vacation 2 – irish dancing and more

we woke up early for the Rochester Feis – irish dancing galore for the young Irish dancers…..yeah – we were also quite jet lag by the three hour time difference. we managed. somehow, we managed – thanks to some McGriddles and McDonald’s coffee.

First we dropped off Josh’s cake – before we headed out to Rochester.

The window in the volvo went kaput – so we jammed a election sign in – to keep out most of the breeze. Wasn’t bad really – kept the air circulation going in the car. We had lot’s of farmland to view on our way to Rochester. Ok, let me see get this straight….many of the roads we traveled on were either through-ways or by-ways… – even if it looked like an ordinary road, by my California standards – it’s actually a something way, that constitued a numbered sign.


ok – here’s Mark’s explanation

Queenkv: hey mark?
Queenkv: in buffalo and places like that
Queenkv: what was the difference between a thorough-way and a by-way (did we go on by-ways? for some reason – I remember that term) and a highway and a freeway?
Queenkv: would you know?
mercury: the New York State Thruway is a toll road; freeways are, well, free.
mercury: highways are usually run by local authorities, the thruway is run by the state
Queenkv: ok – what are those country roads we went down? highways?
mercury: ‘m not sure what a bi-way is
Queenkv: ok – maybe i mis-heard that one

mercury: they are either highways or “county routes”
mercury: or just simply, “route”
mercury: or, you could call them by the number, for example, “take 104 to newfane”, etc…
Queenkv: ok – thanks!
mercury: usually, major roads like “the 290” or “the 990” are prefixed with “the”, much as freeways are in california
mercury: but local roads usually don’t use “the” as a prefix

We ended up at the Rochester Convention Center and as we walked in – I felt an immediate deja vu-ness….every inch of the floor – leading up to the competition area – was marked territory space by the dancers: costumes hanging, make-up kits in a disarray, hairspray lingering in the air, rehersal space for girls and boys – half suited up in costumes, camping chairs, sleeping bags, pillows, good luck charms, laughing kids, and nervous parents – it was like a skating competition – except a hell lot warmer. Some dancers tried setting up group camp sites – one managed to snag a power outlet for a TV/VCR machine – smart idea! Plenty of folks were doing the peek-a-boo routine of getting dressed in public. Mark’s second cousin, Devon, was competiting at the Rochester Feis – the whole event got off to a late start, thanks to some freeway traffic. We missed two of her dances, one was a group routine. According to her mom, Carlene – the musician (each Irish dance had a live muscian, most of the time on an accordian, plunking out jigs) sped up the speed of the jig – and in the confusion, the girls kinda sorta forgot to bow to the judges and audience. It happens.

The competition area reminded me of a gymnastics meet. A whole bunch of dances were all going on, simultaneously and at different stages. More dancers have set-up camp inside the main competition area, as well. The stages circled the competition area and in the middle of the convention area – merchants set-up shop for Irish Dancing t-shirts, jewelry, books, stuff, candy, hardshoes, make-up, and more. Essentially, if anybody forgot shoes, make-up, wigs, or anything needed for a dance – they could drop some cash and pick-up a replacement here.

Yes, lots of girls wore wigs of curly ringlets – I assumed that the curly hair look was standard and possibly required for several schools of Irish Dancing. So – mothers had the option of taking their chances with curling irons and curlers and hairspray….or tossing a wig on. I had fun pulling at Devon’s ringlets….quite a natural, adorable look!


Ok – we managed to catch the last two of Devon’s solo dances – more jigs. Next season, she’s promoted to the novice level. Go Devon! According to Mark’s mom and Devon’s mom – the judges are typically irish dancing school teachers – they look for how well the dancer knows the choreography, how crisp are the movements, whether he/she kicks her butt during the dance (they’re suppose to), and smiling. Lot’s of smiling.


The hardshoe dancing was way cool – boys and girls get these tap dancing shoes and do their jigs. The shoes make this great staccato stomping tune – along with the jig music. I even saw several girls go on a ballet-like pointe in those hard shoes, amazing stuff! Their insteps must be painful and calloused! Devon told me that one dancing school has a bunch of ballerinas who joined up – which may explain some of the pointe movements in those routines.

Typically – all schools have one standard uniform, with the school’s special insignia. But for the solo dances of the higher levels – dancers get more elaborate and more sparkly costumes – costing up in the hundreds. Oh yeah…my competition dress for skating were at least $500 – min.

A few days later, Mark and I got our chance to strut our stuff at the Irish Community Center – Irish Dancing night… was more coupled-off dancing and it reminded me of a combination of the foxtrot and swing dancing (without rock-step). It was also the first community center I saw with a bar. Cool.

Devon came away with a 4th place and 3rd place medal for her two dances. Yeah!

and the day, was still young – after the competition we drove over to our party destination – Mark’s cousin Josh had graduated and he’s heading to boot camp for the Marines.


They had three bbq’s going for meat, meat, and more meat. Yummy! A fridge full of beer – and plenty of potatoe salads and other munchable side dishes. I met most of the Dunne clan here – Mark’s family is HUGE. I got a little homesick for my own family – small in number, big in heart, and heck….it’s going to be harder to visit, next year – given all the upheaval that’s scheduled for my life. Everybody was quite sweet and welcoming. I have no idea why I felt so damn apphrensive – I guess it comes with the territory of meeting new family members. The kids were cool – jumping around on the trampoline and sitting down to a game of Bullshit.


At dusk – folks had some pogo stick fun for shots. I brought some of my Cali tagging skills to Western NY. REPRESENT!


when night fell – I saw fireflys! Lot’s of them! I’ve never seen them before! It’s amazing – flys with lighbulbs on their asses! Really cool stuff. A couple landed on my shirt – i was thrilled 🙂 Darkness fell and some boys started setting off sparklers and fireworks. I’ve never held a sparkler before. Another first. Some of the fireworks were aimed for the barn/garage and one attacked me at the ankle bone. Later, we had a huge bonfire to warm ourselves up…..of course, there was some ribbing for somebody to jump over it. It didn’t happen. It was nice note to end the evening with.