Well Crap…

Just now realized I have lost all the data for all polls tied to all previous posts. Well, not lost, but recently I moved the website from my personal server to the Feis Dad server and everything copied over, or so I thought. Unfortunately, none of the polls did. Info is still available but I doubt we will ever really need it again.

Long story short, any posts where you have typically found a poll at the bottom, if it is dated before today (1.5.15), you won’t find it, but the header is still there. All other post content is there otherwise. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Categories: Poll     

Some Notes for Website and Facebook Admins

computer-geek-tattooI am a web guy in the real world, have been for nearly 18 years. I am also a Certified Usability Analyst, and as I was researching schools I was adding to my schools pages, I took some usability notes for you website and Facebook admins. Take it for what its worth, just thought I would mention a few things.

NOTE: I needed a geek image for this post. If you get it, you probably don’t need any help ;)  (more…)

Am I doing this to my dancer?

abcoyLast night, TGC showed me a Tumblr post by a popular dancer. Although the language is a bit salty, what the dancer says also made me think.

WARNING: Some language in the attachment to this post is (not may be, is) inappropriate for some readers.

Although I don’t think I have ever ‘consciously’ told TGC she needs to be more like [insert famous dancer name here], I do push her. Am I pushing to hard? Am I focusing to much on the competition aspect? I ‘think’ TGC wants to win, but is my trying to help her win sucking all the joy out of it for her?

Click the image from the Tumblr post to the left for a bigger view, and hopefully to be able to read the entire thing. It summarizes what one dancer thinks about being ‘dance-famous’ and all that goes into it. She calls it a rant, I call it insightful, and maybe I need to reconsider how I do things.

Sorry for the size of screenshot, just grabbed what was there.

Attending Your First Oireachtas

orockwhatWell, aren’t you big stuff? Attending your first Oireachtas is very special indeed. Whether you are attending to watch the solos, teams, traditional set, or some combination thereof, let me be the first to congratulate you. Take a moment and enjoy the accomplishment of being invited to attend your first Oireachtas.

Let me assure you, it is even more important for the dancer you are going to watch.

Oireachtas, in short, is a regional competition. It has been called, by wittier writers than myself, a big ole honkin’ feis. But, I would disagree. At a feis, there are baking, art, music, vocal, dance, and special competitions. The Oireachtas would be better classified as a big ole honkin’ feile. See also What The Feis Dance Terms. At the Oireachtas, there are only dance competitions. The majority of the competitions are solos. This is followed by 4 hand and 8 hand teams, figure choreography, and dance drama. There are also traditional set competitions at some regional Oireachtas.

The packing list, for you, is the same as Attending Your First Feis.

The best way to follow the different competitions is in the book. Each Oireachtas prints a competition book. They are enormous, spiral bound, volumes. You will find them for sale at the entrance of the stages. Bring cash. They are usually between $15 and $20 US. Recalls are typically marked in highlighter or ink pen. Be quiet during those recall announcements. It is usually so quiet in the hall during recalls, that you only hear the pages turning.

First, shop. The night before the first competition day is ideal. The shinys and the prettys go to those who shop first. If you want to buy from the best selection, get to the vendors as soon as you arrive. What the vendors have is what you see. Often, they bring a limited number of items, specially marked for the Oireachtas. When those are gone, they’re gone. Also, if you know your dancer is missing poodle socks, sock glue, hair pins, etc, buy those now. The supply of those is also limited. You, and your dancer, do not want to be without!

Second, find your chairs. Even if your dancer’s competitions does not start until 10am, get in the hall early. If you want a seat, get to the hall early. If someone is not in the chair, it is fair game. No, really. It does not matter if you pile the seat with 2 coats and a pair of shoes, someone will sit on it at the Oireachtas. Pack, and plan, to have someone in your party at the chairs for the entire day. Trust me on this.

Get to the hall early. Get to the hall early. GET TO THE HALL EARLY.

Third, watch closely. No, not the fantastically brilliant solo dresses and stunning smiles. Pay attention to those before they begin dancing.

Watch the feet. Closely.

