Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Like Thursday: NEFFA

I went to the New England Folk Festival last weekend in Mansfield, MA.  It's held at the middle school and high school - it takes over a good chunk of the campus.  I look forward to this every year for all sorts of reasons.  I logged nearly 40 miles on my fitbit, and at least half of that was from dancing!

I like that I finished adding leather to my new dance sandals in time for the dance.  Then I spent the weekend breaking them in.  Oof.

I like the volunteer work - I trade work for a ticket.  I helped with setup and signs.  It's great to see my handiwork during the event.  Added advantage:  I know where everything is prior to the event.  Win-win!

I like the custodians at the Mansfield schools.  I can't tell you how much these guys make the weekend.  They're always there, wonderfully helpful and always cheerful.  I look forward to seeing them every year.

New shirt matches my twirly skirt!
I really like my new shirt.  I hit Eagle Ray Traders' bargain rack every year in hopes to find some pretty batik that fits.  (They also sell batik rayon by the yard... on of these years I may not be able to resist.)  My volunteering finished an hour before the festival and they were open for business.  What an opportunity - I had first pick!  I liked this blue fitted top so much when I tried it on, I didn't take it off.  I paid for it, had her clip the tags off my back, then danced in it all night.  Plus it matched my skirt.  Bonus!

I like that people attend NEFFA from all over.  Let's see - I danced with people from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska, California.  Even a few from Canada and the UK.  How cool is that?

I spent a lot of time in the Contra and English Country dances.  This is my annual English fix.  I like English dancing - it's less hands-on than contra dancing, but the moves can be complex, it can be really flirty, and the participants are often silly.

There are SO MANY types of dancing available at the festival.  I can't even list them all - if it's some kind of traditional dancing, it's probably there.  I observed some Russian and Bulgarian dancing, and even tried a little Scottish country dancing (got the hang of it just about the time it ended).

I like the contra dancing.  Of course.  I jam in as much as physically possible (then wonder why it's so hard to get out of the car when I arrive home - oof, I was sore).  There was a neat session that mixed contras and squares.  Then there's the contra medley (there was one each day):  a no-walk-thru dance in which the caller starts a contra, lets it progress six times, then seamlessly changes to the next (of 6!) caller with different no-walk-thru contra.  Usually, you pick a partner and stick with that partner.  But Sunday had an optional chaos set:  a medley in which you change partners, roles, direction.  Anything goes.  It required the entire line of dancers to be willing and ready to do this.  This set was insane... and so much fun.  Twenty minutes of messing up, recovering, laughing, discovering new partners, reorienting roles, simultaneously having people turn you around and helping you out.

I loved the chaos set.  It was a joyful thing.  Thank you to my partner (I literally met him 30 minutes before the medley), who was willing to jump into the chaos with me, and was the first person to swap me around so I didn't know what I was doing.  Whee!

Interesting how I like the chaotic dances - another favorite was the Merry-Go-Round:  a square dance in which the caller purposely tries to trip up the dancers by calling surprising moves.  One reason I enjoy these so much is it requires the participants to help each other out.  I don't rely primarily on my partner for cues - the entire set of dancers accomplishes the challenge.

I like the music.  Not only the scheduled events (we went to two dulcimer concerts) - there's jamming stations in the hall.  You never know what you'll run into.  At some point I paused to listen to a guitar solo of Maple Leaf Rag.  I love Joplin rags.  If it's nice out, there's people playing and singing outside, too.

And last, but certainly not least, I like catching up with people I haven't seen in a while.  Some are from areas I rarely dance at, like Greenfield or Peterborough.  Some dancers I only see at NEFFA - it's an annual reunion.  It's so good just to see them (even better if I can wrangle a dance).  I also get to spend time with lots of dancers I see regularly.  It's nice to catch up with them between sessions and hear what they've been up to (besides dancing).

Whew!  Another marathon post.  Sorry about that - but so much to like that weekend!  And there's still more to like - check out more I Like Thursday posts over at Not Afraid of Color.


  1. I felt right at home! We have a festival like that in Takoma Park MD. Oh the energy that carries you along causing you to only feel the pain long after!

  2. Sounds like you had a ball...and the 40 miles are an added bonus. Way to go! We love peanut butter cookies too so was interested in that recipe.

  3. What a great event, good fun for all. Your skirt and top are perfect, lovely colours.
    thank you for visiting my blog, you show as `no reply´.

  4. I've never heard of these festivals, but it sure looks like fun! And how awesome to add all those miles--bonus!


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