Monday, April 29, 2013

Kilfenora Céilí

The Kilfenora Céilí Festival was held this past weekend. I'd been looking forward to it for months since I found out this winter that it would be happening while we were here. Jubal and I decided on attending the Saturday night session at 10pm incase the open air afternoon one the next day was cancelled due to weather... But maybe the Irish don't believe in canceling anything because of weather? Certainly not a Céilí. We rested up all of Saturday afternoon, ate our dinner and then headed out. I had a feeling that I knew what the hall would look like as I had been to one before in the same town 14 years before. Sure enough, it was the same. The barn off of Vaughan's Pub. It was warm, lively and lit in a festive way. We enjoyed our Bailey's and pint as we looked on. Taking photos and videos of the festive dancers. Looking around, I swear I recognized a man I danced with 14 years ago.

Back in October of '99, I was pulled onto the dance floor in order to fill a spot in the set. The patient man shouted various directions to me and he led us in a series or turns, taps, twists and whirls. It was the highlight of my semester that fall. I went home that winter working on two small oil paintings for my senior thesis of dancing céilí figures. Later they would be accepted into my first juried art show in Wiscassett, Maine. I always loved that music and couldn't wait to try it again. This time, here in the present of 2013, I was much more skeptical of myself. Even when a small man maybe in his late 60's wearing a light blue cashmere sweater with a peak of red and white in his shirt color poking out, highlighting his cheeks, asked me to join in to fill a set. Ah no! I couldn't and mess up everyone's dancing. I would watch a little more and maybe next time I would. The whole time as Jubal and I watched on, we kept exchanging looks and telling each other we'd take lessons. We really wanted to give it a go but could see it looked very complicated.

As we enjoyed the last bits till we were almost too tired, we walked out of the barn happy thinking about those steps and the tunes. The same man with the cashmere sweater passed us outside under the lights of the pub and asked if we had had a good time. I turned and said we did and suddenly asked him if he knew of anyone who gave lessons. He stopped then and there and said, "you want to learn do ya? Well, this is what you start with," he turns me around so we're facing the same way and proceeds I tell me what foot I start with and what foot Jubal a starts with. It's a count of 1-2,1-2-3. He then shakes our hands and introduces himself as John Vaughan and points to the pub saying, "that's me. Just leave your name inside about lessons. Now, Rachel, if you do this every morning and every evening as your waiting on your tea to boil, you'll know it all. Oh and this step too." He then takes my arm and walks me around in a circle in count of 2 into a set of 8. There. That was it. I told him how 14 years ago I was here brought by the late Michael Greene and did he know of him? "Michael Greene of Ballyvaughan? O course I did. Very nice man. Very good friend of mine. Great man... You were a student at the college!" "I was, I was. Michael brought us here once and I swear I recognized a man inside just now I danced with. "I'm sure you danced me!" I told him how I once saw a man lift his leg greatly every time he stamped back down and how Michael was so annoyed and called him a "right jackass!" Over and over. Michael was such a warm friendly man, I remember being surprised at his disdain over this man's style of dance and laughing in bewilderment. He did look like a jack ass actually. The man told me then, that you never want to lift your leg. It's not the proper thing to do. You keep them low and subtle like.

He shook our hands again. Again squeezing our hands so hard, you couldn't feel your fingers for a few seconds and we promised to come back the following day. It was wonderful to be there again and that one interaction with John gave me a great spark. So far, talking to people here has been my favorite thing, next to eating cream of course:).

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