A couple of years ago and again this year h brought along two other members of his team, Kevin and Meg. This meant that h, instead of dancing with another team (usually Squash Beetle, which is happy to have him), got to dance with an actual Rats set -- if a slightly modified three-person grouping.
I should say, perhaps irrelevantly, that I have stopped by Rats practice twice during work trips to San Francisco, including a practice devoted to the processionals they would be dancing in that year's Pride Parade. If I lived in the Bay Area, this would be my team, that's what I believe. Kevin, Meg, and h have graciously invited me several times to join the Rats for San Francisco Pride. This would involve actually sewing bells to my upper arms (with temporary piercings). It is seriously tempting, but I would have to miss playing with the Minnesota Freedom Band at my own city's Pride parade and besides, for nearly twenty years I have been planning someday to ditch Twin Cities Pride to play with the San Francisco Freedom Band for their big huge fabulous famous parade, just for the experience. I'm still loyal to that idea.
All that aside, what this journal entry is about is a moment during show dances on Saturday morning, when White Rats Morris was dancing. A quickly growing group of onlookers, standing just to the side where h was dancing, started chanting, "h's butt! h's butt". Here's the view they had:
Ok, now this was one of those MOMENTs when I stand back and consider the complicated backgrounds and byways that led to the situation of a group of people from cities through the country on a warm humid morning in St. Louis shouting out their appreciation for the butt of a guy from San Francisco. It was great fun, of course, at many levels, but how do you begin to explain it? In a sense, it's the answer to the question of why you go to the Ale: So you can tie bells around your shins and join your friends in chanting "h's butt!" while he does his version of a 19th-century dance from rural Britain.
I wondered, briefly, whether Kevin and Meg were feeling slighted. But then the dance heyed around and Kevin was standing in front of the h Cheering Society:
At this point somebody said, "Hey, his butt's not so bad, either", but not everybody knew Kevin's name so it took a while for the cheer to change to "Kevin's butt! Kevin's butt!". Kevin told me afterwards that the cheering renewed their energy at that moment in the dance, so it's a good thing.
Here's White Rats later in the dance, in a photo that only hints at how cleanly and precisely they move:
This is only one of their several kits, and probably their most conservative.
Anyway, I'd love to dance with them someday.