2011 St. Patrick’s Day Season, Day 2

Originally written 3/10/11.

Today went better.

I wasn’t sure it was going to when I got out of bed. Everything felt stiff and sore, despite the fact that I’d stretched for twenty minutes before going to bed the night before. So I stretched for another twenty minutes after breakfast. I tried not to think about what getting out of bed during St. Patrick’s season was going to feel like in another five years, if I was this sore at thirty-five. Ugh. Then again, in another five years I might be in better shape than I am now.

I carefully double-checked the times of all my shows before leaving the house. Too bad I didn’t do that yesterday.

As I walked down the stairs of my third-floor condo to where my car was parked, I was carrying everything that I needed to do my two shows:
1. My purse
2. My lunch bag, which today was really my lunch/dinner/snack bag
3. My shoe bag, with my hard shoes and soft shoes
4. My dress bag, with my dress, flashpants, cape, and headband
5. Another bag with a change of clothes and all the paperwork I needed for the day, like directions
6. The accessory bag for the sound system, which holds a power strip, extension cord, microphone, microphone cord, amp power cord, iPod, business cards, pens, and the all-important duct tape
7. And last, but not least, the sound system itself.

We need boards to dance on, too, but I’d left those in the car overnight. Anybody desperate enough to break into my car to steal some beat-up 2’ x 2’ squares of plywood was obviously beyond my help.

I carried the sound system in my hands (luckily, it’s got handles), and everything else hung in bags from my shoulders. By the time I’d reached my car, most of the shoulder straps were hanging around my elbows and cutting off my circulation, and I was doing a kind of limbo dance trying to keep them from sliding down to my wrists. It actually gave me a great idea for money on the side—I could make an “Irish Dance Teacher St. Patrick’s Season Exercise Video.” Workout one: fill six sandbags, attach shoulder straps, pick up the 20-pound dumbbells, and walk down the stairs…

We did two shows today. The first was at a hotel, where we danced for a group of seniors attending a sales pitch for a retirement home. We’re actually dancing at that particular retirement home next week, and I can’t wait to see it. The show organizers were really wining and dining the potential residents. I’m interested to find out if the facility lives up to the hype.

The second show was at a very, very nice retirement home. We’ve danced there every St. Pat’s season for the last several years, and I always look forward to it. It’s got pleasant carpet and décor, the staff is professional and friendly, and it smells nice—which, let me tell you, is a factor I hope you take into account when you’re choosing a nursing home. We’ve danced at plenty of places that did NOT smell nice. The best thing about this particular facility, though, is that the residents seem happy there. That, sadly, is not always the case.

Both shows went beautifully. The dancers, who ranged in age from seven to twenty-seven, did their steps well, showed up on stage in the right place and at the right time, and really looked like they were having a ball. When shows go well like that, it creates a wonderful cycle: the dancer’s energy infects the audience, who clap and smile, and then the audience’s energy gets reflected back to the dancers, making them dance even better. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. I was so proud of my dancers.

Of course, no show in the history of performance has ever gone foible-free, so there were a couple funny moments, but only a couple:

At the first show, we had another instance of Impeded Access to the Stage. We were dancing in a hotel conference room, and the organizers had cleared a space in the middle of the room for us to dance. The rest of the space was taken up with round tables that had chairs all around them. There wasn’t any space in the room itself for the dancers to stand when they weren’t actually dancing, so we decided to put our backstage area outside in the hall.

I mentioned to the organizers that we would do this, and I told them that one of the tables was standing pretty much right between the door and the stage. I said that we needed a pathway to the stage, and they said they’d move the table a little.

When we came into the room to start our show, the table was still there, and now it had people sitting around it, completely blocking the pathway to the stage. I asked the organizers what we could do, and they asked if we could walk around the other side of the table, which is what we ended up doing. However, right then a group of waiters came in with a drink cart and parked it right on the other side of the table, so the dancers got to dodge both table and waiters. It was like a live-action, Irish dance Frogger game (and the dancers handled it perfectly—better than the waiters, who kept bumping into each other).

At the second show, we had another instance of Changing in Strange Places. The friendly organizer of the second show had remembered that we needed a place to change, and had arranged for us to have the facility’s chapel to ourselves. She even put paper over the window so no one could see in. It was warm, private, and spacious, but I felt odd, getting changed in front of the picture of Jesus at the front of the room. That was a new one for me.

Now I’m off to stretch and go to bed. My sister and I have a show together tomorrow morning, and then each of us has a separate show tomorrow night. I hope the weather is as nice tomorrow as it was today. It was warm and sunny today, like a preview of spring.

More tomorrow!