In a complicated intertangling of schedules, each of the four major Twin Cities Cotswold Morris sides meets up one night each summer with each of the other sides. When I first joined the Braggarts we ended our season by meeting up with MTM (from which our team broke off a couple of decades ago) at the Walker Arts Center Sculpture Garden and then crossing over the highway to the Loring Bar and Grill where we drank beer and danced in the street. The Loring Bar lost their lease a couple of years ago, and we lost our enthusiasm for that particular danceout. (There was no audience at the Sculpture Garden on a Tuesday evening anyway, so when you took away our beer what was left?)
We've tried a couple of other things since, fun things and happy times, but nothing that resonated with the sense of inevitability that makes you say, "Yes!". Ah, but then last year the City of Minneapolis inaugurated the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line. It seemed as if it might be the perfect venue for our Braggarts/MTM tour. And sure enough it was.
We met up at the Fort Snelling Station, where there is a parking lot and a grassy area and a pub (although I don't think anybody began drinking quite then). It took us two shifts to board the train for our next stop, because there are only two ticket machines and each transaction takes a couple of minutes so some of us missed our scheduled departure, but it was a very nice evening and nobody was particularly concerned. A six-hour ticket is $3. It was a bargain.
We stopped at 38th Street, where there is a pub called the Cardinal right at the station. We danced outside for a while and then we got back on the clean air-conditioned lovely trains to go to the Cedar-Riverside Station, where the Baja Riverside Bar and Grill sits. This is a big place, with one of the better indoor dance floors in the city (I go two-stepping there on the occasional Thursday night). More food and beer and dance. Around 9pm the folks with children headed back to where we began while the rest of us continued on, past the Metrodome during a Twins game, and on to the Warehouse District where we walked over to Gluek's which is, apparently, a traditional MTM watering hole. Gluek's has a great wood-paneled back room (even greater now that there's no smoking in Minneapolis bars), which was ours entirely. We moved back the tables and danced and drank and ate chicken wings. It felt like a party, or like pickup dancing at an Ale, very warm and friendly.
When it was time for me to leave we all sang the most rollicking loud version of Rolling Home I've heard in a while and then I joined a group retracing our train route. Sitting with your friends in Morris kit on a train at 11pm on a warm summer's evening is a pleasant feeling, indeed. Since I don't have occasion to use the light rail, it was all novel to me, and made me feel as if I were in Europe.
It was a vacation evening, with my friends and my beer buzz and some public dancing. Would that all my workweek evenings could feel like that. Or yours.