Growth

Sep. 22nd, 2013 07:49 pm
bjarvis: (Default)
I've been calling square dances for about nine years now. Well, more precisely, I was permitted to hold a microphone on stage about nine years ago: it was nearly a year before I was allowed to go on-stage solo. I remember being scared as hell and feeling utterly unprepared. I also remember thinking that I was utterly the wrong person for the role, that I should simply drop out and admit I wasn't up to the task.

This past week, I had three gigs which tested my skills in different ways.

Last Tuesday, attendance at Chesapeake Squares' club night was sparse so I called from the floor while dancing as the 8th dancer to complete a square. I have done this before, but it was mentally draining and it wasn't exactly what one might call a polished performance. This time, however, it was no more tiring than simply calling or simply dancing. I could think ahead 2-3 calls while my feet continued to execute the current call. And I didn't shame my ancestors while doing it.

This Thursday was the Chesapeake Squares' first Mainstream class night of the new fall series. There was a time such a gig would have filled me with terror: how to I teach these calls? How do I make them interesting? How do I fill a two hour dance with only a handful of easy calls? This night, however, I wasn't nervous or fearful. It was actually kinda fun. We covered the calls I had planned and not one more (hard though it is to resist that urge sometimes), we danced them repeatedly in a variety of formations and we built new sequences out the calls on hand. In short, it worked pretty well.

This Saturday, I called a combo dance for the Times Squares in New York City. The first 2.5 hours were Advanced & Challenge, then latter 2.5 hours Mainstream & Plus. Times Squares doesn't take breaks between tips: the only rest time is the minute or so required to change music and set up news squares for the next tip. I had been asked explicitly not to dumb down the choreo or speed to the weakest dancer, and I soon understood what they meant: the Advanced floor had one dancer who was a new Advanced graduate but was having extreme difficulty with the Mainstream & Plus calls --"column circulate" shouldn't crash an A2 square. Later in the evening, there was a longtime dancer who joined for the Mainstream tips who clearly couldn't remember or execute half of the calls on the list, but also had no concept of looking at his opposite for clues or even looking around for an empty spot on in the formation to fill. Instead, he just stood there, staring at a random wall waiting for someone to move to physically to an available spot. I noticed several dancers taking incorrect spots --effectively taking a hit for the team-- just so he could be placed in the nearest available position.

In all, it was a calling challenge but I did as instructed, letting go the weak square in favor of the stronger ones. I limited walk-throughs to those sequences or calls which clearly caused the bulk of the floor heartburn (eg. peel the top, remake the thar). I used a lot of written choreo for the A&C stuff so I could repeat it on demand, but went with sight-calling frequently to fix squares or just for fun (the MS & Plus part was entirely sight-called).

In all though, I think the evening was successful and I had a fun time. It's rare that I call extended sets like these: I've only done it three times before, including our own Harvest Festival Hoedown in 2010. I have proven to my own satisfaction that I have sufficient choreography, workshop material, choreographic variety and a musical palette for such extended dances and sufficient mental & physical stamina to keep focussed beginning to end. Times Squares is a good club and I hope to work with them again some time soon. If nothing else, I'll see many of their dancers at upcoming square dance festivals across the next few months.

To make a long story short ("Too late!"), I've survived a compressed work schedule, a series of demanding calling scenarios, extended travel and much more this past week without significant angst or last-minute panic attacks. I entered into each event as prepared as I believed I needed to be, along with some safety margin just in case. I left each without the sense of explosive decompression I knew only too well several few years ago. I hesistate to say this has become routine, but it has become --finally-- familiar enough that it doesn't trigger excess anxiety or stress. I'm going to call that "maturity" and "experienced."

There is, naturally, still so much more to learn and experience. I'm happy however that I've finally reached my personal goal: a of stable performance of several challenging calling situations without excessive strain. From here on it, it's dessert time!
bjarvis: (Default)
I have almost literally nothing to report.

I called a gig for the Chesapeake Squares in July and am scheduled for another next Tuesday. That's it. On the one hand, I'm grateful for the break as I've been a bit overextended lately. On the other hand, I fear getting a bit rusty.

