On the previous evening the band had played straight after the opening dance and once we'd finished our set the dancing continued to recorded music. Today we were going to try it the other way round - the first half would be to CDs, the second to live music. (On every night there was also a late night session that followed on into the early hours but this was held in one of the workshop spaces after the 'main event' had finished. With my full schedule and advancing years I decided to give it a miss.)
We had arrived early to give the sound system a final check (something we got into the habit of doing every time) and once we were suitably reassured we sat back and waited for the evening's session to begin. Soon the (by now toe-curlingly familiar) strains of the opening 'theme' dance began to sound forth from the speakers and we rose to join the long, spiralling line.
The dances that followed were a curious mixture of playful fun ones and 'wafty' choreographies, pleasant enough but not particularly engaging (at least to me). After a while I found myself sitting out more often than dancing, and slowly the exertions of the day started to catch up with me and I found myself starting to flag - to the point of feeling my eyelids grow heavy. The dances went on and on (and on), way past the time we were expecting to start, and after a while I found myself growing more and more irritated by having to hold myself ready to start while not being given any idea of when that might be. Eventually I went outside to get some air and clear my head.
I was expecting there to be a break between the recorded music and our set and was keeping half an ear open for the distinctive hubbub of a large group breaking into unrestricted chatter. But suddenly I heard Rory & Bill calling my name with a degree of urgency so I smartly made my way to the hall to find that we were about to start STRAIGHT AWAY! A quick check of the instruments and we were ready to begin.
Normally I'd expect to be soothed and settled by playing with the band but there was an extra complication this evening. We'd shown the set list to one of the organisers and I'd confirmed with her which dance would go best with each tune. However when the moment came for the teaching to begin she would appear in front of the stage, asking for "a quick reminder of the steps". Rather than go through the process of showing her the steps and then waiting for her to teach the group, slowing things down and breaking the flow of the evening, I decided I might as well just teach the dance myself, something she was very happy for me to do. For most of the dances.
Having this double role on top of my growing tiredness put me right at the limit of my energy and concentration levels. I found I was putting so much of my attention into looking at what the next song was going to be, what would be the best dance to go with it and how I should approach the teaching (while still remembering to play the right chords at the right time) that I was losing my connection and rapport with the rest of the band. However I didn't feel I could let go of any of my roles without the evening breaking down (or at least stuttering on half-heartedly) so I kept going, presenting a bright, shining face to the dancers while inwardly sinking deeper into my funk. At the end of our performance I packed up and left, alone, partly needing time to myself to unwind, partly not feeling I could face more people for a while.
I found myself a quiet spot and sat listening to the night and texting a couple of distant friends for support - mostly on a symbolic level as it was 4am in the UK at this point.
After a while I went to see if any of the band were still up and around and met Rory heading homewards. He was concerned that I was OK but confirmed that my distant and apparently sulky mood had not gone down well with the rest of the band. I went to bed wondering what repercussions tomorrow would bring.