Late night practices. Sleepless nights. Slipping up on your school work a little. Performing for six to eight minutes in front of over 3,500 people in Conte Forum. This is what dancers undergo both leading up to and during Showdown. I had the privilege of making it on to one of BC’s newest dance groups, Vida de Intensa Pasion, a Boston College Latin Dance team, as well as competing in the cultural category of Showdown 2014. It was a grueling, painstaking and rewarding experience that has left me hungry for my second, and unfortunately final, showdown in 2015. But let me take you back to my week before Saturday, April 5.
Monday, March 31st: 4:00 a.m.
At 9:30p.m., my teammates and I entered the Plex Multipurpose Room knowing full well that this upcoming week was going to be stressful and punishing. We stretched, we laughed, drank some water, and then began running through our performance, a six-minute performance that we had been practicing since returning from Spring Break.
On average, our practices last two hours, but this week was different. Two hours was just scratching the surface. When 11:30 p.m. hit, we sat down and the captains informed us we were going to find a classroom and continue practice. As a team, we walked to Lower, loud and energetic, grabbed some snacks and went on a search for an empty room.
McGuinn, no dice. Campion, no luck. Cushing, BINGO! It was like looking for a Horcrux (since we so often compare BC to Hogwarts). From 12a.m. to about 4:00 a.m., we danced, and danced, and danced. At one point, one of my partners fell asleep on the ledge near the window. My eyes hurt, my body hurt, and I was out of energy. And then reality sunk in: This is only Monday.
Tuesday, April 1st: 7:00 p.m.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t do any work this morning. I just slept, but it wasn’t enough. When I got back to the room at 5:00 p.m., I was upset, stressed, and exhausted, and then I woke up when my roommate, who’s on Sexual Chocolate and going through his own h-e-double hockey stick week reminded me I had an assignment due at 7 p.m. Pissed and tired, I sat down and did my assignment, missing my practice for SEASA’s culture show. Need to focus on Showdown, but can’t forget I’m a student.
Wednesday, April 2nd: 11:00 a.m.
I showed up to work at nine, after going to bed at 4 a.m., again. But Tuesday’s practice was by far the best one. We found a room in McGuinn this time around and just went all out. Everyone looked in sync, the energy was high, and confidence was oozing. After multiple times of doing an ending stunt, we switched it up and it looked very graceful. Maybe I should wear tanks to practice more often.
Friday, April 4th: 2:00 a.m.
Today was sleep day, as in, since I only had one class at 10:30, I slept in all day, until I had work at 3:00 p.m. My legs hurt, my back hurt, my shoulders hurt, but I was smiling like a kid in a candy store. Little did I know the euphoria I was going to feel later on in the evening.
You’re not a team without gear to show-off what team you’re on. Why else would we all want a BC sweater? Well, Thursday night, the captains gave us a little surprise: OUR VIP JACKETS! To say we were excited was an understatement. We had waited all year for these jackets and now we have something to display who we are.
I didn’t write a post for Wednesday night's practice because I was too tired, but to get you up to speed, we had an injury occur. While practicing in O’Connell House, we set up blankets as blinds so no one could see our practice or costumes. one of the blinds was held by a rock and David, one of my suite-mates on the team, leaned on the blind and the rock cracked him on the head as I was performing.
He had a cut and ended up getting two staples in his head. If you ask him how it happened, he’ll tell you he attempted a back flip so lets go with that instead.
Injuries aren’t uncommon when preparing for Showdown. VIP had to make some changes after one our dancers, Alejandra, dislocated her knee. While David got stapled, we all felt sore. My wrist felt strained so I wore a wrist brace. Sal had problems with his rotator cuff,which made a stunt he was involved in a lot harder to do. There is a lot of pain associated with Showdown, but that’s what makes the performance more special. Two days.
Saturday, April 5th: 3:00 a.m.
I can’t sleep. I’m too excited for tomorrow (or today, since it is Saturday morning). We practiced until around 12:30 a.m. and we were excited. Sweat dripped down my face, making the contacts in my eyes burn. I couldn’t feel my elbow. Everyone was panting and looked exhausted. But our last “For Ale” huddle, a tribute to Alejandra’s injury, was the loudest one and the excitement was palpable. We’re ready.
Sunday, April 6th: 11:00 p.m.
Saturday was the longest, most stressful, and most intense day I’ve had at BC. From waking up at 9:30 a.m. to meet at 10:30 a.m. for our 11:00 a.m. tech time and then being with the team from 4:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., it literally felt like I was at the Super Bowl. A line stretched on Campanella Way as VIP and the other teams packed in Gate B of Conte Forum getting our wristbands.
Unlike other teams there, VIP was not only debuting at Showdown, but this was each individual’s first time ever performing at Showdown so there was a lot of unknowns, such as to how to act, stay cool, prepare, etc.
We jammed into a locker room with UPrising and Phaymus until we got the call. “Can I get VIP please?” said a young woman who I assumed was on the Programming team of UGBC. We put on our patient gowns and doctor jackets and set up as BCID wrapped up. Cue the VIP promo video.
My heart-rate soared through the roof. My body felt numb. But I felt confident. The minute "El Baile del Beeper" hit, the only thing I focused on was putting on an amazing show.
Six minutes sounds short, but performing at that length of time is no simple task. My buttons popped, my left arm was in pain, but we, VIP, had completed our first of many Showdowns.
But what was even better was sitting literally front row for the second half. I got to see everything! From the facial expressions to how hard each and every dancer was trying, it was a sight to see. I melted during Fuego’s West Side Story performance.
I yelled during UPrising’s Interns performance. I was captivated by FISTS and their Alice in Wonderland theme. The experience of Showdown is unlike any other thing on campus. To be an audience member is one thing, but to perform is such a cathartic experience.
Sure, we didn’t take home a trophy, but it was our first year and we have improved so much as a team. The bumps, bruises, sleepless nights, and missed work is worth it. I’m proud of my team. I love my team. And Showdown 2014 was an unforgettable experience. Que Viva la Vida.