We were supposed to go to a C2 workshop & dance this past Saturday but it was cancelled for lack of dancers. I had two C1 gigs in July and early August which were similarly cancelled. It's the summer: everyone is off traveling, has schedule conflicts or such. Bummer, but we knew it would happen.

The DC Lambda Squares' Mainstream class is chugging along very well. John Marshall is the instructor but he had both [profile] kent4str and I do guest teaches of assigned calls so John could evaluate and offer tips & recommendations. I need more work on vocal metering, but otherwise my session went pretty well: good rapport with the floor, clear diction, etc.. Calling for new Mainstream dancers is the hardest gig I've ever had simply because we have to work with such a limited square dance vocabularly. More than once I wanted to call "wheel & deal" or "tag the line" but they didn't have those calls yet. Imagine writing "Hamlet" with a vocabulary of 500 words instead of the standard 25,000.

This Mainstream class technically winds up in September, but we know from the call list that there will be another dozen calls which need to be taught. These will be covered in upcoming club nights with that week's club caller, whether [profile] caller_dayle, [profile] kent4str, myself or someone else.

The Chesapeake Squares is hosting an open house August 27 and hopefully will have a Mainstream class starting in mid/late-September. More news as it develops.
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)
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: (Chesapeake Squares)

Chesapeake Squares Chesapeake Squares
Baltimore Pride, 2011-06-18

bjarvis: (Chesapeake Squares)

Chesapeake Squares Chesapeake Squares
Baltimore Pride, 2011-06-18

bjarvis: (Chesapeake Squares)
The Chesapeake Squares are hosting a Mainstream square dance class this weekend. [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I are teaching the entire Mainstream list (68 calls, plus variations) in four 3-hour blocks: Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

Tonight, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I taught the first block and it went pretty well.

It's a small class of five students. That makes for a very personalized calling experience. Further, right out of the starting gate, we learned that four of the newbies had square danced previously, one nearly through the A2 level in years prior. For a few minutes, it looked like this would be the shortest class ever, but then the late fifth dancer arrived and he had no prior dance experience at all so we were back to the original game plan.

Tonight, we covered the first 17 calls on the official teaching order, along with a few extras (#23 grand square, #26 walk around the corner, #27 see saw). While I think I could have pushed for more, I didn't want to overwhelm them all in the first session. Further, most of the remaining calls involved introducing additional formations, calls to get them into position and some extra calls to smoothly get them out again. Introducing lines, waves or columns at this point would have been too much.

With the calls we had on hand, we covered a lot of ground, exercising them in standard applications as well as left-handed versions and sashayed positions. Only our complete newbie had any sort of difficulty but even that was largely remembering which direction was left and which was right in the heat of battle, the same sort of growing pains everyone goes through at some point in their square dancing career.

[livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle will have them tomorrow and we'll all jointly finish up on Sunday. We'll be using the next number of club nights to rehearse non-standard applications as well as a laundry list of flourishes.

More as the weekend goes on.
bjarvis: (Chesapeake Squares)
The Chesapeake Squares are hosting a Mainstream square dance class this weekend. [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I are teaching the entire Mainstream list (68 calls, plus variations) in four 3-hour blocks: Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

Tonight, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I taught the first block and it went pretty well.

It's a small class of five students. That makes for a very personalized calling experience. Further, right out of the starting gate, we learned that four of the newbies had square danced previously, one nearly through the A2 level in years prior. For a few minutes, it looked like this would be the shortest class ever, but then the late fifth dancer arrived and he had no prior dance experience at all so we were back to the original game plan.

Tonight, we covered the first 17 calls on the official teaching order, along with a few extras (#23 grand square, #26 walk around the corner, #27 see saw). While I think I could have pushed for more, I didn't want to overwhelm them all in the first session. Further, most of the remaining calls involved introducing additional formations, calls to get them into position and some extra calls to smoothly get them out again. Introducing lines, waves or columns at this point would have been too much.

