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Welcome Aboard!

--"Izzy, how did you start dancing?"

--"What got you into martial arts?"

--"What kind of dancer/martial artist/writer are you?

--"How do you deal with brain damage, bodily injury and 

     C-PTSD, yet still dance, write, train, live the way you do?"

--"How do you still find joy and beauty amidst pain and loss?"

--"Wow, you should write your memoirs!" 

    This Is My Story

NSFW, 18+

  • Writer's pictureBella Dancer

HIGH ON CRAIC! - Dancing Like I Do

As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary Online:

Craic: (kræk)

noun: irish english

"enjoyable time spent with other people, especially when the conversation is entertaining and funny"

​Ex: The boys went driving round the town just for the craic.

Hi. My name is Izzy and I have a Craic Addiction.

No shite, there I was, at the Muskogee Renaissance Festival playing camp follower with my buddies, Terra Nova Tribal. Although going to Ren Fest has long been a tradition of mine, this year's shenanigans all started because of a drum.

Ermmm...drums, as it turns out.

For decades, I have gone through phases of thinking that I should have switched from flute to percussion way back in high school, and that I wants me a drum.

I was correct. It simply wasn't time.

In about tenth grade, I fell in love with beating booming things and crashing cymbals the first time the percussion section needed auxiliary help. After that taste, I was the first to abandon the front row for the back.

Then in my second year of college, belly dance happened. A few years later, I discovered the excruciating joy of learning to dance while playing finger cymbals, and it's been ON ever since. Naturally, I have dabbled with many hand drums of the Middle East, India and Africa countless times. I've enjoyed it. As I said, occasionally I am struck by these waves of drooling obsession that I should be a drummer, so I plot going to some SCA event to get my hands on multiple types and decide which one to buy, or I entertain the idea of heading down to Guitar Center.

It's never happened.


So Guitar Center couldn't help me. Oh, they have loads of dumbeks and djembes and tablas. It surprised me just how many that the store in NW Arkansas carried. But that's not what I wanted. If I did, I would have bought one years ago.

I blame my Gaelo-Celtic blood. I blame all those days in high school, pounding the timpani and radiating the resonance of a good crash of metal-on-metal into the audience. Of late, I especially blame Kali.

Not merely the Goddess. I blame the martial art and its Filipino cousins I've been studying for the past three years.

I have no urges to drum with my hands and fingers. Neither do I want to play with a little tipper one-handed. I want sticks or mallets, and I want two of them, but not on a snare. That's not deep enough. I don't want a bass drum either. Apparently I'm Goldilocks.

OK, I actually do want a bass drum, but only as part of the set I just witnessed last weekend.

For sometime now, I have known what I want. I simply haven't know what it IS. I've seen these coveted drums at Celtic Festivals or in parades or in the Celtic drum-and-pipe bands at the Ren Fest. When I started trying to Google what they were, I came up short. So, too, did my Facebook hive mind poll. The Google search conducted by Guitar Center's guitar dude came up with the notion that what I needed to do was visit a store that sold marching band equipment.

I decided to do one better. I arranged to go to Men-In-Kilts weekend in Muskogee and ask in person. I had friends working the Fest, and they got permission for me to camp with them all weekend.

This event couldn't have been more important in delivering multiple confirmations that I am absolutely, unequivocally, 100% on the right path with all these shenanigans I've been up to.

So...I displaced my knee some weeks ago. This gave heavy credence to the impetus to Slooooow Dowwwwnnnn, as well as to play with some of my other toys while I convalesce. Seeing has how the never-ending frustration of music royalties will bankrupt me if I try to afford all the songs I need to produce my Elements System for online consumption, I have been exploring my possibilities of producing more music of my own.

The possibilities are looking really favorable. GarageBand has long been my friend for editing and now I'm finding friends who love the program for composing. Additionally, hanging out with Terra Nova has given me access to live Middle Eastern music, I do know some other local musicians, and there are always my old pals from Colorado. I still love my zills, I just asked my mom to give my old flute back, I've been singing and singing and singing for months with no clue why, and I can tell that this round of I Wanna Be a Drummer is the real deal. I just needed to find out what those darn drums were, and where I could get my hands on one.

That's how I got hooked on Craic.

It always starts that way. Just a little itch to scratch. One decision to seek out a little drum. C'mon, man. I gotta beat me some skin! (*wince* Yeah. I really did just type that. Of course I did. It's me.) Annnnyway...go on one little drum quest and you fall down the rabbit hole.

I could try to describe The Craic Show, but it's better if you just watch. And trust me, while the CD is badass and provides a different experience with getting to enjoy all the melodic nuances in a way you can't while being bombarded in The Muskogee Cave, nothing can prepare you for the way that these drums FEEL in your bones and your blood when they're pounded into you live.

