Tuesday night, my parents and I danced in Bloomington, about an hour away from where my parents live, since the club at home folded. The caller was reasonable (speaking English helps, I have to say), and there were enough people that there were two squares every time. Unfortunately, they all seemed to be married couples, so I sat out the last tip. Surprise, surprise, it was Rosalie’s Boat (with no Plus; I don’t think all of them could have handled Spin Chain and Exchange the Gears). I sat and imagined dancing it with the people in Dessau.
I haven’t danced with an American club in like five years, since our old club folded. I’d forgotten how almost all the men have hand injuries, since most of them tend to be farmers. Or how everyone talks during the break about recent dances all over the state, none of which I’ve been to. Or how they love to set young people up together. What is it with older square dancers and pairing up the young people?!! Okay, I grant you, sometimes it works out nicely, but on Tuesday, one woman came up to me and asked how old I was. Then she said, “Well, I’m afraid we don’t really have anyone your age… there’s a guy who comes often, he’s 28, but he’s engaged…” Excuse me? Then when he showed up, it turned out she’d been mistaken and he was more than 30 and he ignored me completely. Do they realize how awkward it is for the young people when they talk like that? I know they’re trying to be nice, but sometimes it just comes across as too much, and because of the social rules in square dancing, you can’t do anything about it.
Wednesday night we drove up to Bloomington again to see Shakespeare’s Richard III. The show was really awesome – the actors all did a great job portraying their characters with power. Richard himself was really amazing, he seemed to be completely enjoying being evil, without that “oho I’m just a grouchy guy so I’m going to mess things up” like in Much Ado About Nothing. He was completely dedicated to being evil with glee and bulldozing anyone between him and the throne with his oratory and sword. The Queen Margaret (I can never keep the queens in that show straight) came off as quite witchy and her curses sounded really believable.
The costumes were a little weird – I don’t think the time periods for the men and women’s costumes really matched, and then the military uniforms were totally confused about their time period. Kind of WWI/II style from the knees up, khaki and red, with big pockets and brimmed hats, and then from the knees down, the pants turned into spats to match the time period of the non-military people’s clothing. And they kept switching hats. At first they wore caps with narrow brims like Air Force people, and then some of them had those narrow sandwich-maker hats, I don’t know what they’re called, and eventually there were people with safari helmet things! I found it distracting because I was trying to figure out what the costume designer could have been thinking.
But all in all it was a really great performance.
We spent Friday afternoon in Chicago and then went to the recording of the radio quiz program “wait wait, don’t tell me,” which was way more fun to see in person than to listen to on the radio, because they probably edit the best parts out for being too chatty.
Then up to Wausau for the 50th Wisconsin Square Dance Convention. We dropped Ethan at the train station and got in midafternoon because he’s not interested in dancing again. The dancers were of a more reasonable age than at small clubs, although they were still mostly dancing in couples, so I danced with a guy who was in my sort of age range. I think he must have been a lot younger though, because he asked me if I was going to dance in the youth hall (presumably with him) and I pointed out that I wasn’t under 18 and he looked kind of surprised and walked off. I was somewhat amused.
Around dinnertime I switched halls and found a clan of Germans who had evidently been invited from Augsburg for the convention and I spent most of the rest of the evening dancing with them and being confused for a German myself. People kept welcoming me to the US, even though I was wearing my 2000 & 2001 Illinois Federation of Square and Round Dance Clubs badge in addition to the Dessau one. hey, I couldn’t find the Casey Curly Q’s one, I think I lost it before I left the country. The rest of the weekend was spent in much the same way; some guy gave me a pair of American flag earrings and told me to take them back with me when I went, despite my explanation that I’m not German.