With the calls we had on hand, we covered a lot of ground, exercising them in standard applications as well as left-handed versions and sashayed positions. Only our complete newbie had any sort of difficulty but even that was largely remembering which direction was left and which was right in the heat of battle, the same sort of growing pains everyone goes through at some point in their square dancing career.

[livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle will have them tomorrow and we'll all jointly finish up on Sunday. We'll be using the next number of club nights to rehearse non-standard applications as well as a laundry list of flourishes.

More as the weekend goes on.
bjarvis: (standing)
Revised and updated with the rest of October...

Oct 1-3: C2 weekend in York, PA
Oct 3: Square dance recruitment brainstorming conference call
Oct 4: C2 dancing
Oct 5: Off!
Oct 6: Teaching A2 class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 7: Calling Mainstream & Plus for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 8: Off!
Oct 9: Dance leaders' conference "The Gathering," Rutgers Univ., New Jersey
Oct 10: Off!
Oct 11: C1 dancing
Oct 12: Calling Mainstream thru Advanced for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 13: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 14: Calling A2 workshop for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 15: Off!
Oct 16: Angel with Mainstream class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 17: Caller workshop/clinic chez nous with [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle and friends
Oct 18: C2 dancing with John Marshall
Oct 19: Off!
Oct 20: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 21: C2 dancing with Ett McAtee
Oct 22: Off!
Oct 23: Off!
Oct 24: Off!
Oct 25: Off!
Oct 26: Calling Mainstream thru Advanced for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 27: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 28: C2 dancing with John Marshall
Oct 29: Calling A2 workshop for the Zig Zaggers
Oct 30: Teaching Mainstream for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 31: Off!
bjarvis: (standing)
Revised and updated with the rest of October...

Oct 1-3: C2 weekend in York, PA
Oct 3: Square dance recruitment brainstorming conference call
Oct 4: C2 dancing
Oct 5: Off!
Oct 6: Teaching A2 class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 7: Calling Mainstream & Plus for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 8: Off!
Oct 9: Dance leaders' conference "The Gathering," Rutgers Univ., New Jersey
Oct 10: Off!
Oct 11: C1 dancing
Oct 12: Calling Mainstream thru Advanced for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 13: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 14: Calling A2 workshop for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 15: Off!
Oct 16: Angel with Mainstream class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 17: Caller workshop/clinic chez nous with [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle and friends
Oct 18: C2 dancing with John Marshall
Oct 19: Off!
Oct 20: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 21: C2 dancing with Ett McAtee
Oct 22: Off!
Oct 23: Off!
Oct 24: Off!
Oct 25: Off!
Oct 26: Calling Mainstream thru Advanced for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 27: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 28: C2 dancing with John Marshall
Oct 29: Calling A2 workshop for the Zig Zaggers
Oct 30: Teaching Mainstream for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 31: Off!
bjarvis: (GCA logo)
Oy, what a schedule this month!

Oct 1-3: C2 weekend in York, PA
Oct 3: Square dance recruitment brainstorming conference call
Oct 4: C2 dancing
Oct 5: Off!
Oct 6: Teaching A2 class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 7: Calling Mainstream & Plus for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 8: Off!
Oct 9: Dance leaders' conference "The Gathering," Rutgers Univ., New Jersey
Oct 10: Off!
Oct 11: C1 dancing
Oct 12: Calling Mainstream thru Advanced for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 13: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 14: Calling A2 workshop for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 15: Off!
Oct 16: Possibly teaching Mainstream class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 17: Caller workshop/clinic chez nous with [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle and friends
bjarvis: (GCA logo)
Oy, what a schedule this month!

Oct 1-3: C2 weekend in York, PA
Oct 3: Square dance recruitment brainstorming conference call
Oct 4: C2 dancing
Oct 5: Off!
Oct 6: Teaching A2 class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 7: Calling Mainstream & Plus for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 8: Off!
Oct 9: Dance leaders' conference "The Gathering," Rutgers Univ., New Jersey
Oct 10: Off!
Oct 11: C1 dancing
Oct 12: Calling Mainstream thru Advanced for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 13: Angel with A2 class with DC Lambda Squares
Oct 14: Calling A2 workshop for Chesapeake Squares
Oct 15: Off!
Oct 16: Possibly teaching Mainstream class for DC Lambda Squares
Oct 17: Caller workshop/clinic chez nous with [livejournal.com profile] caller_dayle and friends

Ah, Sunday

Jun. 21st, 2010 11:36 am
bjarvis: (Baltimore)
Sunday was busy. Not as busy as Saturday fortunately but it was active.

