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UChicago Splash: Logistics

[ Warning: long, rambling, somewhat whiny post. ]

This weekend was the University of Chicago's Splash program. MIT sends representatives to a bunch of Splashes; this time, Diyang and I went. The trip was logistically... interesting. (So was Splash itself, but I'll leave that for another post.)

I headed out on Friday night from the Boston airport. Upon arriving at Chicago Midway, Diyang and I got picked up by some UChicago volunteer (Race or Luke --- I still can't keep them straight...). We got to Stuart, the building they were partially running Splash out of, and and helped out for a while. At some point in this process, I got introduced to the guy who had volunteered to host me for the weekend.

After a couple hours, I was tired and headachey, so I lay down on a couch/bench thingy to nap until my host was ready to leave. At some point, some UChicago person asked if I wanted to leave or something. I mentioned who my host was and that I hadn't seen him in a while, and the UChicago person was like "oh, yeah, he seems to have disappeared". Some other UChicago admin (Soren) volunteered to take me home. On the way back to Soren's apartment, Soren and I stopped by another room that Splash was being run out of, and found my original host. After a bit of waffling, I ended up continuing to Soren's place.

Once we got there, Soren offered me space on a couch in one of his apartmentmates' room, explaining that said apartmentmate was usually at his girlfriend's place. Shortly afterward, another apartmentmate comes back (with a friend) and starts yelling at Soren about doing this without asking the first apartmentmate first. I'm standing there silently going "... what did I get myself into?", Soren is trying to mellow out the second apartmentmate, and the friend and Soren's roommate are also standing there quietly trying to figure out why the second apartmentmate got set off quite so much... (Shortly after this or during it, the first apartmentmate came home with his girlfriend, which made this... particularly awkward.) Anyway, I ended up sleeping on a mattress on Soren's floor, but it was... slightly awkward.

The next morning and Splash itself passed largely without any incidents related to the logistics of the trip. (I'll probably write another post about Splash itself, about which I also have (possibly more interesting) stuff to say.)

I did meet a friendly girl there who, more or less out of the blue during one conversation, asked me if I contra danced and then encouraged me to come to that night's contra dance at UChicago. (Later, I asked why she'd asked. Apparently, she'd thought that since I did math I might also do contra. I hadn't really thought about that, but I suppose it makes sense...) That prompted a discussion of contra and dancing (she was quiet envious of MIT's weekly dances --- they only have monthly dances). (Apparently she hadn't really done square dance, which made me sorta sad. It sounded like she'd done some square dancing at contra dances, but it didn't sound like the same sort of thing as Tech Squares does --- I got the impression they had contra callers call basically a contra dance, that happened to be physically arranged like a square dance. It didn't sound nearly as fast-paced or complicated as what Tech Squares does.) Anyway, I was going to join her for the dance, but the Splash dinner plans seemed to involve going over to one of the admin's apartment and ordering stuff. Unfortunately, by the time dinner was done, I was at an apartment blocks away from where I wanted to be, with a dying cell phone, at night, and in a strange city. I wasn't really excited about walking back. Also, Chicago's debrief was about to start. Between those two, I punted the contra dance. :(

Anyway, Chicago ran an afterparty after their Splash. Soren didn't show, nor did my original assigned host, so I got another host at the last minute. That one worked pretty well --- one of her apartmentmates was another Splash admin who'd been at the party, and the other I met at the apartment and was pretty friendly.

My approach to get to the airport the next morning was apparently supposed to be "my host takes me to a bus stop, and I ride the bus to the airport". Seemed good. Then the last bus stop turned out to be a couple of miles short of the airport... Figuring that finding and waiting for another bus was going to be annoyingly slow, and I could walk the 1.8 miles my phone claimed was left pretty quickly, I headed off. Once I approached the airport and started trying to follow the signage, I discovered a little problem --- apparently the signage is intended for cars, and pedestrians don't really want to walk on overpass thingies that don't have sidewalks. After a pretty extensive detour, I made it into the airport about thirty minutes before my plane was supposed to take off. It was... a little scary. I think I managed to get all the way to the gate in time to board if the flight was on time; as it was, it got delayed about half an hour, so I had plenty of time.

And... that's my trip, minus the parts about Splash itself. It... went pretty well... except for finding a host the first night, the actual hosting the first night, finding a host for the second night, and getting to the airport to leave...

The lessons I'm taking out of this is that when visiting a Splash, I should make sure I:

  • Know who is hosting me each night, and that they know they're hosting me those nights (while the latter wasn't a problem, apparently UChicago initially didn't realize MIT would be around both Friday and Saturday nights)
  • Have a phone number for my hosts
  • Know how I'm getting to and from the airport (and, if relevant, know names and phone numbers for the people driving)
  • Know who to talk to at the Splash if I have trouble (the person who did most of the coordinating between Diyang and I from MIT and the UChicago folks was from LU, and didn't come to UChicago Splash)

Really, I should have thought of all of this myself, probably. I'd been busy with classes and stuff before the trip, and had done a rather terrible job of thinking about the trip until I left on it. I should have made preparing a higher priority, but didn't.

Anyway, I survived without any lasting damage, so yay.


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More stuff

A square at a contra dance is somewhat of a blend between a contra and a square, but it mostly uses the same calls that a contra might use, but adding a few like Right and Left Grand and Weave the Ring. Cross Trail (which is almost the same as Cross Trail Thru at A1) probably has an increased chance of being called during a square too, although it's occasionally used for contras.

Lisa Greenleaf (who you may or may not know -- she's a Tech Squares member who is a well known contra caller and who also dances up to C2 or C3) is a lot more likely to call squares at contra dances than other callers are, so I searched YouTube for a few videos, and found and

I was hoping to find a dance called "The Rainbow Walk", but there are no Youtube videos of that, and there's only one mention of it on Google. I don't remember much of it except there's a part where the dancers are in a ring and there's a lot of "In to the middle and back that way, rollaway with a half sashay", similar to one of the two videos. (Then again, maybe the partial video is the same dance.)

At one point, a few of us decided to dance it in a bi-gon too, which was pretty fun.


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