bjarvis: (Default)
A few weeks ago, I was in San Francisco for a couple of weeks of work, along with attending the IAGSDC convention. Work was kinda wierd: it was the first time I visited our new company location in downtown SF, which was very cramped as there were renovations still in progress.

The square dance convention itself was an adventure. As vice-president for the Gay Callers Association, it was my responsibility to coordinate the annual caller school, this year with coaches Barry Clasper & [personal profile] billeyler. It was a lot of fun and I consider it to be a complete success. Beyond all of the preparation work in advance, I had to emcee the graduation dance, prepare flyers for next year's caller school, arrange official GCA name badges and back-orders of school materials, make file reports & make presentations with both the GCA board and the IAGSDC delegates and a stack of other minor tasks. [profile] billeyeler was kind enough (and not yet sick of me) to invite me to join him as a paenlist for the "Intro to Calling" discussion. I think we were all delighted with the excellent turn-out for that session.

In all, I danced only about 90 minutes out of 90 minutes out of four days. Still, that was enough to satisfy me, especially since I Have so many dance opportunitites at home: I like to the convention for the opportunity to mix & mingle, to catch up with people between sets and generally keep my ear to the ground to see what's going on in the broader community.

I can't say enough good things about the San Francisco convention. I know from back-room discussion with various coordinators that not everything was smooth as silk, but they managed through it, found solutions and kept ugly reality hidden from everyone --and that's what good organizing professionals do. Great location, great facility, great staff and great volunteers: what's not to love?

Since the convention, I've hardly called much. John Marshall is teaching the Mainstream class for DC Lambda Squares on Wednesdays, while Kent & I are assisting periodically and are given test teaching assignments. Last week, I was assigned teaching "grand square". Good news: that call is astonishingly easy to teach and gives the students a huge sense of accomplishment because it is a large call. My regular patter otherwise wasn't the greatest, largely because we had only a dozen or so calls to use and I was exhausted from overtime at work over the last few days. Still, no one died so I'm calling it a success.

There's talk of having us teach a Mainstream class for Chesapeake Squares beginning in mid-September too.

I haven't danced a great deal lately either, largely because my schedule has been very full. Again, I'm OK with this: I'm dancing enough for enjoyment and using the remaining time productively.

Tonight, DC Lambda Squares is hosting caller Bill Harrison for a DBD Plus workshop in the afternoon, a potluck dinner and then a Mainstream thru Challenge-1 dance in the evening. I predict a good time will be had by all.
bjarvis: (Default)
We're in the home stretch for the 2013 GCA caller school and the San Francisco IAGSDC square dance convention.

As vice-president of the GCA, I have direct responsibility for the caller school. Most of the advance preparations have been completed but there were some minor outstanding issues which needed to be addressed in the last week or so.
1. I have reservations made for a business dinner with my caller coaches for Sunday, June 30.
2. I have made a tonne of photocopies for the documents to be distributed to our course registrants.
3. I've made some required confirmations with the local convention staff --who have been a dream to work with, BTW.
4. I have a caller coach booked for the 2014 caller school and a funding proposal submited to All Join Hands for their consideration at their meeting next week during the convention.
5. I have flyers ready for next year's convention.

I'll be checking in bodies for the caller school as they arrive, staffing a help desk for them Monday-Wednesday, offering small advice & suggestions to the newbies, and emcee'ing the GCA dance Thursday morning 10am-1pm. I'd be happy to co-call with the newbies too if they'd be more comfortable with a second, or to allow them to concentrate on their patter or singer.

I still need to collect various packages which were shipped to San Francisco rather than to me in Maryland but I'm feeling otherwise very prepared for this caller school.

There are some other items which I need to finalize unrelated to the caller school, however...
1. I have a report on the recent CALLERLAB convention to report at the IAGSDC delegatse meeting.
2. I may also be reporting to the same delegates meeting on the GCA's recent activities, especially the caller school. The primary delegate is heavily loaded with 2015 convention planning & reporting activities so the alternate delegate, [profile] kent4str and I can duke it out for this reporting function.
3. I still need some detailed preparation for my singular convention calling gig, the leather tip.

Barry Clasper has invited me to share the stage with him for the leather tip, an hour-long square dance in full (or minimal) leather Friday evening. It's Mainstream which I sight-call 99% of the time, but short of the opening & closing ceremonies, this is the single most attended square dance hour with potentially over 1,000 dancers. In short, I don't want to screw this up, and ideally, I don't even want to stumble. Thus, I'm composing and printing all of my square dance cards in advance to guard against any potential issue. I'm 100% confident I can do this easily, but this is such a good opportunity for visibility which may not come again for a while that I want to take every step to make it flawless.

