This Throwback Thursday post is one of my all-time favorites and since we're headed into our fist dance competition weekend since I wrote this post it's timely. Originally called, “A Weekend of Glitter, Shimmying and Kindergarteners Shaking Their Booties to the Pussycat Dolls” when I wrote this in 2009 on The Star's mom2mom site, it still gives me a chuckle. And, I find it interesting how much my opinions have changed in four years. Bare midriffs don't bother me. And, since Rosie isn't really a twerker, I am totally cool watching the other girls shake their booties like no one's business. Werk it girls!
My friend, Annette looks at me, rolls her eyes and yells above the music, “Every time we do this, I wonder if it’s worth it?”
I look back to the stage where four little lovelies with fake eyelashes and bare midriffs shake their booties. Their hair is teased into two curly pigtails that are lacquered to the side of their heads. They turn toward the audience to shimmy real big and then back around to shake their ruffled backsides. They are covered in glitter and their bright red lips mouth the words to the song with sass and attitude.
U…G…L…Y….you ain’t got no alibi. You’re ugly…
I look at her and shake my head. “I know what you mean,” I laugh.
We’re not at a racy Vegas show. We’re watching a pom and cheer routine at a convention center in the middle of an ice storm. We are Dance Moms.
Now, I have to start by saying that there are different levels of teams (and different kinds of Dance Moms, but that’s a story for another day). Most competitions separate teams by the number of hours that they dance. This evens the playing field for our girls, who fall into the recreational category. They dance a few hours a week and love to be on stage. Most of the teams that we see, dance four or five days a week. Some girls take 20+ hours. This is not only their sport. It is their life.
Our school is less intense and more conservative than many studios. They stress the age appropriateness of the dances and the costumes. No bare midriffs for our girls. In fact, they look like the nuns of the dance world compared to some of the studios that purchase outfits out of the Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog. (Yes, you just read that right.).
Three times a year, we pack our bags and head for the weekend to a regional competition. Last weekend, we were in Liberty, stressed to the max. The weather was bad. It was difficult to find our team in the crowded venue. Getting the girl’s dressed was a feat in itself. After fighting over fake eyelashes, tights and the right earrings, the girls (who are fighting butterflies) are ready to compete.
We go to the auditorium to watch. The stage is being set for the first dance. Its 5-6 year-olds in the open category. I turn to my friend and say, “Look!. They’re going to be flowers coming out of the pots. How cute is that?”
The tiny girls come out, dressed in raincoats with multi-colored flowered hats that look like shower caps. They crouch behind the pots. As the music starts, they begin to sprout. They dance to Barney’s Growing. We all ooh-and-ahh over how cute they are.
“Wow,” my Annette says. “It’s cute and definitely age appropriate.”
Over the years, we’ve had lots of conversations about what’s appropriate for little girls on stage. So far, we’ve ruled out most of the bare midriff shimmying and booty shaking as too advanced for the under ten set. In fact, we’ve sat in horror, watching kindergarteners with what looks like tiny pasties and bikini bottoms before.
I’m pleasantly surprised by this act. For once, a studio is allowing their little girls to be little girls. How refreshing.
Suddenly, we hear a RRRRIIIIIPPP in the music signaling a song change. The girls tear off their raincoats to reveal tiny green bikinis. They strut their stuff to center stage where they begin to bump and grind to the music.
When I grow up, I wanna be famous, I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies…
“OH MY GOD!” I yell over the music. “That’s the Pussycat Dolls. There is no way they are dancing to this song.”
When I grow up, I wanna see the world, drive a nice car, have groupies…
“Did that just say, I wanna have Boobies,” Annette screams over the loud tempo.
I know the lyrics to the song and that’s not what it says. But, I have to admit, it sure sounds like it. There is no way I’d let my five year-old dance to this song. In fact, there’s no way I’d let my child dance to this song…period.
I turn to see my friend Christy’s reaction in the row behind us. Her eyes are as big as saucers; she’s shaking her head. She starts to laugh.
The girl’s studio is sitting four rows in front of us. They are cheering their team on. Suddenly a parent yells, “You go girls!!”
