Before heading east last week, I joined my Morris team and Uptown-on-Calhoun Morris for our annual joint danceout. My team likes to meet up with each of the other three adult Cotswald teams at least once each season. This is always fun for me. At Ales we are never paired with another team from Minnesota for the tours, so this is our big chance to dance and sing and drink or eat ice cream with some of the other people creating Morris in our own town. We joined Uptown (pronounced "Upton" -- don't ask) at a small park in St. Paul where Summit Avenue hits the Mississippi River, at what I think is actually called the "War Memorial" but I always call "The Cenotaph" because I like the word.
By my lights, the evening was a big success. The weather was perfection. I'd been told in advance that Uptown would probably be fielding a smallish side that night, as they have been down in numbers this year (as have we -- teams tend to go through cycles like this), but to my delighted surprise the team showed up in nearly full force. Somebody told me that there were more members of the team than have been at any individual practice this year. I found this greatly flattering, since I like to think that this is because dancing with the Braggarts was itself enough of an enticement for people to make a point of arranging their schedules so that they could come. It helps that the school year was ending, and of course that the weather was perfect, but after all we are "The Braggarts" so we're allowed to claim credit for anything we feel like.
I had an idea that the evening might be more interesting if, in addition to the alternating team dances, we all did somethiing else, perhaps learn a new dance. There's a problem with that idea, though, which is that when you are out in kit you have certain traditions and responsibilities to uphold, and having a public workshop doesn't quite fit that mold. There's another problem, too, which is that not everybody else thought it would be such a good idea anyway. Bob Walser thought about my suggestion, and noted that what might work with the tradition is a traditional English Molly dance.
Now you see, in the US Molly dancing is a sort of Border Dancing danced to a singer rather than to an instrument, usually with one male dancer in a skirt. But according to Bob, Molly dancing in England originally was just the local dances performed in a rough style by folks showing up in costume, before begging for money. So our kit would be costume, and maybe he'd stop off at a thrift store for some skirts. And so he did, and he taught us a simple English country dance.
This picture shows what a beautiful evening it was (it's about 8:15pm or so here), and you can sort of tell that we're dancing in a rough style. It's clear that there are members of two different teams dancing. That's my braid flying in the foreground. I think it looks as if we're having fun.
If you'd driven or biked or jogged by, as many did, you would have seen us. What would you have thought?