Mad Hot Awesome

Sunday evening I was a guest ballroom dancing judge for Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s Dancing Classrooms of Pittsburgh fundraiser “Mad Hot Ballroom.”

To answer your question. “Nothing. Not one single thing. I don’t know one single thing about ballroom dancing.”

Wait. That’s a lie. I do know a few things because Strictly Ballroom is one of my favorite movies ever and therefore I know the following:

  • A beginner has no right to approach an Open amateur
  • The rumba is the dance of love.

Man, if you’ve ever seen that movie, that joke KILLED. Trust me.

So I arrived at the Westin to learn that the other judges were none other than Lynn Cullen, KQV’s Nan Cohen, and city councilman Corey O’Connor.

Nan said, “Ah. The writer!”

Lynn said, “You don’t LOOK like her!”

And Corey said, “So, you’re that blogger?”

And I said, “Yep.”

And Corey said, “So you write about Pittsburgh. In general?”

And I said, “Yeah. Pretty much everything. I just love Pittsburgh a lot.”

And Corey said, “Where do you live?”

And I said, “Actually Westmoreland County.”

And Corey’s face said, “WTF?”

Good times.

Now I really enjoyed judging the various teams representing local organizations and corporations, especially because Corey O’Connor was so lost — giving an adorable older couple the highest scores just because they were cute. Corey, CUTENESS is not a judging criteria. How’s their posture? Their musicality?

I’m kidding. I have no idea what musicality is.

But the real joy of the evening was the children of Dancing Classrooms of Pittsburgh who performed several dances for the crowd. LOOK AT THIS:

Do you have any words because I can’t find mine.

And they could MOVE.

It’s a simply phenomenal program that teaches children self-confidence, pride, manners, respect, and more.  You know when you see a child doing something they love and they can’t stop smiling? Just beaming from ear to ear? Trying in vain to swallow their grin but it’s as fruitless as stopping a sneeze? That’s how these kids came to feel about ballroom dancing after ten weeks of classes.  You could see it in every fiber of their being.

After the competition, well-known ballroom instructor and guest emcee Pierre Dulaine gave a ballroom dance lesson to anyone in attendance who wished to try it out. I said, “Hahaha. And let this crowd see what a praying mantis would look like if it tried to rumba? No thanks.”

Corey O’Connor, who is also deathly afraid of dancing (I know this because like vampires, we can just smell it in each other), was begged and begged by his beautiful and down-to-earth fiance to try the lesson with her. He refused. Shook his head no. Resisted as she tugged at his arm. Sat back down when she pulled him up to his feet.

At first.

I said to myself, “Well, he’s a city councilperson. He probably doesn’t want to be seen making a fool out of himself by looking like a praying mantis trying to rumba. He has a reputation to uphold. An image to project.”

But then she begged again and Corey reluctantly got up to dance with her.

He doubled over laughing.

And even gave her a twirl:

I’m sure he never realized I was snapping pictures because I’m very good at doing it all ninja-like. And by that I mean [awkward kung fu moves] CLICK! [awkward kung fu moves].

I’m sure Nan never thought I’d tell you that she gave me great advice about being a mom and a writer and that she told me a hilarious Dance Moms story that you would just die laughing if you heard.

I’m sure Lynn never thought I’d tell you she showed up for the event a day early and wondered where everyone was when she arrived.

I’m sure Lynn never thought I’d tell you that despite the many times I have vehemently disagreed with her opinions, she is without a doubt one of the most amazing Pittsburghers I’ve ever met. Like Fred Rogers preached, she truly lives in the moment and you cannot help but notice it.

I’m sure they never thought I’d tell you that when you’re picking your future wife, don’t go for the girl who wants to sit beside you and watch the crowd. Go for the one who drags you kicking and screaming out on the floor, not giving a rat’s ass if you’re a city councilman.

And I’m sure they all, every one of them, learned a lesson — If you don’t want things shared, don’t invite the blogger.


  1. bucdaddy
    June 12, 2012 1:01 am

    (Picture No. 1)

    “Do you have any words because I can’t find mine.”


  2. Butcher's Dog
    June 12, 2012 7:00 am

    “Corey doubled over laughing” looks suspiciously like Corey getting a faceful of boob. Just sayin’. B-Dawg don’t dance, either.

  3. Beatrice
    June 12, 2012 9:05 am

    I just went to the Dancing Classrooms of Pittsburgh webpage. What a phenomenal program!

  4. SteelMagnolia
    June 12, 2012 9:33 am

    “Show me….YOUR PASO DOBLE!!!”

    Love that movie. And I wish I still lived in the ‘Burgh so I could participate in things like this!

  5. LeeInIrwin
    June 12, 2012 4:18 pm

    In the doubled over laughing picture, I think Corey is stepping on his fiance’s toes…….even so, she was probably still happy he danced…..

  6. Julie
    June 12, 2012 11:55 pm

    This is amazing! My husband and I enjoy ballroom dancing immensely and a program like this just makes me love it more!