Invasion of the Body Snatchers ~
Two discussions can take part blame for the seed to this rant:
Discussion: The Siege of Ennis - 21st Century Style
# Posted on July 23rd 2007 by Free Reed
Discussion: Doolin - Mecca for the tone deaf
# Posted on July 23rd 2007 by regog
But we, my wife and I, were the ones that really let rip, and this is the softer option… I don’t want this to be ‘specific’, as the concepts are not limited to one incident, place or person. We, my wife and I, and friends and family, have come across it more than once, and not just with regards to the traditions of Eire.
Anyway, trying to be general, here goes the weave of this, one ‘general’ example only, the results of discussion as we rambled the paths and byways around here…
This begins with friends who were steeped in the tradition of their locale, major ‘sources’, and they were regularly put to the pleasure of repeating their tradition, music and dance. These things were regular, and you knew the few dances that had been danced thereabouts for a good long time, and the body of tunes that were theirs as well. It was a good group of musicians and dancers, ‘regular folk’ despite their many talents, and people with welcome and limitless patience and humour. Things were well mixed too, all ages and sorts. This was well maintianed and nurtured ~ up until the swell of popularity in the sets took hold like some fever of dementia. The ‘local’ venues became meccas for some folk, tagged on the tourist maps as places to visit, and while it may sound bigoted, I’m mostly talking about ‘city folk’ and come-from-awayers, not ‘locals’, and mostly Irish city folks…buses and vehicles, cars, vans, 4-wheelers and caravans full of them…
These ‘tourists’ carried with them a lot of things that were not part of the traditions, expectations built on the fantasies they’d been fed in workshops and competitions and by, in some case, egomaniacal musicians and dancers who had put themselves out there as the priests of this new wave of ego inflated dance and music. They sought even had the gall, out of the ignorance that is disprespect, to work to change what they found. Like so many of this type, they were likely convinced it was for the good of us all, the damage was being done with ‘good intentions’.
These cattle would come trampling in with their requests for dances and tunes and ways that weren’t part of the local tradition they were ‘visiting’, like requesting versions that weren’t known or were solely the realm of competition and exhibition dancing and music. Hell, they often didn’t even bother to ask, they just imposed. "I’m here!"
With the increase in quantity and density and speed the other things that had been integral to the local tradition started to shrink with neglect and abuse, like the social nature of it all. For the locals, and for us, these were what we counted as the ‘craic’, not the flash and adrenalin excesses of this ‘new wave’. Being possibly too amiable, the locals can tend to give in too easily to the marauding hordes and attitudes and expectations fed by the pop culture of it all, like those mass entertainment summer schools and gatherings, like the larger fleadhs and other festivals of mayhem.
Was there ever a county where I didn’t see this invasion having an effect? No! Even with small intimate gatherings in those cities themselves. Too often ‘expert’ was a status assumed by someone having the balls to do so, whether or not they actually had a clue what it was they had chosen to be the official voice of. There were usually strong vested interests involved, like furthering their own selves, and sometimes meaning the neglect of true care and understanding of the tradition or aspect of tradition they’d taken as their own. And no, I’m not down on experts, workshops and mass gatherings. It is just that in the rush for quantity over quality, tunes or dances, for those that take that route, the soul and heart and necessary understanding that results in respect, all those things I value highly are too easily bypassed…
This was the topic during a long walk tonight, remembering people we cared about, and places, and ways, and how we’d seen things change for the worse, in our opinions ~ not by the free and informed choice of the locals, the regulars, but by the impositions of visitors, ‘tourists’, & ‘experts’, most of who were Irish, though generally not local… It’s a bit like those growing pods in the movie. These people feel a calling to infect everyone else with their notions of what the tradition should be, the music and/or dance, and all a bit at times ‘happy-clappy’? ~ not far off a cult, a bit too ‘Scientology’ for me. :-/
Not having the same self-belief and delusion, the more amenable ways of the locals can result in their stepping aside, or even removing themsleves from the onslaught, while those hordes come charging on and over the top of what was there before them, stepping all over it… Hell, even the locals can get caught up in all the excitement and hype. ~ And suddenly it’s all the same, and memory of what was begins to wane as fewer and fewer of those with that appreciation, understanding and knowledge, and way, aren’t about anymore.
If a large Heavy Goods Vehicle (Mack Truck) comes up your backside blowing it’s airhorns and flashing its lights, you are best to pull over and let it pass… You can’t reason with such a*sholes… But, I will always have hope ~