I moved into an English basement in Eastern Market that I affectionately referred to as the “Harry Potter closet”. Rules of survival were similar to the rules of spending extensive time on our small family sailboat: bring only what you absolutely need, be prepared for constant noise, and spend as little time below deck as possible.
But, I had reduced my multi-hour, rage filled car commute to a 20 minute walk. Yay!
January- May 2018
I tried every furniture combination imaginable to make the space hospitable to guests.
Jack returned from school.
June- August 2018
I looked at Every.Single.Apartment in the zip codes 20002-20003.
July - August 2018
We had our first SDD week-long summer camp to learn our company dances for the year. Plus, we did things we rarely have time for: singing, music, videos, and baking.
The baking was particularly endearing. We made my mom’s soda bread, which has become rather famous in our community. While we were working in the kitchen, kids would chat, or sing. It was fluid. This felt right to me. This felt like where sean-nós dancing is cultivated: in the heart and in the home.
Louise and I talked about how we need to do more baking. Maisie and I dreamed of SDD having a kitchen.
The studio office had been wet since April. I had sent all the emails, documented like a madwoman, made all the calls. They “fixed” it with a sump pump they never plugged in.
The floor was still wet.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
May - August 2018
We had 5 accordions, 3 concertinas, 3 fiddles, 4 whistles, plus me and Diana already living on the Hill. Not to mention a million dancers and their supportive families. We needed a session so that we didn’t stagnate.
Plus our community simply needed a social gathering that wasn’t at the studio or a gig.
I reached out to every pub on Barrack’s Row, H Street, and Penn Ave. Anything with even a remotely suitable environment for families.
I laid it out for them. I gave them a budget, a sample upfront agreement, and an outline of their investment vs. the return. I explained how I would walk in and bring a minimum of 50 people, who would eat and drink. I gave them sample simplified menus.
All I needed was the space.
It was a win-win for everyone.
I got emails back that said “We will be in touch next week” over and over.
I didn’t understand.
I found the apartment that was the most likely to succeed. It was bigger than the HP closet, and above ground, yet still quirky. I walked back to the studio.
I didn’t know why I was walking, and was rather annoyed with myself that I was inviting on doing it. It was a million degrees with a million percent humidity and a million mosquitos. The apartment was in the SE corner of 20003. The studio was in the NW corner of 20002.
Why am I walking? I’m sweating. So much. Why am I walking? Seriously, Shannon. Why are we walking? Call an uber. What is wrong with you? Also, JEANS? Can we stop wearing JEANS in AUGUST?
HOUSE FOR RENT
The real estate agent is next door.
This makes no sense. I don’t have the kind of money to rent a house.
“Can I look at this house?”
Something about the fireplaces feels Irish. Something feels right.
“I teach Irish dancing and music. I need to be able to play music and dance in here. You are SURE that’s ok?”
I already know the answer.
I’m seeing it in my mind as if it’s a memory of something that is about to happen.
I can see the visitors, house concerts, sessions, dancing, study, community, baking.
I can sense our community already there, as if they’ve already been making merry in the place.
I am hearing the music.
I can see the feet moving on the floor.
The ghosts of sessions yet to come.
I go upstairs.
The upstairs could be it’s own living space, and is bigger than the Harry Potter closet.
“Shannon, you are crazy. You can’t just…”
Oh come on. Sure I can. Where’s your sense of adventure?
September 17, 2018
Moved in last Wednesday, first artist in residence arrived on Thursday, first day of workshops on Sunday.
Workshops: 16 people all day, 2 songs (350 years old), 12 lines of conversational Irish, 1 meal, 11 dancers, 8 concertina players, 2 whistles, 1 lecture.
2 more artists have scheduled since.
Messages from friends saying they can’t wait to visit.
If you build it, they will come.