Or as closely as possible from the seats you secured a couple of hours before the competition began. The real details of the dancing happen below the knees. Which should be tightly crossed at all times during the dance. Unless they are kicking their forehead or managing a cut above their hip. If you do seem them manage extremely high kicks, leaps, jumps, or any other that looks impressive you, let your dancer know. It is especially entertaining, for the dancer, to have you attempt to describe any move you saw, but did not understand. A quiver becomes “that lovely thing you did with your leg, after you jumped 4 feet into the air.” Be attentive, supportive, and complimentary. If you see them get bumped, have a clip fall out of their hair, or have a stumble, don’t mention it. Trust me. They know all about it. If they appear very upset, quiet and supportive is best. They have been working ALL YEAR for what amounts to 5 minutes 30 seconds on a stage. It is also a good time to offer them the chocolate.

The top 50% of each competition will recall. Recalls are a big deal. Some dancers will attend 2 or 3 Oireachtas before they recall as a soloist. Those who are recalled return to the stage for Round 3, the non traditional set dance. This is designed to showcase the dancer’s strengths to their very finest. Another way to tell the skill of the dancer is by their non traditional set introduction music. The longer the music introduction plays before they dance, the more complicated the set. The longer the introduction music, the more beats the dancer will fit into each measure. For example, someone dancing Planxty Hugh O ‘ Donnell at speed 69 is a phenom; a beast; nothing short of amazing.

So, you made it through shopping, have kept your seats, and the dancer you came to watch recalled? Well done, you! It is truly thrills enough to recall at the Oireachtas. Now, time for awards. Whatever time that is listed in the book is going to be WRONG. Add at least 2 hours to that timetable. It will probably go longer. Aren’t you glad you kept those seats? It is no fun to be standing during the awards ceremony. Settle in for a great show.

Clap for everyone onstage.

Yes, your hands will get tired. Clap anyway. You are, very likely, in extremely close quarters. You never know whose family member nearby has a dancer on that stage. Be sure to take plenty of pictures. Irish Dancing and Culture Magazine usually has a booth at each Oireachtas. Be sure to stop by and get a picture taken. If you do not subscribe, be sure to sign up. It is an excellent, encouraging, appropriate magazine for all Irish dancers, their families, and supporters.

Mind your manners. Use an inside voice. Give everyone extra grace. Try to get to bed at a decent hour.

And you should come through just fine.

The 2000, 500, 300 Contest

winner_graphicAlso known as, ‘the completely self-absorbed’ contest, but you can win a Feis Prints T-Shirt!

So here is the deal, if my What The Feis Facebook page gets to 2000 likes, or What The Feis Unplugged gets to 500, or Feis Prints gets to 300, by 9pm E.S.T on Sunday, November 23rd, I will give away one t-shirt with free shipping to one lucky person. If I meet all three goals, I will give away two shirts!

To enter, simply tell your friends to like any (or all) of the pages on Facebook, leave a comment below, and cross your fingers.  That’s it. One comment only please. Your email will ONLY BE USED for purposes of this contest as a means to contact you should you win.

Thanks for following and making these little pet projects of mine make me feel like I am contributing something (just go with that ;) ).

Feis ATL 2014 Review

feisATLFeis ATL was held November 14th and 15th of 2014, at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. This was a Drake feis, which means fun, fabulous, chaotic, and crowded. The feis offered competitions in musical instruments, vocals, Celtic art work, baking, traditional and non traditional sets, treble reels, and a Dancer of the Day award, in addition to the regular feis competition schedule.

In the tradition of fun and fabulous, this feis offered some unexpected surprises. Friday night, there was a casual Irish music session in the registration hall. On Saturday, the FROZEN princesses made appearances and lead a pre awards show sing-a-long. On Saturday night, they held a post feis luau at the hotel pool for feis attendees.

