystal encrusted dress!

    Thank you for the compliment, Terri. One other way that costuming affects MY dancing is by transforming me into the "character" of ballroom diva. My practices may look pretty good, but when the dress is on, the makeup and false eyelashes are placed and the hair is "ballroom"; that's when dancing really comes alive.

    Hope you enjoyed your dance class. I encourage you to keep dancing!


"When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect"--Mark Twain