April 7-13 I went to Los Angeles for the USA Dance National Ballroom Competition. It takes place in the brand new JW Marriot hotel. This is something that has been looming for a while. When I started dancing with Alex in the beginning of the school year, I did not necessarily wan to go to Nationals since I went with Eric last year and LA is soooo much farther and more expensive than Baltimore. I was pretty against going, in fact I was trying to push for the MIT comp. But after several months of dancing I realized how much going meant to Alex and how much he actually wanted to go and I began to get accustomed to the idea. Then the issue of expense of course. A plane ticket to LA was about 300 each and the registration is about $60 dollars an event, and if we planned on 6 events.....yeah! plus lodging and transportation and other random expenses. This is when we decided, not without controversy, a sort of donation fund to ask our friends, family and fans to help us out. It started out by just a few people donating a few bucks to then parents chipping in and then other people that have come to support and enjoy our dancing donating genuinely out of the goodness of their hearts. It was absolutely amazing and heartwarming to see how many people supported us. Without them this trip could not have happened, and this trip meant very much to us. Kind of the end of our college dancing days as we know them. I do definitely plan on dancing wherever I may end up in my life.
Alex and I left at 7 in the morning on Wednesday to catch our flight at 8.30. Checked two bags, I argued that we don't need to check two bags because 1. its money 2. We only need to check one because I am able to pack very tightly. But, I was persuaded otherwise since the bag would be to heavy, and "what about all those shoes you're taking?", etc. It will be ok. Fine. Two bags it is. It definitely was less stressful to pack that way with the extra room. I hate baggage though. (In all senses). Flight was uneventful. Detroit -> Philadelphia -> Los Angeles. Upon getting to LA however the adventures began. We were to stay right downtown, fashion district (YEAYA!), at a loft of a friend of mine who was at that time in business in Hawaii. The plan was to rent a car for the week to be able to drive around and be free to explore as well as get to the JW Marriot where the competition was to take place. We were to shuttle to the car rental, rent a car and drive into town. Easy right? We waited for the Advantage rental car shuttle from the airport for about 40 mins while all the other shuttles came every 2 mins. Finally we got on the shuttle, sharing it with 2 young married couples visiting LA from Hawaii who loved "Dancing with the Stars" and wished us the best of luck. There was also an older man on business who with his wife also admired the dancing show. Upon arriving at the car rental the $300 dollar car rental for the week turned out, with all the insurance fees, underage fees, fees fees fees, a magical number $719. WHich was definitely out of our means. Then, after much deliberation and calls and decision making, we decided to drop the car idea and figure out the changed game plan when from a safer, homier location. Ijust wanted to get to a place of rest and food. Luckily, the older man waited for us the entire time and offered us a ride to the city. He kept saying how he needs to complete his good Samaritan deed for the day. It was super nice of him, without the help this would have been more difficult and costly. He gave us tips of where to visit and waited for us for like 45 minutes until we figure out what we are doing and if we needed any help. We got to our loft at around 8pm. We met Henry, our neighbor who was to pass over the key to the place. Henry is probably the single best person to know in LA it turns out. He knows all the good places to eat, he knows that you actually do not need a car to get around LA (as people here in MI convinced us is necessary), because LA has a great metro and bus system. His recommendations raised our trip experience several levels. We were very grateful we did not spend any of the money on a car and after unpacking a bit the three of us went out to dinner in the Japanese section of town. The little place we went, Alex assured us was the closest thing to the real Japan experience and food as he has ever experienced in the US since he had been to Japan. We were greeted in japanese when we came in, we sat on cushions on the floor at a low table, and the food was delectable. Like I said, Henry only recommends the best. No, its hard to explain how good it was. And the perfect topper to the meal was some hot sake.
Or maybe it was in combination with the fact that we hadn't eaten all day basically (except for the messiest, not very good, expensive Philly steak sandwich in the Philly airport). Before going back to the apartment henry took us on a quick tour of downtown to see the lights and nightlife. Coming back to the apartment we had a plan of what we were going to do the next day and possibly week, thanking God for Henry and his advice and his amazing personality.
Next day -> Holly wood and Santa Monica Beach
Next day -> Holly wood and Santa Monica Beach