Emerald City Blues Festival 2010: Seattle

First, a quick shout-out to Elizabeth – she’s one of my closest friends, and back in October she had the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended. Now (finally) she’s blogging about it, and if you know her (or if you want to see pictures of and read about an incredible wedding) check out her blog: That Cardboard Box.

On to the business at hand, I flew to Seattle on Thursday, November 11, for a five day visit and the Emerald City Blues Festival. The event included three days of workshops and four nights of dancing. A friend, Nick, and I flew out together and met up with David, who was already in town.

It was an excellent weekend, and I had some wonderful dances, but I’m actually going to focus on some of the really fabulous non-dancing aspects of the weekend.  David and I are considering Seattle as a potential home sometime in the next year, so we wanted to get a feel for the city beyond the dance scene.  In a good faith effort to meet and become friends with Seattle, we visited a blues bar, visited a wide variety of independent cafes, spent some time in a lovely bookstore, and saw the aquarium.

The blues bar, Highway 99, feels like a neat little hole-in-the-wall sort of place, but it’s apparently quite well known. They host live music five nights a week, and on Thursday night the place was packed.  To get there, you have to go down from the ground level to a basement door (shouldn’t all blues bars be underground?) and then pass the inspection of the doorman.  David, Nick, and I, having passed inspection, found a cozy nook with couches far enough from the band to hear the music clearly but still be able to hear one another.  The band was good, and we spent a good two hours in the bar, recovering from the flight and catching up with David.

Over the weekend, we visited several cafes – Seattle is littered with them – but the primary one we visited was Oddfellows, because it was downstairs from our workshop location and REALLY awesome.  They had a very strong independent, artsy feel: the servers were pierced and tattooed, the food was out of the ordinary and locally produced, the tables, benches, and decor were mix-matched and worn. I sampled their fare several times, partaking – over the course of three days – of a breakfast panini, coffee, an orange and currant scone, a chicken salad sandwich, and several pots of tea. All of which I would recommend.

*Both photos courtesy of Oddfellows’s Facebook page

We also sampled tea, coffee, and delicious ginger molasses cookies in a book store and cafe called The Elliot Bay Book Company.  David needed to do some work and I needed a break from classes, so we played hooky for an hour and visited this book shop.  Caught momentarily without a book (!), I searched the shelves for something of interest and ended up purchasing Fearless Girls, Wise Women, & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales From Around the World by Kathleen Kagan, an anthology of folk tales featuring active female protagonists:

One of the greatest dilemmas was the definition of a heroine. The following criteria served as a guideline: The main characters are female and they are worthy of emulation.  They do not serve as the foil to the “good” character in the story, and they are not wicked queens, Mother Miserys, or nagging mothers-in-law. A second criteria was that the tale must center in and around the heroine. For example the tale “Gawain and the Lady Ragnell” was not included in this anthology because although the “lesson” of the tale is that a woman should control her own life, the action centers on the man, Gawain. Thirdly, my daughters acted as the touchstone for many of the tales. My older daughter pleaded eloquently for the exclusion of female protagonists who died at the end of the story.  – Introduction

It’s a wonderful book, and I enjoy both the tales themselves and the bit of commentary Ragan gives at the end of each one. The project of the anthology began because she had trouble finding children’s books featuring female protagonists to read to her two young daughters.  She began changing the gender in stories to mix it up a bit.  And then one night they read If I Ran the Zoo.  “A part of the story described hens roosting in each others’ topknots. When it said “Another one roosts in the topknot of his./ And another in his, and another in HIS…,” I got angry. Since when is a hen masculine?” So Ragan started counting characters. In Dr. Seuss books, she found that 90 percent of the main characters were male, and of the female 10 percent, most were a negative character. She checked libraries and anthologies, which had even lower rates of heroines, and finally she decided to compile her own.  To create her volume of 103 tales, she sifted through over 30,000 stories, and the result is a magnificent collection.

Also, I had a fun experience when I went to purchase the book. The young man behind the counter (YMBTC) asked if I had a stamp card, and I replied that I didn’t:

Me: I’m from Ohio.
YMBTC: Oh! What part of Ohio?
Me: Near Columbus.
YMBTC: Neat. I went to school up north in Wooster.
Me: I went to Wooster!

Turns out we graduated a year apart, both with degrees in the humanities.  I love when that happens; when you meet someone you know or who you ought to know in a situation where you would never expect to run into said person.  And it happens so often. You can ask almost any Wooster graduate, and they’ll be able to tell you of a chance Wooster-related meeting.

The final note in this entry is that if you ever find yourself in Seattle, check out their aquarium. It’s a really awesome facility. In addition to the typical aquarium stuff, there’s a lot of very interesting exhibits and information about Seattle’s aquatic life AND they have a giant pacific octopus.

David sent this to me the last time he was in Seattle.  When
we visited, the octopus was sleeping upside down in the
corner – and he was snoring!

—-

Also, just to brag a little, I have to share that I wrote this on David’s new iPad.  It’s such a cool device!

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3 thoughts on “Emerald City Blues Festival 2010: Seattle

  1. I can't remember! I wish I'd thought to take note of his name. (But I didn't actually know him, and he didn't look familiar. I wasn't familiar to him either.) He did say he was a religious studies major, but I can't remember much more, and Facebook's no help (it won't let me use the search parameters that I want to use.)

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