The 2003 Emerald Ball - A Labor Of Love

Wayne Eng
May 29, 2003
On April 3-May 5, 2003, the 14th annual Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships were held in Los Angeles, California. Voted America?s favorite DanceSport competition in 2000, the Emerald Ball strives to be a memorable experience for each and every dancer who participates. Despite the war in Iraq and the global health concern with SARS, 2003 was another banner year for the Emerald Ball with nearly 7,000 entries.

As the organizer of the Emerald Ball, I take great pride in these accomplishments, but truth be told, these are not my accomplishments, but rather a reflection of team success. In dancing, as in life and DanceSport competitions, teamwork is all important. No man is an island. Working together is how the good, the bad and the ugly come to fruition.

The Emerald Ball team is comprised of many components. These different components must work well individually as well as collectively. After each competition, I have to almost shake my head in wonder that things worked as well as they did. There are so many ways in which things can go bad. Some things are controllable like a venue of adequate size; others are not like world peace and infectious diseases.

Whether you run a DanceSport competition of 7,000 entries or host a weekly dance party, much of your success will depend upon your pre-event preparation. Shooting from the hip will prove a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Even with fourteen years under my belt, the Emerald Ball can not operate on cruise control. Every year presents new problems, new challenges, and new circumstances. Without the Emerald Ball team, there would be no Emerald Ball.

Marketing Team
You can?t have a DanceSport competition if nobody shows up. Our marketing team works long and hard to get the word out. This includes developing advertisements, brochures, press releases, e-mail, and a website.

Registration Team
You can?t have a DanceSport competition if competitors don?t register. Registration is one tough job. In ideal world, all competitors would register months in advance. No registration forms would get lost in the mail, be missing payment, or lacking essential detail. Registration is both a pre-event and on-site task. The registration team must possess the patience of Job, customer service skills par excellance, and a finely honed sense of humor. The registration team is the infantry working in the trenches, solving problems, answering questions, and making a good first impression.

Venue Team
You can?t have a DanceSport competition without a venue. A good venue can make or break a competition or any other event. At the Emerald Ball we have been blessed with the Los Angeles Airport Hilton. Just a short free shuttle bus ride from LAX, it is extremely convenient for out of towners. The main ballroom can accommodate a giant dancefloor and excellent sightlines for spectators. The staff is exceptionally professional, making sure that all lights are working, the air conditioning gets turned on, and food is delivered hot to the table.

Music Team
You can?t have a DanceSport competition without music. A Foxtrot needs Foxtrot music. A Cha Cha needs Cha Cha music. With events running one right after the other, the music coordinator needs to be certain that the correct music is just at the fingertips. In addition, the sound system must be in great working order that isn?t too loud or too soft but just right. In addition, the music must be fun for the dancers and fun for the audience.

Judges Team
You can?t have a DanceSport competition without judges. Talk about a thankless job. Who doesn?t second guess the judges? Everybody I know does. Fortunately, great judges are available for hire. We bring the very best judges from across the United States and even Europe to insure that every dancer gets a fair shake. For a competition the size of the Emerald Ball, this means more than twenty judges to have a fresh pair of eyes and make certain the judges are not so overloaded that they become brain dead.

Scrutineer Team
You can?t have a DanceSport competition without scrutineers. Somebody has to compile all of the judges marks and competitors want to see the results as quickly as possible. Scrutineering works on the GIGO system. If garbage goes in, then garbage comes out. The job of the scrutineer is to make sure no garbage enters the system.

On Deck Team
You can?t have a DanceSport competition without On Deck management.The On Deck Team functions like a stage manager for a Broadway play. The On Deck team keeps in communication with all of the competitors to make certain that the right people get to the right place at the right time. When all those around them are in a state of high anxiety, the On Deck team must project a sea of calm and decisiveness.

Event Program Team
You can?t have a DanceSport Competition without an event program. The program tells all the competitiors where to go and when. For a competition the size of the Emerald Ball, publishing the event program is like writing a book. The 2003 program ran nearly 300 pages in total. That represents a whole lot of information and chance for error.

Public Announcement Team
You can?t have a DanceSport team without a Master of Ceremonies. Like it or not, a DanceSport competition is a form of organized chaos.A good Master of Ceremonies keeps the chaos from interfering with the fun. They help smooth out all of the bumps. They help keep the competition running smoothly, informing the audience and competitors about what is happening when.

Vendor Team
You can have a DanceSport Competition without vendors, but the competition would suffer without them. Vendors add greatly to the atmosphere of a compeition. At the Emerald Ball, we always try to bring together a group of vendors that add value to the dancers experience. We have photographers taking quality action shots. We have videographers capturing the competition for posterity and training purposes. We have merchants selling the latest shoe styles, jewelry, and accessories. We have masseuses that treat the bumps, bruises and tension that accompanies competition dancing. We have costumers that tailor the elegant, sexy or flashy clothes that dancers favor. We have make-up artists and hair stylists that rival the services provided Hollywood stars.

Family Team
Last but not least, I enjoy the support of my family, Team Eng. My wife, Donna, has labored with me every step of the way to help make the Emerald Ball one of the largest and consumer friendly Dancesport competitions in the United States. This year my sons, Tyler and Jason, pitched in like real troopers. They sacraficed the better part of each day and evening collecting judges score sheets and hustling them over to the scrutineers table. I know they would have preferred spending their days running around a soccer field or nights watching Cartoon Network, but they worked hard to make mom and dad?s event a success.

While the Emerald Ball is a labor of love for me, it is also a labor of love for a great number of other people. Without my hardworking teammates, I would be nowhere. With them, I know I have gone somewhere. I can?t thank them enough.