HarvestBall

The Flurry Festival

This weekend we went to the Flurry Festival in Saratoga Springs (our 5th time). It is a huge event with lots of Contra dancing, some English Country dancing, and lots of other folkie activities - I noticed in the schedudle that there were sometimes as many as 15 parallel sessions.

We did mostly Contra Dancing - just one session of English - partly because it was in another building almost a 1/2 mile away so between changing clothes/shoes, walking, etc. going there is time consuming and we'd miss at least one good Contra Dancing session - we went to essentially all of them. Didn't dance every dance - my feet need a bit of rest so I skipped a few. I did register 32,787 steps on Saturday, beating last year's record of 28,887.

In the main dance hall there are often at least 600 dancers dancing in a synchroized fashion and in one over-crowded session it is estimated there were over 1,000!

It is a pretty amazing experience - and I think a quite unique and interesting sociological situation. There is good music - quite a few different bands with various instrument combinations - playing familar tunes with lots of improvisation. Good exercise (physical and mental - coordinated) in a room full of smiling people all having a delightful time. A lot of dancing friends were there plus many recognizable people from other dances.

And where else can you be in a crowd of so many people of all genders and ages touching each other with no ulterior motives? And you get to ask conplete strangers to dance and have a nice time with them. For those who don't know: in Contra and English Country dancing for each ~12 minute dance you choose a partner, but interact and dance with them and with neighbors as you progress up or down the line.

In traditional Contra Dancing and English Country dancing there are two roles: Ladies and Gents. In our home dance in Jamaica Plain we haven't used that terminology for 30 years - but these days lots of other dances are beginning to convert and at the Flurry there were several sessions that used Larks and Robins. Many people were wearing I Dance BOTH Role buttons: And it is common at the beginning of each dance to ask your partner which role they wanted to dance and there were many same-gender couples or people dancing the opposite role - definitely more than last year.

EatingInGreece

At the restaurant Mzansi in Cape Town

As a part of our Road Scholar trip to Southern Africa we went to lunch at a restaurant, Mzansi, in Langa, one of the neighborhoods in Cape Town that was designated as a place to move black people during the apartheid regime to make way for white people in other sections of the city.

At the end of the meal the owner and operator, Nomonde Siyaka, gave a fascinating talk about the history of the place. It was originally a very small house in whch her family lived in extremely crowded conditions.

The food was excellent - it is rated #1 in Cape Town on TripAdvisor - clearly for both the food and the experience.

There were marimba players in the front of the restaurant entertaining us and at the end they were quite loud and everyone joined in dancing.

shadow

Johannesburg: Constitution Hill and the Apartheid Museum

Prior to starting the Road Scholar trip in Cape Town we spent several days in Johannesburg. Among other places we visited we went to Constitution Hill and to the Apartheid Museum.

Consititution Hill is the site of several prisons where among other less famous people Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were incarderated. In one room there were portrais of the two of them. There were also various arrays and scuptures made out of prison blankets. It is also the location chesen for the Consitution Court. South Africa had an ugly history and many of the issues have been addressed in a very positive matter. It is well worth visiting these two sites to learn more about it.



A few of the dsplays:





physics

Wellcome Collection in London



On the way to South Africa we had a day in London. One of the things we did while there was to visit the Wellcome Collection - a museum dedicated to exhibitions about health. Henry Wellcome was a medical entrepreneur and his estate provided funding to start this collection and it's mission to deal with Health care ideas.and It had a large collection of medical devices including some 19th century artificial limbs.





There was also a collection called Play Well. It featured exibitions of things to enduce children and adults to play constructively. which has good health implications. With various subtleties such as a dolls' house that was open on both sides to encourage children to work together. Also Legos and larger collections of objects to place in play areas that would encourage experimental construction.

I remember as a child I loved setting up and modifying my elaborate electric train layout and also playing with erector sets to build elaborate structures;.
Hippo

Our trip to Southern Africa

We just returned from a fantastic trip to Southern Africa. It was Road Scholars trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana (3 countries to add to our list). We flew via London and spent a day there, and then 3 days in Johannesburg before flying to CapeTown to join the trip. Several big features of the trip were a Rovos Rail (a luxury train - with 3 nights) trip from Pretoria to Victoria Falls and a number of game drives in small vehicles or boats where we saw many different animals and birds. At the end of the trip we went over the checklist they gave us and the species count was 30 mammals, 7 reptiles, 87 birds, 15 trees, and 11 bugs.


This artwork was on a custom-made Tshirt for our trip that several of us bought.

The guide/leader was excellent and gave us a bunch of lectures on politics, history, and animals among other things. There were 17 travelers in addition to the guide and all were very nice people. It was our first Road Scholars trip and certainly not our last one.
HarvestBall

Where I danced in 2019

We went dancing - Contra or English - on 90 days or nights in 2019
- I might be off by one or two days

22 nights at Gender Free English Country Dance in JP
16 nights at Gender Free Contra Dance in JP
19 nights at BIDA Contra Dance in Cambridge
8 nights at Challenging Contras at the Scout Houe in Concord , MA
3 nights at Harvard Square English in Cambridge
6 days/nights at LCFD Dance Camps in Woodstock, CT and Becket, MA
3 days/nights at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga Springs, NY
3 days/nights at NEFFA in Mansfield, MA
2 nights at Thursday night Contra Dance in Concord, MA
1 night at Village Contra in NYC
1 day/night at the Peterborough, NH Snowball
3 days/nights at Beantown Stomp in Cambridge
1 night at the New Years Eve Contra Dance in Concord (+ a few minutes of the 2018 one)
1 night at the English Gala in Concord

And we are starting 2020 off on a roll. A few minutes this morning at the New Years Eve dance in Concord, Challenging Contra on Friday in Cocord, Saturday night at the English Gala in Concord, and Sunday night at BIDA in Cambridge.