July 3, 2015
By Michael A. Calvert
Up before both alarms sounded, we were soon in the cavernous but unattractive Penn Station. After bagels at a bakery off the central concourse, we were on the AmTrak’s Acela. The train emerged from a tunnel into industrial backwaters of New York. Gradually the environment became greener and we glided past beaches and marshes of Long Island Sound. Sail boats skimmed across the water.
We found our way to the Rhode Island Convention Center, located Tracy, Julia, and her dance team member Morgan. We have often remarked that Julia, a Lebanese-American, is an unlikely Irish dancer. Morgan is a petite Asian girl Julia’s age, but a head shorter and very quiet, but charming when she engages.
At noon we walked up a hill past the Rhode Island School of Design to Brown’s campus and had a cold drink on the nearby Thayer Street. Then we descended, crossed the river, and found a sidewalk cafe in the traditional downtown in the midst of craft shops, book stores, and galleries.
Some great old buildings such as a three-story galleria and the former Federal Reserve – now a restaurant and planned for lofts. Inquiries led us to a rooftop bar where we had a drink under an umbrella.
It was time for coffee at Starbucks in the restored Biltmore Hotel which had a small brass sign next to the antique glass elevator saying: “For Time Travel Only.” We read the WSJ. Susan spoke with Jake as he drove “up north” to join the boys, Michelle, and her folks.
Tracy and her friends, Barb and Chuck joined us. We led them back to the rooftop bar. Barb said a kindergarten teacher suggested Irish dance as a way to give her daughter, Anna, some physical activity. She added with a touch of irony, “I didn’t know I was joining a cult! ”
Back at the convention center, we watched six dance dramas. Irish fairy tales, famine stories, and a horse racing skit.
We drove to the Italian neighborhood Federal Hill where I was an NDC consultant three decades ago and had dinner outside on a large plaza with a classic fountain. A Frank Sinatra imitator sang too loudly, but the food was good. Then it was “home, sweet home” at the Comfort Inn in Warwick.
SATURDAY, JULY 4TH.
Susan was not feeling well so I let her sleep until 10 AM. We missed Morgan’s dance performance, but arrived to join a group at the food mall in the large Providence Mall next to the convention center.
The girls had their wigs in place, tight curls that rose from their foreheads and cascaded over their shoulders. Julia looked very different and Morgan was transformed. There were a lot of blonde wigs. Bizarrely a dark spray made some girls legs darker than Venus Williams legs. Lipstick, eyeliner, and rouge were overdone in many cases, and we were particularly put off by the youngest girls laden with makeup.
A lot of hanging out as the competition slipped behind schedule. The girls sat on the floor and played games as the adults chatted to pass the time.
In the afternoon, Julia and Morgan danced with their group in the large ballroom. They looked great to us! Tracy admitted that she is unable to see most of the qualities that the judges use in their scoring.
We all waited for a while for the judges determination on teams to be recalled for an award and brief step or two and a now on stage. The girls were eager to shed their uncomfortable wigs, but waited impatiently. We had a bite at Panera Bread in the adjoining shopping center. Then word came via Internet that the Maple School Team would not be recalled. Disappointment was moderated with relief.
A long walk to the river bank for a concert and fireworks had been discussed, but Susan observed that everyone was tired and offered to skip it. Everyone quickly agreed and we were headed back to Warwick.
Tracy brought a bottle of wine to our room. We chatted and saw fireworks in the distance. The girls joined us for a while. Then we said our goodbyes since Tracy had scheduled an early departure for the 7-hour drive to Virginia. We took a taxi to the nearby airport and caught an early flight. Hurrah!
A great time in New York and a good experience with Tracy and Julia in providence.