Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Diary: A Grand Day Out

That was probably just what I needed. While Il Palio di Carolingia did face some difficulties (mostly due to schedule conflicts), the event proved quite worthwhile.

The topic of the day was the weather. I can't say that I was anticipating a good day, given that every news station was talking about nothing but the horrifying heat wave we were about to get hit by, with near-record-breaking temperatures today. (There were reports of 98, but that doesn't appear true -- the evening news makes it look like it was about 93 where we were.) But in fact, the consensus among people who were at both was that it was much more pleasant than Midsummer's Faire two weeks ago, for three reasons:
  • The humidity was nowhere near as high;

  • There was a halfway-decent breeze blowing more or less all day;

  • This site is highly shaded, so we were able to arrange the event so that almost none of it took place out in the direct sunlight.
So while the weather prevented my intended return to my old Italian garb (which I have much of, wasting away in the closet), and I didn't quite manage to keep myself hydrated enough, I generally did decently well.

msmemory and I started the day out by packing loads of crap into the car. Much of it was on general principles and not needed (chairs, games), but we made two very good decisions on the way out. First, since I had to stop at Staples to photocopy dance cheat sheets anyway, she decided to step next door to CVS and buy a box fan, which was useful throughout the day. Right after that, we stopped at the liquor store, and bought a bunch of ice, which I spent the day offering to folks who seemed to need it. I picked this notion up from new_man at Midsummer's, and will have to remember it -- a sack of ice can work wonders for the overall mood on a day like this.

The event was a bit small and inefficient, but that was okay -- it wasn't the kind of day for efficiency. We got there a bit late, but still in plenty of time for the Procession of Guilds. I had planned on just being audience for this, but spontaneously decided to append the Accademia to the line, figuring that it was appropriate in a day with so much dancing.

ladysprite and I spent several hours teaching dance between about noon and 4pm. We had a decent group up and dancing for most of that, gradually eroding as things went along as one would expect. There was a refreshingly large group of newer dancers -- some novices, some folks who just haven't danced as much -- and they mostly seemed to be getting a reasonable clue.

For a while, it had appeared that the Baronial Performance Championship was going to fizzle -- as of the nominal start time of 3pm, there seemed to be no entrants. But lakshmi_amman somehow managed to produce an astonishing collection of performers, seemingly out of nowhere: over half a dozen performers materialized, and all were quite good -- there were no clunkers in the group, and several who I thought were very worthy competitors. I wasn't surprised that cristovau won -- it was an excellent choice of song, very well-done -- but I didn't think it was a shoo-in at all. (Special kudos to metahacker, who whipped up a really lovely piece of recorder music over the course of the afternoon.)

Court was fun, and it's always great to see friends get their due. siriel was invited into the Order of the Daystar in the early court; in the later one, ladysprite was inducted into the Order of the Moon and tpau into the Daystar. All are welcome additions to the Orders; frankly, I was gleeful to see all of them.

I was expecting great things from dinner, and it was as tasty as expected. The feast was more or less entirely taken from Scappi -- ladysprite translated a number of recipes from this mammoth Italian cookbook, which new_man and company then cooked up. Everything was tasty, with special treats like quail with olive tapenade, and a chewy honey-nut candy that jdulac got to crack with a large mallet.

The evening's format was experimental -- I wouldn't say it went perfectly, but it wasn't bad. The notion was to be a little truer to a proper Italian evening. The feast was served as a continuous sideboard of many different dishes, coming out over several hours. The feasters sat at tables outside the hall, and the dancing was inside. (It somehow seems distinctively Carolingian to eat outside because we need the hall for dancing.) The dancing was in several short five-dance sets *during* the feast. The two activities did suffer from some competition, especially at the beginning, but overall I think the experiment went fairly well.

The lesson from the dancing was that, even with no teaching, I have to leave a reasonable amount of time per dance. The 15 dances were plenty for the time we had -- getting the music together and getting the dancers up and formed took significant time per dance. Only the third set went quickly. But we had fun, and most of the people who learned the dances in the afternoon took a good stab at doing them in the evening.

End result: I'm tired, but really in better shape than I have been for a while. Nothing is quite as good for my mood as spending a day being productive...

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