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A Competition About Nothing

Dancing like Elaine at a Coney Island minor league baseball park’s “Salute to Seinfeld”

Author Bob Makela Illustration Marc Rosenthal

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BROOKLYN – On a Sunday afternoon at MCU Park on Coney Island, a crowd cheers on a group of people grooving to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star.”  There are five dancers in all, four women and a man, and their moves are remarkably similar—the kind of wild kicks, tossed heads and jerked thumbs that would normally precede the Heimlich maneuver.

The occasion is the Elaine Dancing Contest, an homage to the “Seinfeld” episode in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character performs what George Costanza describes as “a full-body dry heave set to music.” It’s all part of the second annual “Salute to Seinfeld” event, hosted by a minor league baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Also on the roster is the Running Errands for Mr. Pitt Contest and the Top of the Muffin to You eating contest. The most coveted prize, though, is the Big Salad Championship Belt, awarded to the most terrible dancer. “This,” says contestant Ralph Schneider, “is my time to shine.”

Schneider entered the contest last year dressed in his civvies and placed second. “This year, I got a dress and a wig,” he says. “If that doesn’t win, I don’t know what you need.” Soon, though, his enthusiasm gets the better of him—he tosses his head a little too vigorously, and the wig flies off. The crowd’s delighted screams can be heard from the Thunderbolt coaster beyond the leftfield wall.

In the end, the flying wig is not enough. The eventual winner, Andi D’Angelo, exits the field with her thumbs aloft, her floral dress flapping in the breeze. Less cheery is her fellow contestant (and last year’s champ) Jamie Sclafane, who trudges back to the stands with a grimace, though she insists that this has nothing to do with disappointment. “I think I hurt myself,” she says.

 

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