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A Different Side of Competition

Forget Front Row, the Best Seats Are the Ones Behind the Scenes

By Alexzandra Enger

Normally when I’m at a ballroom competition, I’m either on the boards competing myself or sitting on the sidelines to report. This Twin Cities Open (TCO), however, I took on an additional role: personal assistant. Usually when I’m at a competition I’m either competing myself and thus far too busy to helping others get ready, or spectating at an evening show where few people I know are competing. This time, however, a good friend of mine was competing in both day and evening sessions, and since I wasn’t dancing (TCO is primarily a pro-am competition, and I only dance am-am), I took on the role of personal assistant.

First up were the hair and makeup appointments. Now, normally my friend (whom I’ll refer to as M from now on) and I both choose to do our own hair and makeup for competitions. That way, we get exactly what we want. Watching M have her hair and makeup professionally done was, to put it mildly, incredibly exciting and actually very educational. I like to think that I’m pretty good at doing my own hair and makeup for competitions, but it does take me several hours. The pros had M all made up in less than an hour and looking pretty darn great. Of course, I was looking to pick up a few inside beauty hacks while I was here, so I spent time watching their technique and making mental notes of the different products they used. If I could learn how to get my hair and makeup done in that short amount of time, that’d be two more hours of sleep I could get each morning before competitions, so it was worth it to pay attention.

Now it was on to getting the now glammed-up M tanned and dressed. There are definitely perks to having a friend tan you; it took me less than half the amount of time it usually takes me to tan myself to transform M into a glowing bronze goddess. For the tanning assistant, disposable gloves aren’t a necessity but they definitely make cleanup considerably more efficiently. When you’re not particularly tan yourself (I wasn’t competing of course, so there wasn’t really a need to try to make myself look like a Florida native visiting downtown Minneapolis), those stretchy gloves are a godsend for avoiding sparkly bronze palms. Side note: be sure to blend, blend, blend. There’s nothing harder to look at than a botched tan job, so you can all be sure that I buffed M into glowy perfection.

As always seems to happen at a competition, next came the frenzied rush to the on-deck area because your heat is walking on right that second. Cut to the hallway, the both of us rushing to the ballroom, me strapping necklaces and armbands to M as she fastens her pumps. Without a moment’s delay, she’s in the arms of her pro, twirling gracefully around the floor. Too soon, the heat is finished, and she’s wordlessly grasping the bottle of water from my ready hands. But we’re not done yet: always the overachiever, M is dancing in more than one event. M is simply amazing, so to nobody’s surprise she makes the finals and goes on to dance in the evening show. When all was said and done, she came out on top. I loved playing personal assistant, but even if you thing you wouldn’t, seeing the glowing face of your friend as she strides off the dance floor with a shining medal around her neck would make even the bitterest companion happy to resume the role anytime again.