In the late morning, we headed to Baltimore for their pride festival in Druid Hill Park. I like Baltimore's pride festival a lot: it's community-based, set in a fantastic park and is a friendly, social environment. Too many other city festivals have become out-of-control huge, expensive, corporate and generic. I'll stick with Baltimore's format, thank you very much.

We had a good time visiting with various friends, enjoying some food & drinks and generally lazing about as we had no work commitments this year. Ah, what a change for us!

By 2pm, we were on the road for home, enjoyed a quick nap and were off again to the final concert of the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington DC. After 26 years, the LGCW has collectively decided to wind down their affairs. I've heard that it's been too difficult and expensive in recent years to keep & build an audience, a roster of singers and a slate of sponsors & advertisers all while paying for concert & rehearsal space, music and such.

I've had limited contact with any chorus for at least five years now. Choral music never was my thing but it was a way of being a productive individual within a community of volunteers for a worthy cause. When I started with the Toronto Gay Men's Chorus in 1990 or so, there was a great and vital need for any openly gay performance groups to provide a focus for the LGBT community, to provide a gentle path for those just coming out and to act as a political force against anti-gay bigotry. Over the past 20+ years, I think purposes #1 and #3 have faded off; while providing a path to coming to grips with being gay is still worthwhile for many, the LGBT choruses are not the only venue as they used to be. In short, I'm inclined to think these days that the entire gay choral movement has largely run its course --ironically, by succeeding at its goals. The LGCW is now done because, well, it's largely succeeded at its stated goals and now is the right time to bring it to a close.

There were 21 singers on stage with guest appearances by Not What You Think, Nuance, Nan Raphael and Suede. LGCW alumni in the audience were invited onstage for the final number, effectively transferring 50% of the audience to the stage.

And here's where I get a little critical... )

After the concert and reception, we dined at Mr Henry's down the street with [livejournal.com profile] markgarciachris and [livejournal.com profile] timcub. Much food and hilarity ensued... we gotta do this again some time soon!

And no evening would be complete without some form of dessert so we cut through Bethesda on the way home to enjoy gelato at a shop we had noticed last month. I had a lime gelato that made my tongue curl in ecstasy... heartily recommended!

Ah, Sunday

Jun. 21st, 2010 11:36 am
bjarvis: (Baltimore)
Sunday was busy. Not as busy as Saturday fortunately but it was active.

In the late morning, we headed to Baltimore for their pride festival in Druid Hill Park. I like Baltimore's pride festival a lot: it's community-based, set in a fantastic park and is a friendly, social environment. Too many other city festivals have become out-of-control huge, expensive, corporate and generic. I'll stick with Baltimore's format, thank you very much.

We had a good time visiting with various friends, enjoying some food & drinks and generally lazing about as we had no work commitments this year. Ah, what a change for us!

By 2pm, we were on the road for home, enjoyed a quick nap and were off again to the final concert of the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington DC. After 26 years, the LGCW has collectively decided to wind down their affairs. I've heard that it's been too difficult and expensive in recent years to keep & build an audience, a roster of singers and a slate of sponsors & advertisers all while paying for concert & rehearsal space, music and such.

I've had limited contact with any chorus for at least five years now. Choral music never was my thing but it was a way of being a productive individual within a community of volunteers for a worthy cause. When I started with the Toronto Gay Men's Chorus in 1990 or so, there was a great and vital need for any openly gay performance groups to provide a focus for the LGBT community, to provide a gentle path for those just coming out and to act as a political force against anti-gay bigotry. Over the past 20+ years, I think purposes #1 and #3 have faded off; while providing a path to coming to grips with being gay is still worthwhile for many, the LGBT choruses are not the only venue as they used to be. In short, I'm inclined to think these days that the entire gay choral movement has largely run its course --ironically, by succeeding at its goals. The LGCW is now done because, well, it's largely succeeded at its stated goals and now is the right time to bring it to a close.

