Many times throughout the weekend all the dancers gather together to do a "mass(ed) dance". Which means you've also got massed musicians, which creates a variety of logistical and musical issues. Wouldn't it help to have a bass drum, to pull folks together and to be sure that even the furthest dancers can hear the rhythm? A squeezebox or two doesn't always carry very far outside. But where can you find a Morris dancer who plays and owns a bass drum, and is willing to cart it to the Ale? That's a tall order.
Thank goodness for alpha musician Bob, who did his best to keep us together and direct us through the difficulties of setting tempo as a group and ending together and working with each other. In this picture, mid-dance, Bob and I are consulting on matters of rhythm. But that's not why I include this picture. I include this picture because it features Brian B from Ann Arbor whose dancing I've been enjoying since he was a teenager. Even though he's perfectly still in this picture perhaps you too will enjoy his ... er ... dancing.
Andy likes "dancing" with Brian as well. But why aren't their hankies together? Because they are probably dancing in two different traditions. And that's h in the background, whose dancing last year inspired the group chant of "h's butt! h's butt!".
It seems as if h has learned a few tricks himself this year. In fact, he has learned to levitate, which must make things easier on his knees. Here he demonstrates this feat while dancing in with Kentucky's Squash Beetle for the weekend.
Oh, but what would an Ale accounting be without another picture of h's butt, so that we can follow it through the years.
There are pretty girls at the Ale as well, or at least pretty dresses. Here Mike from Madison strolls among the dancers in his role as the Betty. Usually he carries a basket and distributes fertility cookies.
Oh ok, here's the real team of pretty girls, the Bells of the North. This picture was taken at a pub stop, but most of the dancers stayed out in the hot hot sun to dance in the street. Me, I watched this from an upstairs window with a cool beer in my hand. Fully 2/3 of the dancers in this set are under the age of 20. Anna Bean recently turned 13, and she did pretty well dancing with the grownups.
I close this visual recounting with an image of the massed parade of Bonny Green Garters. For this alone a bass drum is a useful thing to have. Note Bob on trombone, and the Betty casually walking by.
Here's to the ladies we love them so well...