Sometimes it Sucks to be Famous

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We all look up to champions–the famous, successful dancers who win big titles and serve as glamorous, charismatic ambassadors for ballroom dancing. We envy them. We try to emulate them. We revel in casual encounters with them. It’s like a dance god has descended from the heavens to bestow favors upon the lesser mortals.

And that’s how we treat them too. It might sound like fun, but this weekend it occurred to me that it might really suck too.

Nels Petersen & Theresa Kimler. Poor famous schmucks.

On Saturday, I attended the monthly USA Dance dance in Minneapolis. The dance was fabulous. The room was crowded and there were a lot of more advanced dancers present who don’t usually attend the Cafe Bailar dance.  And then, around 9 pm or so, Nels and Theresa turned up. They strolled into the room and began dancing. I was very happy to see that they were dancing with a variety of people in the room, not just with each other. Not snobby. Part of the community. How refreshing.

They had about 30 minutes of peace. 30 minutes of dancing incognito, and then one of the dance organizers ruined it all. She got on the mic and began a long-winded speech, the upshot of which was that champion dancers are really special and, because Minnesota doesn’t have many, we should lavish the ones we have with feverish devotion. Nels and Theresa obligingly came out to take a bow, but seemed pretty uncomfortable. In fact, Nels walked out, spun Theresa, and then slunk off the floor with thinly veiled annoyance.

I felt really bad for them. No matter where they dance, they’re already on display without even trying. I’m sure that, sometimes, they might like to take a break from being celebrities. It would be nice if the people running USA Dance in Minneapolis would be willing to provide a safe” environment for them where they can relax and pretend that they’re just like everybody else. Not on display. Not worshipped. Not pandered to. Just a pair of devoted dance enthusiasts in a room full of other dance enthusiasts. Part of the family.

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