Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,
Steven
unzeugmatic

The Butterbeer Song on a Hot Night

Part of the definition of Morris dancing is that it is danced for an occasion that supports and suits Morris dancing. That is less tautologic than it might appear, or we wouldn't be on a continuous search to find the right venues for danceouts.

Definitely a right venue for Ramsey's Braggarts was the Harry Potter book release party at Birchbark, the small quirky bookstore in the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis. The party Friday night was great fun. There were kids from many age groups, and games, and barbecues, and a firetwirler, and us. The deli and foodstore next door stayed open until midnight, providing tables on the sidewalks. We danced right in the street. We rarely get such an appreciative audience, and the most appreciative of all was novelist Louise Erdrich, who started the store. I enjoy her books, and it is a great joy to know that she is a lovely, kind woman.

We were in the midst of a record-breaking streak of days when the temperature rose above 90, and even when we started to dance at 11pm it was still in the 80s. When I got home, a full hour after my last dance, my shirt and my pants and my socks and even my sneakers were soaking wet, as if I had been hosed down. But I'd do it again in a flash.

After we danced a few dances and took a break I stood up in the middle of the street with Michael Shewmaker and started singing yet another parody of Good Ale. When everybody knows the same set of traditional songs, you can make up parodies on the spot and everybody will join in. For this song I had to change little; mostly I just replaced "Oh good ale" with "butterbeer":

Butterbeer, thou art my darling
Thou art my joy, both night and morning.


But I was feeling inspired, and I improvised this verse (well, I'd thought about it for a minute before beginning the song):

Though others say it's very queer
I dearly love my butterbeer
When I sneak out to Hogsmead town
I raise my glass and drink it down.


Mike enjoyed this. As did Ms. Erdrich, I found out later, who thanked us for working up special songs to sing. But we made those up on the spot, we said. She didn't believe us, until we explained that we just changed a few words of a song we knew.

After the butterbeer song, somewhat less publicly, I got inspired to sing a version of "The Rosabella". The original begins like this:

On a Monday morning in the month of May (2x)
I thought I heard the old man say
The Rosabella sails today
.

So it's not much of a stretch to make up:

On a Monday morning I ignored my boss
On a Monday morning I ignored my boss
And headed down to old King's Cross
To board the train to Hogwarts

I'm going on board the train to Hogwarts
I'm going on board the train to Hogwarts
I'm going on board, right down to board
The magic train to Hogwarts


Other improvised verses:

She's red and silver and so very shiny
She's red and silver and so very shiny
I'll sit in a berth right next to Hermione
On board the train to Hogwarts

I'm going to that school where I've been before
I'm going to that school where I've been before
I'll have a talk with Dumbledore
On board the train to Hogwarts


You see, when you're making things up on the spot they don't have to be very good to keep everybody entertained. And this is great fun to sing.

I said to Russ that you can't rhyme Quidditch, so he said I needed to sing a verse about Glenfidditch, but that's too forced even for me. So I sang this:

My Quidditch team it always wins
My Quidditch team it always wins
Sometimes with the help of the Weasley twins
On board the train to Hogwarts


It's been running through my head ever since, as a happy summer Morris memory. There are great advantages to having a shared culture.
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