There were 21 singers on stage with guest appearances by Not What You Think, Nuance, Nan Raphael and Suede. LGCW alumni in the audience were invited onstage for the final number, effectively transferring 50% of the audience to the stage.

And here's where I get a little critical... )

After the concert and reception, we dined at Mr Henry's down the street with [livejournal.com profile] markgarciachris and [livejournal.com profile] timcub. Much food and hilarity ensued... we gotta do this again some time soon!

And no evening would be complete without some form of dessert so we cut through Bethesda on the way home to enjoy gelato at a shop we had noticed last month. I had a lime gelato that made my tongue curl in ecstasy... heartily recommended!
bjarvis: (sleeping)
It's been a full but relatively comfortable day. Let's see how much I can write up here before I fall asleep at the keyboard...

I awoke at a decent hour this morning, about 9am. That's a couple of hours earlier than usual for me on a weekend but it felt OK.

[livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr returned home somewhat early today, thanks to relatively light traffic. He had been visiting his youngest daughter & her hubby in the vicinity of Williamsburg, VA, for the past few days. And he brought all sorts of goodies: chocolate, pie, cake, wine and such. He'll have to take us with him next time.

[livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I went to a meeting of the National Capital Area Square Dance Leaders Association, established 1952, along with our membership forms. We had been approached by the association's president recently and after digging for some additional information, decided we'd give it a go.

There were some pleasant surprises:
  1. The ones we met (we numbered about a dozen) were actually pretty casual and funny people. I always fear these sorts of meetings might be overly formal or take themselves entirely too seriously but that doesn't seem to be an issue here. Yay!
  2. We know a number of the members although nearly none of those we know were present at this particular meeting thanks to a number of dance schedule conflicts. I expect such schedule conflicts happen a lot: indeed, we had to leave half-way through the meeting because we were due in Baltimore to help the Chesapeake Squares with our entry in the Baltimore Pride parade.
  3. [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I were voted in as full members. Another caller couldn't be there today but was also voted in. A fourth was voted in as an associate member because he doesn't yet have a regular local gig which would allow him to meet the full member requirements. A vote of 2/3 of the voting members in attendance was required but there were no dissenting votes. Yay again!

Baltimore's Pride parade is a mercifully short affair. There was a record number of floats (62) and while it kicked off precisely at 4pm, our portion was entirely over by 4:20pm. Did I mention it's a short parade?

Earlier this week, we had recorded & mixed a few simple Mainstream square dance figures with some contemporary music to play over the reviewing stand's sound system. This idea proved to be a winner: everyone could hear/see us and not having to call in real-time meant [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I were available to fill a square. Next year, we'll mix a new set with two medium length figures instead of three short ones and try to keep it closer to 60 seconds in total rather than 90... we don't want to overstay our welcome in the spotlight with other groups coming up behind us in the parade.


We stopped at a convenience store on the way home. There are few pleasures in life which bring as much simple joy as air conditioning, an ice cream bar and an ice-cold coke on a hot & humid afternoon.

The first thing I did upon returning home was have a cool shower, then stretched out naked on the bed under a ceiling fan for a half-hour nap. Good times.

This evening, DC Lambda Squares was hosting a psychedelic 60s-themed community dance with caller Howard Richman. We had about four squares of people attending, more than enough for continuous Plus and Advanced dancing 7-10pm. It was a good wrap-up to the day.


Tomorrow, we're spending a few hours at Baltimore's Pride Festival in Druid Hill Park, then attending a late afternoon concert with the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington DC. I predict ice cream in the evening.
bjarvis: (sleeping)
It's been a full but relatively comfortable day. Let's see how much I can write up here before I fall asleep at the keyboard...

I awoke at a decent hour this morning, about 9am. That's a couple of hours earlier than usual for me on a weekend but it felt OK.

[livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr returned home somewhat early today, thanks to relatively light traffic. He had been visiting his youngest daughter & her hubby in the vicinity of Williamsburg, VA, for the past few days. And he brought all sorts of goodies: chocolate, pie, cake, wine and such. He'll have to take us with him next time.

[livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I went to a meeting of the National Capital Area Square Dance Leaders Association, established 1952, along with our membership forms. We had been approached by the association's president recently and after digging for some additional information, decided we'd give it a go.

There were some pleasant surprises:
  1. The ones we met (we numbered about a dozen) were actually pretty casual and funny people. I always fear these sorts of meetings might be overly formal or take themselves entirely too seriously but that doesn't seem to be an issue here. Yay!
  2. We know a number of the members although nearly none of those we know were present at this particular meeting thanks to a number of dance schedule conflicts. I expect such schedule conflicts happen a lot: indeed, we had to leave half-way through the meeting because we were due in Baltimore to help the Chesapeake Squares with our entry in the Baltimore Pride parade.
  3. [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I were voted in as full members. Another caller couldn't be there today but was also voted in. A fourth was voted in as an associate member because he doesn't yet have a regular local gig which would allow him to meet the full member requirements. A vote of 2/3 of the voting members in attendance was required but there were no dissenting votes. Yay again!

Baltimore's Pride parade is a mercifully short affair. There was a record number of floats (62) and while it kicked off precisely at 4pm, our portion was entirely over by 4:20pm. Did I mention it's a short parade?

Earlier this week, we had recorded & mixed a few simple Mainstream square dance figures with some contemporary music to play over the reviewing stand's sound system. This idea proved to be a winner: everyone could hear/see us and not having to call in real-time meant [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I were available to fill a square. Next year, we'll mix a new set with two medium length figures instead of three short ones and try to keep it closer to 60 seconds in total rather than 90... we don't want to overstay our welcome in the spotlight with other groups coming up behind us in the parade.


We stopped at a convenience store on the way home. There are few pleasures in life which bring as much simple joy as air conditioning, an ice cream bar and an ice-cold coke on a hot & humid afternoon.

The first thing I did upon returning home was have a cool shower, then stretched out naked on the bed under a ceiling fan for a half-hour nap. Good times.

This evening, DC Lambda Squares was hosting a psychedelic 60s-themed community dance with caller Howard Richman. We had about four squares of people attending, more than enough for continuous Plus and Advanced dancing 7-10pm. It was a good wrap-up to the day.


Tomorrow, we're spending a few hours at Baltimore's Pride Festival in Druid Hill Park, then attending a late afternoon concert with the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington DC. I predict ice cream in the evening.

Ready!

Jun. 17th, 2010 12:05 am
bjarvis: (Chesapeake Squares)
As mentioned previously, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I are working with the Chesapeake Squares for Baltimore Pride once again this year. We're all marching in the parade; [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I are providing the sound system to announce ourselves to the adoring crowds and possibly call a quick figure or two if the parade pauses long enough.

This evening, we finished prepping a music CD to give to the sound folks at the reviewing stand. We chose a contemporary upbeat piece of music ("Barbie") and used Audacity to trim it slightly and add a fade at the 90 second point. We then recorded [livejournal.com profile] kent4str calling three short, simple but flashy Mainstream figures and mixed that over the music. The final product was then burned to a music CD as a single track. All done!


We've decided to join our local callers' association and have secured the blessings of a second sponsor. Now we just have to complete our membership application form and await the vote of the membership. We're even planning to stop by the meeting on Saturday for as long as we can before we need to dash to Baltimore for the pride parade.

Ready!

Jun. 17th, 2010 12:05 am
bjarvis: (Chesapeake Squares)
As mentioned previously, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I are working with the Chesapeake Squares for Baltimore Pride once again this year. We're all marching in the parade; [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I are providing the sound system to announce ourselves to the adoring crowds and possibly call a quick figure or two if the parade pauses long enough.

This evening, we finished prepping a music CD to give to the sound folks at the reviewing stand. We chose a contemporary upbeat piece of music ("Barbie") and used Audacity to trim it slightly and add a fade at the 90 second point. We then recorded [livejournal.com profile] kent4str calling three short, simple but flashy Mainstream figures and mixed that over the music. The final product was then burned to a music CD as a single track. All done!