This is why my drum quest is vital. These drums give such a deeper sensation. It resonates within me lower than the Middle Eastern percussion I've been dancing to for over a quarter of a century. Belly dance drums hit me in the heart and solar plexus. They do resonate in my hips. But this type of drumming thrums deep in my guts. It ignites my feet, shoots up my legs and explodes into my pelvis. That conflagration rockets out every power center in my body and demands that I get some darn sticks into my hands and beat things myself.

I have this image of being Lindsey Stirling with a drum. After watching Craic's enthralling Tonya provide vocals, percussion, and dance to the show, I have even more images in my head. Sometimes she picks up a tupan and comes down to spin with it, wafting her 25 yard skirt here and there. Other times, she stays up on stage playing the array of drums in an array of ascending size and pitch. She and the female drummer of Pictus are my newest she-roes. (We'll get to Pictus here, as they deserve a post of their own.)

Well, when Dylan started doing Kali stick patterns on his drum array--"OMG that was totally Heaven Six!"--that was all she wrote. I will have to slowly acquire a set of my very own.

When I asked Tonya about the drums, she answered what I had begun to fear in my previous search efforts: The Craic Show makes their own drums.

Other bands, on the other hand, modify theirs. Yes, indeedy--as confirmed by another of the badass drum vixens I met last weekend, a bass drum mounted on its side along with tom-toms is another way to go prior to making one's own. My new Terra Nova pal Rachel gave me many additional hints on the where and how of finding, buying and altering said drums for my needs.

And so...


But wait, there's more!

I told you that I've developed a bit of a problem, right? This...this Craic Addiction. (You, too, can get hooked here.) Naturally, I couldn't sit still to music of this caliber. At long last, I got to test-drive this whole BellaDance thing I've been exploring during the past five years of my medical hiatus. In truth, this is what I've been heading toward all along.

To finally take the safety off and to live-fire this shit for the first time...





As a belly dancer, I have never "done it right." Anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows that. We'll get much deeper into what exactly BellaDance is, but for now, suffice to say that my couple experiences with no longer having to consider a producer's theme or a nightclub's ambience or the precarious balancing act I've always done with coloring as close within the belly dance lines as I ever come...

It is Heaven 6 to throw all that to the wind and go back to dancing Any Damn Way I Feel Like It, simply because the Muse-ic demands it of me.

This is what I did as a kid. It's what a lot of kids do, and everybody oohs and ahhs without a thought to, "That foot flourish is not the correct technique that should correspond with that hand gesture, and neither of those movements should EVER be done to this song!"

No. We just squeal in delight at a child expressing his or her heart as the music puppet-masters their exuberant little body. That is the essence of what I do. That is my BellaDance, and no one will ever be able to convince me that this is not equally as valuable as those who keep pure traditions alive.

There Is No Box.

Because I was dressed in my turquoise coat with heavy metal at bust and hips, as well as my old thigh-high SCA fighting boots (it had stormed the night before, so muck abounded), it was perfectly natural to mix and match belly dance with the fancy footwork those drums and my boots called for. The Craic Show plays a wonderfully global mix of sounds anyway, so how can my body not obey the piper's call?

Toward the end of the finale show, Terra Nova got up to perform with them, and then they prepared for the the little teaser shows all the bands do at the Pub for the end of the day. Bless Michelle's heart, she grabbed Frontman Daniel by the hand and asked what he thought about having me perform with them.

Before I knew what had happened, I was hauled out of my comfy spot in the weeds of obscurity that I've been nestled into for years. With the mobile version of The Craic Dealers behind me on the stage, I got to do an official test drive in front of an audience and it felt GOOOOOD.

So good that little girls flocked me. That's been happening a lot of late. I'm told that it's partly due to the fact that my blue hair advertises the magical creature in their midst--Little Girl Craic, if ever there was such. Well, we all stomped and shimmied and twirled and laughed until Tonya and Dylan came down for their drum-twirl extravaganza. Taking my turn as the pied piper, I led my little see-and-do-monkeys to the side, except for the youngest who insisted on remaining center stage.

What can you say to that?

Ummmm..."Hells yes, go girl!" is about the only thing I can think of.

Well, we all finally exhaled and the Fest wound down for the weekend and I promptly hit the lake for the annual fishing trip with my dad. Once I was returned home, it's been a week of basking in the faerie tale images stirred up by the trip to Nonsuch Neverland as I slowly unpack--not merely my bags and costumes--but everything that happened.

I am still high on Craic. I had to buy a fix before leaving, so now I have them on my computer and on my phone and they've inspired a new playlist on Spotify. I will get another live fix in July when I return for my pilgrimage to Colorado to teach and visit my friends.

This was precisely what I needed to boot me once and for all out of the old life and into whatever is coming next. It's all pretty fuzzy out there in the future. All I know is that I am tromping through the toolie bushes in the right direction. Wanna come play?

May the Craic Be With You!


--UP NEXT: LIGHT AT THE END OF THE...- Adventures in Entrepreneurship & Voc Rehab

--OR THE DAY I PICKED PICTUS- More Celtic Drums that Inspire Me



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