Last night was 2 things for me: the 'All Black Tie Ball' for the Simply Ceroc weekend (the year's major event for the dance classes I attend), and the Rugby World Cup 2011 final between New Zealand and France.
When I signed-up to the ball, I wasn't thinking that much about the Rugby World Cup. In-fact, the Rugby World Cup didn't really enter my mind until the weekend it started, so when I learned earlier this year that the final and the ball were on the same night, the thought that went through my head was, 'meh'. Regardless, the advertising for the event said that they'd have the auditorium next to the dance floor open for us to go watch the game on their giant screen. That didn't really factor into my decision of going to the ball, but as the world cup final drew nearer, I'm glad they did it.
I signed up to the ball because my friend Melissa - the one who actually got myself and another mate of ours, Alexey, into dancing in the first place some 3 years ago - wanted to go. Despite being our progenitor, Melissa had never been to the ball, whereas Alexey and I and had been to 2 each in our time, so when Melissa got me to sign up to accompany her, this ball became the main motivation for going to dance class at all this year - I had dropped-off the ceroc radar for a good 6 months last year (when work started to eliminate any semblance I had of a social life) and so I felt I needed to get back into classes so that I wasn't totally useless come this weekend.
One nice thing about the ball is that I get to wear a suit. I don't really get many occasions to don suit, so when I do I usually end-up wearing a bit of a "I'm wearing a suit!" smile from the simple idea that this is probably the nicest-looking I will ever get. The location for the ball isn't far from my place, so I walked through the city towards it, wearing a suit and my silly little grin.
Now that Melissa and I had 2 events to balance, we went to the ball with one eye always on the clock: doors to the ball opened at 7:30, dinner starts getting served at 8:00, kick-off for the game was at 9:00. We arrived on time, got a dance in, and it was during that dance we could smell the mains meal being lined-up at the buffet table not far from the dance floor. Melissa was particularly hungry, so mid-dance we manoeuvred ourselves across the dance floor between other dancing couples and right up to the edge closest to the buffet (I had actually failed to lead myself and my partner between a moving crowd several times earlier this week, so was very happy to have not stuffed this up here). When the song ended, we promptly let go of one another, ducked under the barrier at the edge of the dance floor, and were practically the front of the line at the buffet.
We got back to our table, ate away, and were almost done by the time everybody else managed to grab something to eat. A decent line stretched away from the buffet, and we were wiping the food from our mouths ready to go to the auditorium to watch the All Blacks play France.
Things were looking up: we got to the ball on time, we secured a nicely-placed table, we managed to weave our way through several dancing couples towards the buffet, we beat the crowds to mains, I was wearing a suit, everything was going right for us.
We made it to the auditorium, everyone really got into the mood by standing and singing the national anthem and cheering with the haka, but then we sat down and everything started to fall apart.
The game was a nail-biter: we had the lead, but it was never convincing, and the French were putting-up one helluva fight. By half-time, I was resigning myself to the fact that we could actually lose, and then riots would run through the streets and all the cars outside would be flipped-over and/or set alight by the ensuing mob - move over Vancouver, we'll show you how a real sporting-loss riot can be done.
When we all returned to the auditorium for the second half, the cheering had audibly died to make way for a collective nervousness. Someone behind me made the comment that you could feel the tension in the air, and that tension also had the ability to slow time to a crawl. At 8 points to 7, a 1 point lead to the All Blacks, that last 30 minutes to the second half became the longest 30 minutes of my life. I thought I was watching the clock too often before to make it on time to even get here, now I was watching every passing second of game time with both of my eyes, swearing at one point that I saw the clock go backwards.
We won, eventually, and the tension was replaced with cheers of relief more than anything. We were so very lucky, and we all knew it. We exited the auditorium and Melissa and I had to sit back down at our tables for a while to let it all sink in. I'm not one prone to nervous habits like nail-biting, but after that game Melissa had worn down 9 of her fingernails, and someone else I danced with later that night had chewed through all her fake fingernails, enjoying a healthy diet of acrylic to go with dessert.
Melissa and I left the ball soon afterwards to join friends who were partying in the streets. On the way to where they were, we saw people climbing trees, cars honking everywhere, impromptu chants, scrums, and one guy push himself down one of our main streets on an office chair. Oh and man hugs on every corner. Even in my suit I wasn't immune to the bromance, and was dishing-out a bit of man-love myself, in between the whoops of victory and photo-bombing peoples' shots in my hired finery.
It's 4:52am now. I got home and started writing this about 2 hours ago. I'm out of my suit, showered-off all that sweat from dancing which came from dancing away my nerves from the rugby, and now I'm just glad. Even though I wasn't biting my nails (or tightening my sphincters as some friends tweeted), I was staving-off epic disappointment and maybe some kind of heart attack with that 1 point lead.
I'm not sleepy, even though my normal bed time was over 5 hours ago. I've said before that I'm not the biggest sports fan, but thanks to my dad who got the family into those pool games and me really into the spirit of things, I've witnessed history and now I want to know what happens next.
Sleep can wait.