We've decided to join our local callers' association and have secured the blessings of a second sponsor. Now we just have to complete our membership application form and await the vote of the membership. We're even planning to stop by the meeting on Saturday for as long as we can before we need to dash to Baltimore for the pride parade.
bjarvis: (Chesapeake Squares)
I was calling for the Chesapeake Squares in Baltimore tonight for their regular club night. It almost started with a near disaster but I managed to dodge that particular mortar shell...

Because [livejournal.com profile] kent4str was calling for the DC Lambda Squares at the same time, he took our audio system for that gig while I took the spare for Baltimore's. Alas, there is one major difference between the carrying case of our primary Hilton versus the carrying case of the backup: the presence of a power cable.

Luckily, I was able to swipe the power cable from a computer workstation in the building for my Hilton. As soon as possible, I'm digging out a couple of spare power cables to (a) keep in the car and (b) stash somewhere in the building where the Chesapeake Squares dance.

For the fourth tip of the evening, I offered the dancers the choice of a regular Mainstream tip or my six couple rectangle Mainstream square dance figures. They overwhelmingly asked for the six couple stuff. Apparently, they've already seen this, calling it "six pack" dancing. Once again, it seems I'm the last person on the planet to learn of something novel. Figures.

The "six pack" stuff was eagerly received and I got a lot of compliments for it when we finished. I have one figure I'm going to retool but the rest seemed solid. Like most dance novelties, a little goes a long way so I only called perhaps 10-12 figures. I still have enough material in reserve for another club night.

Our part of the Baltimore pride festival has been finalized, more or less. [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I need to be at the parade staging area by 3:30pm Saturday for a 4pm kick-off. We'll be there a little earlier naturally to set up equipment. I'm still hoping we can stop by the local square dance callers' association meeting near us in Silver Spring before we head to Baltimore, but it might be cutting close.

I still need to write some simple choreo and mix it with music so we have a CD we can give the Baltimore pride folks to play at the reviewing stand as we arrive. The reviewing stand will have a vastly more powerful sound system than we could provide with better sound coverage of the audience. That should be tomorrow's project.

Time for bed.
bjarvis: (Chesapeake Squares)
I was calling for the Chesapeake Squares in Baltimore tonight for their regular club night. It almost started with a near disaster but I managed to dodge that particular mortar shell...

Because [livejournal.com profile] kent4str was calling for the DC Lambda Squares at the same time, he took our audio system for that gig while I took the spare for Baltimore's. Alas, there is one major difference between the carrying case of our primary Hilton versus the carrying case of the backup: the presence of a power cable.

Luckily, I was able to swipe the power cable from a computer workstation in the building for my Hilton. As soon as possible, I'm digging out a couple of spare power cables to (a) keep in the car and (b) stash somewhere in the building where the Chesapeake Squares dance.

For the fourth tip of the evening, I offered the dancers the choice of a regular Mainstream tip or my six couple rectangle Mainstream square dance figures. They overwhelmingly asked for the six couple stuff. Apparently, they've already seen this, calling it "six pack" dancing. Once again, it seems I'm the last person on the planet to learn of something novel. Figures.

The "six pack" stuff was eagerly received and I got a lot of compliments for it when we finished. I have one figure I'm going to retool but the rest seemed solid. Like most dance novelties, a little goes a long way so I only called perhaps 10-12 figures. I still have enough material in reserve for another club night.

Our part of the Baltimore pride festival has been finalized, more or less. [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I need to be at the parade staging area by 3:30pm Saturday for a 4pm kick-off. We'll be there a little earlier naturally to set up equipment. I'm still hoping we can stop by the local square dance callers' association meeting near us in Silver Spring before we head to Baltimore, but it might be cutting close.

I still need to write some simple choreo and mix it with music so we have a CD we can give the Baltimore pride folks to play at the reviewing stand as we arrive. The reviewing stand will have a vastly more powerful sound system than we could provide with better sound coverage of the audience. That should be tomorrow's project.

Time for bed.

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