I’m sore. Everywhere. My calves hurt, my sides hurt, my neck hurts. I’ve discovered muscles I never knew existed, mostly because they never screamed at me before. I’m on especially bad terms with those back muscles that run just under your shoulder blades (“lats” for you bodybuilder types),  which Wikipedia describes as “responsible for extension, adduction, transverse extension, flexion from an extended position, and medial rotation of the shoulder joint.”
I now know, however, that this definition makes for a pitifully weak understanding of the true power of these muscles, because in the Kingdom of Cha Cha these babies are nothing less than the Source of your Dynamic Energy, the point of origin of your Competitive Edge, and in Ballroom Dance Lesson Number Three, I got just a tiny taste of how bad I’m going to need some competitive edge for this event.
I arrive at Dance World all bright-eyed and eager, ready for some cha cha fun, and the first thing out of my pro dance partner Michael’s mouth is “I’ve been watching some of the other Safe Haven dancers…they’re looking really good.”
He nods in the direction of Steve and Deborah strutting peacock-like across the expanse of open floor. I ask what dance they’ve chosen and Michael answers “Well I’ve seen them doing Cha Cha and Tango, but Steve tells me one of them is a fake-out.”
A fake-out? There’s subterfuge in ballroom dancing?
Michael continues, “So I pumped him a little, as in could this mean a possible Costume Event? Like…a tear-away dress? But he wouldn’t tell me, he just said “You’ll see!””
All the happy drains out of me in about 1.3 seconds.  I’ve barely unpacked my own personal  dance baggage and here comes the battle horn calling me to suit up, full armor. Apparently ballroom dancing is a blood sport.
We greet the peacock couple on the way to our rehearsal room and it’s all smiles and sweetness on the surface, but I can feel it, the underlying tension, the unspoken evaluation. It kicks into high gear when we’re joined by another Safe Haven competitor couple, and this guy doesn’t even try to hide it, he’s all up in my face  saying “Yeah, we’re taking no prisoners, you’re going DOWN! Dance to the death!”
I may be exaggerating a little, but that was the sense I got.
So when Michael and I got to our little practice room and he started working me hard on the lats thing, “Squeeze ‘em tight, and lock ‘em down, Lari- that’s your power point!” I started dancing for my life, focusing like a neutron beam on those six square inches of previously underachieving musculature and digging deep for all the competitive edge I could muster.
Today I’m paying for it.  I can barely raise my arms towipe the tears out of my eyes.
Follow me as I trip my way through to the big event on April 12 and stay tuned to see how you can get involved!