About a week after the Kilkenny Feis I decide to send an e-mail to the Redmond School, to inquire about the location of classes in the North of Amsterdam.

I recently noticed the location had changed and classes were now held on the former NDSM-shipwarf. With knowledge of a few bus-services that have a stop very nearby, I won't have any trouble getting to the place. To find out if there are still some classes left or the Redmond School has already gone into summer-stop, I send an e-mail.

There are classes, but not next week due to the World Championships

Classes are given, but only the week after. The World Championships are ongoing and many schools (if not: all) cancel their classes.
But soon, it is friday the 25th. I'm quite nervous. The school is new and I won't know anyone there. The teacher had already written to me that finding the exact location would be quite the challenge and I had to let her know if I would be there or not, so she would be waiting outside.

That e-mail probably never made it to her in time. As I reach the building, an old shipbuilding-barn, I have to find out where I need to be for myself. Part of the nerves for me is the possible crazyness around the very first Kingsday. I haven't got a single clue if I land into a great party (or chaos) or everything will go smooth.

Kingsday-party venues being built: roadies everywhere

Stages and venues are being built around me. To my left, a lot of fences are ready for some kind of hardcore-music festival, to my right there is a great bunch of stalls waiting for placement. Somewhat ahead of me a whole cafe is being rigged with extra sound and light.

When I walked up and down the area twice and didn't find anything yet, I decide to ask one of the roadies. Unfortunately, those are deployed from elsewhere and don't know where I need to be. They do confirm my opinion, that the terrain is hard to overlook and only when you're from around you know where you need to be and how to get there.

Housenumbers! (Yes, even at the NDSM-shipyard...)

I even doubt to ask the police, which is there in large numbers, but I then suddenly see a corridor with gardens and containers behind the building.
At the end of the corridor I also see a sign that states number 23 is there. I had just saw number 37, so I'm heading in the right direction! When I suddenly see number 19 as well, I can only be very close.

Eventually, a whole row of numbers pop up, including number 15, where I need to be. But that number is mounted to a big overhead-door. Not a normal door or doorbell in sight.
A big door in the middle of the barn is open and seems to be a sort of central entrance. I decide to just ask the two guys working on a motorcycle in front of the doors.
One of them doesn't know but the other one, who just rode the motorcycle inside, does.

Right place, closed door

He gives me some directions and with a bit of staring into the distance, I see where I need to be. His directions are right, but the door is shut tight. I try the door next to it, but that one is already so far ahead that it has to be from another company.

I take a look up to the roof of the building, turn around for a while in this mighty building and think if this is going to work or not. I decide to try again next week and head for home. There are doors, rooms, signs and corridors everywhere and all of that in this huge barn.

Just when I turn around and want to walk out, a door opens somewhere, and a girl who I only reckon to be 14 or something, comes out. As she wears some very sporty clothing and appears a bit young to be just walking around there for no real reason at all, I think I can't be wrong. I ask her and yes, she is there for dance-class as well.


A quest through the barn follows. We take a left turn, enter a kind of 'in-between' corridor, crawl through a few rooms and a column of the building-structure, take a left again and than reach an open door where the hall is located. Well indeed, I would never have found that on my own!
I get the giggles when I see a barndoor to the outside world from inside the dance-hall, a door that is opened in such a way that it seems to welcome anybody. I passed that door 3 times only minutes ago...

There is a short introduction, I put my sneakers on and start a warm-up. While I'm doing so, one of the girls is performing some heavy-shoe practice on her soft shoes.
With admiration and some fear, I follow her. She hits the floor with her heels with huge force and if you wouldn't know better, you'd say she is already wearing her heavy shoes.

A warm-up I don't understand

There is a collective warm-up and I lose timing when my fellow dancers and the teacher start doing a kind of 1-2-3's in a big circle. After a half circle I can join them in the rhythm, but I can't figure out the steps. The teacher explains them as something like 'skip-2-3's' and I really try, but before I know it, warm-up is already over. Now that's a difference from the Hague!

