Glitz, Glam and Gruelling Work: A Day in the Life of a Professional Dancer!

It is the morning after a dance troupe session and I have a swing dance performance on tonight! Tensions are high because we were warned at troupe that the band was not a swing band and we could be dancing to any kind of music: not what we’d normally be dancing to! The first thing I do is check my messages to see if there have been any updates to the gig. So far, so good! I double check the details in the group chat for this gig as well as the original notice. I know where I’m headed and what time I have to be there, and how I have to look. As an entertainer, the visual aspect makes up a large part of what we do! Time for a hearty breakfast: lots of protein to keep me going through the day and I’ll be more lenient on my carb intake than usual, because I know I’ll be burning it at the swing dancing performance tonight! Swing dancers have day jobs too, because swing dance entertainment isn’t in as high demand as, say, hip hop. I’m currently studying, so I get my things together for the seminar I’ll be attending that afternoon. I know I won’t have time to do all my gig prep after the seminar, so I start on that, putting my costume and a small towel to one side, and starting on hair and make-up. I know I’ll look silly turning up to this seminar with half-done hair and make-up, but a dancer’s gotta do what a dancer’s gotta do! As I’m doing my make-up, I get a message from the manager who was meant to be performing as well. He’s fallen unwell and has had to call in a substitute. He gives me the details for our gig contact and asks me to take some photos for social media, I toss up a few ideas and he gives them the all clear. Gotta cut that conversation short - time to run to my seminar! I nervously watch the clock as this seminar starts to look like it will run overtime. I want to arrive earlier than call time if possible, even though I’ve performed at this venue before, because you never know what could happen! Thankfully we’re only 5 minutes late, but the clock keeps ticking! I was going to take a bus home, but there’s not enough time, now. QUICK, CALL AN UBER! The Uber driver gets lost twice… but still gets me home marginally earlier than the next bus. I finish my hair and make-up, slip into my dress (I know there’s no real green room at this venue), and get in the car and head to the city! Before I even get to the venue, I start to get messages left, right and centre from all the swing dancers we booked for the gig, updating me with their whereabouts and ETA. I like it a lot – we look like we’ll be on track! After arriving at the venue, the first thing I want to do is connect with the contact. We just want to do a final confirmation on the details, find a place to stash our bags, and assure them that we’re good to go. I find her, introduce myself, she leads us through the venue to the room where we’ll be dancing; she says she’ll find a place to stash our bags and disappears. Normally at this point I’d want to check out the dance floor, but since I was performing at this venue just over a week ago, I’m comfortable letting that slide in favour of getting some social media snaps! We get a couple of photos of us looking like we’re doing some swing dance, but also a few of us just posing in various spots – this particular venue is gorgeous (we are lucky that we get to perform at some of the best venues in Sydney), and there’s so much around us we can work with! I manage to say a quick hello to the singer in the bathroom and ask if she knows anything about the band and what they’ll be playing, and she also says she’s not sure about their skills playing music for swing dancers. She tells me they’ll be starting at 7:30, and I thank her. She asks if I have any extra hairspray (she’s gotta hit the visual aspect too!), but unfortunately I don’t. We part ways and I head out to find our dancers again. It is now call time (30 minutes to showtime) and one of our swing dancers still hasn’t arrived! I quickly send them a message asking for an ETA. No word from our contact yet. Is she running around like a chicken with her head cut off, as well? Probably! As more guests are arriving, we find a quiet corner to hide our belongings and get some water from the bar – it’s a hot and humid summer night and we’re going to need to stay hydrated. 10 minutes past call time and I check my phone for any messages… nothing yet, so I consider calling, but at that moment our dancer walks into the room! Phew! We’re all here and ready to go! The contact reappears and tells us the plan. She says she wants us to start dancing as the guest arrives which should be about 15 minutes after the band starts, but I override this: the guest will be coming up through a lift and we’ll have no warning! I tell our swing dancers that we will start dancing at 7:30, but keep it low key and break out the big dance moves as soon as the guest arrives – that way we don’t look like we’re standing around doing nothing for 15 minutes, and we also get to have a bit of a warm up. We take a couple of last-minute photos including a couple with the singer because she’s dressed to the nines as well. The band takes to the stage and we take to the floor. Thankfully, they’re not bad, if a little fast for a solid hour of dancing. I hear the singer say “jump blues” to the band, turn to my partner who’s a professional musician and ask him what a jump blues tempo is… I don’t have to wait for his answer – I can see it on his face. I take a breath and brace for it. We dance a few tunes, swapping partners and even doing a couple of steals and a bit of solo jazz. Then, the moment arrives: the guest of honour is here! We break out our big moves and even a few fancy lifts and dips, really taking the entertainment to the next level! We continue swing dancing for the whole hour. The crowd is lapping it up, cheering, and stopping us to tell us how much they love it when we take a few seconds to towel off and get a gulp of water. The energy is electric and we are loving evert minute of it! This is what entertainment is about: the life of the party! The singer announces the last song for the set. Even though swing dancing this last song will take us to 10 minutes after the end time, I make the call to finish the set dancing. A quick nod from the other swing dancers and we give it everything we have left so we can end on a high. The guests are sad to see us go, and ask about swing dance lessons – can they learn to dance like we just did? Of course! We can even come to one of your parties and teach you and your friends how! But if you’re content just watching us, we’re happy for that as well. We squeeze in a couple more photos, and I send everything back to management. I check in with the contact, tell her our manager will be in touch soon and thank her for having us. She gives us great feedback, tells us everyone loved the vibe we brought to the party and thanks us for our presence. And now, as much fun as it would have been to stay for the rest of the evening, we pack up and leave. I shoot a quick message to management relaying the feedback and giving a quick summary of the gig and then I head home. Back home, I cobble together a meal… I realise I’ve forgotten lunch and I’ve been starving since we stopped dancing! After that’s polished off, it’s time to take off my makeup, hop in the shower for the second time that day, and call it a night, at last. I’ve gotta get my rest… I’m teaching swing dance tomorrow. #DanceCommunity #Performance #SydneyEvents #SydneyEntertainment #SwingDancing #LiveEntertainment

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