WHEW!!!! WOW, what an amazing experience this weekend at The Challenge run by Barry Jones and Johnny Siharath (http://www.thechallengeswing.com/). It’s been the first time that Trent and I have really gotten to participate in this event all the way through from the prelim events and the final challenge! We usually just haven’t been available for one reason or another, but we are SO glad that we made it this year!
One of the things that I have always loved about competition events was that even though we were competing against one another, there was always a sense of community and comraderie amongst all the dancers. While I still get that feeling from time to time, it often gets lost in the stress and pressures of competing. Somehow Barry and Johnny found a way to bring that back at The Challenge!
A little background here for those of you who are not from this area: The idea of the Challenge was to bring back some of that love of community and comraderie along with a friendly rivalry and competition. Each city involved participated in a “Rocks” Challenge weekend, i.e. Houston Rocks, or Austin Rocks. There are Jack and Jills for Novice, Intermediate and Advanced and the top 5 from each division would go on to compete at The Challenge to see which city ROCKS the most!
The first one was 2 years ago, and it was just between Dallas and Houston. Last year, Austin came on board and although they are a smaller community, they really showed how mighty they were and had a great showing! This year we had Oklahoma and Arkansas join forces and they really showed up! It was so great to see them all there! There is also a city Spirit contest, where each team had to come up with their own cheer or chant. This year Austin won it hands down – they are just so creative and they really put on a great show!
While Houston won the first two years, Dallas won it this year, but I don’t really want to talk about who won. It’s not what really stood out to me. It was how everyone was so engaged in what was going on and all the support that everyone showed to not only their own teammates, but also to others in other communities. The last contest didn’t finish until well after 1am and yet the ballroom was PACKED to the seams. Everyone was excited to see what came next. The ballroom was still packed at 4am! Although many people had stopped dancing at that point, there were many pictures being taken and lots of friendships being renewed and lots of new friendships being started. The energy was just electric the whole weekend. You could say that Barry and Johnny brought in just the right staff – Robert Royston as MC; Deborah Szekely, Patty Vo and Robert teaching workshops; Victor Loviera and Cher Peadon spinning the tunes. But the atmosphere kind of transcended the talent – there was a LOVE that was spilling out all over the dance floor. My favorite memory of the weekend is seeing Barry at one point in the evening and just seeing him BEAMING with Joy and Love and Excitement for seeing everyone getting to share in this experience. I loved it!
This is definitely that we will do our best to make in the future. I see good things and I hope that other cities will want to join us in the fun!