Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NEFFA Weekend

NEFFA weekend passed in a blur.  It left me slumped on the couch wondering where the weekend went and if I'd still be able to move my legs in the morning.  We paced ourselves this weekend more than some of the past events.  Thankfully, my feet didn't give me any problems at all.

I wore my new dance dress to the festival on Friday night.  Still felt way self conscious about it, but figured no one would notice with the press of people.  I got compliments on both the dress and my nifty name tag, which I was told looked good enough to eat.  There was English country dancing (ECD) and contra dancing and the first medley of the weekend (which rocked!).  Hot Contras & Squares was an accurate name for one of the sessions.  The heat in the high school dance hall was terribly oppressive, but the floor was packed with people, regardless!

We took a break from dancing to attend Callers Crash Course.  The teacher briefly reviewed the basics of what to do and what to listen to in the music to assist with calling.  Then a number of the participants took turns calling Lady Walpole's Reel while the rest of us danced.  I was so flustered from concentrating on the music that my timing was terrible.  I chickened out and didn't volunteer to call in front of the class.  But Rob did, and he did a great job!  Kudos to all of the class that had the courage to stand up and call.

I scored an awesome parking spot since I arrived early to polish off my volunteering.  I finished in time to make the high school Contra Medley.  Missed my chance to go belly dancing (bummer) so I could attend a discussion called Dance Partnering: Pursued or Invisible?  It was a group discussion, with one-on-one questions that covered subconscious partnering choices, how people pick partners, avoid unwanted partners, and discuss if partner choice was based on the larger social context of the dance.  It wasn't what I expected.  The questions were deep and complex.  There was just not enough time to go over it all.  We joked that to anyone in the hall, it must have looked like speed dating, complete with a three minute bell to indicate when we had to switch people and questions.  I think we could have easily stuck with one question to pick apart for the entire hour.  It was an interesting group discussion.

Man eating dog

The weather was beautiful.  The lawn was littered with people enjoying the sunshine.  We even grabbed a bite to eat outdoors.  There was all sorts of food, including massive chili dogs!  I had Thai chicken, and, of course, a piece of the Lithuanian cake.  It's not NEFFA if I haven't had cake.

We managed to catch the tail end of Waltz Time! and squeeze in a couple of waltzes (including Steciak's, which is my favorite). I attended Triplet Contras, which was very cool.  Instead of the long lines, this was 6-people sets.  It reminded me a bit of some ECD dances, but it had contra calls and moves.  It's not quite like either style of dance, so there was chaos and laughter.  I had a great time.

Dulcimer Duets

Rob ditched me and attended Mountain and Hammered Dulcimer Duets.  I caught the last couple of pieces.  Very pretty.

We wrapped up the day with a bit of Cajun Dance - Lesson & Dancing.  I was disappointed that there wasn't more teaching.  We've done Cajun dancing once or twice before and pretty much just made it up as we went along.  But I know there can be so much more to it than just the shuffle step.  I had been hoping the class would include instructions for a few flourishes.  The stage was crowded; I'm not sure how much room there would have been to practice any complicated moves.

The music was great.  We stayed long enough to do a Cajun waltz, at which point our feet and calves told us we'd had enough.  I had planned to stay later, but decided not to push it.  It may have been earliest I've gone home on a Saturday.

Zwiefacher swirls
Sunday was cold and rainy.  It made for cooler dance halls, but stickier floors.  We arrived at the high school in time to check out Zwiefachers while waiting the morning contra medley.  I can dance the simple WWPP if I put my mind to it, but zwiefachers can be a whole lot more complicated than that.  I enjoyed watching the dancers.

One of the things I get a kick out of at NEFFA is guys in skirts.  I love that it's a mundane thing to sit and covet a great looking skirt that is being worn by a man.  A woman sitting next to me pointed out that the guys look great in skirts and dresses because their waist/hips tend to be narrower than the gals, so the clothing hangs and drapes well.  I don't know if that's the reason why, but I saw some enviable ensembles out in the dance floor.

Some zwiefachers in motion:

Dodging the rain between buildings

We stayed for English Contra Dance Moderne, which I didn't realize was tagged as an experienced dance until I was more than halfway through the session.  My apologies to the experienced dancers for adding my ignorance to the mix.  But the dancers were gracious and I think I held my own.  On one of the sets I did just as well (or badly) as most of the other members in the set.  They were all really fun dances!

We ended the day with Surf's Up! Contras (all dances had waves), No-Circle Becket Contras and the Festival Orchestra Contras & Squares.  This year I participated in the Merry Go Round square instead of sitting on the sidelines.  It was more subdued than other years.  No swinging people in other squares; there was no command to swing someone you haven't swung all weekend.  I like the pandemonium that ensues with those calls.  Oh, well, there's always next year.

We ducked out right after the Merry Go Round.  The couch was calling my name and no doubt two hungry guinea pigs were wondering when they were getting greens.  I survived another NEFFA and look forward to doing it again next year.

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