Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Braggarts Day of Dance

A few weeks ago at Morris practice we brought up the notion of having a Braggarts retreat this practice season. It surprised me, but there really was a consensus of interest in trying to find a weekend for the Braggarts to head off and work through our dances and tighten our style and drink a lot of beer. This year we got started a little late in our practicing, and we haven't had full attendance as much as would be ideal, so I for one thought a retreat could make up for that and bring us together as a team for the season. Over the last couple of weeks I kept finding myself starting to make the case for why this would be a good thing before realizing that everybody agreed already and the issue was simply finding a good time and place. Many of the Braggarts have children, though, making travel problematic and contributing to scheduling conflicts, so the notion of a weekend away became a day in town which I took to calling the Braggarts Day of Dance. We held this event last Saturday.

Despite the somewhat reduced goals, it was fantastic. I'm still a little sore, two days later, and I'm not the only one. The day left me in a wonderful mood, from which I still haven't fully emerged.

We were able to rent the Good Templar Hall on Cedar Avenue (oh the irony), a fascinating if decrepit building with a great space for dancing. There are wonderful windows you can open and kitschy painted murals and a really nice feel to the place. The day was beautiful and unseasonably warm. There was lots of room in the building for the kids to run up and down the stairs all day, and a side room for them to rest and read from the big box o' comics we provided. We had our full currently active team there all morning and through lunch -- after which we lost only two dancers so we were able to keep dancing and working until 4:30 or so.

For the first session of the day all we did was stretch, which of course we never have the luxury to do on a regular practice night, not for that long. Fore Michael gave us bits of advice, and others contributed their own experience and knowledge, and we pulled and twisted ourselves into various bodily configurations, holding our stretches for long periods of time and focusing on a few exercises (I now can isolate my rotator cuff!). I don't think I would have gotten through the whole day had we not begun it like this. Some of the kids joined us for different periods of stretching. We ended the stretching by jogging in various complicated maneuvers around the room, and the kids loved this part.

From there it's hard to remember specifics. We worked through a good percentage of our repertoire and slowed down for basic style points. This might seem odd to an outsider, but there are steps we do in nearly every single dance but which we still need to work on and discuss on a regular basis. It turns out we all had a different sense of the footing for fore capers, particularly when done in sequence. We probably still do, but we're closer to consistency now. In mulling this over at the end of the day, I realized that one thing I love about my team's dancing (and practice in particular) is that we are never complacent about even our simplest dances. I think that makes our dancing feel alive, even when we dance our warhorses. We also worked on a new dance, to one of Bob's tunes which we love but for which a previous choreographic attempt did not do justice. We may have solved that issue.

We walked up Lake Street for lunch, where we had delicious Mexican food at a small restaurant that was completely unequipped to handle cooking for a group as large as ours all at once, which led to some logistical problems that will produce stories for us to tell for years to come. For example, Ironman Matt accidentally ate my entire lunch, every bite, before his lunch arrived and we realized the mixup. This was funny even then, at least after the first few seconds, and it will get funnier in time as the circumstances get exaggerated.

It's hard to figure how the day went so fast, but it did. Over half of us were free to meet up for dinner an hour after we broke up for the day, at a local Brewpub called Town Hall. That was a happy time as well and wholly in the spirit of our original conception of the event. When my food arrived Matt, of course, took the plate for himself -- see, a running joke already! Some folks continued to hang out after dinner, planning to go to Michael's place to drink some nice Scotch, although I couldn't join them.

As I say, this was great. There really is something that happens, collectively, over the course of a retreat, even in truncated form. We're a little bit down in numbers this year, but when all of us are there we can be one fine dancing team, that's what the day reassured me. I know that at least some of us are really looking forward to Tuesday's practice now, for no particular reason except that we want to hold on to the feeling that Saturday's Day of Dance generated.

I wish you all could have been there. You would have had fun, and when you got bored with watching us deliberate the finer points of our RTBs there were dozens of 1960s-era Harvey and Archie comics you could have read. You might just possibly have gotten a small window into why some of us dance the Morris. And what it feels like to be a member of a Morris team -- something that was not obvious to me for all the years I stood on the outside but which emerges with crystal clarity on a day like last Saturday.
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