Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Part 2 -- Oireachtas!

We arrived in Columbus on Thursday afternoon and checked into the Holiday Inn, which had more dancers staying at it this year than we remember staying there last year. Annabeth thought it was because I blogged about it -- yeah, like thousands of people are hanging on to our every word here. Sorry to disillusion you, honey, but our readership consists of a handful of relatives, neighbors, and friends.

Anyway, we were in a large room, which was nice because we had plenty of room to spread out

except the hotel sort of got goofed up on what room we were actually in, so they didn't deliver a paper or have the maid change the towels. We thought we had it straightened out by Friday afternoon, but then a woman walked into our room and was quite surprised that it wasn't HERS. Very, very weird. We eventually figured out that she had gotten off the elevator on the wrong floor, and it just so happened that our door hadn't latched fully so she thought her keycard worked in it ... it turned into a running joke all weekend.

We had a lot of running jokes all weekend. Most of which fell into the "you had to be there" category -- things like the Talita "wet and cheesy" adventure, and our catch phrase of Just add it to the list!, etc.

So, anyway, Annabeth started her competitions at 8am Eastern on Friday, which meant we were at the Convention Center getting ready by about 6:30 am Eastern (which is the equivalent of 5:30am Central, which is the time zone in which we spend most of our lives). Yowza.

Since over 100 girls were competing, this is how Annabeth spent much of her time:

Reading a Maximum Ride book on the Kindle. This alternated with

Thalia using the Kindle. Actually, I also read about 4 of the Maximum Ride books over the weekend, partially because although I took yarn and needles, I forgot to take the knitting pattern I intended to cast on. By the way, how did Ari sign the name "Wolverine" to that kid's shirt in Disney World (was that book 2? -- they're sort of running together in my mind now) when he then admitted in the German castle dungeon in book 3 that he was totally illiterate and couldn't even write his name?

Anyway, Annabeth didn't recall in her dances (that is, score in the upper half), but she felt as though she had really done her best, and although disappointed, felt good about her efforts. And, hey, after the initial disappointment, you've gotta admit that not getting a recall is small potatoes in the scheme of things ... I was once again struck by the incongruity of the homeless people of downtown Columbus outside the Convention Center contrasted with the girls on the inside who are so incredibly pampered and wearing dresses that cost hundreds of dollars just so they can dance a few minutes. Rick gave a panhandler $20 and the guy lit up like it was the greatest thing ever; heck, that's not much more than the cost of a tube of the tanner our teacher wants the kids to use.

Okay, back off the soapbox and back to Irish Dance. In the afternoon the kids practiced for their various competitions on Saturday, then we dispersed for the evening. We went to get something to eat at one of the many restaurants on Stringtown Rd. (Thursday night -- Ruby Tuesdays, Friday night -- Olive Garden, Saturday night -- Smokey Bones), then Rick and Annabeth went to play in the hotel pool and otherwise goof around

while Thalia and I curled up with a good book (besides the Kindle Thalia had brought actual books printed on actual paper).

Saturday the kids didn't start competing until later in the morning. I happened to wake up at 5:30am, thought, "Ha, I don't have to get up!" and fell back asleep for 2 hours. Then back over to the Convention Center to get all fancied up again.

Thalia competed in Traditional Set, performing Job of Journeywork. She didn't recall, which was perplexing considering some of the people who did recall. Really the sort of thing that makes you go "hmmmm...."

Next up, Annabeth's ceili team competed. By the way, when you're running around in ghillies (soft shoes) in a carpeted area you need something over the ghillies so the bottoms don't get so slick (the shoes pick up gunk from the floor). Annabeth chose these socks from Ami:

The team danced very well. And, indeed, they recalled, and later that evening received their medals for 3rd place:

(They're to the right of the adult in the green shirt, with blue dresses on the girls.)

The team that won did an amazing job, by the way -- they danced Trip to the Cottage pretty much flawlessly.

So, then, back to the hotel, more playing in the pool, to bed, up early Sunday morning, and hop in the car for the 7 hour trip home.

Overall, we had a great time.


I am always amazed by the amount of money put into these competitions -- those outrageous wigs can cost about $100, and the garish dresses can easily cost over $1000. I don't mind spending money on sports equipment -- a friend's daughter skates competitively and her skates cost $500, which makes some sense because the skates can affect her performance (plus they hope to get a nice college scholarship for skating -- Irish Dancers aren't being recruited by any colleges I know of). On the other hand, the over-the-to accoutrements of Irish Dance really don't contribute to the performance of the dance. I'd rather spend that cash on extra lessons, coaching and training, should the Irish Dance community decides to continue to try to market this as a a "sport" rather than a bizarre off-shoot of beauty pageants. Plus, after being around 1400 kids dressed in such gaudy (and often unflattering) attire my eyeballs need a rest. And then to top it off I come home and read a NY Times article disclosing that 1 in 8 Americans are on food stamps and I sort of wonder where our priorities are.

So, not sure we'll try this sort of thing again. It's starting to be disillusioning on many, many levels, including the feeling that we're on some sort of weird reality TV show complete with trash-talking young kids. But, then again, time generally lends perspective to these things, and I'm sure I'll get over it, and maybe be back next year.

In the meantime, if these final comments upset you, sorry. Heck, you should see the thoughts I've deleted in the course of writing this post. Maybe a private invitation-only blog IS a good idea.


Anonymous said...

Glad you had a safe trip and good time during the competition. I understand what you are saying about the spectacle of it all getting to be a little over the top. We ran into that with jazz and ballet and it's why my daughter switched to Middle Eastern dance. Even so, the performance outfits can turn into big $ and some of the dancers can get catty. We try to avoid those studios and not get carried away with it all.

Bridgett said...

Gail, thanks for writing this. My daughter is a few years behind yours and not nearly at that level (she just placed into novice in one dance, for instance), and while I love the school dress and taking her to shows and the whole Irish heritage thing combined with wow, those calves are really strong...the world of the solo dress and tight competition and so forth is not Sophia's style at all. I'm watching as one of her friends goes in whole-hog and their family gets dragged along does make me stop a second and try to keep perspective.