One Hour at a Dance Competition

10444545_783932541627986_5122564243382035730_nMy daughter is a competitive dancer. She loves it. I love that she loves it. I know there are crazies in every sport, but I can only write about the crazies I know. I’m in no way bashing dance competitions or saying every grown woman at a dance competition is worthy of a starring role in the Dance Moms TV show. So please no bedazzled hate mail.

I’m about to enter into the fourth and final day of a dance competition. I fear I maybe suffering from some sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. All I can hear is a continuous loop of loud music where the lyrics seem to be jumbled and the bass is turned up way too high. On top of that my vision is blurred like I’ve been repeatedly poked in the eye with a tube of glitter glue and my hands they’re actually achy from clapping. I’ve seen more than 500 and counting dance numbers this weekend and it’s just too much for my middle-aged metacarpal and phalanges.

The only thing keeping me going besides, of course, seeing the joy in my daughter as she dances and appreciating the sheer athleticism and the beauty of the art form is the behavior of some of the other parents. It’s outrageous and highly entertaining in a slow down to see a car wreck kind of way.

Let me make it very clear I am NOT talking about the parents at my daughter’s dance studio because we are a splendid group of proper, superbly mannered adults that are blessed with our darling children having amazing, talented and caring instructors. (If anyone from the studio is reading this I hope my overt sucking up has now earned my kid some time in the front row, preferably center stage.) Now that that’s out of the way let’s all get our focus back on the dance crazies. I swear some of the people here are on a day pass from a long-term care mental health facility.

I can prove my assertion by solely focusing on one hour at today’s dance competition. Here’s what went down from noon to one. At high noon I had gone out to my car to get a Diet Coke from my cooler because I don’t know what’s up with these dance competitions, but at every single one they only sell freaking Diet Pepsi. WTH? This mandates that I have to break out my own private supply of Diet Coke. So, there I was walking back inside the venue clutching my iced beverage when I notice two policeman talking to one very upset Triple Platinum Diamond Emerald Elite dance mom.

Now, those of you that are not of the competitive dance world won’t know what this means so let me explain. This woman signaled her pecking order in the dance world by her appearance. First was her hair. I’m going to be kind and say that she obviously had a bad “do it yourself” experience (and who hasn’t) with home highlighting and attempted to cover the unflattering bleach demarcation lines by back combing it into some sort of hair helmet meets mullet. Her makeup was applied as if, she, herself, was ready to go on stage and she wore a hot mess of a blinged out T-shirt with her child’s dance studio’s name. Add in some jeans with, I’m guessing, her initials, in rhinestones on the back pockets and stilettos and you have a mom whose sense of good taste and fashion has been compromised by years of over exposure to industrial strength hair spray.

In the two short years my daughter has been dancing I’ve noticed there are 4 things that signal aggressive dance mom – bad hair, (It’s like they’ve never used a deep conditioner) sparkle enhanced clothing, a love of your own cleavage and the lack of a sensible shoe at an event where you stand for hours.

This woman had all four thus marking her as an uber serious dance mom. The fact that she had tears in her eyes and was very animatedly telling a story to police officers had me slowing way down to do a little eavesdropping. Apparently, there had been a dance mom throw down that involved shoving, threats and I was so hoping that hair pulling was involved that I asked very excitedly, “Was hair pulled? Was there just shoving or did someone get smacked? And if so was is open palm or one of those back of your hand slaps?”

I was totally sure the mom was about to answer, but one of the cops told me I needed to “step back” so I went inside and tried to ferret out what went down by mingling with the other moms at the studio listed on the crying mom’s shirt. Did I know any of these mothers? Heck no, but that wasn’t going to let that stop me.

I went straight to their dressing room and pretended I was looking for my daughter’s “lost” phone. This is where I learned that one mom who used to dance at their studio but left because she felt her daughter wasn’t getting enough attention for another studio (side bar: In the dance world this is called studio hopping. It’s when a mother constantly changes where her daughter dances in a never-ending quest to find the one place where f-i-n-a-l-l-y her child will get what she deserves  – eternal adulation) was at this competition and according to these moms words were exchanged about how one mom’s daughter wasn’t as good as the other mom’s daughter and before you could say jazz hands someone started shoving someone else. I’m sure the cops were called as back up for the lawsuit you just know one mom is going to file against the other mom.

