There are some things that end too quickly, and this past weekend was one of them. I swear that I could spend every weekend at a dance competition and LOVE every second. The energy, the passion, the excitement….even the millions of butterflies that seem to move into my stomach the day of a competition, I love it all. (Okay, so the butterflies not so much on the actual day of competition, but I always appreciate them afterwards because it shows how much I care). So if you guys didn’t know, I competed at the Heritage Classic Dancesport Championships on Friday. This competition is held every year at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. It’s one of my all-time favorite competitions for so many reasons, but mainly because I’m obsessed with the venue. You guys have heard me rave about the Grove Park Inn in previous posts, but it never fails to amaze me. This hotel opened in 1913, and since then it has been the epitome of romance, class, and relaxation. I kind of sound like a brochure or travel agent here, but that’s seriously how it is! You pull up to the front of this beautifully crafted hotel and all of a sudden you’re transported back to the Roaring 20’s, glamour and all.

We arrived on Thursday which was nice. It gave me a little time to settle in and rest before the competition. Our room had a stunning view of the Asheville skyline and mountains which was super nice, so Mom and I just relaxed, drank some hot tea, and I tried to mentally prep for the competition by watching Final Championship rounds of professional Latin dancers on YouTube. This always inspires and motivates me. I tried to get in the bed pretty early, but my Mom’s sleep schedule is completely different than mine…so let’s just say it took a little while for our giggles and silliness to wear off and finally fall asleep.

I woke up around 6:30 a.m. to shower off the top layer of my GORGEOUS Bella Sole tan (my favorite all-natural spray tan place) and did some yoga before I got my hair and makeup done. The morning of a competition, I always get those knots in my stomach and the nerves start to come on pretty strong, but this time wasn’t as bad as usual which I was SO grateful for. My new dance coach is amazing and it’s because of his wonderful teaching, encouragement, and passion for dance that allowed me to feel confident about the competition and not be so nervous. At least until semi-disaster struck…..

My hair and makeup were scheduled at 8:30, and I danced at 10:20. Usually hair and makeup take about 1 hour (sometimes more) to do, so I knew we were pushing it. But when I get there, the woman doing it is an hour behind!!!! (OMG) As I am sitting in the chair (my hair wasn’t even done yet) my coach sends me a text that we were on in 10 minutes…..yeah, I panicked. She quickly threw the rest of my hair up and I barely caught a glace in the mirror before I took off sprinting towards the ballroom. Let’s just say my hair had a bit too much POOF in the front and my eye makeup was so dark and harsh, you could barely see my eyes. But there was absolutely nothing I could do about it but suck it up and just get to the ballroom on time.

I barely made it to the ballroom, no time for warming up or stretching. My coach instantly calmed me down though (which I was incredibly grateful for) and told me to just go out there, have a blast, dance my heart out, and just MOVE! This was one of the main things that Paul Killick told me to do in our coaching this past week (which was insanely amazing btw). So I tried to focus all of my attention on the things that were most important.

I had a great fan section at the competition, including my wonderful Mother, Dad, boyfriend, a lovely friend I met at the gym with her son, and the extremely supportive people from Metropolitan Ballroom as well as some of my dance fam from Asheville Ballroom. The first round is always the hardest, but after that I started warming up and becoming more comfortable, and just dancing my heart out. After each round, I knew that I hadn’t done many of the things that I had been working on as well as I would have liked, but I could feel the improvement and the growth from my last competition.

We did several rounds of single dances, and then danced in the Silver Scholarship. It was definitely our best round yet, and I felt super confident. We ended up placing second, but that’s just how things go sometimes. It’s super hard to accept something you know shouldn’t have happened, but you just have to move on and know inside that you can only control so much. This is sooo much easier said than done, but everyone around me (audience, family, my coach) was so supportive and had only positive things to say which instantly helped me feel better. Like I said, I know that I’ve improved and that is such a good feeling.

I got a chance to talk to one of my coach’s students that has been dancing with him for 10 years. I passed her in the hallway and asked her how she did (you guys, she was carrying 2 huge trophies and I didn’t even notice) lol but she laughed and said “Pretty well!” as she held up her trophies. She was super sweet and we started talking just about how much patience, time, and practice it takes to start accomplishing your goals. I loved hearing this coming from her (because she’s such a great dancer) and it helped give me the encouragement I needed. She was also very adamant about only controlling what you can control, and the rest you just have to let be. She was seriously like my dance angel or something, giving me advice that I was in desperate need of at that moment. It’s awesome to have someone like that to talk to who has been in a similar situation that I’m in, and is coming through it strong and successful. I’ve never really had that before.

The rest of the night was spent at a romantic dinner with Luke (to celebrate our 2 year and 7 month anniversary) and then in rocking chairs by the beautiful rock fireplaces in the hotel lobby. I could seriously sit there for hours.

Leaving a competition always puts me in this weird “post-comp blues” mood. One day of competing just simply isn’t enough. I came straight home and put on an Arthur Murray dance record…I just couldn’t stop cha-cha-ing.

One thing is certain, I always learn something after each competition. It’s very evident on what I need to work on (dance technique wise), it’s also evident that the more I compete, the more comfortable I become with the competition setting, but my biggest takeaway was that positive energy is the best thing to surround yourself with. No matter what type of competition setting you’re in, if you’re surrounded by positive energy, you will reflect that. Even though the outcome wasn’t exactly what I would have wanted, I LOVED getting another chance to do what I love and spend time with the people who support me and want me to succeed. I’m so grateful for them, and I’m so grateful for each opportunity I get to step onto a dance floor.

I can’t wait to share more takeaways with you guys in upcoming blog posts.

May your days be filled with hard work, positive vibes, and dance angels,

Ashlyn Tori ❤