I'm sorry, but how does TBA exactly work? I didn't get any results when doing a search on DF (apparently, the word "tba" is too short or something).
Our college comps are organized differently (more emphasis on beginners and low competitive levels, all the other competitive dancers are stuck into the "open" comp and are not allowed to dance with their own partners or with anyone from their own team - great fun... of course, there are no point systems but a comp-by-comp-thing...)...
However: This leads to "blind date parties" on the nights before the comps which are a great opportunity to do little tryouts... and everybody else can just have fun dancing without looking for a partner. So - how are the college comps and TBA organized in the US? If it is a several day event like here, blind dating might be good fun...?
TBA means that you, whether a leader or a follower, register for a competition without a set partner. Ideally, you can see who else is registered as TBA on the registration list in the days leading up to the comp, which will allow you to reach out to a partnerless lead/follow to see if they would like to dance essentially sight-unseen at the comp. Sometimes, it works out that you arrive at the comp the day of still partnerless, and the organizers will help you find a partner to the best of their ability before your round goes on.
It works better for some than for others. I have a friend who's been dubbed TBA queen, as she's either placed highly or won almost every event she's TBA-ed, including Gold Rhythm with me (1st place, yeaaaaayuh). On the other hand, when I was starting out, I competed Bronze Standard with a girl who was still very clearly a Newcomer although she was signed up to TBA Bronze, so we didn't make it past the first round. Definitely luck of the draw.
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I have had pretty good luck going TBA overall-- my first comp I went TBA at was Tufts where I ended up dancing with one guy for Latin/Rhythm and another guy for Standard (there were no Smooth TBA leaders-- but I'll get back to that in a second). So my Latin/Rhythm partner and I are now good friends, and while I didn't end up spending as much time with my Standard partner (once again-- will get back to that in a second) he was also very nice. Except for American ChaCha, I made at least Quarters in everything, Semis in about half of my dances. Both of these partners I'd contacted ahead of time-- I stalked the registration websites and when I found a TBA leader I then went and looked him up on Dance.zsconcepts to see how he'd done at previous comps and then once I found a good looking leader I'd email him. It worked out great-- everyone was super enthusiastic to work with me, and I just generally had a blast. At Holy Cross this year I also went TBA, and while I didn't have as good luck contacting leaders ahead of time for HC, I had good luck once I got there. I danced with one guy for Smooth and Rhythm, another guy for Standard and my TBA L/R partner from Tufts for Latin (his S/S partner decided to give Rhythm another shot, so he did rhythm with her, otherwise I would've done both Latin and Rhythm with him again). Holy Cross it was harder to do well because it's larger than Tufts and both of the partners I had had less experience than the partners I'd had at Tufts, but I still had a really good time. My Smooth/Rhythm partner was just totally adorable, he was this high school guy with braces who was doing his first collegiate comp and was just super enthusiastic to get a partner. He hung out with our team all day, and then I heard members of our team saw him at another comp and he made time to chat with our team again. Anyway, I still made mostly quarters, and with my Tufts TBA partner that I did Latin with, we made Jive semifinals despite the fact that he knows very little Latin.
Anyway, why Smooth at Tufts is something to get back to is that I know someone earlier in this thread was complaining that they had gone to a comp where they were unable to compete due to lack of leaders. Just wanted to say that if you talk to the people coordinating the competitions a lot of the time they'll go out of their way to try to make sure you're able to dance, even if it means bending the rules a bit. I know at Tufts they allowed Bronze leaders to double register down to lead Newcomer TBA followers without a leader. Because Bronze to Silver is a pretty big jump they wouldn't allow a Silver leader to lead me, however, they did allow a Silver follower to double register down with me as a leader, even though double registration was technically not allowed at Tufts. It was really fun-- this is why I didn't spend so much time with my Standard leader though-- I was too busy running Smooth with a Silver follower who had never led before. They ended up giving us number like 303-- where the next highest number was 272 or something, so it was really funny when they were doing callbacks my leader, who like I said had never led before, never expected us to get called back and they'd go through this whole list of numbers and then at the end, almost like an afterthought they'd call "303". Because my partner was always so shocked when we got called back I had to grab her hand each time and pull her out onto the floor to get her to come with me, but it worked. We actually made 2 of our 3 semifinals.
I was thinking about this more-- I did have one bad experience with going TBA. I had a leader from another school who emailed my Captain to get my information in order to dance with me at Tufts. It was really nice and I was super excited to dance with him, I gave him the list of moves that I normally competed with and it seemed like everything was going to work out. Then he tried to make me go all the way to Cambridge to practice with him-- and when I told him I couldn't I offered that he could come out here if he cared to-- he didn't care to and he emailed back and forth for like 2 days to try to make me go out there in the week before Tufts (despite the fact I had classes and responsibilities to the Newcomers I had been working with during the week). He then gave me his number and asked me to call him (presumably to try to make me come out to Cambridge) and when I called him he notified me that his normal partner had reconsidered dancing with him, and he was no longer interested in doing anything other than Viennese Waltz with me. It was super rude, but I did do Viennese Waltz with him, even so. What I could not believe was that he emailed me again asking if I wanted to dance with him at Holy Cross, needless to say I was not interested.
For all the good experiences I had dancing TBA though, I can say that I am not even slightly interested in doing it again. The new partner I got this semester is totally on the same wavelength as I am in most ways, and I couldn't really wish for someone more perfect for me in regards to dance partnering, so I'm super excited not to be dancing TBA any longer.
What's are the biggest issues that need to be improved at collegiate competitions? For example, results screen needs to show more data, on deck area is a mess, registration is a hassle, communication between practice floor and comp floor is sub par, music selection could be better, numbers sweat off too easily, etc. If you could magically improve any aspect, what would it be?