To tell this story properly, you have to go back about a month to when the Atomic Teams first got word of this gig.
The first details we receive was that it was a big event and they wanted 10 five-minute numbers, but we talked them into the 6 polished numbers we could produce in a month. So the only caveat was we would have to get the bands’ charts and find music to do our routines to (we’ve kind of pigeon-holed ourselves with really great choreography set to specific music that isn’t done by a lot of live bands anymore).
Over the next month, more and more information filters in that just makes this gig appear more and more difficult. We end up practicing for the eventuality that all the routines end with extra music, so we have to social dance, feel the rhythm and find the end of the song so we know when to dip. Not too difficult, but it’s just a little worrisome. Eventually we get all the routines polished up and do 3 “practice” performances at Atomic Ballroom (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday of last week) that work out pretty nicely.
So then today comes. We decide to shift our rehearsal from Atomic to Disneyland. Oh! Didn’t I mention? The event took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel. Very swank place. So we all meet up at the hotel and find ourselves (through various connections) able to utilize the dance floor that we’ll be performing on to practice. So we work on making sure the choreography is solid and various solos as well as a cue-to-cue run so we know exactly what goes on. We do this for about 3 hours. By this time, everybody’s ready for a little break, but the band looks like they’re about to start up and we REALLY need to rehearse with the band to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. So we finagle a half-hour hiatus and rush off to grab food. We scarf our food down and rush back to the ballroom, only to find that the band is now working with the Rat Pack group that is the main attraction of the show. That’s right, we’re only the sideshow. But whatever. So we watch the Rat Pack group work with the band. They had Frankie (didn’t look very much like him, but sounded like him), Dean (looked and sounded like him pretty good) and Sammy (who looked and sounded VERY CLOSE to the real thing….very cool) and they were absolutely hilarious to watch. Meanwhile we were waiting around (something we’d gotten used to at this point) and occasionally free dancing around to the band’s music as the Rat Pack rehearsed.
After about an hour or two of that, we decide to get all our stuff out of the ballroom and into the green room…which turns out to be the adjacent ballroom. At this point, it’s silly to consider leaving to try to do anything (we really need to work with the band) so we decide to get dressed for the event. As it turns out, we never get to practice with the band. So now we’re really nervous about our job. Our job is to social dance at the very beginning of the event (6:40-7:00 pm) to add energy to the room as people are coming in and then to perform at the very end of the band’s set (around 10 pm).
So the first part goes off nicely and is lots of fun. Then we go backstage and wait some more. Pizza was delivered for the band and we are able to enjoy some of it. Then we wait. Suddenly the fire alarm goes off…all across the hotel. So we start packing up our stuff, but we quickly learn it’s a false alarm so we go check out the damage to the ballroom…because all the tuxedos and fancy dressed people evacuated the ballroom…in the middle of dinner. So the waiters are running around putting metal trays over the food to keep it warm and people are outside smoking (cigarettes) and it’s just hilarious. So then everybody gets back in and the show picks back up. Then we get the news that the band’s music fell down and they’re scrambling to get everything back in order (it’s an 18-piece band with like 100 songs or so…that’s a lot of sheet music to pick up and collate). The point is, it’s doubtful that they would be able to play the songs we requested for our routines….which is actually good news considering we didn’t get to rehearse with the band. So we’re waiting backstage again. At this point we start taking pictures since we’re all dressed up with no place to go. The pictures turned out really well…judge for yourself!
So now we find out that we’re most likely not going to perform (if we are, it will only be a few numbers) and that we’ll just encourage people to social dance at the very end of the event (around 10:30 pm). So even though it’s a disappointment not to do our whole performance, we’ve gotten some great publicity out there about the Atomic Teams based just on the pre-show entertainment bit we did (which we also filmed, adding to our small but growing collection of possible reel footage). Also, having this big deadline really got our butts in gear with polishing these numbers into a highly performable form.
Then we start playing games. We start with one called Winkin’. The game requires one more boy than girls (it’s one of those flirty middle school games). The girls sit in a ring of chairs with one guy behind each chair with one guy standing behind an extra chair. This guy needs someone in his chair. So he winks at a girl and she has to get off her chair and onto his chair. Trouble is the guy standing behind her can grab her (by the shoulders only technically, although there were some very creative clothing grabs utilized) and keep her from leaving. Because if you lose your girl, you have to wink at someone else’s girl. And the game is really fun played backwards (guys sitting, girls standing), because the guys ended up being a little bit stronger than the girls, so they would end up dragging their girl across the floor.
We finished with an electronic version Catchphrase where you sit in a circle and every other person is your teammate and you pass around the ticking clock slash trivia machine and you have to describe the catchphrase and hope your teammates can guess what the heck they’re talking about. Lots of fun. Lots of laughs.
So now it’s time to go out and lead the social dancing….which only lasts for half and hour. But we get some of the rich big-wigs out there! So then that’s it. We head back to the green room, back up our stuff and leave. It was kind of sad to leave because the whole experience was like a musical in a bottle. You spend all this time rehearsing and
building towards this final show and then the show’s over and you just get to revel in the memories. EXCEPT IT ALL TOOK PLACE IN ONE DAY! Just crazy bunch of fun that I’ll never forget.