For the five weeks before the Program, members participated in a Snake-A-Thon, practising their snakes, aided by increased focus on that foundation by instructors in classes and intensives – and even a Snake Tune Up in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting. For every 10 snakes a member did, he or she could add one link to a chained paper snake that eventually encircled the practice hall in the main Downtown Kingston location. To make the Snake-A-Thon more accessible, snakes counted at home and in classes or practices – and not just free-standing, but at the bar and partnered.
On June 8, the eve of the Program, a well-attended Meet and Greet was held at the Downtown Kingston location so that members could celebrate together and meet Dave Frame, President of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada and a member of the FLK board, who was leading the Program. A good sign was the presence of some beginner students, who had a chance to learn more about our two organizations from Dave and get their first chance to do “the slap” near the end of the set.
The two-day Program drew a record number of participants for such an event in Kingston – 67 people – that required a last-minute switch from the tight quarters at Downtown Kingston to the Grace Centre in nearby Sydenham, where the branch holds a regular Thursday class. The 57 local branch members in attendance was also a record, and they were joined by friends from Peterborough and Ottawa branches.
Dave worked on the various foundations and early moves of the set, often tying them back to the very first foundation we generally learned in our first beginner class. He also emphasized what he called the 109th move: Smiling. Certainly there was lots of enthusiasm and smiles as the group went through the weekend – tea breaks were exuberant events — but more work is still needed on the 109th move during the set, it would appear.
On the Saturday evening, with dinner planned for a Kingston Chinese restaurant, the group shifted afterwards to the downtown location for a few sets and to watch the Motions of the Tao video and hear Dave expound on aspects of our training related to it.
Food overflowed throughout the weekend, including two cakes, one with a snake design on it and another with a ying/yang icing, prepared by members. Sunday morning, getting set for a group photograph, a garter snake was found sunning itself on the steps of the Grace Centre, perhaps reflecting the good fortune those in attendance felt at having participated in this two-day National Program.