Back in the day, I went on at length about proficiency levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Open) in ballroom dancesport competitions. This time, I'm going to BRIEFLY tell you about age categories.
DANCE YOUR AGE CATEGORY.
Sign up for the age category that you fit into RIGHT NOW. Not the one you wish you were in, or one that applied ten years ago, or even one that you think you might pass for.
Competitors who "dance down" (sign up for younger-than-applicable age categories) are not doing themselves a favor. Classically, the B age categories are the most competitive levels (for ladies especially; in the gentlemen categories, it's usually even better at C).
Why? Ladies that are 35+ or so are well out of college (and maybe even out of the debt that comes with it), have steady jobs, are very-able-bodied, and have free time. In other words, they have the money, time, and energy to focus on ballroom. The A division often doesn't have the money and time part, and the Cs are starting to lose the energy (although, dammit, if I haven't seen MANY awesome Ds).
Hence the catchy nickname for the ladies (and gentlemen) of this age: Killer Bs.
Also, if you're looking for your money's worth at a competition, I have often seen quarterfinals in freestyle events at the B level. That means you could register to dance 6 dances and end up doing 18. More dancing (as always) = more fun.
Many of the same ideas apply to the C generation, just not in the same numbers. As much as dancesport is for all ages, our joints and tendons and muscles don't always want to be pushed at a competitive level forever (this applies to all ages, but it tends to start happening more often at 50+ and THAT'S SCIENCE), so there aren't as many competitors in the... more... experienced... age categories.
The A division babies are insane. Often fresh off high school or college athletic careers, they can DO things. For better or for worse, they sometimes get pushed through the proficiency levels too quickly because of it, but see my personal note below for why it'll still work for them.
CAVEAT! It IS fun to dance down once in awhile, just to see what happens. And often, as you get to be an octogernarian or nonagenarian (I've seen a few centenarians), you'll outgrow even the Senior multi-dance events and are going to have to dance down if you'd like to enter a multi-dance.
ALSO FUN, if you're a Youth competitor, you may dance UP into the A category (as far as I remember). If there's not usually a huge number of competitors in your Youth division (which there often isn't), I might sign up for the adult category if it's a possibility.
Note for Amateur Couples
- at any organization, if your partner is of a different age category than you, you must dance at the younger age division.
Good GOD, if there was a Pro Masters category (or Senior I, as USADance endearingly calls my age range), I WOULD DO IT. I swear, half of the people I compete against can't even hit the bar afterwards. 18- 23 year olds? CRAZY. SHAMELESS. YOUNG. I mean, I remember what I was like, so... Give me the 30+ crowd ANY DAY.
Best sandwich EVER: this.
One year ago: Crafter's Block, in which I steal from other people's creativity.
Two years ago: On Not Owning a Television, in which it longer seems that revolutionary.
Three years ago: LLLL, in which I realize I have long hair.