Friday, October 21, 2011

Barrett Hall

A dance floor worth getting excited about!!

(Also my first attempt at hodge-podge-panorama, which I am a big fan of.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Follow-Up and Re-Cap and Open-Question

I know this isn't quite the same as seeing Greg and I wearing the matching Arizona outfits, but this is the sneak preview. I told Greg's mother the story of going to the dance and bidding on the outfits. I think I validated any questions she might have had about my sanity.
But just look how happy I was within moments after finding out I won them!!

Also, to clarify, the wedding I was taken to when I was forced into the dance circle while sitting on my chair was not a wedding for anyone I knew. My cousin had taken me along to either a friend of her family's wedding or a family member on her other side of the family. Probably the fact that these were all strangers (aside from my cousin and aunt and uncle), had something to do with me not enjoying the circumstances.

Anyhow, onward!

This weekend, Greg and I went shopping, which is not something I have spent much time doing in the real world lately. I basically do all of my shopping online. It is a much more pleasant experience for me that way, with the exception of being able to try things on. In Tilton, NH there is a fairly large outlet mall, which I had heard much about, but had never been to. This is fairly close to Greg's mother's house, so we made a trip of it.

I ended up buying six things! (I think.) I think Greg got seven, so he won. Actually, no, I got seven. And spent less, so I win!

All in all it was a good time shopping. Usually I get pretty stressed out being in stores with other people. I always have people being incredibly rude to me (generally other shoppers, not the people who work in the stores), which I'd much rather just walk away from than deal with. I'm perfectly happy with online shopping, so why bother with these people? Greg actually reminded me of how this ties into the the book Love & Responsibility (written by Blessed John Paul II, before he was Blessed and before he was pope). Our society seems to be tending toward egoism, in which everyone acts in ways that are dictated only by self-interest. I mean, the shopping mall example is kind of wimpy, but it is true. If I am standing in front of a rack that a lady wants to look at, she will just stand right up against me to get to the rack, instead of patiently waiting the whole 8 seconds that I probably would have stood there.

Hmm, so now I get to thinking more about Utilitarianism. I think it makes sense that utilitarianism doesn't really work in its ideal form, that it always leads to egoism. But is contra dancing a true example of utilitarianism that actually works?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ernie's Favorites

Last Sunday I was invited to go to a special contra dance. This event was called Ernie's Favorites, and it was a dance held in memory of a great dancer, who was quite well-known in the area. Unfortunately I never knew him, but fortunately this did not mean I could not go to the dance!

There was a star-studded line up of well-known dance callers and musicians. We did many of the classic dances, like Petronella and Rory O'Moore and Money Musk. I danced with the man responsible for making the Petronella spin be for four people instead of just two. That is a pretty big deal, if you didn't know.

I also got to meet the family of Ernie. His son is actually a well-known scientist in my field. And his wife was there and she was a very sweet old lady. At the dance they had about twenty matching outfits that Joan had sewn for her and Ernie for various occasions. They were auctioning them off to raise money for The Parkinson's Disease Foundation. And they were aMAZing. I told Greg that I was going to this dance and that I was planning to bid on one of these outfits for us. I saw some pictures of Ernie and Joan, and knew that the outfits should fit me and Greg perfectly. I also think that most of the people at the dance were not there to bid on outfits and also would not have fit into the outfits.

At first I bid on one nice brown set that was a dress for me and a vest for Greg. The dress had some nice lace features that I was a big fan of. But as I sat there, admiring the other outfits, I started to really really love this Arizona-themed outfit. I put a bid on it (which made me currently in the lead for two sets, woops!). Someone else outbid me on the first outfit, but I did end up winning the Arizona outfits. I was and still am So excited! And I think the family was pretty excited that I was so excited. And just like I thought, they fit us perfectly :)

Hopefully in the near future I can get a photo of us wearing them to feature on the blog!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Dancing is an amazing amazing thing.

When I was maybe ten, I remember being invited to go to a wedding with my cousin and her family. I specifically made sure that I would not have to dance before I agreed to go. And then I got to the wedding, and my cousin and I were doing just fine, resisting all invitations to go dance. At some point, she decided to join, but I stayed sitting on the side, quite content.

But then..

These people just decided that I must be having a terrible time sitting on the side, and they pulled my chair right into the middle of the dance floor.

That was a pretty uncomfortable and unfortunately memorable thing for me. I have lived most of my life with a great aversion to dancing, in any form.

Something major happened, which changed every thought or feeling I ever had about dancing.

It was contra dancing.

A lot of people (I guess) think I'm pretty crazy with my enthusiasm for contra dancing. I will try to explain how dancing makes me so enthusiastic. Because there is really just something about contra dancing. This thing, it is something you can't fully know without actually experiencing a contra dance, but I do think it is possible to at least begin to explain with just words.

The reason I ever agreed to go to a contra dance was because I was told I would "absolutely love it" or something, but mainly because in a contra dance you are told what to do, and you don't have to invent any of your own moves. I still have an aversion to free-form dancing, like what you find at most weddings, like what my 10-year-old self found at that wedding. This was my first great discovery about contra dancing: It is possible to do a type of dance that has specific moves, without actually knowing anything, and without actually needing to take time to learn set moves.

If you have ever thought to yourself: Wow that flash mob looks so awesome, and I wish I could be a part of one some day, except that it is probably too hard, and it would take me forever to learn that dance choreography, but still, it is just SOO cool!!
If you have ever thought that to yourself, you should probably just start going contra dancing regularly.

Another major thing about contra dancing is that the community is absolutely amazing. I know of no other situation in life where people of literally all ages are interacting in healthy and happy ways. There are people who say you need some number of hugs a day. I don't know how many the number is. And I don't know who started saying this. And I don't know if there is legitimate research on this topic. But I am in total agreement that there is something about the human touch, that physical touch. I absolutely do not mean anything inappropriate. I mean holding hands with people and dancing with people, in healthy and appropriate ways. I think I first realized the connection of a need for touch to contra dancing when I read a line in a book that was something like "we all need the human touch, that physical touch." I think this is also one of the reasons why I meet so many science-types at contra dances. These types of people are often just socially awkward and don't know of any other way that is appropriate to get that human touch. So they go contra dancing. And the caller tells them "join hands in a ring and circle to the left." And then there they are, connected to these people.

Another reason I, along with other science-types, enjoy contra is due to the structure. The structured choreography of the dance sequence, the repetition of the dance, that corresponds to the repetition of the tunes. It is all quite pleasing.

And generally speaking, contra dance bands are just awesome. It is an awesome privilege to hear so many amazingly talented musicians who play for contra dances. And it is even more awesome to be given the outlet of dance to be able to fully enjoy the music.

I feel like the grinch, like I can literally feel the size of my heart swelling.

These and many more dancing thoughts have been steeping in my brain, so it was time to put them into words. I'm sure I have more to write on the topic. I'm actually curious to look back and see what I have written before.