Venue

This was a hotel feis. As most readers know, I am not a fan of the hotel feis. This location is no exception to that dislike. Although the building did receive the vomitus mass of people attending the feis, it did nothing to organize them. The hotel is currently undergoing renovations. So, it was challenging to attend. From parking to conference room location, the construction chaos only added to the usual feis chaos. The hotel did have helpful staff, when you could find them. The bathrooms were kept clean and were not overcrowded. The hallways were large and spacious throughout. This allowed for movement between stages, even with any available wall space being crowded with bags, personal items, small siblings, etc. Camping, as it is known in the Mid America and other regions, does not take place in the majority of Southern Region feisanna. The feis did an excellent job marking the awards room and decorating the registration booth. At least those spaces were the easiest for us to find.

5 out of 10

Parking

Welcome to downtown Atlanta! Parking is plentiful and expensive. If you did not mind a chilly 6 block walk, you could park for $3 a day. To park at the feis, it was $12 a day. The feis did offer attendees a special parking rate. If you forgot to mention you were there for the feis, it was a whopping $28 per day. Also, the parking deck at the hotel filled quickly. Some people were upset to learn of there being no elevator to the highest deck level. Can you imagine lugging all that gear down the steps to the nearest elevator for a luggage cart? We can’t either. So, we suggest an earlier arrival next year, for a prime parking deck location. In a perfect world, out of town arrival to Atlanta should take place between 10 am and 2:30pm EST. Also, avoid the 75/85 merge at all costs.

5 out of 10

Music

Why so high? The accordion, that’s why. Every stage, we watched, had a blessed, talented, accordionist playing accompaniment. Was there music carry over? Very little. The stages were so spaced out, you only heard the other stages music if you were close to a doorway.

10 out of 10

Feis Food

The hotel cafe was close to $4 for a cup of coffee. When the feis had the hotel set up coffee in the vendor hall, it was $2 a cup. Any feis where Ash Wilkes can get his feis coffee is a good one. Of course, the remainder of the hotel cafe options were Disney FROZEN expensive. $5 for a parfait. $3.50 for a frozen pizza sized slice of pizza. $9 for chicken fingers and fries. It was a very chilly walk for anyone to find outside options. A sub shop was close by. Many families sent Feis Dads out on sub runs.

4 out of 10

Vendors

The feis had a good selection of vendors. The down side was that they did not stay open through the conclusion of the feis. So, if you wanted to buy a t-shirt or sock glue after the awards ceremony, too bad. They had closed up shop hours before hand. Also, no Cadbury bars. Sniff. Sniff.

  • Züca sales
  • Wigs
  • Shoes/socks
  • Feis shirts
  • Jewelry
  • Irish, Celtic, and Feis themed items
  • Photo crystal dancers gifts/Speakers

6 out of 10

Results

Heard of being on Southern time? This feis ran on Southern Irish Feis Time. So. Hope everyone was able to find the punch in the lobby, because you had a wait on your hands. From the time of competition to the time of results posting was an hour or more in most cases. The average we worked out was 45 minutes. The results were quick to post at the start of the day, but really lagged as the day went on. We saw dancers camped under their results papers for them to post, so that they could go home. See also Feis Flow.

3 out of 10

Awards

This was a Drake feis, remember? The fabulous part certainly comes in at the awards. No dinky trinkets here. Medals, with neck ribbons were awarded to all grades with a posted result. So, even if your little prince or princess won 5th out of 15, they went home with a medal around their neck. Prizewinner, and above, received trophies. The star with the Feis ATL logo decorated most of them. Again, even with a 5th place out of 15 in traditional set, the dancer went home with a trophy. Championship competitions had recalls posted. Their awards were given at a ceremony, after the feis competitions ended. Everyone on stage received a trophy. First place Open Champs recived a sash, Olaf stuffie, trophy, and a CHAMPION emblazoned scarf. Some second and third place winners were also given the CHAMPION scarves. Only Open Champs received the sashes for first place. The awards ceremony was a great lead up to the Southern Region Oireachtas. Sound system, projection screen, podium with five placements, music, ambient lighting, and pre show FROZEN sing along. (Alright, so the last part was at least fun for the kids who were waiting…now, let it go.) of course, the awards ceremony did not finish until 8pm. But, like I said, it was a great lead up to the Southern Region Oireachtas. Midnight award ceremony conclusions, anyone?

