Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Free the Toast!

Yesterday we had the most beautiful Mayday weather imaginable for Morris dancing, with a warm cloudy dawn and then bright beautiful but not hot sun for the rest of the day. Even the evening dancing in the wind tunnel of downtown Minneapolis did not chill things appreciably. My legs -- my thighs! -- are impossibly stiff and sore today after I've been sitting a while, but I knew they would be because there were a couple of dances yesterday when I gave everything I still have in me, propelling my increasingly heavy body high in the air (or low to the ground, leg stretched out behind) pushing myself beyond my current flexibility limits. Now each step is a delicate limp. When I carefully rolled out of bed this morning I was a very very old man. I took a three-block walk during lunch today, and my leg muscles complained the whole way. I walked slowly and awkwardly, as if on eggshells. This is my badge of Mayday. It's like a temporary tattoo.

Squiring a team around on Mayday has, for me, various moments of stress, mostly because of my occasionally high-strung temperament. The notion of an improvisational free-form day bangs up hard against the notion of ensuring you have a dancing quorum and ensuring you make it to places you have committed yourself to being at a particular time. It worked out, though, and at the wondrous core of it all there was a series of amazing moments, the culimination of the year's practice -- in fact the culmination of all the years of dancing, which focus themselves into a single point in time.

The moment of moments this year was the noon guerilla dancing at Macalester college, where my team and a couple of other teams and assorted dancers gathered in the amazing light on the soft green grass and danced for 45 minutes, as teams and together. Dancing Orange in Bloom was one of those times when you say to yourself, "Yes, this is why I dance Morris." Musician Bob was spot on, the dancers were as together as dancers could be. Partnering with Michael across the set was a time of powerful primal Morris communication. Actually it was one of those times when all the dancers were absolutely paying complete attention to each other, all the way through. For my fourth set of mid-air splitters with Michael our chests were within millimeters of each other and our legs, in split, were as one pair. That's when you feel as if you are flying. At our Day of Dance this year I finally got the hang of relaxing my torso while leaping high, trusting the strength of my legs to get me in the air without tensing the rest of me.

It was also wonderful to watch the others dance at that midday spot, and to dance in with a set for a dance I didn't know at all. I wanted it to be noon on Mayday forever. When we gathered to leave my friend Lisa was amazed when I pointed out to her that we'd been dancing for 45 minutes. Time had frozen, into the timeless tradition of the Morris.

There was also the 4am wakeup, the bustling around in the dark, making coffee just before going to bed the previous night and filling the thermoses. I picked zurizip up at her dorm at 5:15 to take her to the dawn dancing. She had a final at 8am that day, so I was impressed. At 6:03 I strapped on my drum and joined the musicians in the middle of the giantest Abram's Circle yet. Once again we did our civic duty, all of us Morris dancers in the Twin Cities, and danced for an hour at dawn on Mayday to ensure that the seasons come round and the crops come in. The rest of you should be grateful, and a good way to show your gratitude is to throw some money into the begging hat the next time the Morris dancers come your way so that they can have a beer and bring you luck.

My team separates from the other teams to have our own potluck breakfast, for logistical simplicity and because we need to be at Lolo and Smack's school by 9. This is the only way to do it. (Lolo and Smack are the children of team dancer and musician Bob.). We sat on the sunny front porch of Bob's house, eating bagels and fruit and frittata and scones and sipping coffee and singing a few Mayday songs, in one of those lovely moments you can't force through planning but which sometimes just come your way. I think it was Tim who led us in the Padstow Mayday Song ("Unite and unite now let us all unite for summer is a coming today") and I stood up to get us moving by singing a final verse:

And what of the Braggarts, now finished with their snack?
[For summer is a coming today]
They must now go and dance at the school of Lolo and Smack!
[On the merry morning of May]

At which point everybody complained that I always rhyme Smack but never rhyme Lolo when I make up songs about the team.

In the evening we met up with Minnesota Traditional Morris and danced down Minneapolis's Nicollet Mall. We stopped at the statue of Mary Tyler Moore, where Uptown-on-Calhoun was paying their own obeisance to the deity. After the Braggarts and MTM danced, Lolo and Smack climbed up on the statue and started polishing it with their Morris hankies, which was a Gilbert and Sullivan moment:

I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor
And I polished up the statue of Mary Tyler Moore...

All the teams meet for our final dancing sets of the day at the IDS tower (where the IDS officials reverted to their old practice of kicking us off the IDS plaza to dance on the sidewalk). My team did itself proud with our new stick dance to the tune of "British Grenadiers".

Then we went to a back cavern room at a local restaurant/pub called "The Local" where I had a delicious salad and a couple of pints of Harp and there was even a little bit of singing.

Then it was home to a deep sleep and now it is spring.
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