My dance calling legs are getting stronger, not so wobbly anymore. Which is a good thing because I have several square dances to call in the near future. And not just small party dances, but three hour long sets with upwards of ten squares (that's 80 people!) My warm-up to this has included a dance at a party in Baltimore, a last minute call for a two-hour dance in Lewisburg, and trying out some new material at a party in Eggleston. There are a dozen or so dances I am comfortable calling at this point, though I can push that a little bit if I need to. Recently, I've had to make up some new things on the fly, because of odd amounts of people. And they worked! Or at least, most of them worked. Ok, more like, half of them. But there were no major meltdowns or anything. Every time I call, I learn a little more, about what works and what doesn't.
|Playing for the masses in Webster Hall|
It's funny how calling dances is both a simple and a complicated thing. Simple and straightforward: it's pretty obvious what you're supposed to do, and really anyone can do this. But complicated, because it really takes feeling it out, a kind of tacit knowledge, to get competent enough that it flows. That you can pick out the right dance for the right situation. That you throw in enough variety over three hours. That you keep the pace up. That you don't get flustered when something invariably doesn't work out. All said, I'm starting to find it more fun and less draining then it used to be. If it is at all analogous to learning to play music, it will get increasingly fun, and less like work, until I can't help myself from doing it all the time.
|We were part of the Thrill Jockey 20th Anniversary shows|
|Other bands used smoke machines and strobe lights|
I've spent the last several weeks driving between multiple places for various reasons, some for music, but mostly just to visit people and places. Baltimore was surprisingly inspiring, full of old beautiful buildings and great people. New York was immediate sensory overload, but by the end of my stay, I didn't want to leave. We played some really weird shows at big venues with big bands. It was kind of a mixed experience. But hey, I was on the same bill as Tortoise, and that seems like a big deal.
|Throwing rocks at the Empire State |
I'm taking a break from driving for the moment, and heading to the Mitten State to call one of these aforementioned dances (among other things). I'm also trying out Amtrak as an alternative to a 12 hour drive. I'm taking the 51 Cardinal, through Clifton Forge, Hinton, up through southern Ohio and Indiana. Things I love about the train: the views of the mountains are magical and breathtaking: yellow orange leaves, gray skies, and such depth. The pace: though twice as slow as driving, it is such a comfortable speed. It seems like an appropriate rate for soft, squishy human bodies to travel at. It also has its down sides, notably the cost. But it is certainly a well-called for respite from the car. Especially considering I'll be embarking on a 1,000+ mile trip down to Louisiana later this month.
|Beautiful vistas of other trains|
|Sunrise from the Cardinal 51|