Posts Tagged feis safety

Safe Feising

For those of you who read Irish dance Blogs I really hope you had the chance to read the post on a safety issue at a recent feis on the What The Feis site. If you haven’t please go to http://whatthefeis.com/parents-dancers-please-read/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook and take the time to read through this post including the comments which show this wasn’t an isolated incident.

I’ve felt for a long time that we Irish dance people are a trusting community when it comes to feising. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked away from our camp site leaving my purse behind without even thinking about it. Now that my daughter’s older I’ve let her go off to find her friends or venture to the restroom on her own – especially in venues we’ve been to several times and are comfortable in.  It’s only been when I’ve heard of a tragedy like a school shooting or similar event that I’ve considered that this type of thing could happen at a feis because the events are open to the public. After reading about the creepy guy in Milwaukee I realize it’s time re-evaluate how we feis.

An important piece of advice I’ve tried to pass on to my daughter is be aware of your surroundings. Observe the people and atmosphere – if something doesn’t feel right or look out-of-place listen to your gut and move away from the situation and tell someone in charge – like a “Feis Boss”.  If someone touches her inappropriately she is tell me and we will go together to the proper person to report the incident immediately.

The same holds true for hotels. We where in Niagara Falls this past weekend and something didn’t “feel right” on our floor. Instead of leaving my daughter in our room while I ventured out for ice I made her come with me. I’m not sure why, I just felt it was important that we stick together. However the next day I left her at her stage alone to keep track of her competition while I went to the other side of the venue to settle a dress I was selling. Mad move mom, bad move. Now I realize I should have left her with friends who were the next stage over. Then again we’re at a feis and we’re all friends right?

A lot of this is common sense – don’t go to the restroom with out a buddy, don’t fall for the “can you help me find my dog” routine, etc. but it takes an incident like a creepy guy filming dancers to remind us it’s time to have the “safety talk” with our children again and this time put in terms of feising.  I tried to come up scenarios that could happen at a feis to advise my daughter to be wary off and told her to not to leave the venue with anyone she didn’t come in with – including people she knows – but especially someone who wants to show her a dress or wig that’s in the car. If someone comes up to her saying something’s happened to me she is to go to the nearest feis volunteer and ask to have me paged and stay with that feis volunteer until I show up.

Is this inciting fear in my dancer? In some ways I hope it is but not because I want her to be afraid but because I want her to be aware that while I believe the majority of people on this earth are good people there are some that aren’t and could potentially harm her – or me or anyone. We’ve had some very disturbing things happen with teenage and adult women in Cleveland in the past few years that have made the national spotlight and we as parents have to protect ourselves too.

What can a feis do to increase security? I noticed security personnel at the Dublin Feis earlier this month and I know Cleveland still has the non-dancers pay at the door before getting your dance card and program. Has the convenience of paying a family fee online made us more vulnerable because people can simply walk right in unnoticed? Should there be a tighter check-in process? Of course that would mean increasing volunteers and that might be easier said than done. Maybe we need to increase the number of feis dads to act as bouncers. It’s sad to have to think this way but better safe than sorry.

So when traveling to your next feis – think of ways you can improve how you feis to keep yourself and your dancer safe while still having fun.  I’ve decided the first I’ll do when we get to the Great Lakes Feis venue is instead of locating the nearest restroom or beer vendor I’ll find  the “information” or “security” area instead then set up camp and get ready for the day. 

Until next time – stay safe & be well – Slainte!

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