Now, you would think this would be enough crazy in one hour, but no, there’s more. After all it’s only 12:27. I proceed to go into the stage venue where the performances are taking place but I can’t find anywhere to sit down. This is strange because there are many empty seats. The problem is the empty seats are covered with blankets. The blankets represent seats being “saved.”

I have no problem with people “saving” a couple of seats, but 10 to 15 seats is a little greedy especially when these “saved” seats seem to stay empty most of the day. I ask a woman with almost 20 seats blanketed if I may sit down to see one two-minute dance number. She says, “No!” and is visibly peeved that I have dared to even bother her with such a silly question. So, for research purposes only, I assure you, I ask her, “So, what will you do to me if I sit down? Are the seats rigged with C-4? I’ve noticed most, if not all of the seats you’ve been hoarding, have been empty all morning. Are you saving them for judgement day or something?”

She gives me an evil sort of “I dare you stare” back so I have no choice but to plop my ample fanny in the seat, but not just one seat, mind you, I do the butt seat straddle so I’m taking up two seats. She then grabs the end of one of the blankets and proceeds to swat me.

I’m holding in my laughter so hard I’m afraid my tenuous bladder control might fail me, but I remain stalwart in my mission and butt grip those two seats through one dance number as this deranged woman continues to swat me with the fringed end of a blanket. After the dance number is over I give Swatty a smile, stand up and thank her for her gracious hospitality.

All my laughing has necessitated a trip to the ladies room. I’m in the back stall taking care of business when I hear a woman on her cell phone in the stall next to me crying. Now usually if I heard someone sobbing in a bathroom stall I might be concerned but not at a dance competition. I knew why this woman was crying. It was because her child must have suffered some egregious injustice at the hand of the judges panel.

There are three areas of concern for any deranged dance mom.

1) Is your child getting the best choreography or is all the good choreography saved for some other kid who you just know is not as gifted as your child? I mean seriously have you seen the other kid’s feet. They’re like wooden blocks. She would have to use a belt sander to get those things to point.

2) Is your child getting enough of the dance teacher’s attention? In deranged dance mom speak that loosely translates to – Is my child being worshipped as befitting her someday grand and glorious contribution to the dance world?

3) Why isn’t my kid always dancing in the front row? The deranged dance mom will take out her phone and time how many seconds her kid has dancing front and center in all her competition numbers. She will then graph her child’s time spend in the front in correlation to the amount of time other dancers from the studio spend in the front row. From this she’ll surmise that her kid is being ripped off. It’s a lose-lose for the studio owners and dance teachers. If they don’t put the kid in the front row they’re playing favorites. If they do put the child in the front and she doesn’t perform up to expectations the mom will blame the studio for putting too much stress on her kid. It goes something like this, “How could you expect her to perform well? You put her under so much pressure! You forget she’s just a child.”

As I’m washing my hands the crying mom comes out of her stall. I ask her if everything is all right. She responds with, “I just so tired of my daughter not getting treated right. This whole dance thing is so unfair. I swear I think her teachers are jealous of her, because she has more talent than they ever did.”

She then asks me where my daughter dances and I make up a studio. In no way do I want this crazy in my neck of the woods. (I do not, like most mothers, wear the studio T-shirt of where my daughter dances. I think the studio is very, very, grateful and it helps me in my information quest to remain on the down low.) I do feel a little bit sorry for her so I tell her a “feel good” fib and say, “Dry those eyes sister. I heard a Dance Mom’s talent scout is here. You should go out there and try to find her.”

I barely had a chance to finish my sentence before she was hauling out the bathroom door. I then look at my phone it’s almost 1:00. Wow, I think to myself that’s a lot of crazy in 60 minutes, even for me.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