BootsnAll Travel Network

An Expedition to the Midwest (I)

Jeremy and I spend about two weeks in the Midwest.  The main purpose was our annual trip to the convention of the  IAGSDC [the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs], held this year in Cleveland.  Jeremy and I met at the convention in Portland ten years ago, so this is an easy way for me to remember our anniversary.  About one thousand people usually show up, and we have a great time dancing–and visiting.  At this point, I probably spend more time visiting with friends than I do actually dancing.

Though, as one of these friends says, these are friendships that are “a mile wide and an inch deep”.  We see each other once a year, and in between usually don’t keep in touch.  That’s not to say that it isn’t a real pleasure to run into folk.  Partly, there is also the problem of being slightly distracted by yet another person walking by that I want to say hi to.  And, somehow, I seem to feel that if I don’t take some time right now, I won’t have another chance.

There’s always a big banquet, and that’s where Jeremy and I met, so I’m glad to reminisce.  At the conventions that I went to before Portland, seating at the banquet was always a scramble–the doors were kept closed during the set-up, then at a certain moment, everyone was admitted, and people wandered around trying to figure out where to sit, and with whom.  It was a zoo–and I wasn’t a huge fan–to say the least.  So, when I arrived at Portland, I found that the organizers had put up a map of the hall, and allowed people to make “advance reservations” at half the tables.  I said to myself, what a great idea–and I signed up for one of the tables as the first of twelve.  Shortly thereafter, a friend came along and signed up, thinking–I’ll sit here.  Then his ex signed up, with his “entourage”–so the table was full.  So Jeremy was a “friend of a friend of a friend”.  We were sitting too far from each other for easy conversation; but at desert, people tend to table-hop to visit other friends, and we took the opportunity to get acquainted.  Our connection took off from there.

But back to the present.  We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in the City Square district–not too far from Civic Center.  I think that we were both surprised at how much life there was in the evening–there were quite a few clubs with live music.

One thing that we had to get used to was the fact that midwestern portions at restaurants are, shall we say, generous.  In fact, one evening three of us went out and shared what was “officially” a dinner for two–it was plenty for all three of us.

There are a number of hotels clustered around a shopping mall that includes a “food court”.  Astoundingly, the food was both good and cheap.  And fresh–there were a number of establishments that prepared food to order.

But I most wanted to mention an amazing water feature.  In a long oval, there were between ten and twenty jets.  Each one generated an absolutely smooth column of water that arced back into the pool–almost a parabola of plexiglass.  There was also a sound system playing various selections, some classical, some country, some pop.  And, in an unpredicatable but seemingly choreographed way, a jet would suddenly stop, and the column of water seemed to leap from the jet into the pool.  It was a truly remarkable visual effect.  Jeremy and I made a point of visiting most days–besides, it was on the way to coffee.

Since we were “in the neighborhood” we also stopped in Bloomington, Indiana and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  More about them next time.  On top of everything else, it got Jeremy to two new states–Ohio and Indiana.

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