I still need to print these cards but I'm sure I can do that at the hotel or just run up the street to my conveniently-located office.

I had also planned to lose 10lbs of fat around the waistline before going up on stage in leather but that didn't happen. Stupid sugar addiction.

And after Friday evening, it's all rest & relaxation for me until the closing ceremonies.
bjarvis: (Default)
Last night, I taught the last class for Chesapeake Squares' latest Mainstream square dance course. It's been a long slog --we had a somewhat stumbling start as we had new people joining 2-3 weeks after the course formally began-- but we ended only two weeks later than originally planned.

As with many prior classes, I've been a bit surprised which calls cause heartburn and which ones are snapped up instantly. Yes, 'cast off 3/4' traditionally causes problems as new dancers frequently can't/won't trust their own ability count walls. 'Scoot back' is an issue because it causes dancers to repeat the use of hands, something which runs counter-intuitive to everything they've learned up to that point.

That said, this is the first class I've ever seen where 'partner trade' caused heartburn for a few dancers for weeks. Indeed, there's at least two dancers for whom I suspect they still don't quite get it. We workshop it, I give them extra help during breaks and yet it all vanishes from their synapses within seconds. But those same dancers can do 'spin the top' without a hitch.

This class had a wide variety of skills. At least three are solid dancers and with a little more floor time will likely be eager to absorb more. Three more seem to be a bit slower to pick things up (or at least their memory maxes out sooner) but they have determination which serves them well. A few others, well, it's too early to say. They seem to be strongly oriented to dance-by-feel rather than definition so perhaps their epiphany will happen after more floor time.

The official graduation is set for club night, Tuesday, January 22, 8-10pm.

In other news, I've been contacted by the San Francisco IAGSDC convention committee to see if I'd be interested in co-calling the leather tip with Barry Clasper. OMG, yes! To be asked to call any specialty tip is an honor; to be asked by a convention committee on another coast is a bigger honor; to be asked to call at either the bear or leather tip is an incredible honor and opportunity! Now to think about music...

The 2013 caller school continues to chug along in slow motion. I'd love to be able to market it a bit more extensively but I've been having a lot of difficulty getting the GCA web site updated. Emails and phone calls since August haven't been returned but we had a useful telephone call this week so I'm we can get the online stuff ready within the next week or so. Once we have that, I can finally market the hell out of this thing.

Looking ahead to the 2014 IAGSDC convention, I may have a problem. My parents 50th wedding anniversary lands on July 4, 2014, overlapping with the convention. I thought we had a plan to have the parents' anniversary celebrations on the weekend prior so it would be tight, but I'd be able to get from Ontario to Utah in time to fulfill my obligations to the caller school. It appears that the parental plans have changed however so I may not be able to get to Utah at all.

If that is indeed the case, I can at least set up the majority of the caller school for 2014 --booking the coaches, negotiating a curriculum, doing the marketing, etc.-- but we'd need someone else to sit & coordinate events on the ground for June 30-July 2, 2014. I hope for clarity on this before we get to the 2013 GCA membership & board meetings so we can plan appropriately.

Back to composing more C2 choreo for next Wednesday's workshop...
bjarvis: (Default)
I had a fun time at the IAGSDC convention in Vancouver. After all, how could I not? It involved travel (which I love), Vancouver (which I love), reuniting with friends (who I love), being away from work (which I f'ing adore) and being a busy project manager/control freak (which I love about myself).

Yup, total win! :-)

Highlights:
  • I got to see [personal profile] bitterlawngnome and [personal profile] danthered for the first time since they moved to Vancouver. And they took us to a fun nearby Indian restaurant. Good times!
  • I caught up with Dan L., a Vancouver local I know through chorus circles whom I haven't seen in many years. Yay!
  • I danced as much C2 as I wanted. That is to say, I could have danced a whole lot more but didn't feel pressured to dance continuously and there was always a space for me if I wanted to get on the floor.
  • I called four scheduled guest spots, all of which went pretty well. I even called two additional tips simply by being at the right place at the right time during unforeseen disruptions to the original dance schedule.
  • The hotel was very comfortable. Yup, the elevators were a bother sometimes but I quickly learned to prepare & avoid them during the high traffic periods.
  • We've pre-registered for the Salt Lake City in 2014 (we had already pre-registered for San Francisco in 2013).


