Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cloggers Take Tampa By Storm

The Cross Creek Cloggers, the Appalachian clogging group of which the Clog-wife and I are members, performed this morning for 500-600 attendees of the 94th annual conference of the American Association of Port Authorities at the Tampa Marriott Waterside hotel. The Clog-wife and I enjoyed the 23rd floor room with its gorgeous view of the adjacent marinas and Tampa Bay beyond. We enjoyed the valet service, and the hotel staff attention, even down to happily bringing us his/her toothpastes/toothbrushes when we discovered we’d forgotten ours in our rush to make the evening-before rehearsal.

Backstage, prior to the performance, we met the head of the Tampa Port Authority, who graciously spent a few minutes chatting with members of our group making sure that all our needs were being met. Needs? What needs? His organizers booked our room, validated our parking tickets, attended our every desire, and payed our 8-member group $3000 to execute one single three and a half minute routine. We didn’t need a single thing, except to convey our gratitude and let him know that we were prepared to dance our hearts out for those fleeting moments.

Event planning staff and talent wranglers from PGI were consummate professionals. They had every contingency covered, had smoothed every wrinkle beforehand, and were pleasant to boot. This is the first time I’d encountered that level of professional show biz, and I’m duly impressed and humbled. The kind of professionals you’d want to, say, direct FEMA operations.

As we traveled from north central Florida to Tampa, hurricane Wilma was departing the state leaving millions of fellow Floridians to the south without power and other essential services. Here we were lounging like Romans in a lavishly appointed hotel while not very far to the south and east of us, all those people were coming to grips with the destruction the storm wrought upon their communities and livelyhoods.

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