Friday, July 6, 2012

HoopSquareFestDance: Finis

Excerpted verbatim from last weekend's 61st annual National Square Dance Convention website's Frequently Asked Questions:

I've heard about 'Hoopfest' weekend. How will that effect coming to the 61st NSDC in Spokane?

Don't worry … 'Hoopfest' takes place in a different area of downtown Spokane, not in the Convention Center, and 'Hoopfest' is only on Saturday. We square dancers have Spokane to ourselves Wednesday through Friday.

* Hoopfest takes place in many cities across the United States, all on the same weekend, and has coincided with many other National Square Dance Conventions® ... with no problems.

After reading this reassuring, but completely inaccurate response, I wondered what the square dancers thought when they woke up last Saturday morning with a good share of the 28,000 basketball players playing Hoopfest parked at their doorstep.
I think he should've called a foul, don't you?

As it turned out: They were not flustered. Not one allemande left bit.

I love Hoopfest. It is one of my favorite weekends in Bermtopia. And trite as it may sounds, it continues, year after year, to frame that perfect metaphor for life 

We start out with great expectations. Adversity strikes. We are dashed. We buck up. And start all over again. Sometimes we are rewarded for bucking up, but mostly dashed. Again. And then we start all over. Again. 

But in the end, human perserverance (and an unusually ornery inclination for survival) is occasionally rewarded -- sometimes with the champions' T-shirt, sometimes with The Losers King T-shirt (always the BEST designed shirt of the tournament), but always with memories of your one (or two or three) rock-star shot, friendship and team work.

Life's a little bit like that too, don't you think? Except without the T-shirts.

Of course, the memories of your one rock-star shot, friendship and team work don't always kick in right away, especially after a Hoopfest where you're eliminated on Saturday, the first day of the tournament. Seared in my maternal soul is an extremely disgusted, distraught 9-year-old Number 2 Son, who passionately announced in tears, he would "NEVER play Hoopfest again!" when his team exited unceremoniously on a Saturday afternoon.

In 16 subsequent years, I think this is only the second Hoopfest he's missed, both times thanks to a traitorous ACL.

There are always one or two Hoopfest Magic Moments. We were privileged to witness one Sunday.

We had stopped by the court where a friend's 18-year-old son was playing.

Ah, yes. Adult Male Open. The tats, 'tudes and testosterone make one's head spin. In reverse. You could build a small  city with the metal collected from players' (and spectators') body piercings. It's intense. Let's just say intense.

But two courts down, three players -- one dressed as a Christmas elf; one in turtleneck, white sports jacket and khakis; and a third, who could only be categorized as Basketball Nerd -- taught us all that, at the end of day, we need to stop, laugh and enjoy the moment. 

It was obvious they knew how to play basketball, seeing as they made it to Sunday, but they had moved beyond the frenzy and occasional desperation of winning. This weekend, they just wanted to make people  laugh. And laugh we did when. . . .

They called a time out to sing "Happy Birthday" to one of their opponents.

They dropped to the ground and covered their ears if a shot hit the backboard too hard.

They pulled out the power play, The Super Human. Which entailed one player -- the elf -- driving to the basket riding piggyback on Mr. Sports Coat.


My favorite set play?  A game of leap frog over each other while pushing the basketball forward on the ground, finishing with a spectacularly failed dunk on the basket.  

And when the the other team finally won the game on a carefully scripted slam-dunk off the back of Basketball Nerd, our three merry hoopsters hoisted him up on their shoulders for a victory lap.

As for the square dancers? I found myself in the middle of their final Grand Conflagration or Stampede or Promenade -- whatever they call it -- at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Despite my previous smart-ass observations, it was impressive. 

5,500 participants from 49 of 50 U.S. states (come ON, Delaware, get with the program!), Europe, Asia, Canada, Australia and Africa.

Did you know that if you went to a square dance in Tokyo -- or Nairobi, for that matter -- it would be called in English. Square dance is the ONLY dance form that sticks with its native tongue. 
They seem to lighten  up at the Grand Conflagration.
I think they enjoyed themselves. We certainly enjoyed the color and rich heritage they shared with us. Thank you, merry hoopsters -- and square dancers -- for reminding us that basketball games -- and life -- should be fun. . . . and colorful.

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