IVFDF. The amazing, legendary Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival.
What more can you say about it? Well something, I hope, or this’ll be a very short blog entry.
This was my third IVFDF; I went to it in Durham in 2010 and again in Bristol last year. This time it was in Aberdeen so not so far to travel. I opted to drive myself up rather than go on the bus with the rest of the Edinburgh crowd so that I could stay an extra night after. For a while on Friday this seemed like the wrong decision as there was a last-minute panic about whether Kwik Fit would have finished replacing what sounded like pretty much all of my car’s suspension components in time (I have to say they weren’t living up to the first part of their name very well at all. Maybe that’s why they spell it wrong so that they can get off on a technicality). But it was done, with fifteen whole minutes to spare.
Despite the fact that most of my previous trips to Aberdeen were for things I’d rather not think about now, I actually still quite like the place, and I quite like the drive up as well. I stopped once, in a layby near Stonehaven, to find a geocache, then made it to the university campus by 7 as planned. At that point, as I wandered among the dark and mostly deserted buildings, I realised I should maybe have actually looked up where I was supposed to be meeting everyone rather than just assuming it would be easy to find. (I had the same realisation last year, funnily enough). After a while I ran into a nice couple who had the same problem. They’d come all the way from Switzerland… and I thought I’d travelled a long way last year when I went to Bristol!
We found the festival reception with the help of my smartphone and got registered. I was just ahead of the New Scotland bus. After they’d signed in it was straight off to the Friday night ceilidh, in Elphinstone Hall.
Nice hall, apart from (a) a very slippery floor that made me frightened to go too fast in case I ended up flying out the door, and (b) the fact that they suddenly stopped letting people in after a while, even people who’d just gone out for fresh air and wanted to come back in because their friends/possessions were still inside. This wouldn’t have been so unreasonable, but the door staff weren’t actually counting people in and out, so how could they possibly know when it had reached capacity?? An impromptu smaller ceilidh started up in one of the other buildings, which I went to for a while and was also fun.
Our sleeping accommodation was miles away (literally), and it wasn’t exactly the Hilton. Actually… technically it was the Hilton:
I never sleep very well on the floor and tonight was no exception. My new inflatable pillow already had a slow puncture and I’d forgotten my face mask so the light from outside the doors was keeping me awake until I decided that at this point I didn’t care how weird I looked and wrapped a scarf right round my head.
But the next morning I still felt a lot better than I had on the first morning of last year’s IVFDF. I guess 4 hours’ sleep on a floor is still preferable to a near-nervous-breakdown followed by 2 hours’ sleep on a floor (don’t ask, it’s a long story). By the time I’d traipsed back to the uni campus through the rain carrying most of my stuff, I decided that I desperately needed coffee, and also that I’d had enough of walking so I just got in my car and drove until I found a Wetherspoons that was open. (I’m afraid I’m one of these dreadful people who visits places and always ends up in Wetherspoons or Starbucks or even McDonalds… in theory I do like the idea of sampling the local cafes and giving them custom, but in practise I always seem to end up in a rush and just wanting a coffee or a burger and no surprises).
I was slightly disappointed to find their kitchen was closed and I could only get a coffee and no breakfast… but not half as disappointed as the two guys who found they weren’t allowed their two pints of Strongbow until 11am… last I saw of them they were desperately phoning someone to ask where in Aberdeen would sell them booze at 9am on a Saturday. Which seemed weird as I’d always have assumed the sort of people who want Strongbow at 9am would mostly be the sort who’d already discovered you can’t get it. Ah well. I took advantage of the time while I drank my two coffees to whip out my netbook, log my geocache find and start writing this blog entry.
Got back to the campus feeling much more awake, in time for the second block of dance workshops. There were plenty to choose from as always at IVFDF and I did a bit of Scottish Country followed by a bit of Contra, which is always fun. In the afternoon I stress-tested my new suspension components on some of Aberdeen’s wide selection of speed bumps and found the showers (which is more than I managed to do last year!). Once again my ignorance of the sporting world came back to bite me, as when I came out of the shower the street was swarming with football fans and it took ages to get my car out… I’d had no idea that the Aberdeen stadium was anywhere near, nevermind that they were playing today. When I looked at the map the stadium was indeed right there. I think my brain just filters them out normally.
Highlight of the afternoon was New Scotland’s “Lord Of The Rings” dem:
which I nearly missed due to being on the slowest bus EVAR back from town, but thankfully I only missed the very start and was there for the gripping finale.
On Saturday night there was a bigger selection of dances. I went to the Contra, intending to maybe check out the Scottish Country dance later on, but I made the mistake of eating too much first and after a few Contra dances I realised if I didn’t stop and get some fresh air, something very bad was likely to happen. (I didn’t actually eat that much at all, but Contra can be a bit like non-stop fast spinning, so even not very much is too much!).
Once again I only got about 4 hours sleep… but then the indoor camping was only £2 for the whole weekend so overall about 25p per hour’s sleep, which is not a bad rate. The coffee shop on campus wasn’t open by the time I stumbled in, so I had to go off on a quest for coffee, which ended in Wetherspoons again. Then… Highland workshop. (When I first started I didn’t know the difference between Highland dancing and Scottish Country. Highland is the one where you dance on your own and point your feet in different places, sometimes around swords, and make the stag’s antlers with your arms. Country is the one where you dance in a set with a partner). I must have been to at least five or six beginners’ Highland workshops since I took up dancing three years ago, and I never was able to quite get it. It just doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I could just about manage the steps, but as soon as I tried to add in the arms and the turning I would find myself turning the other way from everyone else and with the wrong arm up. Today, satisfyingly, I finally succeeded in doing a Highland Fling! (well, close enough). Not bad considering I was on 4 hours sleep.
After all that hard work, some light relief at the “Silly Dances” workshop was welcome. I’ve never done a dance before where the instructions include “Bounce!” and “Hug the person opposite you!”. There should definitely be more of them.
Finally, the festival closed with the Survivors’ Ceilidh, which I did manage to survive despite falling sideways off a chair. Next year’s festival in Sheffield was being heavily advertised. Looking forward to it already :).
The weekend was rounded off nicely by meeting Laura for some geocaching. It was a good haul: we managed to find two in Aberdeen (one in the centre and one on an industrial park on the outskirts), one by an old bridge near Laurencekirk, one amazingly close to the Kingsway in Dundee, and one in Dunfermline (that was a fun one as we had to walk around the abbey collecting clues first to decode the co-ordinates).
So yeah… good weekend 🙂 on the one hand it’s a shame there can’t be a dance weekend away every two weeks. On the other, it would probably kill me.