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  • Feis Dad:
  • 16 February 2014

Don’t forget your manners…

A mini-rant on manners gave me the idea for this post. Enjoy!

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A few weeks ago, during a feis, I posted a little mini-rant on my Facebook page. When the rant received nearly 80 likes and had almost 40 comments, I knew that maybe I had struck a nerve. The rant was centered around feis courtesy, in particular, ‘camping abuse’.

Camping, if you are not familiar with the term, and based on some of the comments from our non-US followers you may not be, is the term used for the act of storing your gear during a feiseanna. Generally camping areas are setup, and in lots of feiseanna, there are areas also marked ‘No Camping’. These areas are typically marked to ensure uninhibited flow through the feis venue, and I would bet that most of them are established to meet safety code in case of emergencies like fires. The term is also used for the act of storing your feis gear, even if it is not in a camping zone, i.e. ‘Bridget camped in the elevator’.

The rant involved people who camped in areas clearly marked ‘no camping’, getting so bad at one point that they had over half of the walkway through the venue blocked with zucas, suitcases and blankets. The rant also mentioned, and actually started with, the people that spread their gear over entire rows of seats at a stage, and whom never really use the seats as seats. Comments included thoughts on those subjects, and other less considerate acts seen at feiseanna. And with that, the subject for this post was born.

Feis Day, remember your manners

I have noticed an un-nerving trend of people, to quote John Pinette, ‘losing their cherub like demeanor’, and leaving their common courtesy, and maybe even their common sense at home on feis day. I get it, trust me. The frantic pace of the feis; trying to get as ready as possible at home or in some hotel, get to the venue on time, find the stage(s), scout a good location to store the gear, get setup, get dressed, etc…. We actually had one feis in St Louis where TGC’s comp was next to check in for her first dance when we arrived at the venue. Talk about frenzied. All that doesn’t mean however, that you are entitled to any special treatment, because you know what, it is like that for all of us.

So here are the things that you (and I don’t mean you, I mean the other people wink ), may be doing that others might (no might, its rude) consider rude at a feis.

  • Spreading your stuff out on a row of chairs at a stage and hardly ever, if ever, using them as chairs. And leaving the toddler sitting there with an iPad as the guard does not count for anything.
  • Having an attitude when someone has moved your stuff (mentioned above) so they could sit and watch their child dance. Hey, we didn’t move the toddler, and got up when you asked, so lose the ‘tude.
  • Standing in front of the seats, or in front of the seating area during dances. Very few of the dancers are giants and you standing there is blocking more than you would expect. This happens a lot when dancers come back to the seats when they are done dancing.... 'hey, they are still dancing up there, sit down!'
  • Camping in no camping zones, especially if it is inconvenient to other feis participants, not to mention the potential safety risks.
  • Standing in doorways, walkways, stairwells, elevator/escalator entrances, etc… and chatting with your buddies, and this is not only kids, most often it is the parents.
  • Leaving your trash everywhere. And don’t blame it on the kids. They are your kids and I know you either make them clean up, or clean up after them at your house, right?

So what can be done?

To be honest, this is not all on us, and yes, I was guilty of these type things early on in my feis dad career, but if I can change…

Feis Comittees

  • Plan ahead. If you have 1000 dancers coming, you should expect 2000 – 3000 people. If the venue is not suitable, lower the number of dancers cap.
  • You know the max number of people that are going to dance on each stage, plan seating accordingly, it is just a math problem. If there is not enough room for seating, see the first bullet.
  • Create adequate camping areas. Please refer back to the first bullet and add zucas, blankets, dance bags, purses, laptop bags, diaper bags etc.. for half that number of people. You need to put all that somewhere too. I went to a feis that had a ton of room for camping, but they had roped off only a small section because that was easier. Needless to say, I ‘broke the rules’ as did hundreds of others.

Feis Attendees

  • Leave non-essential gear at home, or in the car. You don’t need 2 blankets and five chairs spread out if there is only ever going to be one or two of you sitting in the camping area.
  • Try not to use No Camping areas, but if you have to, and yes, there are times, be efficient about it. I saw a number of dancers from a school in Canada who set up a small village in a No Camping zone (I refer you back to the first sentence in paragraph 3 above). Not only rude, but had potential safety issues, and it painted a negative picture of that school in my (and probably others) eyes.
  • If you have gear in spectator seating for some reason, and I know there are valid reasons sometimes, be mindful of the space you take up. If someone ‘invades your space’, remember they are facing the same issues with space that you are, so be nice about it. And if you see there is someone that needs the space more than you, older or special needs viewers, people with babies, etc… move your stuff and pile it elsewhere.
  • Be observant of your surroundings and if you are blocking someone’s view, or traffic, try to move.
  • Pick up after yourself.

Remember, we are all in this together, and each of us either contribute to the solution, or to the problem. Don’t get irritated if someone points out that you may be contributing to the problem. And on feis days, try to remember this one piece of wisdom from a fairly popular old book, ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’.  wink


Michael Stirrat
3 March 2014

I'm a Western Region Feis Dad and I had never heard of "camping" in this context until our dancer competed at a feis in Minnesota this past year. After I got over being scolded about camping in a no camping zone (I had no idea what the poor volunteer was talking about), I decided I liked the concept a lot. I have never seen "camping" in the Western Region Feiseanna. I wish we had it.

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