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Volunteer Report

Gearing Up for Dance Fest

By Mary Beth Beckman

On November 25th, we had the first 2015 Dance Fest volunteer coordination meeting. If you've never been to a meeting like this, it's basically a bunch of people sitting around remembering all the fun they've had at ballroom competitions in the past and wondering how in the world everything came together to produce such a fabulous, memorable outcome. Then comes the equal-parts sinking and elating realization that it comes with a lot of effort, entirely on the backs of a few dedicated people. It's a sinking feeling because we're all busy with lots of things to do, and adding more on top seems nigh inconceivable at times. But it's elating to know yourself capable of doing something important, of creating memories and bringing joy to a bunch of people—friends and strangers alike. So we find ourselves back in the early stages of forming what will be an amazing sequel to this year's Dance Fest.

I'd encourage everyone to consider joining this extremely dedicated, capable group of volunteers. It's a fantastic resume-booster, a great way to network with others in the partner dancing community, an opportunity to learn a lot of high-dollar information in exchange for your time and energy, and as a bonus, you get to help create something.

Dance Fest is a fun event for all who attend, without a doubt, but it's easy to forget the variety of people who walk through the doors. For a lot of people, Dance Fest is one of their very first means of exposure to competitive ballroom dancing. Our goal is to make sure that everyone walks out of the event with a new or renewed enthusiasm for partner dancing. Part of this is making sure that everyone has a chance to participate.

Everyone decides their own level of comfort and commitment when it comes to an event like Dance Fest. For some people, sitting quietly in the audience appreciating the hard work coming to fruition on the dance floor is the extent of what they're willing to put in, and that's fabulous. For others, it's hooting and hollering, shouting out names and numbers. Others still get all dressed up and dance their hearts out in front of hundreds of people. Professionals get involved to judge the dancing, MC the event, and run the music.

And then there are the volunteers, most of whom are also competitors. These people take their commitment to Dance Fest into a truly admirable realm. Some of them donate a few hours at the competition, keeping the flow of competitors moving, refilling water jugs, and helping out with all sorts of odd jobs. The most ambitious among us put in hundreds of hours prior to the event to make sure that of all the things that go wrong (and things will go wrong), none of them will be show-stoppers.

When you sit in a meeting like the one we had and envision your possible contribution, you realize that the only limit is your own ability to give. I encourage you to give what you can. Is that time, skill, expertise? Let us know! Is that a donation of money or services? We're always looking for new scholarships to offer! Is that just showing up and supporting the dancers? Put the event on your calendar and make a point of showing up.

The resounding opinion at the end of the meeting was: if we can put together the best amateur comp the Twin Cities has ever seen with only thirty days to prepare, imagine what we can do with several months. You won't want to miss it.

Check out www.udancefest.com to learn more about this fabulous competition, which will take place on March 7th and 8th.