As I mentioned previously, I'm now the GCA vice-president. I have some ideas I'd like to implement for the next two years of calling schools but I need to consult with a handful of people first, look through a tonne o' documentation the past VP has sent me and examine thoughtfully the feedback we've received from the latest caller school participants. Then I need to write a proposal, discuss with the GCA board for amendments & feedback, then approach the San Francisco convention host committee and the All Join Hands board for funding. Whee!

Following the convention, we took an evening to visit with [personal profile] tdjohnsn & [profile] rlegters in the Seattle area. It's been far too long since we've seen them, and our visit was sadly all too short. We'll have to make up for that somehow.
bjarvis: (Default)
Sunday was most notable for me because I was scheduled to call some top-of-the-hour guest calling spots. I was granted four slots, three today (Advanced, C1 and c2) and one tomorrow (C2).

My Advanced set went OK. I did some relatively easy choreo but it apparently wasn't easy enough for some. I'm guessing the problem squares in the front of the hall were new Advanced dancers. Had I thought it through more carefully, I would have just called A1 rather than full A2: the regular dancers wouldn't have known the difference but the newbies would have had more floor time & faster responses to those calls.

My C1 went well enough, again sticking to relatively easy material.

The banquet in the evening was nice but it ran late and that's when things got a little tricky. The 8pm dance hour was largely chopped in half because of the banquet overrun. Worse, the crowd departing the banquet hall largely jammed the five hotel elevators and/or delayed the callers departing from the front of the banquet hall.

I was early for my C2 gig and saw only three dancers in the hall. OK, no problem. The C1 hall however had three squares of dancers standing on the floor, waiting for a caller to arrive. To keep them from wandering away while the scheduled caller was in transit, I plugged in my laptop & mic and called an extra tip. I then dashed to the C2 hall for my scheduled gig.

My C2 set was well received, I think. When I wrapped up, the scheduled caller still hadn't arrived but [profile] kent4str quickly made a phone call and found she was still caught up in the elevator crush so I called an additional C2 set to entertain the dancers until the regular caller arrived. Success!

After a little more dancing, we went to the 34th floor to watch the Canada Day fireworks before joining friends at the bar for fun & gossip.
bjarvis: (Default)
It was a blur. Nothing to report.
bjarvis: (Default)
So far, we've survived Day 1 in Vancouver. Kinda, sorta.

The locals are walking in the streets with jackets and scarves. Frankly, I was overheating in a light shirt. A little cooler would be nice... I hope Environment Canada gets right on that.

We've scoped out the local businesses, food courts and facilities, all of which are very nice. Our current big worry is where we're going to eat when the local businesses are closed Sunday and holiday Monday.

The IAGSDC delegates meeting was pretty much as expected.
  • The IAGSDC has applied for 501(c)(4) status.
  • There are now 55 member clubs, two associations & eight affiliates.
  • The IAGSDC will probably re-instate bimonthly mailouts of festival weekend flyers.
  • The proposed by-law changes were all approved.
  • We're still going to San Francisco in 2013 and Salt Lake City in 2014. We voted to go to St Louis in 2015 and have received expressions of interest for Toronto in 2016, Philadelphia in 2017 and Seattle in 2018.
  • Three IAGSDC board positions were up for election; the three incumbents were re-elected by acclamation.


The GCA meeting was pretty much as expected too. There were a series of reports from various board positions and some board elections. And that's when things went to hell.

I was acclaimed as the GCA's new vice-president. Oops.

I got even with [profile] kent4str for masterminding that little prank: I nominated him for alternate IAGSDC rep. Take that!

The primary role of the GCA vice-president is to run two consecutive annual caller schools.
Since there's no time like the present, I'm already collecting information & ideas for next year's caller school. I'll write more about what I'm thinking on this later.

Tonight, we're off to the opening trail-in dance and schmooze with our fellow dancers, as well as hunt down some food for dinner.
bjarvis: (Default)
I have hardly danced a single step this past week but it's been a very productive & interesting week nonetheless.

I called a C2 workshop last Wednesday for our small regular group. In all, it went pretty well: I have three sequences I want to retool to varying degrees, but the other 50+ used that night were fine, including some with cute gimmicks or tricks.

[profile] kent4str and I have received our GCA guest calling assignments for the Vancouver IAGSDC convention at the end of this month. I have an Advanced set, a C1 set and two C2 sets; Kent has a C1 and two C2 sets. Woo hoo!

