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This past weekend was my annual Whirling Weekend O' Wonder, as the Chicago New Year's Ball (Saturday night) and the Chicago Anniversary Singing (all day Sunday) coincided. Now that I'm back in Chicago, this event required some precision planning, because I had to make food for the singing, and figure out transportation myself. I settled on making two salads and a pie on Saturday afternoon. Of course, just because this is not enough excitement, I also changed banks on Friday morning.

The ball was beautiful and exciting as usual, and I won a booklet of dance tunes at the raffle. I got to wear the Shiny Purple Party Dress, which held up superbly to the rigors of dancing. Got a lot of comments, too, especially the part about it being purple. Unfortunately, I now have to face the fact that my ghillies have pretty much given up the ghost. I'm going to put some pads in them to extend their life a little, but they're almost danced through. I'll need a new pair in a year or so. The ball ended around 12:30, and I got home a little before 1:00, to fall into bed and sleep for a couple of hours, in preparation for the singing.

The group I was riding with was going to be the first wave of setup, so we had to get from Hyde Park to the West Side by 8:30, so we left my house at 8. It really is something to be the ones who get there when the venue isn't quite open yet. All the myriad little details that go into making the singing happen on the day of, you get to see them. It's not just a matter of throwing 150 chairs into a hollow square. There's the parking lot, and the signs, and the kitchen, and the tables, and clearing the hallway, and setting out all the drinks and registration materials, and stuff. It doesn't just happen, either. The singing itself is a glorious, uplifting thing, but it is made by very human hands doing lots of little backstage jobs.

I'm not sure why, but things like that, events that require lots of setup, they always seem very improbable to me. There are so many things to take care of, so much depends on lots of people being ready, willing, and able to mobilize and prepare (and bring food) and show up and pitch in. And yet, it keeps happening, and the people are found. That always seems like a minor miracle, to me.

It sleeted for a good portion of the day, but we still drew a good crowd. And the singing was rich and deep because of it. The Anniversary Singing always tends to get a top-notch class.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 15th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
I did. It took some planning, and I discovered a little too late that I had made more food than I could physically carry, but that's why I have friends with cars who give me a ride. But it's wonderful to have a weekend in a cold, gray month like January that is entirely devoted to fun, the pleasures of cooking, dancing, singing, enjoying all the things that the body is capable of doing.
Jan. 15th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
You may be the only person I know who wears out shoes with dancing. (Go, you!)

But it's wonderful to have a weekend in a cold, gray month like January that is entirely devoted to fun,

Yep. Yours sounded great. Mine is coming up this weekend as I go to a science fiction convention (another event that requires a lot of volunteer work).
Jan. 15th, 2007 09:25 pm (UTC)
Well, dance ghillies aren't the world's sturdiest shoes -- they're kind of like ballet slippers in that regard. And I've had this pair for seven or eight years now, and been dancing regularly in them for about five years. I'm not too surprised that they're wearing out. But, dammit, I paid thirty dollars for them, and I want to get every penny of use out of them before I have to shell out for a new pair.
Jan. 15th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a wonderful weekend! Sometimes it's fun to be involved in setting things up because it adds to the sense of accomplishment when everything goes well. And you just can't go wrong with salad and pie. Yum.
Jan. 16th, 2007 12:21 am (UTC)
Yeah, you get to look around at people enjoying the event, and you can swell up inside and say, "I did that! I made it possible!" And salads and pies just make everything better.
Jan. 15th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
I am tired just thinking of all the work that would go into planning it and having it. I think I must go nap now.
Jan. 16th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC)
This is why most big singings include formal, public thank-yous to the setup people, kitchen help, and committee members as part of the closing rituals.
Jan. 16th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
Good things come in pairs it seems...Amazing how ready one is to go out in the snow, cold and sleet when the prospect is enticing! :-) So singers are also food providers or it was just you multitasking?
Jan. 16th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
So singers are also food providers or it was just you multitasking?

Oh, my. Shape-note and food go together like peanut butter and jelly. A major feature of most big singings is the dinner-on-the-grounds. Local singers host a potluck of godlike proportions for the guests. Everyone cooks their best portable specialties ("portable," to a Harp singer, includes things like a giant ham with all the trimmings, or chugging the gasoline-powered ice cream maker up the hill, or firing up barbecue pits to roast whole flocks of chickens), and the tables just groan with food. The idea is to have enough so that everyone can eat two full plates and dessert, and the local singers can still take home leftovers. Shape-note food is legendary.

What do you think fuels all that window-rattling harmony? :)
Jan. 16th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
Augh, now you´ve made me hungry!
Jan. 16th, 2007 05:30 am (UTC)
Jan. 16th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, that sounds like fun. And makes me want to get back into my own little weekend events that I haven't done in over a year now. I'm glad you had fun, FP! And good for you for wearing out your dancing shoes!
Jan. 17th, 2007 03:42 am (UTC)
And good for you for wearing out your dancing shoes!

In theory, yes. In practice, not so much, as it means that I'll have to shell out thirty clams for a new pair fairly soon. I'd much rather that the shoes hadn't worn out. However, better to have them wear out from dancing than rot from lack of use, I guess.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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