18 February 2008


"What did you do this weekend?"

Oh, I'm so glad you asked.

Saturday we got up early, loaded dance paraphernalia into the car, and headed to the Ballpark Hilton for a day of feising at the Irish Arts Feis. MrV dropped us off at the door, and then drove off to find parking (since the valet parking was not only expensive, but also full; he eventually found a spot on the street a few blocks away; at least it wasn't as bad as last year when there were mounds of snow all over and virtually no parking anyway since the feis was on the same weekend as the Mardi Gras parade -- did you know the St. Louis Mardi Gras parade is the 2nd largest in the US? So, anyway, immediate grumpiness about the feis before we've even begun, due to crummy parking situation).

We went on in and I purchased a wristband, since this feis requires ALL non-dancers to pay $10 to watch the dancers. The dancers, of course, have paid $8 per dance to compete. The rest of us -- family, friends, curious people wandering by who wonder what an Irish dance competition looks like -- must each pay $10. Even the little 3 month old baby needs to pay for a wristband. Other feisanna in St. Louis don't do this -- you pay a flat fee online (maybe $10-$15 per family) for which you can bring every relative you have plus your entire neighborhood. So, second instance of grumpiness, and we haven't even gotten to our stages.

We had scoped out the hotel the night before. The place is rather choppy, and currently worse due to some massive construction project. The feis volunteers had some confusing signs up as to where the various stages were, although that wasn't really their fault. It was impossible to NOT be confusing under the circumstances. And they tried to amend signs as they observed people wandering off in the wrong directions. Overall, I was glad I knew where to deposit the kids' dance bags.

Kid1 danced on stages 1 and 2, which were located in the same ballroom. Yay for not having to switch rooms. But the signs on the stages listing which dance competed when were rather tiny and poorly lit. Kid1 had some moments of panic when she realized she couldn't read them since she's nearsighted.

Kid2 was on stages 5 and 6 -- again, both in the same ballroom. Except you can't see the signs for who's "up" on stage 5 when you're at stage 6, and vice versa, which was a little annoying (I live in fear of totally missing a dance because we weren't paying attention).

Stages 1 and 2 started promptly at 8:30 with the singing of national anthems. They moved on to figure dances. Then ... stopped. Because all the figure dances have to be done on all stages before they can start the solo dances. So they then sat looking at an empty stage for about an hour. In the meantime, stages 5 and 6 sat empty for 20 to 30 minutes ... perhaps we were waiting for figure dancers on other stages to come and compete on ours? Who knows. You'd think they'd figure out who had to be where when, and tweak the schedule accordingly. Another grumpiness factor -- couldn't they be a bit more organized?

The figure dances on our stage were interesting. Most of the groups continued dancing long after the musician stopped (note: we had a single accordion player who had to play non-stop for hours, and yes, he did mess up more than once, including one time where he totally pooped out in the middle of a competition -- grumpiness about the musician situation is registered). The judge eventually told one group, "You need to stop dancing after xx bars." I heard the girls whispering, asking why their instructor didn't explain how long to dance.

Eventually, though, the solo competitions started. This was the first feis in which we competed at Beginner 2 level. I missed all of Kid1's dances. She reported that her worst dance was Treble Reel, as she didn't start correctly.

Kid2 seemed to do fine, although she was competing against a boatload of other girls. The way these competitions work at this level: everyone competing in a particular dance makes a long line across the back of the stage (sometimes it can be 2 lines), then the kids come out 2 at a time (other feisaenna sometimes have them dance 3 at a time) and dance their dance, they return to place, the next 2 are already poised to start immediately (as in on the very next beat of the music), and so on down the line. Then everyone bows and walks off. So if you have a large group to get through, it can take quite a while per dance. And it did. Kid1 was done long before Kid2, so she and MrV came into our ballroom to watch.

By the way, the stage manager on stage 6 (where Kid2 danced most of her dances) was excellent. He kept all these little girls organized, made sure kids from the same school didn't dance at the same time (each school has different choreography for each dance, so it's better to mix up the schools so you don't have 2 dancers doing the exact same thing at the same time). He was truly a bright spot in the day.

They arrive in plenty of time to see Kid2's Treble Reel. She had never competed it this dance before, and seemed tentative.

Soon we were finished with all the dances. The girls changed their clothing, MrV gave his wristband to someone else who wanted to see the feis (he had never actually attached it to his wrist, and this was his way of protesting the $10 admission), we took the dresses back to the car (parked several blocks away) and we went to buy a new wig, chat with some people from our school, then to look for the scores. Both kids placed 3rd in Treble Jig! Woohoo! The rest of their scores were 4th or lower, but the 3rd place meant that they each got a medal. But, oh, whoops, the hornpipe scores weren't up yet. Let's wait a few minutes ... a few more minutes ... by the way, where do you want to have lunch, since we barely ate breakfast and it's about noon ... more waiting ... ask the volunteer in charge of posting scores if he knows what may be going on ... he's quite testy, and says the judges sometimes don't get the scores to the stage runners promptly (hmmm, why is the burden on the judge? could it possibly be that the system for getting the scores into the hands of the stage runner could use some tweaking to help it flow more smoothly?) ... waiting ... waiting .... FINALLY! Okay, after an hour, the scores appear and we can head home. Another item of grumpiness -- how long it took for some of the scores to appear.

We will never attend this feis again. Don't like the venue (it's nice as a hotel, but not for a feis), don't think it's very organized, really really really don't like the wristband -- we shouldn't have to pay $10 a piece for something that seems slopped together.

The rest of the day: finish Twist, which consisted of knitting 4 more rows on the collar, steam blocking the collar and button bands, then sewing on the buttons (pictures to follow eventually). In the meantime, MrV took Kid1 to pick up her glasses.

Overall, a productive, if not entirely happy, non-grumpy day.

1 comment:

km said...

This reminds me of the drill team competitions I dragged my mother to in High School. It's one of the ways I'm glad for little ones...we're just not chasing them in other ways yet. I know soon it will be soccer/swimming/piano/whatever.