Magic in Massachusetts, A Four Seasons Success.
The stunning natural beauty of New England from the Appalachian Mountains to the Berkshires, from the Long Island Sound to the Coast of Maine was a sight of pure delight last week at the 64th NSDC®.
Over four thousand people took to promenading in The Pioneer Valley as Springfield, Massachusetts welcomed dancers from across the country and across the world.
In a shining successful joint effort, the dancers of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont & Maine easily brought Friendship to Music.
For the first time New England hosted a National Square Dance Convention and the thought of visiting these exciting and beautiful states was just too good a deal to pass up, and with over four thousand dancers attending this years convention the feeling was mutual, Mass Mutual that is.
The opportunity to tour New York City was as exciting and fast paced as anyone could possibly imagine. Under the expert guidance of Tom Houle, navigation in between and all around the massive sky scrapers from Battery Park to Times Square and just about everyplace in between was awe inspiring as well as overwhelming. With over nine million people residing within a twenty five mile radius, New York City is the heartbeat of World Economics and Political Infrastructure as well as the cultural epicenter of North America. Highlights of the tour included visits to The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Times Square. A lesson well learned in New York City was not to wander too far from the home bus; otherwise the need for a panicked call to your General Chairman asking him where everyone is could have been avoided. An off Broadway dinner theatre production of West Side Story was contemporary and beautifully performed and included a delicious dinner to boot.
Day two of the New York tour provided personal time to explore the City on your own and 9/11 was the utmost priority for us. Walking along One World Trade Way I was delighted with the soft beauty of several inner city gardens amid the constant blaring of horns beeping, cab drivers yelling, fire engines and police cars howling and here and there randomly sat quiet, peaceful gardens, an oasis in the middle of controlled chaos.
Three to Four hour long lines took a toll on our time and we were not able to see the 9/11 Museum or the new One World Trade Center Observation Tower, I was disappointed until something so small and so pure white caught my attention and then the day took on a whole new meaning and I was grateful and humbled by it..
“Reflecting Absence” is the proper name for the North and South Reflection Pools that sit in the exact footprints of World Trade Centers I & II that fell on September 11, 2001.
In memoriam, the names of each person whose life was lost that fateful day are etched in stone and that was what caught my eye.
I did not know Daniel Raymond Brandhorst but he was someone’s someone and someone placed a perfect white rose in his name. With thousands of people all around me that day the only thing I could see was that rose. Perfection in its pureness and the sun illuminating its soft petals made this one speck of beauty the highlight of my day. I began to think of Daniel and what kind of person he was, I thought about his family and how much they must miss him. The cascades of waterfalls in the pools reminded me of the thousand of tears that have been cried since September 11, 2001 not only for Daniel but for the 2996 other people who lost their own someone. Remembering was what this special day was about, I did not think of square dancing or buses waiting or the fun of the rest of the week I was anticipating, I thought about those who died and those who died answering a cry for help. This is what “Reflecting Absence” is all about. I’d like to give a personal thank you to the 64th NSDC® tour committee for giving me a day that I will remember and hold dear in my heart forever.
National Conventions are not just about dancing; there are many exciting, educational and informative classes, panels’ round tables and unending opportunities to make new friends. There is non stop dancing to the best callers in the world, and there is ice cream.
Working National Conventions teaches leadership and patience as teamwork becomes very important in getting the many, many jobs needed to be completed successfully accomplished, and there is ice cream. The Opening Ceremonies is always a highlight and this year The California Heritage Dancers provided a beautifully danced version of The History of Square Dancing in period clothing, it was quite lovely to see. A scrupmtous New England dinner was followed by The Diamond Collection and a trip down memory lane with many of Neil Diamond’s top tunes ending the evening with the sweet sound of Sweet Caroline and a new version of Coming to America bringing the dancers to their feet. There was great appreciation from the dancers for the patriotic words of Kenny LaBelle and his band. It was a grand night and a job well done Special Events.
Dancing began on Wednesday and Registration was open full time so most of the rest of our week was spent trying to convince you, the dancer, to register for our convention in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2017. Des Moines was actively registering regularly and Kansas City joined in too, we all had a great time competing for dancer registrations and we hope you took the time to register while you were there. (Please remember the long form and just a gentle reminder that yes, you do have to choose your program book on the long form)
The halls were great and the sound was awesome and clear as a bell. Daily dancing scheduled from 10:00am to 10:00pm as well as after-parties left most dancers exhausted but exhilarated as well as they ended each evening with yellow rocks and see ya tomorrows.
The Friday morning bid session was thrilling as we patiently waited to hear from the potential host city of Atlanta, Georgia. Their 20 minute presentation was awesome and the wait until Saturday night’s announcement was nerve wracking I’m sure for the Georgia Bid Committee, where are we going in 2019, yep Atlanta it is!!!!!!
Saturday morning’s wrap up meetings are always informative and helpful to upcoming conventions as we are learning the ins and outs of hosting a National Convention. We all appreciate the endless hours the convention committees put in as well as the leadership and assistance of the National Executive Board and we thank you all for your dedication.
The highlight of all National Conventions is the “Parade of States” and it was absolutely awesome in Springfield. Thousands of dancers in bright colorful state dresses paraded around the arena and what a sight it was too see. The Parade of States always makes me tear up a bit as the emotions of the night become bittersweet knowing it’s almost over.
64th NSDC® General Chariman Len & Connie Houle happily passed the torch to the 65thNSDC® General Chairman Jim and Janet Winslow and the whole process starts all over again with only 11 months and 3 weeks to go.
What a wonderful time we had in New England and as always we are sorry for the festivities to end and the need to bid adieu to you..
Congratulations to Len & Connie, all their committees and the hundreds of volunteers each convention needs in order to get the job done and get it done well. We had a great time in your beautiful states and we and thank you for all your hard work.
Next year is right around the corner and with four thousand dancers visiting New England this year we all need to work very hard to get our numbers higher. Publicity is the responsibility of all dancers so get the word out in your community, be the advocate for our beloved activity so we can continue to enjoy the fun, the fitness, the friendships and the ice cream.
The joy of dancing is not centered on the price we pay, but what we earn from dancing is priceless.
When we dance together we share the love of music, rhythm and song, we dance in the joy of friendship and we learn together the wisdom of leadership.
Come dance with me and be my friend.
Gordon & Marianne King
Vice Chairman of Registration
Publicity Committee Member
66th NSDC 2017 Cincinnati, Ohio