Last weekend's DC Pride square dance demo & parade went better than last year but could be better. The DC Lambda Squares board agrees and it appears we're finally going to start working seriously on creating an official square dance demo team for public appearances & performances.

We're sketchy on the details at the moment --I've been derailed by a death in the extended family and both [profile] kent4str and I had commitments to this weekend's Baltimore Pride and the Chesapeake Squares-- but we do have some ideas.
  1. It's an invitation-only team. I know this will hurt some feelings but we need to know that those participating can dance effectively, are flexible enough to dance the boy or girl part if needed and are committed to the rehearsals and performance schedule.
  2. We've created a tentative list of approximately 20 dancers, past & present DCLS members, we plan to approach. Ideally, we want enough dancers for two full squares, plus a few extras for those who need to beg off a particular gig because of illness, work or whatever.
  3. We'll be dancing to a script so anyone with Plus experience will have enough dance knowledge; we'll do more than just the MS & Plus list of course, but we're just teaching the calls instead of teaching how to dance.
  4. We're covering a lot more than dancing. We're going to emphasize a complete performance: how to get on stage, how to exit the stage, how to hold one's inactive hands, how we're going to dress, etc., and enforce consistent flourishes & styling. I frequently joke while calling at club nights that it's square dancing, not ballet, so mistakes & imperfections are a cause for laughter rather than embarrassment. Not for the performance team: this is ballet now.


Beyond that, we haven't planned much. Above all else, we need to set a rehearsal time and location and that's no small matter with so many dance events around the greater DC area on any given night. At the moment, I don't even have a clue where to begin on that topic. We also need to do a boatload of research to learn as quickly as possible what will & will not work. Time to dig into the CALLERLAB archives...

In other news, DC Lambda Squares has a great new badge design. The order for new club badges will be submitted Monday and I hope we can show them off at the IAGSDC convention in Vancouver. I really like the design.

And in still other news, DCLS has moved from our dingy, carpeted Scott Hall at National City Christian Church to the music room a few doors over. The room has vastly better lighting, is enormously cleaner --Scott Hall is a charter school during the daytimes and kids are by definition somewhat messy-- and has a tile floor. The acoustics are a little echoey so we'll need to experiment with speaker placement for optimal results but it's better than the audio black hole in Scott Hall. Bill Harrison was the first of our regular callers to use the new hall for Advanced & Challenge night last Thursday with good results; I'm calling for DCLS next Thursday so I'll have more to report after that.

DCLS scooped up 90 names at last weekend's pride festival. The wrist bands and temporary tatoos with the DCLS logo seemed to be a draw, but I think the big win was our raffle of a Kindle. We have a pizza night & open house on Monday so we'll see how many folks come for that. [profile] kent4str and I are co-teaching the new Mainstream class (16 weeks starting on Monday, July 9) so we'll hopefully convert some of these names into new dancers soon.

Today's Baltimore Pride parade with the Chesapeake Squares went vastly better than last year's. Last year, we attempted a quick demo in front of the reviewing stand but the audio guys screwed up our pre-recorded music & calling, starting the sequence four calls in and thus losing all of our dancers. It was a mess.

This year, we gave them the music but were relying on our own audio system for the calls. It worked better, but for some reason, someone insisted the dancers dance in front of our float rather than behind so we had to quickly swivel our speakers around so face the dancers. Then the MC from the stage insisted on talking over top the calling & dancing so our dancers could hardly hear [profile] kent4str. Fortunately, I could pick out his voice and interpret his calls and re-shout them to our square so we had a pretty successful 30 second demo despite the circumstances. Oh, and the audio guy never stated our music at all. Not a single note. *sigh*

Chesapeake Squares has an open house on Tuesday, June 26, 8-10pm. As I type this, I just discovered to my horror that I'm scheduled to call for them that night. Doh! :-) They're also sponsoring a Kindle raffle for tomorrow's Baltimore Pride Festival... let's hope they get as many names as DCLS did, and that we can translate those names into new dancers!
bjarvis: (Default)
I'm a little surprised there hasn't been more of a reaction to the Times Squares' withdrawal of their 2015 convention bid.

When they presented their bid earlier this year for consideration at the Atlanta convention in July, I thought their proposed registration rates and hotel room rates were astronomical. At the delegates meeting, I argued as a non-voting delegate for the GCA against the bid since I was certain the high costs would effectively kill our caller school traditionally held in the three days prior to the convention. The bid did pass: there was no competing bid and when talking to other delegates, I heard frequently they felt they had no choice but to agree to it.

