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How I won a dance contest at the Marriott

Disclaimer: This is the first of an occasional series of posts with no business purpose whatsoever. If you’re interested in business, marketing, and copywriting, but not interested how I won a dance contest at a teacher convention, then you’ll want to skip this.

I spent last week at Havi Brooks’ Destuckification Retreat, but I’m not going to talk about that here. (You’d be reading 150 pages about epiphanies and conversations with Monster, the three-inch-tall, stuffed monster who lives in a fire station in the front of my head.) Instead, this post tells the story of what happened the night before the retreat, when I managed to win a dance contest at a teachers convention at this hotel by the airport.

By the way, did you know teachers have dance contests at their conferences? I guess it’s one of those secrets we were never meant to discover.

I don’t usually crash teacher conferences. But my teacher-friend was in town, so my dance partner and I drove down to see her. (Yes, I have a dance partner. Yes, this is his full-time job.)

In the elevator on the way up to my friend’s room, we were joined by a quiet, gray-haired man (8th-grade-social-studies?). He looked set to retire for the evening, with a green canvas conference bag in one hand and a Corona with lime in the other. Two older ladies with their own green conference bags got on just as the doors were closing. “Nightcap?” they said. Everyone laughed knowingly, as if this was just the beginning of the debauchery about to unfold.

When my teacher-friend informed us there was a buffet and a dance party taking place downstairs, I knew we had to be there.

Luckily, I had come prepared with Saran-wrapped Stilton cheese and an apple—just in case someone asked for teacher ID. My teacher-friend said it would also help if one of us was carrying a water bottle. I decided to risk it and just go with the cheese. To me, being a teacher is a mindset. Something you inhabit from within.

We glided through the doors and into the ballroom as I repeated the mantra, “I am a teacher. I know all. I am powerful and wise. I belong.”

The dance party was just getting started. Teachers were beginning to flood the dance floor in their turtlenecks and high-waisted slacks. We watched them do the YMCA. We watched them do The Hustle and The Electric Slide. We even watched them do Thriller. It felt so wondrous, but adorable at the same time. Like coming upon a tribe of lions doing calisthenics.

Then a slow Journey song came on, and everyone evacuated the dance floor.

I realized we were the only people who didn’t know anyone in a room full of people who all kind of knew each other—and no one would ever see us again. It was like dance amnesty!

My dance partner and I raced over to the completely empty dance floor. We danced more badly to that song than we had ever danced before. Epileptically. You know the Journey song that goes from slow to fast? It was that song. By the end of the song, I could feel hundreds of teacher-eyes watching us, questioning, wondering. ‘What subject do THEY teach? Why are they dancing TOGETHER?’

Just when I thought I couldn’t dance any longer, the DJ (11th grade biology teacher?) walked up and thrust a home-made CD into my hands. Just the CD—no cover.

“Congratulations!!!!” he said. “You won the dance contest!!!!”

As soon as we won the dance contest (I’ve always wanted to say that), I decided we should quit while we were ahead. We couldn’t risk it. Plus, we needed to give the real teachers a chance.

We walked out of the ballroom as I repeated the mantra that had brought me this far. “I am a teacher. I know all. I am powerful and wise. I belong.” We escaped, undetected.

Strolling through the hotel that evening, basking in the soft glow of the words “dance contest winners!!!”, we would pass teachers, their gazes lingering in recognition. We were famous—but only for one night! Which is the best kind of fame there is.

Is this conference the highlight of every teacher’s year, professionally? It was definitely the highlight of mine (so what if it’s only February?)—and the perfect way to spend a night before a perfectly destuckified retreat.

19 Responses to How I won a dance contest at the Marriott

  1. Hiro Boga says:

    Kelly, hooray for the accidental win–the best kind, yes?! And yay for this lovely story, which had me smiling with delight as I read it. :-)
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last blog ..Responsibility Troll, Meet the Angel of Responsibility =-.

  2. Fabeku says:

    Dance contest winners!


    Now I can brag about knowing a cheese-carrying dance contest winner.


    And dance amnesty?

    Those are some major magic words.

    I loved this post so much. Big yays for you!
    .-= Fabeku´s last blog ..Rhythms & Retreats =-.