10 out of 10

Judging

This is one area of the feis where many people were displeased. Three of our four little darlings had ZERO judge rotation. That’s right. The same judge for every. single. dance. In one case, it worked to their advantage. In the other two cases, it did not. Our youngest darling had some judge rotation. One judge for two dances, then a different judge/different stage for the other two dances. At a perfect feis, there would be a different judge for each dance. The opposite was true at this feis. With over 850 competitors, there was an enormous push for speed on the stages. They did everything but add a conveyor belt to the stage floor. See also Feis Flow.

3 out of 10

Feis Flow

They billed this feis as the FROZEN feis. Considering the weather, and the open exterior doors in the vendors area, we think they succeeded in making everyone FROZEN on Friday night. Thankfully, they also had a warm Irish music session occurring away from the open exterior doors by registration. With more than 850 competitors, along with their various friends and relations, the body heat generated helped to warm the competition halls on Saturday. Keeping the exterior doors closed helped, too.

The feis volunteers were working hard from 7am until 9pm on feis day. That being said, it appeared to be the same 20 or so people the entire day. Stages were only marked by the stage side podium. That information was not up until almost 8am. Of course, if you bought the unadvertised on eFeis $5 feis book, a map was included. The stages were also at one end of cavernous conference halls. Most of them were set up long ways, so that there were plenty of chairs. But only the first ten rows of people could see anything. Also, some of the stage rooms were extremely crowded. The preliminary championship stage was overrun with dancers, friends, and relations until after 2pm. The stages that ran quickly were “rewarded” by having more competitions shifted over to them. This movement created flow mayhem, as dancers and their entourage were scrambling to find the new stage location and seats for the competitions. The awards ceremony for the championship dancers occurred after the final competition ended for the day. The ceremony was a bit chaotic, as many of the later competition recall lists were posted in the middle of the ceremony.

When the feis completed on Saturday night, there was a luau for feis attendees at the hotel pool. Snacks, finger foods, and a cash bar made for an excellent end to a busy feis day.

5 out of 10

Overall Score: 6 out of 10

What Did Y’all Think?

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Pack Up Your Feisin’ In Your Old Who Hut… wait, what!?

The other day, my husband said, “You know, when we move, we won’t need any boxes…we can just pack everything in your tote bags.” I looked around the room and had to agree. I could easily start my own bag kiosk at the mall. People are constantly telling me that I have a bag problem. My response is always that I can quit bags anytime.

Dr-Seuss-cat-in-the-hatAfter giving this some additional thought, I realized that I don’t have a BAG problem, I have a FEIS problem.  There is just too much stuff I need to bring to be the ‘Perfectly Prepared Feis Mom’ (PPFM) and I can’t get a system down that doesn’t involve looking like the Beverly Hillbillies. At a recent Feis, you could buy a tee shirt with an image of a Feis Mom lugging five suitcases and four tote bags. I honestly thought that someone had snapped a photo of me and shaded it in (with a smaller butt).

That is when it hit me!  I need a Sherpa!! No, I’m not climbing Mt. Everest, but a Sherpa could lug everything in and claim a chunk of real estate at the Feis (would I need my own flag?). A Sherpa could install shelving in my claimed space so that I could instantly find the E6000 and Costco-size tub of bobby pins. Sadly, I realized that I had blown my Sherpa budget on the latest solo dress. So I went back to the drawing board to delve into what might work within the budget of a PPFM.

Then I used my family connections and called NASA to get their take on traveling light while still including everything a PPFM must have. Apparently, rockets headed to space have less stuff than what I take to a Feis. They just didn’t understand having to pack sock glue and two wigs. Talk about your awkward conversation!

Not to be discouraged, and knowing necessity is the mother of invention, I continued to ponder what would help and I think I have the solution. Forget the expanding duffel on wheels, forget matching tote bags – I need a Who Hut.

Think Dr. Seuss meets Bass Pro Shop. A veritable Irish dancing biosphere-type dwelling to meet all needs – camping chair, changing tent, shelves and clearly labeled bins. No more lugging ten suitcases like a mere Muggle only to buy duct tape in a panic. I’m envisioning a steamer trunk on wheels that unfolds into a tent complete with a hair salon chair, a mini fridge, and lots of counter space. Just be there when the doors open and stake out a big area with an electrical outlet (for the blender, of course).

