If you like ballroom dancing, the place to be next week is in Columbus, Ohio. Yes, Columbus - the home of the Ohio Star Ball.
It's about as big a ballroom dance event as you'll ever see, and top pros from all over will be there. It's also the event they'll be taping to produce the latest edition of "America's Ballroom Challenge" for PBS.
The event goes on for days, starting out with people as incompetent as me (I was there in 2004 doing standard, rhythm, and smooth) and leading to Friday and Saturday night with the best of the best.
If you've been watching "Dancing with the Stars" you might get the wrong idea about what a competition is like. Amateur women never compete with amateur men. Nobody knows the music in advance. Only the top pros do the stunts like jumping over one another or sliding around on the floor - for the rest of us it's a no-no. Several sets of dancers are on the floor at the same time and you're subject to running into them, especially during the smooth and standard events, and how you deal with this (floorcraft) is considered in your score.
For big events like this one the earlier heats will be going two at a time on the same floor with very little time in between, and event staff are busy distributing and collecting scoresheets from the judges. If you want to see scores you'll have to wait until the staff compiles and posts them. If you'd like feedback from the judges, good luck - they've probably seen hundreds of people that day, and unless you compete regularly it's asking a lot of them to remember you (although if you go to a lot of competitions you'll see the same judges over and over - usually they're ex-pros). Every score I've ever seen was a rank among all of the dancers in your heat.
By now tickets will be available only at the door If I weren't several hundred miles from Columbus I'd be there.