  3. chris zydel says:

    Dear Kelly,

    What a hoot of a story! And I just LOVE the whole idea of “dance amnesty”. We definitely need more of that in the world.
    I just wish I had been there to see you dancing badly and loving every minute of it!!


  4. Josiane says:

    Oh, Kelly, that was so totally like sitting with you at the table for lunch and listening to your crazy made up (and true) stories!  Reading your post, I could hear your voice again, and that was awesome!
    .-= Josiane´s last blog ..Taking action instead of resolving to do so =-.

  5. Wulfie says:

    hahaha That was AWESOME! Congrats!
    .-= Wulfie´s last blog ..Eff Purpose and the Horse it Rode in on =-.

  6. It’s all about channeling our inner teacher and showing the world what we can do. Looks like you had great start to a fantastic week. I know I would have hung back and been happy to just steal a scone and a beer.
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog ..Hard, Fun and Beautiful – Calming Tea Edition =-.

  7. Laura says:

    I love dance contests, and I love this story! Thank you for writing about something other than business. We need more of that – I start thinking that people only want to read stuff with “value,” meaning 7 Secrets to Social Media That Gurus Won’t Tell You, etc. And then I read a post like this, and remember that plain-old storytelling is always great.

    In both schools I attended, a teacher’s ID was low, braless boobs in a ribbed turtleneck.

  8. elizabeth says:

    I know a dance contest winner! I feel like we should have had dance cards, so you could have signed ours.

    And yes, I just loved this post! You are awesome.

  9. Jenia says:

    Amazing story! It read like a movie, no, it unfolded in front of my eyes like a scene from a movie!

    I, too, would like to nominate Dance Amnesty for It’s Just One Guy Fake Band Name of the Week. By the way, is there an app for it already? Because there totally needs to be a Fake Band Name of the Week app.

  10. Patty K says:

    Great story. I really enjoyed reading this. Can’t help but wonder why you were afraid of getting caught…worried about detention?

  11. Dance Amnesty… I’m feeling a movement coming on…

  12. jacquelyn says:

    Kelly – so glad I met you or I might have missed this wonderful post (I can even hear you giggling between paragraphs)… This could be the first step on your fast-track trajectory to Dancing with the Stars.

  13. Naomi Niles says:

    That is so cool!

    It reminds me of the time a friend and I crashed a Mexican wedding party. We didn’t fit in at all, but they were so nice with us and we danced our butts off. That was awesome.

  14. Naomi Niles says:

    Ha! It was the high school class trip and we were all staying at a hotel in L.A. We were supposed to be in our rooms, but we snuck out and came upon the party.

    We were watching from afar and they were like, “Come on in!!”. So, of course we joined and danced like crazy fools. Until our group sponsor found us, that is. We got in a lot of trouble, but it was worth it, LOL!

  15. Naomi Niles says:

    That’s a great idea! I’ve got more stories than it would probably wise to share myself, lol!

  16. Hi Kelly-
    in spite of the disclaimer, i felt compelled to read. acting out in a room full of turtle-necked teachers and dancing as badly as possible sounds like the best kind of fun! wished i was there..
    plus memories of my own driven-to-win victory at my 6th grade, “ballroom dancing school” friday night class- category, “Waltz Contest”. Me in white glove and fishnet tights (it was 1970), Mr champagne (his real name) and his wife The Statue, presiding. Prize, Reeses cups. It was a night to remember!

    love the non-business posts, am pretty sick of marketing and anything related.

    Breaking The Spell of Overeating;Results You Crave

  17. I think it’s because you could dance slow AND fast. That was the winning combination. Also, you danced to Journey. And you had cheese with you.
    The rules were very specific!
    .-= Bridget Pilloud´s last blog ..How Do I Experience My Feelings without Harming my Loved Ones =-.

  18. Darcy says:

    I love this story. It makes me wonder whether the DJ had a secret bet with himself about whether he could play a song that would inspire no one to dance and y’all danced anyhow so you won. Congratulations on your awesome win! Was the homemade CD any good?

  19. Jake says:

    This story made me laugh, smile, and feel a little jealous – all at once. Loved it, thank you for making my night!

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