The Who Hut is sure to be a hit with the Feis mom who doubles as a pack mule, cafeteria lady, makeup artist, and lady’s maid. Everything needed will automagically unfold and fall into place – just picture Things 1 & 2 from The Cat in the Hat. When you are ready to leave, push a button and the Who Hut folds up again ready for the next Feis. I haven’t quite worked out all of the kinks, but I’m filing for a patent next week. I can’t wait to relax in my Who Hut with a nice fruity drink and listen to ten hours of accordion music. Please feel free to stop by if you need anything.

Chicago Autumn Feis 2014 Review

chicago_autumn_feis_2014The 12th Annual Chicago Autumn Feis was held on Sunday, November 9, 2014 at North Central College in Naperville IL .

I can’t speak to PC/OC level, nor did our school have any at that level here due to Oirachtas practice.

Venue

Aside from streets being blocked due to a marathon, it was easy enough to get to the field house at North Central College. The parking was limited, but there was a shuttle that was much appreciated to take us from the lot to the field house. Unfortunately, the shuttle stopped transporting before my Prizewinner dancer finished dancing. The facility was clean initially, and restrooms seemed to be kept up. I didn’t see any cleaning of the floors throughout the day, possibly because there was no floor space open because of the crowding. Camping was supposed to be done on the balcony level, but few people did this and it was not enforced. The competition area was very crowded and it was difficult to move from one stage to another to watch other dancers on their respective stages. There was ample seating set up, however, dancers had strewn their belongings in seats and across bleachers, taking away from the available seating. Maybe not the best venue for 1,200 dancers and their families.

I give it a 7.

Judges

There were 12 judges and 8 stages. Judges seemed to rotate about every hour. I noticed on the score board that beginner levels were placing up to 7th or 8th place, and many of the novice and Prizewinner often only placed 1st through 3rd. This seemed unusual.

Score: 8

Musicians

My dancers didn’t say they couldn’t hear the music well enough and all sets seemed to be played at the right speeds.

Score:10

Food

There were few choices for food by one vendor. The $5 hotdogs and snack sized chip bags I found to be pricey. They had a fruit bowl available and maybe two other choices of meal deals and plenty of junk food. There was no mention of not being allowed to bring in outside food and drink.

Score: 8

Vendors

There was a large selection and variety of vendors. Some that were not the usuals.

Score: 10

Results

Here’s where it goes downhill. I was told morning results were posted within 45 minutes. One of my dancers waited an hour and a half for her results. Results were typed but in a font that was difficult to read from the other side of the results tables and included dancer name and number. There were no online results available, in fact, they will not be available until “sometime the week after the Feis”. They ran out of 3rd place medals and offered smaller medals that they were giving to 4-8th place. You could also opt to have them mail a silver medal when they get more made.

Score: 4

Feis Flow

On the stage schedule it stated that Novice dances would start approximately 9:30. It was around 10:45. The Prizewinner dances were scheduled to start at 1:00. Beginner levels typically had 1 dance in between dances. Novice and PW dancers had 2-3 dances in between dances. Soft shoe competitions were first. Lunch break was 1/2 hour and the judges and musicians were great about getting started on time after lunch, and was staggered a little so there wasn’t a mad rush at the food vendor.While one stage did, the others still had up to as many as two complete dances left to get through, with sections of A and B and boys or mixed. This was truly the Feis that never ended! At 5:00 they finally did the last treble reel, and they still had non-traditional sets going after this was completed. All said, it didn’t flow quickly and made for a miserable afternoon/evening for many dancers and their families. I heard many complaints from tired dancers and irritated parents, while I waited at the results table with my dancer.

Score: 4

Local Amenities

I can’t speak for the Feis hotel or hotels in the area, but Naperville seemed like a quaint little town with several options for restaurants.

EDITORS NOTE: She is right, it is and does. Here are a few places I found when I was there last year: https://whatthefeis.com/naperville-il-eats/

Judge, music, results and flow average: 6.5

Overall: 7.29

What did you think?

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