At the McMenamin Academy Feis in Milwaukee this weekend, I witnessed a rather disturbing event that I thought would never happen at a feis. I suggest all parents and dancers read this, and share with anyone you think needs to read it…. I suggest all parents, with or without dancers.
NOTE: Please see the comments below this post and on our FB page. This is not the only time ‘creepy’ has invaded our feiseanna.
As I watched The Girl Child (TGC) practice in the hallway from inside the room where her stage was, I saw her and her Mom start this very intense discussion, so intense that it made me go out to find what was wrong. When I got to where they were, TGC said ‘that guy is filming us’ and as I looked over, I saw who she was talking about. My wife told me he had filmed a number of the girls who were practicing in the hall, as well as panned the whole area with his phone.
Not sure if he figured out we were talking about him, but he turned to leave, and my son and I followed him and watched him leave the building. I went to the awards table near the door he went out, told them what had happened, described the man and what he was wearing, and then I asked where the ‘Feis Boss’ was. They directed me to the office where I retold the story, wrote down a description of the man and his clothes, and I was informed security would be notified.
I returned to the stage and also told the feis volunteer who was working the hallway outside the stages what had happened. He had seen the man, but did not realize he was not associated with anyone at the feis. I told him I did not think he belonged, especially since TGC, as well as another dancer who was with her father, were both filmed, and we did not know him, and that when I had followed him, he had left the building.
And that was that, or so I thought.
As we were waiting for TGC to do her last dance of the day, I saw the ‘creepy man’ sitting in the back row watching the stage. I went into the hall to notify the volunteer I had spoken to earlier, and he was standing there with two security members, but had lost the man when he went to get security. I told him I knew where he was, and pointed him out to security. He was escorted out, and that was the last I heard of it.
Parents, you know why I am posting this, and some of the older dancers who might read this get it. If you are like me, you would never think something like this would happen at a feis, and I tried to go through non-creepy scenarios as to why this man was filming, but his actions were just not fitting any of these scenarios.
So parents(and teachers maybe), please talk to your dancers, and let them know that if they see anything that just does not seem right, to tell someone. Do not assume that since there are feis volunteers around, everything is fine. In this case, a volunteer saw the man, but was busy with his job and had no reason to think anything out of place. NEVER go up and confront the person, but tell a parent, teacher or a feis volunteer. It could be someone taking pictures or videos, or who seems to be hanging around but seems to be alone, or whom just seems out of place. Have the dancers use the buddy system, and not run around the venue alone. This typically happens without them being told, but reminding the dancers to do it, and telling them why, is probably a good idea.
Also remember, there are some people who are professionals, and they do these things, but are supposed to be there. A photographer who had photographed dancers at the Dayton Celtic Festival mentioned on our Facebook page that he might fit the description above. I actually saw this photographer working at the Dayton Festival, and reassured him that I could tell the difference between him and the ‘creepy-guy’ right away, and I am sure he, and anyone who is supposed to be at an event, would be ok if they were questioned about what they were doing there. Just don’t assume that everyone is always supposed to be there, because sometimes, like this weekend, they are not. A little paranoia is not necessarily a bad thing.