Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Countdown to Mayday

Last night I found out that I'm not the only one who refers to Mayday as a "high holy day" for Morris dancers. I think this is more true in the United States than in England, but Mayday morning is certainly the big dancing day here, when all the local teams meet up at dawn at a hidden bluff overlooking the Mississippi. Right at sunrise we all dance Abram's Circle, then we dance for a while, both as individual teams and all together for mass dances. I bring my bass drum, which is the best hope we have of keeping everybody together for the mass dances.

There is something powerful about a large annual ritual of this nature that is extremely difficult to convey to people who have not seen it or, more importantly, felt it. Scores of us (hundreds and maybe thousands worldwide) meet up after much practice and at tremendous personal inconvenience to dance for no audience except ourselves. Why would we do this? It's a question I don't hear asked in Morris circles, except in salacious chants about how long we do it for, with references to fertility rites.

Sometimes people will tell me that they would love to come and see this but they just can't get up that early. I think but don't say: "Why do you think it's any easier for any of us than it would be for you?" I think there's a weeding out process here, like Minnesota winter. To the other people dancing at dawn, and even to the few non-dancers who join us (and in some cases feed us!) there is no need to explain ourselves at all, as there often is when we dance around town later in the day. There's a great peace and contentment in not having to explain yourself.
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