Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LA Day 4 - Novice Standard

Novice Standard at 8.30am! That means wake up at 6am. For some reason two hours is hardly ever enough time to finish hair and make-up preparation, especially with the fancier doo for standard. Made it in just in time to get our costumes on and fortunately our event was not until 10.30 am. So we had some time for food and warming up
. I guess there is not much to tell about dancing the waltz, foxtrot, quickstep for 4 rounds. There are some beautiful dresses out there I have to say though. And as proud of my yellow dress as I have been, I realize it is quite unsparkly and rough compared to most other
dresses. But the more I look at others' costumes and the more I go through vendors' wardrobes the more conscious I become of what I like and don't like, what lines look good on people and what color do not. Its always fascinating.

We placed 4th in Standard. Better than we expected and definitely very pleasing.

After Standard, being very hungry I really wanted to try this German Bratwurst place that Henry mentioned on our first day but that we had not been able to go to yet. We were going to have lunch with some of Alex's relatives later who live not too far from LA. Still, they were not going to make it for a while and we called Henry up to see if we could all get together for lunch at Wurstkuche, it was his Birthday as well anyways! You wouldn't guess it... it was extraordinary! They had sausages from mozarella/tomato to alligator/pork and rabbit/rattlesnake and delicious cucumber drinks. Satisfied those meaty urges for sure!


After we got back to the hotel we were supposed to go for a second lunch with family but still not for a while. Bottega Louis. (Again per Henry's suggestion ;) But, before we went, we had to wait for his relatives to get there during which time we had a little photo shoot session as the conditions were prime. We got to wait in this really pretty and empty bar/restaurant lounge a really with soft colored decor and floor to ceiling windows providing beautiful natural light.
The pictures that turned out were all absolutely gorgeous with some weirdness involved...because apparently I cannot model for more than 2 minutes without screwing up my face.

After lunch, all of us took a ride to Beverly Hills, down Rodeo Dr, past UCLA, and up Sunset Blvd, etc. I thought it unwise to even get out of the car to walk around, I felt too much of a tourist as it was gawking and exclaiming at every car and store we passed, and its not as if I was really going to buy anything anyway. But, just passing all of those stores, like Juicy Couture, Ferragamo, Bagdley Mischka, etc was quite exhilarating. After the drive and a stop by a cafe we came back to the hotel and started to get ready for the Saturday night show: the adult champ standard finals and youth latin finals.
Funny story: as we got to the front desk to buy tickets for the evening show the tickets were all sold out so we stood and waited until the situation was sorted out. People were running around looking for Daphna, trying to find way to get in. We got on the list for standing room and had to wait our turned to be let in. Next to us was a man also waiting. Alex was small talking as he usually does and this man was trying to not let anyone take his spot ahead of him. Finally his name is called - Tudor. The UMBDT team president of many years past. And we didnt even know. We all laughed about it and continued with some memories of past and how much the team had changed and grown. It was quite pleasant to meet older team members in a ballroom setting, to know that it still goes on, long after you have left the team. Everyone treasures the dancing and the friends and relationships developed while part of the ballroom dance team at University of Michigan.
Ah! Pasha Pashkov and Daniella Karagach are something special. Its strange how not very many couples smile on the dance floor, but these two are just so serene and happy and you just get happy watching them!

And these kids are also simply phenomenol! I love couples who are naturally happy, charismatic and not very forceful on the dance floor and yet still stand out as the best. And who complement each other so well.
The show included showcases by Eugene Katsevman and Maria Manusova as well as Victor Fung and Anastasia.
You know who else makes me happy? Andrei Gavriline. Im not a stalker or anything but that is one beautiful man with some beautiful hair. I think he caught me using Alex's mega zoom lens to take pictures of him but I hope he wasn't freaked out. I just really admire him. Alex wanted me to go up and take a picture with him as several years ago they did a showcase at UofM for us and I met them and did their music, but I was too scared/shy to even say hi to him and Elena. Yea, I know.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 3 LA - Novice Latin

Novice Latin at 1pm.

