The Aloha Winter Weekend was held in Honolulu, Hawai’i, from 15th – 17th February 2013 – and what a weekend it was! Aloha means greetings and love – and they shared both of those with an open hearted generosity that was uplifting. (It also means farewell, but we put that off for as long as possible.)
The fun began on Wednesday 13th February, when I found my way to their regular weekly class. This is in a local community centre, in a room that is obviously used as a dance studio – it had a wooden floor and a full length mirror along the back wall. Great for watching your steps! The class were all extremely welcoming, and we spent time walking then dancing through the dances for the weekend, so we would all know where we were going.
Then on Friday night they organised a bus to pick us up from our hotel and drive us to the venue – a big open church hall with kids playing basketball. We had the hall after them, so we filled in the time having the first of many delicious meals the local Hawaiian Branch provided for us and getting to meet the other dancers. The Humuhumunukunukuapua’a and Strathspey Society Band played for the whole weekend, with the able assistance of fiddler Shira Kammen. I couldn’t pronounce their name on the Friday night, but by Sunday I’d got pretty good! The local Branch invited anyone who was interested to recap dances at the evening functions, and lots of us had a go.
Then on the Saturday we started with breakfast, which the Branch provided at the Golf Club where we were dancing. After that the Band showed their multifarious talents, as 3 of the band members are also RSCDS teachers, and took classes over the weekend. One of the band members even wrote 2 of the dances he taught. There was a little footwork – what RSCDS class is complete without it? – but the emphasis was definitely on social interaction, having fun on the dance floor, feeling the music, and generally enjoying ourselves – which wasn’t at all hard.
We were lucky to have 2 people who had birthdays over the weekend, so we had 2 birthday cakes – which just added to the spread at morning tea, lunch, and morning tea the next day. We had a couple of hours off in the afternoon, then the Branch took us out to a local restaurant for dinner, and even provided the wine! It was at a Chinese restaurant and some of the other patrons had drums and cymbals for Chinese New Year, so we thought it was only reasonable for our piper to pipe us out of the restaurant and along the street to the Golf Club – but we did get a few odd looks.
The Evening Social was a grand event, with everyone dressed up and a supper provided, and members recapping as they felt inclined. Our feet knew about it by the end, but the spirit was still strong.
On Sunday we got to sleep in for an extra half an hour, and changed to the other ballroom (it was one huge room divided into two) for the morning class – which of course was after another lovely breakfast spread. This was a shorter day – just the morning class – so that we had time to get ready for the Ceilidh in the evening. This was held in a hall at St Andrew’s Cathedral, and the Branch put out lots of circular tables to give a café atmosphere. The evening started with listening to the church bells ringing, and then pizza or lasagne with salad and wine. After we ate, one of the bell ringers gave us a talk about ringing bells, which was fascinating.
Other members showed amazing talent as well. The highlight of the evening for me was one of the Japanese ladies, who got up with 3 of her guests, and danced and sang along to Abba, encouraging us all to join in with the hand gestures and singing. We had dances – Scottish and English – and music and poetry and jokes and generally had a wonderful time. In between acts we had dessert, which was sorbets – beautifully presented: coconut sorbets in a small half coconut, pineapple ones in a little pineapple etc etc.
When the bus took us back to the hotel, we lingered talking for a while – I don’t think any of us wanted the weekend to end. If you ever have a chance to go across for the Hawai’i Branch Winter Weekend, I thoroughly recommend it – you’ll never have a better time!
MAHALO HAWAI’I BRANCH
Thank you for everything.