I've got a couple of blog posts I could make, but I should probably let you (whoever "you" are) about the Viennese Ball before it gets stale. I have found that Viennese is a lot like scuba diving: the key to having fun is to never be in a hurry. If you're rushing around worrying that you haven't danced enough or haven't seen enough people or haven't seen enough performances, you're not going to have fun. There's too much friction for that. If you're bent on maximizing your dance time, you'll run afoul of the endless performances, band breaks, and contests as well as all the people you haven't seen in ages and with whom you must catch up, and if you leave your partner ever it will be ages before you can find her again. If you're bent on catching all the performances you won't really get to dance and you'll be enslaved to the schedule. If you're bent on seeing all the people you haven't seen in ages you'll miss both performances and dancing. Just take it easy, float along, and look at all the pretty fish. That's the way to do it.
Since that's what Chariessa and I did, I had a fabulous time. I like dancing with her: she gets the difference between giving weight and helping her partner get around (related, but by no means the same thing!), as well as the difference between pulling her weight and pulling half of our weight. She's also a good date, and we had fun and lots of good dances. I also had the most fantabulous tandem redowa with Gwendolyn (formerly Wendy) to ... I think it was "Breakaway." Omni\\shadow redowa is probably easier, because it has more of a frame, but I have decided that I like tandem redowa better because it feels more like flying, and Gwen's a great partner for it. The trick seems to be that the follow needs to push her (or his) velocity when going forward, or the connection falls apart. We had a great connection on this particular dance, and we also got to shoot some fantastic rapids. I like flashy variations as much as the next guy, but navigation remains my favorite figure of all time.
I also managed to gracefully bow out of the waltz competition, which was a relief. The waltz competition is my least favorite part of Viennese. This is because whenever I think about it I feel like I'm better than the last X couples who won and I should have won instead of them, whereas in fact I've never even gotten to the finals. Leaving aside the question of whether I actually am better than the last X couples who won (and really, who's to say that I am?), the very thought of comparing myself to them in that way makes me deeply uncomfortable. Now, I enjoy having people look at me when I dance, but that's more along the lines of wanting to share my delight in the dance. I can't say why other people enter the waltz competition, but I want to win a waltz competition so everybody will acknowledge how good I am, and I emphatically do not want to become that kind of dancer. If people think I'm good, that's fine. If people enjoy watching me dance, that's great. But I don't want to give place to the small, petulant part of me that wants to prove myself as a dancer, that wants accolades. No sir. I don't need to be that kind of person. So I'm glad there was a graceful way out of the competition, since as it happened there was no graceful way to avoid getting into it in the first place.
One of the things I like about Viennese is that it fits very well with my sense of what dancing is. Dancing is, as it were, an entry into Narnia, but especially when I am dressed up for it. When I put on my tailcoat, I hold my head high and my back straightens. I walk not quickly but with assurance. When I ask a lady to dance, or when I bow to her, I mean it. It's an honest question, and an honest courtesy. When I am armed in tails, I can more easily believe God when he says, "You are my son, and the one true king." And what is more, I can (I hope) more easily act like it. Graciousness, assurance, charity, gravity, and gaity - I assume these things when I put on my tails. And I get the sense that most people at Viennese feel something of that as well. It's a good celebration.