Review of CCE 2008 convention

This just in from one of our CRG members, Jean Williams. Sounds like she had a great time!  It certainly looked and sounded like it during the weekend!

Hi CRG people,

Parsippany CCE was so much fun!! It was a total set-dance-emersion weekend–like dancing with the natives.

The workshops were excellent! Padraig and Roisin made it look so easy.

Every ceili had a different personality. At Thursday night’s ceili, I got to dance with the best of the best. Just to get a sense of the timing and style was exhilarating. Friday, I learned to navigate on my own: you have got to get in there fast (like catching doubloons at Mardi Gras), look for the hand that is up but don’t ever take the top gent spot. The sets closest to the music are the pros–so don’t bother looking up front.

Saturday, I sat at the banquet table with some fellow Canadians and an Irish man–then more dancing. Saturday night the floor was packed. The crowd’s level of experience was mixed. Most of the time at least one person in the set could call. The only dance I was in, that totally fell apart, was the one ceili dance. The Duke Reel was a disaster. In my group were the banquet step dance performers–even they had no clue. Hee-hee.

Sunday, during the four hour ceili the gathering gradually diminished. People had to drive home–I guess, their feet tired. The crowd may have thinned, but the entertainment did not. There was a group of rowdy Irish national dancers stealing the show. They were hooping and battering and generally making more noise than the band. The teenager was particularly entertaining. She had more bounce than a polka. Anyway I got to dance the last set (the Connemara) with the "rowdies." Yip!

Sad to see 25 hours of dancing end, we did what any good Irish person would do–we retired to the lounge. We sat and drank beer & whiskey, ate pizza, and lamented over aching feet and ceasing hamstrings. Some musicians wandered in. Before long another session began. Susan was grateful to get rid of the "Sound of Music" track that was playing in the lobby. You would think, after 4 days, that we would have had enough dancing, but when one of the old timers crossed the space and invited us to get up and dance we ignored our feet–we didn’t even take time to put the shoes, we had kicked off, on–happy to dance again. We decided on the Plain Set. Now we are talking–that is what is it all about! Spontaneous dancing! I guess you know you have a passion for something when you can’t get enough.

I am anxious (not really a strong enough word) to do some more set dancing. I wish I could be there this weekend with CRG at Lochrann’s, and I wish I could be there the weekend after that for the SCMA Ceili. I will be at the Blue Bonnet Feis. Yeah!! I do protest the no set dance rule. Can I start a petition? Next year the CCE convention is in St. Louis. I plan on driving. It looks like a 7 hour drive from here. Carpool? CRG needs to be there!

Author: Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

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