Sunday, November 11, 2007

Asilomar review

We had a wonderful time at Asilomar Scottish Country Dance Workshop last weekend. I remember going to Asilomar Retreat Center when I was a young, for church retreats. The main things I remember clearly are sitting in Merrill Hall looking up at the high wood-beamed ceiling, and going to the beach. Lots of things have changed, but Asilomar beach is still wonderful, even in November.

It was good to see some old friends again after so long. I last went to this event in 1992, so I didn't really expect a lot of people to be there that I'd know. Or if they were, I didn't expect them to remember me! Happily, an old friend, one of my bridesmaids from my first wedding, was there. I haven't seen her since about 1995. It was good to re-connect and catch up a bit on our lives. We've both been through a lot since we last saw each other.

There's lots going on at this workshop. There's a welcome dance on Friday night, and an after-party, of course. Our group had chosen to be in the party dorm, so our common room was the center of activity until 3:00 or 4:00 am. I went to bed at midnight.

Saturday morning was taken up with dance classes. I was put in the Advanced Technique class. It was good, but I wouldn't say we were worked as hard or challenged as much as I'd expected. My seven Idaho compatriots were spread between three other classes of different levels and they felt the same. We all thought there were people in our groups who perhaps should not have been there. But it's a very difficult task to categorize dancers when you haven't seen all of them dance. So no surprise if some (who knows, maybe us!) were misplaced, I guess.

Saturday afternoon was mostly open. Finally time to go to the beach! A bunch of us went down and walked through the coming evening’s dances. And of course we paddled in the surf. Ice cold water is great on sore feet. Mine barely hurt at all afterwards.

The other Idaho dance teacher and I went to the Teacher's Reception before dinner. We're so isolated from every other SCD class in the country (the closest is 345 miles away), it's important to network as much as we can. I keep trying to recruit other teacher friends to come out to Idaho, do some rafting or hiking, and teach our Monday night class. It would be good for our dancers to experience other teachers. About half of them have never had another teacher.

The Saturday Ball was wonderful. I danced at least 80% of the program, which I don’t often get to do because my feet hurt, but so many of the dances were really great. I've included a picture of Merrill Hall to show the banners and other decorations. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves - at least six dances were repeated by request from the floor. Afterwards was a ceilidh, then the after-party/musician's jam in our dorm's common room.

The ceilidh was nice, but it didn't seem as enthusiastically supported as I remember from before. Maybe it was just an off year.

A fair amount of musicians are hired for this kind of weekend. Aside from two evening dances, there are six different classes on Saturday, running concurrently, and all of them need two class musicians. So we had Andy Imbrie, John Taylor, Lyle Ramshaw, the three members of Terpsichore, Janet Kurnik, and Mike Hird. And most of them came to the party/jam after the ceilidh, as well as a few others who'd brought their instruments. It was amazing. This was when I was really wishing my husband had been able to come. He would have loved joining in with his fiddle.

Sunday morning we had all of those same musicians up on stage for the combined class in Merrill Hall. What a great sound. We learned some fun dances that were interesting but not overly-complicated, to allow for our sleep-deprived brains. In fact, we remembered two of those dances well enough to bring them home for our Idaho class.

Now I’m back at home and well into preparations for the holidays. We’ll have a small crowd for Thanksgiving, then there’s the Solstice Party in December, so I want the house to look clean and tidy. We had the carpets steam-cleaned yesterday. They may be old (circa 1970’s) but they’re good quality and cleaned up very well! Our bedroom carpet looks so much brighter now. And of course, once we moved things out of the way for the cleaners, the rooms looked so much tidier and open, we couldn’t face putting it all back. So we’ve spent today sorting and throwing things away. Less is the new more!

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