Despite the heated discussion at the time, I hoped some aggressive negotiations with the hotel or perhaps a move from the Central Park area of Manhattan to cheaper non-central location in the greater New York City area might happen. From the statements I've read from the convention team, they looked at all their options and decided they couldn't pull it off. They did the honorable and proper thing by withdrawing their bid as soon as they came to their realization, and I applaud their good judgment as well as thank them for their hard work and diligence getting this far in the process.

Since there were no competing bid for 2015, the IAGSDC has many options. Perhaps they will re-open up the bidding process anew or maybe nudge clubs who were making preparations for 2016 bids to work a little faster to fill in the 2015 gap. They could either chose to appoint a club for 2015 or delay until the Vancouver convention in 2012 to let the delegates vote on a package. I'm sure the executive officers have been burning up the Internet and telephone lines to examine all options and make the best informed decision.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
Monday started slow --and it was just as well, since I was running on only a few hours of sleep.

Brunch was a buffet: the customary scrambled eggs, bacon & hash browns. Any day is a good day that starts with bacon. Lots of bacon.

Beyond all of that, I didn't dance a great deal Monday. Kent called a C1 tip at noon while I called an Advanced tip at 1pm and C1 at 5pm.

In both of my tips, some dancers were having a hell of a time with the simplest calls. Under no circumstances should "spin the top" crash an Advanced square; likewise, "cross chain & roll" shouldn't break down a C1 square. In each situation, I could see several dancers trying to execute the call and attempting to direct the slower dancers, but the newbies --I presume they were all new graduates-- were sometimes spinning in the spot because they couldn't decide where to go and weren't listening for my clear directions ("You have lines facing in. No, really, you have lines facing in. In, not out. You: U turn back. No, not you... *you*.") Later in the day, I had other dancers who were in successful squares thanking me for the calling and reaffirming that it wasn't the calls, it was indeed the newer dancers. Next year, I'm sure these folks will be fine --and we'll have a new crop of new graduates. I was one of those dancers at least once per call list so I can hardly complain.

I had hoped to get to [livejournal.com profile] billeyler's hexagon set but didn't get there in time. *sigh* [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle's take-no-prisoners Advanced hour was a blast, especially again since we stacked the square with known strong dancers.

The closing dance and ceremonies were once again mercifully light. Endings are always a little sad but it's been a good weekend and I'm ready to head for home Tuesday.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
Monday started slow --and it was just as well, since I was running on only a few hours of sleep.

Brunch was a buffet: the customary scrambled eggs, bacon & hash browns. Any day is a good day that starts with bacon. Lots of bacon.

Beyond all of that, I didn't dance a great deal Monday. Kent called a C1 tip at noon while I called an Advanced tip at 1pm and C1 at 5pm.

In both of my tips, some dancers were having a hell of a time with the simplest calls. Under no circumstances should "spin the top" crash an Advanced square; likewise, "cross chain & roll" shouldn't break down a C1 square. In each situation, I could see several dancers trying to execute the call and attempting to direct the slower dancers, but the newbies --I presume they were all new graduates-- were sometimes spinning in the spot because they couldn't decide where to go and weren't listening for my clear directions ("You have lines facing in. No, really, you have lines facing in. In, not out. You: U turn back. No, not you... *you*.") Later in the day, I had other dancers who were in successful squares thanking me for the calling and reaffirming that it wasn't the calls, it was indeed the newer dancers. Next year, I'm sure these folks will be fine --and we'll have a new crop of new graduates. I was one of those dancers at least once per call list so I can hardly complain.

I had hoped to get to [livejournal.com profile] billeyler's hexagon set but didn't get there in time. *sigh* [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle's take-no-prisoners Advanced hour was a blast, especially again since we stacked the square with known strong dancers.

The closing dance and ceremonies were once again mercifully light. Endings are always a little sad but it's been a good weekend and I'm ready to head for home Tuesday.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
Sunday was my day of work.

The morning with me I calling a half-hour of C1 in a special caller spotlight. There were several such half-hour sessions simultaneous with mine at different programs. The sessions were opposite the fun badge tour, however, draining off a large percentage of the dancers. Many dancers aren't keen on early mornings either. And most need coffee more than they need dancing. Still, I got lucky in my session in that I began with one square and ended the half-hour with three squares. Some of the other halls didn't have enough dancers for a single square, or only one square at best.

