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Southeastern – That’s a Wrap!!

By Tiffany Bouquet
Contributing Author
Photos by Luke Erlandson of MilliMoment Photography
The aftermath of a highly successful competition.
We all had fun!!

The sun rises, rays shining into the sleepy lobby of the Crowne Plaza hotel. It is quiet, the noise and bustle of the weekend are over, as the few remaining people lounge in the lobby, reading books or waiting for rides. This time is one of my favorites, the aftermath of a competition. The pressure is gone, the success fresh, and I get to browse Facebook and watch as competitors post photos and impressions from the weekend.

As I revel in the tranquility I reflect on the experiences of the past few days. One thought keeps drifting to the front of my mind — I had fun.

The Saturday evening session was breathtaking.

Everything ran smoothly, so smoothly, in fact, that very little required my direct intervention. I got to enjoy the dancing and talk with competitors, some of whom had traveled from far-flung places like Los Angeles, Hawaii, Canada, and Italy!

I got the chance to dine in the company of the officials and deepen those relationships. Their experience and varied opinions always leaves me with something to think about. In particular we had five international judges who traveled to Southeastern to judge both the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) events and our other events. For the majority of them, it was their first time attending Southeastern, and for one, it was his first time judging an American competition.

If you attended Southeastern this year, please take the survey at the conclusion of this story.

He said that in Europe they didn’t have such strong participation in the Collegiate and Senior age groups; their dancers are mainly children or young adults, as they teach ballroom dancing in schools starting from a young age. He seemed a little more skeptical of our dance styles, as it was his first-time laying eyes on American Smooth and Rhythm, but he stayed long enough to have the differences explained to him and to spectate for a while. During the team matches, as the college kids bellowed out their school names at the delighted urging of the MC, he shook his head. Our American enthusiasm seemed to bemuse him.

No one could find fault with the Saturday evening session, though. With a packed house all evening, our competitors put on a show worth seeing. We had WDSF Open events in Senior II Latin and Senior III Standard, both starting from semifinal rounds; a highly skilled Under-21 Latin round that set the floor on fire; and a Junior II couple from Los Angeles who danced Standard so well they trounced kids probably 3-4 years older than them. The audience included competitors from this weekend, other dancers from the community, and even a few spectators with no ballroom dance experience. The latter only knew about ballroom dance from shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and they were transfixed.

It was the largest USA Dance competition of the year, with 420 people registered.

They weren’t the only ones. Dancers were delighted with how competitive the events were, numbers were up and they could tell. It was our most well-attended Southeastern with nearly 420 people registered. The largest USA Dance event of the year, which says great things for the numbers for Nationals, scheduled for March 22-24 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  This attendance trend is great news. To me, this is the harbinger of the recovery from COVID, growth in the dance community, and the strength returning to USA Dance.

As I grab a hot chocolate from the café (not a coffee drinker), I see our hotel contacts preparing for our debriefing meeting. Once Daniel and I are seated with them they compliment us by saying “Southeastern is our favorite dance event to work with. The guests are gracious and the leadership organized and easy to work with”. They appreciate that we ran on-time and followed our schedule. By the end of the meeting, we have agreed on next year’s dates, February 14-16, 2025 — a Valentine’s Day at Southeastern!

Dancers were delighted with the level of the competition.

While it is still too early for Daniel and me to be making plans for next year, we discuss it anyways on our ride to the airport and all during our flight. We scheme, and plan, fighting travel fatigue. Everything is so fresh it bears discussion: How do we decorate the room? How many more WDSF events can we add for 2025? Are wristbands better than physical tickets for tracking spectators? Competitors really enjoyed the Master of Syllabus events; how do we make them even bigger and better?

We also discuss Carolina Fall Classic, our other competition, October 4-6, held in Charlotte, North Carolina. That USA Dance Challenge Event will give us the opportunity to try out some of our new ideas before putting them in front of the Regional audience at Southeastern 2025.

Being an organizer can be tiring, but getting to experiment and try new things that have a positive impact on the dance community makes it worth it. Having an event go well is the cherry on top. After our experience at Southeastern this year, I feel that the future is bright, and we will be there to meet it.

Mark your calendars for February 14-16, 2025 — a Valentine’s Day at Southeastern!

Author’s Footnote

Thank you to all our wonderful competitors, you make the competitions worth it. It is inspiring to see your dancing and to learn your stories. As long as you keep dancing, we will be there to host. If you were able to join us at Southeastern this year, or even if you only considered it, we would appreciate you taking the time to complete the 10 minute survey linked below. This helps us stay attuned to the wants and needs of the community. Thank you!

See you at Carolina Fall Classic, October 4-6, in Charlotte, North Carolina.



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