Riverdance in Daytona Beach and Clearwater
Marcus Maloney, Dancer, Boyne Company
After a busy Monday at the theme parks, city number three in Florida awaited us and it was the colourful Daytona Beach, located a little up the coast from Melbourne. Daytona is the ultimate beach town and one of the biggest draws in Florida. Over the years it has earned a reputation as a party town, thanks to the decadent weeklong gathering known as Spring Break, when half-a-million college students descend on Daytona. But the city’s pride and joy is auto racing. The Daytona International Speedway hosts a number of high-profile racing events, most notably the world-famous Daytona 500 in February. It was just our luck that we were performing the same week as the Daytona 500 so you can just imagine the excitement buzzing around the city. Although tickets for the big track events were sold out, some of us managed to go down to the track and take in the atmosphere of the event. The noise of the cars was incredibly loud. There was certainly a carnival atmosphere.
Again this week our hotel was located on the beach front, and many of us spent the days lying by the pool and the sea and relaxing in the hot tub. There were lots of beach activities also we took part in, mini golf and karting to name but a few. What a life I hear you say! But in between all the fun in Daytona there was of course some work to do and we played 3 packed performances that left audiences wanting more! Valentine’s Day fell while we were here and there was great banter backstage between cast members giving and receiving cards. Damien seemed to be most popular amongst the ladies! That night after romantic dinners and cinema dates, many convened on the Mai Tai bar, which became a favourite with the company this week. Located right on the beach, the live bands provided endless opportunities to sing along and get our groove on!
The weekend came again and we were off on our travels once more, this time to Clearwater. The chilly weather that had started on our last day in Daytona continued on with us to Clearwater. A beautiful peninsula town located on Florida’s West coast, the area is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and Tampa Bay to the east. The Ruth Eckerd Hall Theatre, where we played in Clearwater, provided an opening night party for us to show their appreciation for our 5 sold out shows.
The audiences were the best yet this tour, some shows receiving multiple standing ovations. Local Irish dancing schools were present at many performances and we were delighted to sign autographs and chat with the possible future stars of Riverdance afterwards. Bill Hopkins, a former crew member with the show, returned to visit for the weekend and his BBQ Sunday afternoon in the sun was very much appreciated by the crew. The Monday brought us a very short trip to our next city, Sarasota, just an hour south of Clearwater; so a group of 25 of us rented cars and decided to go via Tampa for the day off. Busch Gardens theme park was our first port of call.
We spent the day riding rollercoasters and watching shows. Sheikra, with a 90ft vertical drop was the all round favourite rollercoaster of the day
The park is African themed and so it was like being on safari for the day. The elephants and alligators provided a great spectacle, something most of us don’t see every day!
In the evening we went to the wonderful International Plaza Mall and had a big group dinner at the Cheesecake Factory before heading onwards to Sarasota for the next couple of weeks in Florida.
The first two weeks in Florida were filled with all sorts of fun and enjoyment. Hopefully you will join me next time for my tales from the sea side resorts of Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale and Naples. Goodbye for now from the sunshine state!