I attended the bear tip that same afternoon, called by Andy Shore and Gary Monday. Again, there were many good photos to be had --I'm still sorting through them all.

Kent was delighted to wear his new kilt at the kilt tip. He was one of only a handful who weren't wearing a Utilikilt.

Dinner was very nice. Again, the ceremonies were relatively light and well-executed. The longest portion was the awarding of the 10 year medallions; despite being one of the recipients this year, I would prefer this portion of the show be dramatically accelerated if at all possible.

[livejournal.com profile] bjarvis & [livejournal.com profile] kent4str with their new 10 year medallions

When the dust settled after dinner, we bounced around the C1 and C2 halls, ending with a great C2 hour called by Sandie Bryant and Vic Ceder. (It helped that we stacked the square with great dancers.)

Brian & Dr Mark invited us back to their room for cocktails after the dancing. It was fun but we were up far too late into the night.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
Sunday was my day of work.

The morning with me I calling a half-hour of C1 in a special caller spotlight. There were several such half-hour sessions simultaneous with mine at different programs. The sessions were opposite the fun badge tour, however, draining off a large percentage of the dancers. Many dancers aren't keen on early mornings either. And most need coffee more than they need dancing. Still, I got lucky in my session in that I began with one square and ended the half-hour with three squares. Some of the other halls didn't have enough dancers for a single square, or only one square at best.

I attended the bear tip that same afternoon, called by Andy Shore and Gary Monday. Again, there were many good photos to be had --I'm still sorting through them all.

Kent was delighted to wear his new kilt at the kilt tip. He was one of only a handful who weren't wearing a Utilikilt.

Dinner was very nice. Again, the ceremonies were relatively light and well-executed. The longest portion was the awarding of the 10 year medallions; despite being one of the recipients this year, I would prefer this portion of the show be dramatically accelerated if at all possible.

[livejournal.com profile] bjarvis & [livejournal.com profile] kent4str with their new 10 year medallions

When the dust settled after dinner, we bounced around the C1 and C2 halls, ending with a great C2 hour called by Sandie Bryant and Vic Ceder. (It helped that we stacked the square with great dancers.)

Brian & Dr Mark invited us back to their room for cocktails after the dancing. It was fun but we were up far too late into the night.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
The official opening ceremonies of the convention were mercifully brief, as was the grand march portion. The announcements & greetings were suitably edited for time and the national anthems went well. I'd be happier if the 20 year medallion portion was handled more speedily but that's not likely to happen under current management.

Saturday was my day for dancing. It was luck of the calendar and scheduling that all of my square dance calling gigs, club photos, memorial sessions, specialty tips and included meals would land on Sunday and Monday, leaving Saturday for dancing exclusively. And I took full advantage!

I spent my day hopping between the C1 and C2 dance halls, joining a square when I desired and sitting out when the mood struck.

We're now officially registered for the 2013 IAGSDC convention, "Weave Your Heart in San Francisco." We considered standing in line for the early bird discount registrations (the first 100 at 3pm on Sunday) but ultimately decided we'd rather dance than stand in line. We can still get a modestly discounted registration rate by paying before the weekend is over.

Our evening largely ended with the leather tip called by John Marshall and Anne Uebelacker. I didn't dance at all during that, but I did get some photos.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
The official opening ceremonies of the convention were mercifully brief, as was the grand march portion. The announcements & greetings were suitably edited for time and the national anthems went well. I'd be happier if the 20 year medallion portion was handled more speedily but that's not likely to happen under current management.

Saturday was my day for dancing. It was luck of the calendar and scheduling that all of my square dance calling gigs, club photos, memorial sessions, specialty tips and included meals would land on Sunday and Monday, leaving Saturday for dancing exclusively. And I took full advantage!

I spent my day hopping between the C1 and C2 dance halls, joining a square when I desired and sitting out when the mood struck.

We're now officially registered for the 2013 IAGSDC convention, "Weave Your Heart in San Francisco." We considered standing in line for the early bird discount registrations (the first 100 at 3pm on Sunday) but ultimately decided we'd rather dance than stand in line. We can still get a modestly discounted registration rate by paying before the weekend is over.

Our evening largely ended with the leather tip called by John Marshall and Anne Uebelacker. I didn't dance at all during that, but I did get some photos.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
I slept in this morning. And loved it.

Once I was awake and made presentable for the public, I dropped in on the GCA dance featuring the students from our latest caller school. I didn't dance at all, using the time to solicit information from various participants for my report on behalf of the GCA at the IAGSDC delegates meeting.

