Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memphis Feis

Here's my new brainstorm: You know Cake Wrecks? We're going to band together and make a website we'll call Feis Wrecks in which we dish about feisseana that go horribly wrong.

In the meantime, I'm going to start divvying these posts into sections so that people who are looking for information about a particular feis can find it without having to wade through quite so much commentary on other stuff our family did over the feis weekend.

The Trip There

Memphis is about 4.5 hours from St. Louis -- just head south on Interstate 55 and you'll eventually get there. We left around noon on Saturday. Thalia had purchased the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise cheaply from iTunes, and watched episodes on her iPod; eventually she plugged the iPod into Rick's laptop, and she and AnnaBeth both watched it while using their earbuds for the sound. Which left Rick and I to listen to several hours of Classic Vinyl and Classic Rewind on XM, trying to remember who the heck sang a song before checking it on the dial. They even played Us and Them from Dark Side of the Moon (which I named and gave the album name first), which I haven't heard for years and years. Also, we were passing and being passed by a huge pickup truck -- the kind with the extra bench seat in the back and double tires under the bed -- it was full of people and the back was full of luggage tied down. The pile of luggage included a black boot that wasn't in any sort of suitcase or bag, and didn't appear to be tied down. We were fascinated by the boot -- would it fall out? After several hours of contemplating the boot, we lost track of them as we entered Memphis. This remains one of the great mysteries of the weekend -- what happened to the boot?

Also, I completed one lace collar I'd already started, and made another one, too. So that was nice.

The Hotel

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express near the airport (I think). Hotels in the area were pretty full -- lots of kids there for some sporting event. Last year we stayed in South Haven, and there were boatloads of kids THERE for the same event.

The pool was sort of skanky, like it was overloaded beyod capacity for cleaning. They gave us a king-size room with a pull-out sofa bed that they said would sleep 2, except it was actually twin size (the same thing happened in Nashville last year). Additionally, the pull-out was ripped to the point that it would no longer hold the mattress. Sigh.

UPDATE: The hotel refunded the rewarded points we used on this stay. They were really gracious about it. So a thumbs up for that.

So we put the mattress on the floor, and used a twin-sized Aerobed we'd brought along "just in case". Overall, not very impressed, won't be back.

The Feis

The feis was at a different hotel than last year, which was good because Rick had said he refused to go back to last year's location (people who had attended last year were still discussing the insects). It was at the Holiday Inn Select on Poplar. At first glance this seemed like a nice venue. We arrived about mid-morning, since PC/OC competitions were in the morning, followed by figures (same as last year). We expected to start dancing at about noon.

Some people from our school had snagged a lounge area downstairs complete with couches, tables and chairs. We used this as our school camping area. This was really, really, REALLY good, since the competitions were being held in a ballroom that wasn't big enough. Here's the view from the stage:

Same as last year, the entire stage was used for PC/OC, then it was divided into 3 parts for the grades. Note the lack of seating, not to mention the lack of standing room for competitors and their families. It was insane. The hallway outside of the ballroom had signs posted all over stating "No Camping in the Hall". I was standing around talking to some moms from another school when a lady passed by and said, "The signs say 'no camping'," which struck me as rather passive-aggressive -- where the heck were people SUPPOSED to hang out while waiting to compete? Really, I saw people eating lunch in the telephone cubicle (the phone was out of order) because it was the only free space they could find.

Anyway, our kids generally hung around and talked to friends

(always interesting to travel several hours, spend the night, etc., etc., to stand around talking to people who live close by), waiting for their competitions to begin. Which was at 2 O'CLOCK! Egads, when you start at 2pm you know you're in trouble!

Anyway, we started competing, and things were going relatively smoothly. Only one musician (Pat King wasn't there -- no clue what happened -- but that had to have slowed things down since the musician needed a break from playing fiddle for 12 hours straight). I thought the stages could've been organized a bit better -- there seemed to be too much "blank" time during which a stage (or stages) were empty. But then the announcement came at about 4 or 5 o'clock that a judge needed to leave to catch a flight, which put us down to 2 judges. Eek! I love the comment by one of the dads, He of the Acerbic Wit: "Had to leave to catch a flight? Really? Give me a break. There are other flights! It's not the space shuttle!" Also, there was a problem with one of the stages -- a board loose (quickly fixed by a guy with a screw gun -- had we known this was going to happen Rick could've brought his, since he'd just spent about a week crawling around screwing down floorboards at our house). The local teacher filled in to judge when possible, which means only on competitions that didn't include any students that she taught or had any association with.

We discussed with other parents that by hornpipe competition the feis seemed to have entered the phase wherein whatever dancers were standing upright and could finish their dance without dropping from exhaustion were declared the winners.

By this time I'd finished another lace collar and the dads were forming a pool as to when the feis would actually end ("what do we actually mean by 'the feis is over'?" "I've got 7:30 in the pool!" "Okay, I'm taking the over on that."). We were done and out the door of the hotel at 7:19pm.

Free at last! It was cooler outside, and possibly less humid.

We left before Treble Reel. Our kids weren't signed up, and had reached the point that they would've bailed out even if they HAD been signed up.

One nice thing -- when we got home we discovered that our results were available for free on Feisworx. They usually cost $5 per dancer. I don't recall if they did this last year, but it was a nice touch, particularly after such a crappy day.

The Trip Home

More XM Classical Rewind and Classic Vinyl, including a reprise of Us and Them, meaning I heard it more in that 36 hour span than in the previous 15 years (same with American Woman). After all of these years of marriage I discovered that Rick knows ALL the words to Smoke on the Water, which boggles my mind ... apparently he and his friend Harold were going to form a band back in 6th grade and sing this song; and it was going to be very, very cool. Thalia watched more Star Trek: Enterprise, making it through 7 episodes total for the trip. AnnaBeth fell asleep. We got home about midnight.

The Dancing Itself

Each of our dancers got a 2nd and a 4th. We discussed some things we can do to make things better next time. I'm still on my kick about analyzing failure to help do better next time.

I wonder if the Powers That Be at the feis are doing the same thing. I'd say their smartest move would be to hold the feis someplace bigger -- I think we all would've felt better if we'd had room to move. Also, could we all stop being so delusional about how long a feis lasts? I've decided that however long someone tells you a competition will take, add in at least 50% more -- so if they say the beginners (or PC/OC) will be over by noon, figure they'll be there until about 2pm or so.


Ami said...


Breathless here... glad it's you and NOT MEEEEEEE.

Nice wig shots... did you include them just for me?

Bridgett said...

We got free results on feisworx too--I always buy them after the feis because one time I bought them when we signed Sophia up and had to buy them again (they claimed they had no record of my payment!).

The "no camping" signs were especially nice. Don't give us enough room in the ballroom, don't let us exist elsewhere, and don't give us any options. It really made me appreciate feiseanna that have a room set aside.

Good review. You had a more fun account of the feeling of doom than I did...

Anonymous said...

Nobody has EVER had to pay for their results in Memphis. They are automatically emailed to you....that is if you have email on file.

Trish said...

I need to tell you about our feis experience at the Chicago Feis at Gaelic Park. What a nightmare! Annabeth's pouf is WONDERFUL...I am soo jealous. Your feis recaps are truly priceless!