Providence’s location should alleviate most travel concerns. Not only is the convention center area a 15-minute drive from T.F. Green Airport, the city is easily accessible from Boston—where many international attendees will be flying in and out of—via car and the T commuter rail system. It is also three-hour train ride from New York. “By planes, trains and automobiles, it works out pretty well here,” Gibbons says.
Inside the convention center, NAIDC will be spread over 28,000 square feet and divided into five rooms to avoid cramping the athletes and the audience. “People want to sit in the auditorium and watch the competition in comfort,” says Bracken. Another space consideration is the number of vendors who will be selling “anything related to Irish culture,” notes Green.
Bracken acknowledges the convention center’s high ceilings will present a challenge in terms of acoustics. Music is so central to the event that performers from North America and Europe will play live as the dancers compete rather than piping in recorded songs over the sound system. “It’s a must,” Green says of the live music. “That’s one of the important pieces of Irish culture we strive to maintain.”
The musicians also add the ambiance outside the arena, as they are known to perform in hotel lobbies after the day’s competition concludes. The Irish crowds have proven to be a good eating and drinking crowd, adds Gibbons. “They like to have a good time at night,” says Gibbons, who has Irish ancestry.
It all goes into building a small-town atmosphere while bringing together thousands of dancers with myriad backgrounds. Because hotels, shopping and restaurants are all close to the convention center, there’s no need to catch a cab or ride a train to unwind after a stressful competition.
“It makes life easy,” Bracken says of Providence. “It checks the boxes, so to speak.”
North American Irish Dance Championships
July 2-July 6, 2015
Rhode Island Convention Center