The 4th and 5th of April brings the Kilkenny Feis, the competition from the danceschool where I started.
I visit the Feis on it's first day this time as there is someone with me that can't make it on a Sunday.

Instead of the Wellant College from the last 2 editions, an older school building in The Hague is used for this Feis.
The hall is huge and the stage is beautiful with a kind of wainscotted lookout that gives a diagonal view on the stage, while 3 old light-fixtures are hanging nearby.

A far more accesible level of competition

This competition is a real eye-opener. I should have done this earlier. The energy comes back but the biggest difference is the level of dancing. So far, I had only visited the second day of this competition, the day only the highest levels and most of the times also the older competitors take the stage.
On this first day, only the minors dance away in their competitions and this makes for a far more accessible experience.
People who are far ahead of me when it comes to the level of their competition prove to have the same bad turn-out as I do and as a beginner, I really don't have to be ashamed of that.

A lot of people falling down due to slipping

If it's down to the level or not but I'm surprised by the high amount of competitors falling down. In about 2 hours, about ten dancers almost fall down after slipping, but 4 times things really end wrong and the dancers hit the stage. While the other one a little more serious than the other, one of them first wants to complete her competition and is clearly trying to beat the pain, but eventually breaks. Two people have to carry her off the stage. Like it can't be any worse, there is no ice available (forgetting something like that is a little stupid in my opinion).

Especially the location of all falls surprises. Every dancer slips at exactly the same point on the stage. The front-left corner (from a spectactor point of view) seems to have something wrong with it. After about 10 near-falls, you can clearly notice that many remaining competitors, who watched their fellow dancers closely, avoid that same spot. Eventually, someone comes to inspect the stage between two competitions, but she can't find anything remarkable.

Though the level is far more accessible, I probably won't visit the competition again on this first day. Everything between 14 and 18 years old stays rather quiet, but all kids under that age run around the hall like mad, shouting loudly. The hard-wooden floor from the hall itself, which makes the heavy shoes sound extra loud, doesn't really help as many kids still wear them.

Also annoying, but more rather rude, is the high amount of parents that talks on high volume during the competition. Though not prohibited, I don't consider it very nice. A few women behind me really top everything and are loudly running down every other competitor out there when it comes to level.
I get the feefling they think no one understands their Flemish, but with a little effort, I'm able to decipher that every dancer excluding the daughter from one of them, is being slated.

Pondliner to protect the floor

When there is a short break in the rounds of competitions, I walk over to an old classmate, to ask how she handles practicing on her heavy shoes. I know that she and her boyfriend always used to take advantage of the many times they could use the facilities from the school they were connected to, but I'll have to find another solution.

I'm advised to look for so called pondliner at the garden-shop or specialist in pond-accessories (this appears to be called Aqualiner as well)
This black kind of foil, which is used to make up the edges of a pond, works great to protect the floor, soften the sound and prevent you from slipping. The same properties as the professional protective rubber has, but than cheaper. (I would not be surprised if this proves to be the same material but, when called 'dance-floor topping' the price triples or something)

When I look at home I can't find it at the gardenshops near Purmerend. The home-improvement stores around don't sell it as well, unless you need 20 square meters at once.