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A Weekend of Firsts

New Jersey Summer Sizzler

By Alexzandra Enger

Firsts—they’re so simple, yet oftentimes, first experiences hold great significance or sentimental value to people: first words, first steps, the first time you meet your significant other, the first time you have Chipotle after a lifetime of burrito deprivation. I’ll admit that I’m on the more sentimental side of the spectrum. I prefer vivid memories, so I often use my handy iPhone to document as many of my important, exciting, or simply novel firsts as possible. A lengthy scroll through my camera roll will give the casual observer a basic run-through of my favorite experiences in recent history, firsts included. My first ballroom social dance is preserved for posterity in there, as is my very first ballroom competition. Even my first pair of Latin shoes has its prerequisite thumbnail in my ballroom album.

When I broke into the competitive ballroom community, it was as a collegiate dancer. Recently, I had the opportunity to break into the amateur circuit, and I grabbed hold of that chance with eager hands. The first weekend of June saw me, my partner, and several good friends in New Jersey for the New Jersey Summer Sizzler. It was a weekend of great fun, fantastic experiences with friends, and, of course, many firsts.

First Time on an Airplane

In today’s fast-paced world, almost every person you meet will have been on an airplane before, but not me. This trip was the first time I’d ever set foot upon an airplane that intended to take off with me strapped into it. I’d been given an equal number of horror stories and calming reassurances by my traveling partners, so I had been hoping for the best but was prepared for the worst (worst being intense motion sickness, something I’m not a stranger to, and turbulence that could be likened to a rolling sea). It all went over much better than I’d been led to believe; I would actually say it was exciting.

First Time in New York City

It’s one of the largest cities in the world and arguably the most well known. It’s a very touristy city, which is something I was expecting, yet the sheer volume of people and the fast-paced atmosphere was still impressive and gave me a moment’s shock and awe. Along with visiting New York City as a first comes a host of other firsts: the Natural History Museum, FAO Schwarz, Koreatown, and Central Park. Each was a spectacular experience in its own right. The Natural History Museum was absolutely fascinating and, coupled with the Hayden Planetarium, easily made the finals for most exciting event of the day. Central Park yielded some fabulous people-watching, and parts of it looked as though they’d been plucked straight out of a prime-time cable detective drama.

First Amateur Ballroom Competition

I’ve competed in collegiate competitions before but had always heard about the amateur circuit; it seemed like some far-off, mysterious land filled with beautiful evening shows and dressing rooms with racks of bejeweled dresses hanging about. Unsurprisingly, it was very similar to a collegiate competition (by design, perhaps—in my limited experience, USA Dance regulations seem to be the standard even for non-USA Dance events) but had a new mix of faces and even more fancy dresses. The floor was sparsely populated in comparison to the collegiate competitions I’ve been to. There was only one heat for each category, and sometimes different levels of the same style were on the floor at the same time. The time I spent dancing was much more condensed, which was both a blessing and a curse: my feet thanked the timeline, but I wanted to keep on dancing. Thankfully, my ballroom itch was quickly scratched by the spectacular evening show.

I can only imagine what other firsts will come my way as I continue my journey in this wonderful world of ballroom dance.