Oh man. I had the most fantastic weekend I have had in ages this past weekend.
On Saturday morning I went and did the doctor thing first up (bloods for a cholesterol check), before Mikey, Evan and James swung by and collected me for the drive to Canberra. We were heading to Canberra for the annual Gay & Lesbian Bush Dance. We broke the 3 hour journey part way at the town of Collector with a lovely lunch (and a good bottle of Riesling) at Lynwood Cafe. (Check out Lynwood's blog while you're at it.)
The trip down was warm but a bit grey and rainy in parts, and by the time we arrived in Canberra it was pouring with rain. After checking in at the hotel (nice, but the beds were hard) and a brief semi-successfull afternoon nap we headed to the home of two of Evan's Canberra friends for a fantastic early evening barbeque, with more friends that had arrived, before heading to the Bush Dance.
The weather cleared by the time we left, and when we got to the Yarralumla Woolshed it was a nice clear and mild night. The woolshed is an amazing venue, a real working woolshed from 1904 until 1964, when it became a venue for all sorts of social events. It has been basically left as is, just with lighting and bathrooms added to make it a usable space for parties and dances.
What a hoot. There would have been around 300 people I would guess, in various states of country/bushranger drag. Everything from serious denim and checked shirts to glitter cowboy hats and feather fans. (But all fabulous!) The music and dancing was all traditional English and Australian country dances. It was so crowded that some of the dances became exercises in bumper-car style survival, but it was a very friendly and good natured crowd. I saw quite a few familiar faces from Sydney, and even from my neighbourhood.
There was a band, and a dance caller who gave instructions before each dance. Many of the dances were progressive, so by the time the dance had ended you had swapped partners anywhere up to thiry of fourty times at least. Some of the English country style dances were danced in groups of 6 or 7 couples, like a reel. Evan's lovely friend Dan and I turned out to be ideal dance partners, as Dan stands about an inch or so shorter than me and loves to dance as much as I do. We spent much of the night laughing our asses off, dancing like mad things, and trying to polka our way around the floor without being stepped on by guys almost double our bulk.
We even made it to around the last 20 couples of the waltz-off before being eliminated.
The dance had a midnight close, so it wasn't a late night, but I had danced steadily for around 4 hours and was so worn out and drenched in sweat that I was ready to call it a night by then. The next morning we all got together for a lazy breakfast at Amanda & Heidi's house, to chat, laugh, play with Dan's dog "Scooter" and Heidi's beautiful Malamute "Polly". Afterwards Mikey, Evan and I headed over to visit some friends of Mikey and mine, Robyn and Jeremy, for a fantastic delicious long lunch in their leafy courtyard, before finally heading back to Sydney in the late afternoon.
Good times! New friendships, chatting and dancing with people like 76 year old Lindsay and his partner Quinton, catching up with old friends, lots of laughter, and hopefully dancing off some of the weekend's serious eating!
[Updated: I just
shamelessly stole appropriated borrowed this pic taken by James O'Brien at the Bushdance. Nice huh? Pop on over and read James's blog post about his weekend in Canberra.]