August 9th, 2005


Back 200 years ago....

This weekend, 24 members of the Lavender Country & Folk Dancers (LCFD) travelled back to ~1810 to spend a weekend at Eastfield Village in upstate New York doing Contra Dance, English Country Dance, and cooking in the fireplace of a Tavern. Bathing was skinny dipping in the pond, lighting was by candles (electricity was available to power the sound system), outhouses (and a couple of luxury PortaPotties) were the toilets.

We had a fabulous time, ate very well (of course), had some nice dancing, and hung around and chatted. Our Queen Mum, Chris Ricciotti, organized this weekend along with John Burrows, his current boyfriend and well-known Victorian and Art & Crafts Preservation expert. Chris called Contras, Michael Cicone did English, and for Saturday Night's dance we had Spare Parts as our band.

Eastfield Village is the work of its founder Don Carpentier who has reconstructed a small village of about 20 buildings that he moved there board-by-board from various locations. Everything dates from 1792 - 1840. It is a work in progress that has taken many years to get to the current state which is far from being finished. It is a private endeavor with visits by invitation only and a very incredible place.

The largest building, the William Briggs Tavern, is where we spent most of our time. Upstairs there is a Ball Room where we danced and two rooms with a bunch of beds where many of slept including me, rsc, and pinkfish. Downstairs is the barroom where we ate, another room with a huge table used for serving food, a kitchen with a huge fireplace for cooking, and a luxury room for special guests (Chris and John stayed there). Some people stayed in some of the other houses while others tented.

One of the many highlights occurred in Chris' Contra Dance workshops. For those who don't know, Contra Dances have pairs of couples in a line with one pair facing the music designated #2's and the others are #1s. Contra Dances are taught first with a walk-through with each move described and practiced. As the dance progresses, the pairs move down the line to dance with new couples repeating the same sequence of steps. When the music starts, the caller calls the dance for a few times until everyone has it down pat and then he/she stops calling. For this exercise, after we lined up Chris sent the #2s downstairs and taught the dance to the #1s. Then the #2s returned and we started the dance with no calling and the #1s using eyes and hands to signal the moves. It worked quite well and we did it again the next day with another dance.

This workshop was one of the many things we did to help us become better dancers and to help give us skills to dance with less experienced dances.

All in all was a great weekend. The purpose of the weekend was for us to have a good time, dance, learn to dance better, experience a bit of life 200 years ago, enjoy a very interesting place, and to raise money since this was a fund raiser. All objectives were met. Thanks to Chris and John for the inspiration and execution.

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