When I dance the lead-around from the Beginners Reel it's nice to notice I can cope with the speed and hit the ground at the same time as the dancer next to me.
The lead-around from the Single Jig is more annoying. What I'm afraid of, happens: I shoud be dancing that one differently than as I learned it in the Hague. The beginning of this dance like I'm used to for 1,5 years is now suddenly different and changing that all of a sudden is hard. Very hard.

After the lead-around, I immediately like to know if the sidestep knows differences as well, but that one proves to be the same. Everything after the lead-around and sidestep is new for me, as I did not have any classes after that.
I probably got some steps from the Single Jig while I danced in the Hague, but the classes were rather chaotic. The group is smaller here, but instead of just randomly joining the teacher in steps he is showing, I now get clear instructions which dance the steps are for, just like how it went in Haarlem.

It takes a while to get the sidestep to the left going again, but eventually, I get that one right as well. I didn't practice those steps on purpose since the classes ended in Haarlem, just to prevent overpracticing the first steps and always see a difference in level with all the steps that come after it.
I now do manage to move to the right and left in the sidestep. It isn't much, but it now suddenly seems to go automatically.

My first class on heavy shoes

Than, it's time to face the music: my first class on heavies. Especially exciting because this will be the first time on a real floor. The hall in The Hague had a floor covered with linoleum. Though protective, it was rather slippery.

I put my feet in them and get up straight. It feels strange, so for the first time and that is probably quite noticeable, as the teacher asks the rest of the group if I look pretty on my still very new heavy shoes.
Carefully, I take a few steps in the room. I quickly notice the pain in my toes!
I warned the teacher about the fact that this is the first time I have danceclass after walking around on my safety-shoes for 9 hours and that it could have it's effects.

A new move: the treble

Even though it already hurts, the teacher shows me the basic moves to do a 'treble': thé basic movement on heavy shoes.
Here the floor, with it's protective rubber layer, really makes a difference. It takes less trouble to keep only the tip and heel on the floor as there is more friction. Standing on the tip doesn't change: that takes strength.

I can't do anything else but laugh when the teacher gives some instruction when I have to change leg, when she sees that I tend to move forward and jump on my other foot in doing so.
'Just let the foot you step on to switch, drop to the floor...'
Yeah right... I try to imagine how I should do that and really try to do it, but I fail. I jump on the other foot more than I am dropping it.

Even though the floor is of some help, I quickly had enough. I take my heavy shoes off and practice along on my socks.
"You should apply some tape to your heels," Is one of the first reactions from one the girls, who thinks that blisters are the problem.
But my heels aren't the problem, my toes are. Before the toes meet the tip, there is a large area of 'nothing' in between the heel and the tip. That area has to take up all the forces and now hurts good. I did quit earlier than say, 6 months ago. I control my own limits far better.

I happen to be an exception when it comes to the 'problem-area'. The others have to deal with blisters on the heels and other places on quite a large scale. My heels have been completely busted last year as I had to walk-in a new pair of safety-shoes. My heels and eventually the achilles-tendant as well had become one 1 big blister. It eventually healed, but the result is a thick layer of hard skin.

The day after...

A sinister heading to a story that isn't sinister at all.
I get out of bed, walk down the stairs and sit down for breakfast. Only when I get up I notice how easy this goes. I hardly have any sore muscles. I do feel that I worked out yesterday, but it's a far cry from the complete wreckage I was after returning from The Hague.

A difference is my fitness. It is far better than say 6 months back. Evenso, I think that distance is the main factor. After 1,5 hours of dance class and using almost every muscle you can possibly find in your body, I had to sit down for 2 hours in public transport to get home from The Hague and that wasn't without consequences.

Now, I only travel for about 45 minutes and after the first 15 minutes, I also walk for 5 minutes in a steady pace, to sit down for 30 minutes on a bus that takes me home.
I like it, as this doesn't make my weekend go down the drain.