I had to wait until I was calm to share this story. Lots of deep breaths later, here I am. Trying not to LOSE MY MIND. No guarantees.
A little background: Major Irish dancing competitions happen 3 times a year, in normal times. Thanksgiving - Midwest champs, July 4th week - National champs, and Easter week - World champs.
This might be repetitive for regulars: Longtime readers will remember trips to Scotland, North Carolina, Vancouver, Orlando, and the recent venue change at Thanksgiving that required a hotel stay in Indianapolis (vs the original dance-in-Chicago plan) where Curly puked between dancing rounds, danced amazing, and had one judge apparently on the verge of blindness who robbed her of the podium.
*I know I sound like a crazy dance mom, and I get that Irish dancing is subjective - but this was not a judge who gave her a slightly lower placement. She placed her at like 43rd when she clearly deserved more of a 5th place. If she gave her 10th, I'd call it subjective. Moving on . . .
World champs has been cancelled now two years in a row. Last year's Nationals in Nashville was also cancelled.
Translation: this is a crappy time to be a dancer. The goal is to compete. See where you place. (me: wishful thinking - do your thing, and be done so you can go to high school and do the high school thing without juggling time consuming dancing).
In addition to the majors, there are small local competitions, or if you're nuts - road trip your heart out to attend out of town options. Ah, memories of Mini's dancing days. By small, I mean that MANY people cram into a building and spend a long day watching kids dance and breathing on one another. Well, those 'smaller' deals (called feis) haven't happened in forever.
|This is what a typical feis ('small' competition)|
looked like a few years ago. It's a great way to spend AN ENTIRE SATURDAY.
They 're now scheduling tiny feises. Nearly impossible to register for a spot. Ideally Curly would attend one feis before a major. Get the jitters out. I'm not willing to make myself crazy trying to register. *I will let you know if I eat those words.
This July's nationals are happening. In Arizona. The schedule came out in late Jan.
I booked flights Feb. 8th using frequent flyer miles. Curly was set to dance the 7th.
March 4th, Mary, Curly's teacher who we love, sent a group message. Nationals were being split to create two competitions. One in Canada. One in the States. In consideration of travel restrictions, etc.
I texted Mary. Would Curly dance on a different day? I already had my flights. She thought it'd be the same, but she'd look into it.
She never texted me different information, so I assumed the schedule was the same.
Last week, I asked Mary when the hotel block would open.
*If you've never attempted to get a hotel room in the mandatory block for an Irish dancing competition, then I guarantee you that you're doing something right. Living your best life. I've had multiple kids on phones, laptops, landlines, and we still are rarely successful at reserving in our preferred hotel.
*I once had to stay 20 min from the venue with my 4 or 5 very young dancers ON MY OWN. Rising at 4 am, I got everyone dressed, fed, and out of the hotel so we could get to the venue at the early time the teachers insisted upon. A memory I don't cherish.
I'm not good at social media. There, I said it. Not a big secret. Remember how I ended up babysitting for one family this year because I accidentally friended the mom when I saw her FB post? I didn't have my glasses on and thought I was just scrolling past.
Other parents pay attention to dancing FB posts. I ask the teacher for information. Call me old school. I've been called worse. This is our 3rd dancing school, and my previous schools (that I literally hated for other reasons that you'll someday read about in my tell-all Irish dancing book) sent email updates with instructions about registering, etc.
When they split nationals, they changed the name of the competition and the FB page changed. Well, that's not going to confuse me.
I heard through the dreaded group-dancing-chat (where people respond to dumb questions separately and repeatedly, because that's fun) that the hotel block would open on April 15th at 11 am. I asked the group if anyone had the link to the hotel blocks. No one could find it. Someone said that the leaders (feel free to picture a short guy behind a curtain like in the Wizard of Oz) claimed they'd update the FB page the morning of the 15th. That does me no good as I still didn't know how to access the FB page.
A mom sent a link with info on the various hotels and where they were in relation to the venue, so I could at least figure out which hotel to shoot for.
At 10:58 am, (2 min before the link opened) I was texting and calling other moms BEGGING FOR THE LINK. One woman said her husband handles the dancing hotel reservations. Fortunately, we weren't on zoom. She couldn't see me faux strangle her from my kitchen.
Another mom in the group sent the schedule of when everyone dances. As much as I hate group chats, this was EYE OPENING. Curly now dances on the 8th. The day we were supposed to fly home. It was good to know this BEFORE my non-cancellable hotel reservations. With covid, my guess is they'll allow hotel cancellations this year.
At 11:00 I texted another mom friend, who 'my-husband-handles-this' told me had gotten a room already. Meanwhile, I called the hotel directly. I was on the phone with the Sheraton when she texted me a screen shot of the links.
The woman at the Sheraton found our Irish dancing group. She put me on hold towards the end of the process. When she came back, she said the block wasn't open yet and she couldn't reserve my room. BUT IT WAS OPEN!
I typed the URL into my laptop from my friend's screenshot. It was only 50 characters long and time was clicking away. Relaxing.I reserved two double beds. After entering my payment: sad face WITH - 'Something went wrong' (in the movies, this is when people throw their computers). The website suggested that my room type was no longer available. My hands shook as I rushed through the process AGAIN. Racing the clock. I selected a king bed. The reservation went through.
Now, I just had to change my flights. American Airlines offered me a callback in 4 HOURS. Huh? I stayed up waiting for my call back, hoping I could beg for a date change but keeping the same mileage. No luck of the Irish this time. It cost me an extra 21,000 miles to adjust our flights from Mon- Thurs to Tues-Fri.
Anyone else force themselves to love their people's activities even if it means you might die trying?