I’ve been working my tail off to master my Oireachtas dances and keep my “old” bones healthy, but before the summer ended, I decided to take a ROAD TRIP!!!
Every year, I try to go to a feis outside my normal region and combine it with a mini vacation.The beauty of Irish Dancing is getting to travel and visit new cities/states, and to make friends who love Irish Dancing as much as I do!
This year, I was able to fly to a feis in Clearwater Beach over Labor Day weekend. This feis kind of fell into my lap. I had pondered going on my own as I had Labor Day off from work and it would be nice to relax at the beach, but it would be no fun without a friend. I got a text 3 days before the feis closed entries saying: “Hey, I’m going to be in Orlando at my family’s timeshare Labor Day weekend and there is a competition in Clearwater; want to come?”
She didn’t have to say another word, as I had a free jetBlue credit waiting in my inbox to be used.
I arrived safe and sound on a somewhat bumpy flight thanks to Hurricane Earl.
Fast forward to the night before the feis…
It was probably the worst night of sleep before a competition in my life, even rivaling the evenings before I dance at the Worlds. Why, you ask? I was nervous about driving a rental car and navigating the Florida expressways for the first time, LOL! I can drive a rental car without having to pay additional fees for being a young driver (I’m showing my age here) but I’m so used to driving my own car that I was TERRIFIED of somehow messing it up. I was also worried because we were warned that parking at the feis hotel would be horrendous due to the long weekend and to arrive extra early.
Me giving the thumbs up at 5:55AM on the way to the feis. Yes, I drove through Central Florida with curlers in my hair like that and it was FUN!!
Even though I was dancing well after lunch, I got up at 5:45 and arrived at the feis at 7AM. It was crazy, but I found a parking spot in the garage so it was worth it.
I loved, loved, loved the feis. LOVED IT. And no, it’s not because I was lucky enough to place; that is just a nice perk :) I'm not affiliated with the dance school either ;)
Here's why this feis gets a major thumbs up:
1. The stages were raised so they had a "major championship feel" and painted with TrebleKote so I was less likely to fall on my toosh
2. Medal presentations for all 3 rounds in Open Champ and 2 rounds in Prelim
3. They ran the Senior girls' championship concurrently with another competition. I cannot express how grateful I am when a feis committee does this. Most senior championships at a feis have less than 10 entrants. Doing 3 rounds in under 15 minutes is extremely difficult at any age, but especially for me as I find my steps to be complex and stamina killing. The chance to catch a drink of water, a puff of the inhaler, to change shoes at a normal pace, and to not be yelled at to "HURRY UP, please" is awesome
4. Wonderful award ceremonies for each competition with a podium and fun modern music, like Cotton Eyed Joe for the little ones and a little Enrique Iglesias for us older girls
5. Thoughtful/fun awards and bonus competitions: These elements are not a "must" for me to attend, but I appreciate the thought that the feis committee put into the day. The medals were adorable and featured a beach umbrella and ghillies motif. Rainbow sashes for top 3 in Open Champs, which I was so pleased to receive! They also offered a a step down the line treble jig/hornpipe competition for Prelim and Open champs. It was great to watch talent of many ages on stage.
6. Friendly, thoughtful volunteers: Hats off to the parents' who ensured that the feis ran smoothly and provided up front communication weeks in advance about all aspects of the competition: weather, parking, vendors, and available shuttles/activities.
Rainbow sash! So fun and different!
Sorry, there are no pictures of me at the feis, as when you go by yourself, (Friend was watching the Opening Notre Dame game back in Orlando) it limits your options and I'm too shy to ask someone else.
Best part of all, after I was done dancing, I was off to the beach, located just outside the hotel doors!
Ahh, now THIS is the life!!
Yes, the white feet and orange legs are all the rage this year. I'm such a fashionista ;) My ankle brace also left some really pretty lines on my right foot.
I also brought the beach to you all and took a wee video! Of course, without realizing it, I'm dancing a bit during the beginning... it looks like part of the my treble jig lead.
Thanks to my mom, who found an old Park Hopper pass from when I was still in grade school, I was able to go to Disney World's Magic Kindom the day after the feis. You may be wondering: "Hey, Ging.. weren't you just in Disney World in July for the NAN". You would be correct, but I didn't have time to go into the parks, so it was great to be able to go and not have to worry about competing!
It was 95 degrees out and rained for an hour at one point in the afternoon, but we still ended up having a blast!
There was only one sad part in the day for me that was the fact that "It's a Small World", one of my favorite rides was CLOSED for refurbishment :( :(
We finished off the day with Disney's Electrical parade and then it was off to the Orlando airport early the next morning....
Well, I suppose I'd better stop waxing poetic and get to practicing! My Oireachtas is in 55 days and there is plenty of work to be done!
Have a fabulous fall feis season; keep jiggin ;)