The three of us stare in disbelief. This cute, age appropriate routine has just morphed into a hip shaking, gyrating number that has our jaws dropped. It’s unbelievable
The song ends. The audience claps and a mother yells, “That’s what I’m talking about!!” We are stunned.
Our eight year-old team comes out on stage carrying their props. They have red checked dresses on with denim ruffled skirts and pigtails with red ribbons. Not only do they look their age (if you can get past the fake eyelashes and heavy stage make-up), they look adorable. They are ready to perform to Rascall Flat’s Backwards.
As the music starts, two girls innocently lounge on barstools. One of them gives a big stage yawn; the other an exaggerated stretch. They are completely in character.
I was sitting on a bar stool at a barbeque joint in Tennessee. When this ole boy came in and he sat right down next to me…
Rosie and her friend enter the stage. The friend takes a seat by her partner and Rosie knocks hers off a stool. All four move to the front of the stage. They are all smiles as they dosi-do, kick and dance together. They turn and whirl and ham it up.
Your front porch swing, your pretty little thing. Your bling, bling, bling and a diamond ring…
The girls motion to their ring fingers and swing their skirts back and forth. They have huge smiles on their faces and are having a great time.
We clap along to the song. We cheer at the top of our lungs. It’s the best we’ve seen the dance.
That’s what you get when you play a country song backwards…
They flop back down on their barstools. Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. They’re back center stage, whooping it up. The audience goes wild.
We jump out of our seats and yell as loud as we can. All four girls smile from ear-to-ear, grab their stools and run off. They are all giggles as they come off stage and run to get ready for their next number.
As we dash to get the girls ready, I yell to Annette and Christy, “That was awesome!”
After a quick change into their beautiful baby blue lyrical gowns, they’re ready for their next number to Feel My Love. We go back to the auditorium to wait for their next performance.
That’s when Annette looks at me and says, “Every time we do this, I wonder if it’s worth it?”
I look at the girls on stage. I have to admit that they’re great dancers, but once again, they have teeny tiny outfits on and are shimmying and shaking. They are covered in glitter and have the “sassy dance face” down pat. They look sixteen, not eight.
U…G…L…Y….you ain’t got no alibi. You’re ugly…
As we watch the girls shaking their poms to a hip hop version of the old ugly cheer (which if I recall from my cheerleading days was a rude and inappropriate cheer), I can’t help but wonder too.
We’re all stressed out and tired. The weather is terrible and we’re forty-five minutes away from home watching a bunch of glittered up girls, shake their bottoms. Is any of this really worth it?
This feeling is amplified when we analyze the competition. Shaking and shimmying aside, these teams are incredible. They are out of our league. In our hearts we know, that our girls don’t dance as much as the other teams, therefore, they don’t have the same skills. But, the judging for this competition isn’t separated by skill level. We hope our girls won’t be disappointed at awards time.
The dances are over. The girls run to the stage for awards time. They sit with their teammates, hold up signs and make a lot of noise. The energy is amazing.
Everyone’s excited, except for Christy and me. Now, we have butterflies. We wait with bated breath to hear the results.
“Number 193. Growing. GOLD,” the emcee announces. We groan.
“Number 194. Backwards. SILVER.” We cheer and hope that our girls will be happy.
The regular awards are over. We look at our team on stage and see some defeated faces. The girls are used to getting gold and an occasional platinum trophy. Because the competition scoring was not broken out, all of our routines take home silver today.
That’s when the judges take the stage to give the coveted Judges Choice awards. These awards have nothing to do with the scoring system. The judges award these at their discretion. Christy and I hope that the girl’s animated performance warrants one today.
“This award goes to a team that had a great time. They entertained the crowd with their huge smiles and they had so much fun. The award for “having a blast” goes to… Backwards!” the judge says.
Christy’s daughter springs up and runs across the stage to get the certificate and pins. She hands Rosie hers and they both beam with pride. Christy and I clap wildly and scream at the top of our lungs. We are so excited.
I look at the smile on my child’s face. She knows how cool it is to get a Judges Choice, as she won one last year as well. Her blue eyes sparkle with delight. She is on top of the world.
That’s when I have the answer to Annette’s question, “Is it worth it?” The answer is right there on my child’s face.
Yes, my friend, it is.