Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

My, What A Long Sword You Have!

The winter local all-male Morris team, Great Northern Border, is a Border Morris team (plus Molly), made up of some of the members of each of the two all-male Cotswold Morris teams. Although there are some fine Border danceouts (Halloween in particular), and it is an ineffable joy to go out to the Town Hall brewpub each week with some of my favorite dancers from the other team (if you knew Derek, Tim, and Temple you'd say so as well and you'd probably fly out to join us), the winter season is a somewhat limited and lowkey one. I, myself, don't even dance in the winter; I play drum and sing.

This year, towards the end of the season, Bob W. brought in a set of long swords and the core team members set out to learn a Long Sword dance. A Long Sword dance, at its best, is a smooth and graceful set of continuous serpentine movements that appears inevitable and effortless. But boy, is it difficult. I didn't particularly want to learn a sword dance, so I missed the few practices where the team worked on this.

This coming weekend the local all-female rapper sword team (Short Sword) is sponsoring a "Sword Ale" (where we spend a day going from pub to pub and drinking beer and dancing). Last year the Border team joined them, but this year the group joining them is the group that learned to sword dance. Which means we have a new team in town. A new Long Sword team. Which means we need a name, which is always a fun time in the genesis of a Morris dance team. At the Town Hall brewpub on Tuesday Douglas had a list of possible names and we brainstormed for a while. That's always the best time of all, because everything is possible and nothing is inevitable so nobody hates the name yet.

Actually, we'll be dancing some Mollys as well as two sword dances this weekend, which is why I say "we" since I sing for three for the four Molly dances this year. (But "Katy Cruel" isn't really a Molly Dance!", I can hear you countering. Yes, you. I heard that.) So I went to Tuesday's practice so we could run through the Mollys. I had a fine time and boy, that Sword Team has really gotten a whole lot down since I saw them begin to work on the dances. I watched them dance and felt a slight regret that I had chosen not to have joined them. But only slight. Gracefulness, so key to this dance, is not my strong point. (Showing up on time every week and singing the Molly with a strong and steady beat loud enough to be heard a great distance outdoors is. Plus rarely being in a visibly bad mood.)

If any locals care to have a bit of British culture on a midwinter afternoon, this is our Saturday schedule (all locations along West 7th Street in St. Paul):

Glockenspiel - on West 7th, one block north of St Clair Ave. Begin dancing at 11:30 am.
Tom Reid's Hockey Bar - on West 7th, opposite the Uptowner Cafe. 1:00 pm
Liffey - on West 7th and Kellogg, 2:00 pm or so

The Liffey is a great place -- they imported an Irish pub and rebuilt it in a Holiday Inn. And Tom Reid's Hockey Bar turned out to be a lot more fun and bright and pleasant than I imagined a sports bar could be. Last year, among the patrons (of whom there were hardly any on a non-sports Saturday afternoon), were some young girls who did Irish step dancing (one of whom performed for us).
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