Lets see...If we have to be there by 12 that means we should leave the apartment at 11.30 or so that means I have to get up at 9.30 and start getting ready. Ok not too bad. Hair, makeup - done - with difficulty as always. Time for breakfast - no. Called the cab twice because the first time they never picked us up but registered it as if they did. While waiting we grabbed a quick bite at the food court, I think it was some kind of shawarma or something, very difficult to eat let just put it that way, and besides a few bites we didn't really get to eat it until after dancing. Alex's mom actually came into to LA the night before and was staying for the weekend with her friend to watch us dance. She is quite the mother, very funny, very cute, very adoring.
Novice Latin went great! Made it to the finals! 5th place! The only thing that really bothered me (which turned out to be ok) was that while standing in line for the Latin, I spot two older men staring at me and whispering to each other. Alex asks if there is a problem and I ask if its about the feathers I have attached to my costume. They don't give us an answer and instead turn to each other and start talking, then they call over an on-deck lady (who is really nice actually) and started discussing with her. They wouldn't even tell me what was wrong which was really frustrating because its my costume after all and I would know best how to fix it. I was borrowing my friend Alice's latin dress and she let me pin it up and alter it a bit for a bit more flamboyant look and attach the pink boa. It worked out great. The lady finally turns to me and starts readjusting my dress, she starts to explain that I have to much skin showing on my hip and that area cannot be shown. Well thanks for telling me! I fixed it by tucking a piece of my dress over it and it was easy and didn't cause too much stress but it was a bit annoying when people don't tell you directly what is wrong and start to figure it out without your input especially when it concerns you. But in the end all went well.
The restaurant we went to was called the Farm, I believe. My caramelized pear sandwich and fries was quite delicious. After lunch we lounged around the hotel room, watched a few rounds of adult latin and then decided to head home since Henry invited us to a Bingo night that the apartment complex we were staying at was having. And we decided get a few groceries along the way. The mistake however was the walk with the heavy grocery bags. It was quite torturous but we made it.
The bingo night is arranged by the owner of the apartment complex in the little food court area with free food and drinks from the little shops. There were quesadillas, tacos and margaritas, chinese food, various mac-and-cheese trays, beer and BINGO, with real prizes, quite good ones too. We hung out with Henry and met some of his friends but retired to bed early as Standard will be at 8:30 in the morning the next day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Day 2 in Los Angeles

Second day in LA started with an amazing breakfast at Nickel diner which is a local breakfast place down the street from the loft. I had an amazing baked dutch pancake which is a pancake baked not fried with cinnamon and apples. By Henry's recommendation I also got a maple bacon donut which was an experience definitely worth having: its a super soft donut toped with bacon bits and covered in delicious maple glaze. It was savory sweetness in the mouth...I mean come on, bacon on a donut!
Then we headed a couple blocks down to the metro station. On our way through a square, I suddenly spot... a cow. Go figure. But it was standing atop several stairs with its front legs tied together so it couldn't walk anywhere and a guy was holding it by the halter. The poor animal was sooo stressed I felt so bad for it! People would stop and stare and the guy said it was for a commercial or something when I asked. So that was basically my first impression of LA. (Besides the amazing food!)

The subway pass was $5 for the entire day and was applicable for the metro and the bus system (whoever said LA doesn't have public transport was wrong: its actually quick and convenient). Our first stop was to be Hollywood. We mistakenly got off on the wrong stop, because there are about 5 stops with the word Hollywood in them, but the mistake was easily corrected and next we got off at hollywood highland stop to come out right at the star walk or walk of fame. It was pretty exciting to be at a place you always see on tv. And there were so many “fake stars” or people dressed in costumes of famous people, ie. MJ, Marilyn Monroe, Yoda, Zorro, etc. They were all very pushy in a friendly way for pictures but definitely asked for money afterwards which is expected but when you refused to take pictures they would get upset. After walking around here for a few minutes I realized I needed a hat because my head was getting really hot and I didn't want to risk heat stroke or anything and Alex realized he needed sunglasses if we were to survive outdoors in Cali. We went into an H&M store right across the street and Alex was inroduced to the awesomeness of that store. (well I at least really like it). He got glasses for $5 and I got a hat for $6. Pretty good deal I think. Next we walked around the mall for a bit, the main purpose of which was to find a bridge from which we could take a picture of the Hollywood sign on the mountain. Mission accomplished we went back down to the Metro to try and get to Santa Monica beach. After a very long and cramped bus ride for about an hour, we finally got off at the beach! Did I mention yet how happy I get when I see palm trees? We were getting hungry by now and stopped by a tiny little grocery/cafe and got 2 ice cream cones and a cannolli for $4.50 total! Is that awesome or what?! The plan now was to do nothing but relax on the beach. It was actually surprisingly chilly and windy at the water front and a bit later in the day than we had planned to be there by and I was reluctant to lay out in nothing but a bathing suit. It was a glorious time nonetheless. Napping in the sun listening to Bob Marley... Ah! Cant really ask for more. After it started getting pretty late we decided to start looking for some place to eat. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. was way to crowded and while watching the sun set we came across a small bar on the beach where we had some fish and chips to warm us up and prepare for an hour bus ride home. There sure are some strange people in Los Angeles. We were a bit anxious to get back as we didnt want to be walking around very late at night but fortunately our neighborhood was having an Art Walk where all the local artists open their studios and artsy people swarm the streets. We got home, and I still had to do my nails and fix my dress and sew some buttons, but all was completed as it should be by about 2am and sleep was very welcome.

Next day is first day of competition: Novice Latin at 1pm.