Monday, December 5, 2011

Loscon: A Friday of Unexpected Events and Regency Dancing

Friday began with the usual "you plan, God laughs" disruption of the natural order. I'd planned on going to a panel on "Believable Pasts and Futures" (with Harry Turtledove, Laura Frankos, Barbara Hambly and a couple of other people) when a writer with whom I've shared panels in the past, VJ Waks, pleaded with me to join her on "When is it proper to use violence in your story" because she was the only panelist listed. This being the first time slot of the convention, no one expected a heavy turnout, but I'm a soft touch, so I sent Dave off to the Pasts/Futures panel with a request to take notes on the cool bits. VJ and I waited until we had 2 attenders, made a circle, and had a lively discussion, mostly about the portrayal of violence in our media, but also about how other cultures view retaliation and reconciliation as affecting the entire community, and some painful and moving personal stories.

I had a lovely lunch with a fellow writer I don't see very often, did a tour of the Dealers' Room (where I succumbed to the usual lure of Buy! Books!), got seduced by one conversation after another, retreated to the hotel room for a little lie-down time, and then dinner with Dave and a friend of his. This took a long time, as had dinner the night before, even though the hotel restaurant was not particularly busy either time. Our poor waiter kept apologizing and thanking us for our patience. Really, the only people who would be affected by our failure to be gracious are we ourselves. And I got to go Regency dancing (taught by John Hertz) afterwards.

I was first introduced to English Regency dancing at a long-ago Loscon, if memory serves. It's a recreation of the dances that would have been popular during Jane Austen's time, and if you've seen any of the movie adaptions of her books, you have a sense of what they're like. As presented at conventions, no prior knowledge is necessary, although in the Regency, people would have had years of dancing lessons and practice. These are easier versions, most of them requiring only the ability to walk, preferably in a stately manner, and to tell right from left. We danced several dances (the sets are very long) and went happily to bed.

I suspect that one reason conventions are so tiring (to me, at least) is that I don't get my usual exercise; I spend far too much time sitting and standing. In the past, I was much more disciplined about bringing exercise clothing and getting in an hour before breakfast, but alas, I have become shamefully derelict in my habits, so Regency dancing provides an occasion for both fun and gentle exercise. It may be only walking, but it you do it for two or three hours, it counts!

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