I skipped lunch: I was still digesting dinner from last night. Besides, refreshments are frequently served at the business meetings so I could take full advantage there.

The delegates meeting itself wasn't too surprising on some levels, very surprising on others:
  • the IAGSDC funds are stable;
  • six clubs have folded while one new one has been created;
  • Chicago's 2010 convention had 1004 attendees with $15.5k in surplus funds which they distributed to various local charities, All Join Hands and donated as seed money to upcoming conventions;
  • The Vancouver (2012), San Francisco (2013) and Salt Lake City (2014) conventions are all progressing nicely;
  • Despite grilling the New York City team for the relatively high room & registration rates in their bid for 2015, the delegates voted 26:6 28:7 in favour.
  • Expressions of interest were expressed for 2016 (St. Louis) and 2017 (Toronto). NO one can say we don't plan ahead.
  • There were also a stack of by-law changes, some to correct text & typos along with a huge update to codify the bid submissions & acceptance process.

The GCA meeting was a simpler affair in many measures. Reports were made, thanks were given and outgoing board members said their farewells. We have a slate of new officers:
  • President Michael Levy
  • Treasurer Alan Hirsch
  • IAGSDC delegate Aaron Wells
  • Alternate IAGSDC delegate Andy Shory
  • vice-president Arlene Kaspik (continuing)
  • Secretary Terri Sherrer (continuing)
  • Call Sheet editor Harlan Kerr

When the meeting ended, I was off the board. In fact, for the first time since 1998, I am not an officer of any board, corporation or organization. This hasn't sunk in yet, but it would be nice to have some time to get used to it before joining some other organization.

We had dinner with Eric Mulder, Chip Prince and John Bauder at Jalapeno Charlie's. Service was good and the food was excellent: I recommend the place.

The evening dances were well under way when we returned to the hotel. I ordered a badge update from Badge Works in the vendor area, laid out flyers for the DC Lambda Squares' upcoming fly-in weekends and generally schmoozed with friends. When the dance wrapped up, we joined the mob at the bar before retiring to our room around 11pm. Morning will, again, come early.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
I slept in this morning. And loved it.

Once I was awake and made presentable for the public, I dropped in on the GCA dance featuring the students from our latest caller school. I didn't dance at all, using the time to solicit information from various participants for my report on behalf of the GCA at the IAGSDC delegates meeting.

I skipped lunch: I was still digesting dinner from last night. Besides, refreshments are frequently served at the business meetings so I could take full advantage there.

The delegates meeting itself wasn't too surprising on some levels, very surprising on others:
  • the IAGSDC funds are stable;
  • six clubs have folded while one new one has been created;
  • Chicago's 2010 convention had 1004 attendees with $15.5k in surplus funds which they distributed to various local charities, All Join Hands and donated as seed money to upcoming conventions;
  • The Vancouver (2012), San Francisco (2013) and Salt Lake City (2014) conventions are all progressing nicely;
  • Despite grilling the New York City team for the relatively high room & registration rates in their bid for 2015, the delegates voted 26:6 28:7 in favour.
  • Expressions of interest were expressed for 2016 (St. Louis) and 2017 (Toronto). NO one can say we don't plan ahead.
  • There were also a stack of by-law changes, some to correct text & typos along with a huge update to codify the bid submissions & acceptance process.

The GCA meeting was a simpler affair in many measures. Reports were made, thanks were given and outgoing board members said their farewells. We have a slate of new officers:
  • President Michael Levy
  • Treasurer Alan Hirsch
  • IAGSDC delegate Aaron Wells
  • Alternate IAGSDC delegate Andy Shory
  • vice-president Arlene Kaspik (continuing)
  • Secretary Terri Sherrer (continuing)
  • Call Sheet editor Harlan Kerr

When the meeting ended, I was off the board. In fact, for the first time since 1998, I am not an officer of any board, corporation or organization. This hasn't sunk in yet, but it would be nice to have some time to get used to it before joining some other organization.

We had dinner with Eric Mulder, Chip Prince and John Bauder at Jalapeno Charlie's. Service was good and the food was excellent: I recommend the place.

The evening dances were well under way when we returned to the hotel. I ordered a badge update from Badge Works in the vendor area, laid out flyers for the DC Lambda Squares' upcoming fly-in weekends and generally schmoozed with friends. When the dance wrapped up, we joined the mob at the bar before retiring to our room around 11pm. Morning will, again, come early.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
Our train arrived Thursday morning, 8:15am. Our arrival was a little early but that advantage was consumed by an extended wait for the luggage. With a $20 taxi ride, we were at the Marriott Marquis hotel and checked into our room.

As much as I dearly wanted to just all asleep --I didn't sleep well on the train-- we opted instead to stay vertical as long as possible. Exploring the immediate area, we discovered a nice mall food court adjacent to the hotel where we had a quick bite. From there, we headed to the Georgia Aquarium, five blocks from the hotel.



I liked the aquarium but not as much as I thought I would. It has an international reputation as one of the best aquaria on the planet. It is indeed very nice, but I think of it more as on par with the Baltimore Aquarium and the Cincinnati Aquarium.

We went on the basic tour, declining the $15/person upgrade for the dolphin show. I snapped about 200 photos, knowing many wouldn't be very good from viewing through plexiglass with lots of reflections and sometimes murky water beyond. Still, a good number were fine... when time allows, I'll post the lot.



Following the aquarium, we toured Olympic Park --no bombs were spotted.

Once back at the hotel, we snoozed. Hard. Lord, I needed that.

By early evening, we were conscious enough for socializing once again, so we made contact with David Levine & Kate Yulef for dinner at R. Thomas' Deluxe Grill. It was... an interesting dining experience. Think delightfully quirky. The menu was 50% vegetarian and 100% delicious; even the toucan and parrots outside were fun!

While we did lounge a little at the hotel bar later in the evening, we called it a night relatively early: there would be much to do in the morning.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
Our train arrived Thursday morning, 8:15am. Our arrival was a little early but that advantage was consumed by an extended wait for the luggage. With a $20 taxi ride, we were at the Marriott Marquis hotel and checked into our room.

As much as I dearly wanted to just all asleep --I didn't sleep well on the train-- we opted instead to stay vertical as long as possible. Exploring the immediate area, we discovered a nice mall food court adjacent to the hotel where we had a quick bite. From there, we headed to the Georgia Aquarium, five blocks from the hotel.



I liked the aquarium but not as much as I thought I would. It has an international reputation as one of the best aquaria on the planet. It is indeed very nice, but I think of it more as on par with the Baltimore Aquarium and the Cincinnati Aquarium.

We went on the basic tour, declining the $15/person upgrade for the dolphin show. I snapped about 200 photos, knowing many wouldn't be very good from viewing through plexiglass with lots of reflections and sometimes murky water beyond. Still, a good number were fine... when time allows, I'll post the lot.



Following the aquarium, we toured Olympic Park --no bombs were spotted.

Once back at the hotel, we snoozed. Hard. Lord, I needed that.

By early evening, we were conscious enough for socializing once again, so we made contact with David Levine & Kate Yulef for dinner at R. Thomas' Deluxe Grill. It was... an interesting dining experience. Think delightfully quirky. The menu was 50% vegetarian and 100% delicious; even the toucan and parrots outside were fun!

While we did lounge a little at the hotel bar later in the evening, we called it a night relatively early: there would be much to do in the morning.
bjarvis: (IASGDC)
So far, our trip to Atlanta has been fun.

We left home at 3pm, arriving at Union Station in about 40 minutes. We had our train tickets in hand already so we merely had to check our bags and head to our gate. We had lots of time to spare so we were able to individually go to the food court to find dinner.

Boarding was uneventful and the train departed on time although we were unable to get three seats nearby each other because of the distribution of previously boarded passengers.

While the Amtrak station in DC had free wifi, the train itself doesn't. I'm typing this using my broadband wireless but even that and my blackberry have sketchy connectivity because the train runs through some very backwoods, rural areas of Virginia. Occasionally we get within range as we pass a town or stop to exchange passengers at the more metropolitan areas, but that's the best we can hope for. On the good side, at least we have electrical outlets at our seats so we can recharge our devices.

Typing on the train has been more of a challenge than I though. There is a lot of lateral movement which effectively causes my keyboard to jump left or right by a character, creating some interesting but annoying typos. I apologize if I've missed correcting any here.

We're somewhere between Charottesvile and Lynchburg, VA, as I write this and we're approaching 10pm. The folks in front of us have finally put away their DVDs --they were listening over earphones for our consideration but were laughing out loud and nearly constantly so it wasn't much of a help. The young girl across from us who apparently lacks an indoor voice is currently snoozing so all is relatively quiet. All else is pretty good right now.

If we're on time, we should be rolling into Atlanta around 8:15am. More news then.

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