Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

A Snippet of Public Singing

I ofttimes bewail that in our country, in our culture, in my city, there are no pubs suitable for pub singing. By this I most certainly do not mean a stage and a microphone, but a spot of decent acoustics where the management and the clientele do not cringe in discomfort from a bit of chorus singing from the patrons. I believe very strongly that it would enrich the cultural landscape tremendously, were there such a place.

This lack is not characteristic of the US only. When I was in Melbourne a couple of years ago I went out to a pub with Britannia Morris after a danceout, and we started to sing a bit and it was a fine time but the management came over and interrupted us mid-song to tell us to stop because somebody on the other side of the room wanted to watch some sports event on the giant television and we were annoying him. Why 12 or so of us had less clout than one single individual is a question that can perhaps be answered by what one of the Aussies said under his breath in response: "Apparently they don't allow fun in this establishment".

Tuesday night was the first practice of Border Morris season, when about half a dozen dancers from each all-male Cotswold Morris side in the Twin Cities re-form as a single Border team for a few months. I don't like to dance Border, but I play the drum and sing Molly for the dancers and I really enjoy seeing everybody on Tuesday and going out for beer afterwards. During Cotswold season the Braggarts generally go to Pizza Luce. During Border season Great Northern Border generally goes to the Town Hall Brew Pub where we can all fit at a large table in their second room. Last night, however, they were short on staff and wouldn't let us sit in the second room. Instead they let us sit at some sofas and chairs in the area between the two rooms, near the pool table, where the over-worked server could more easily take care of us. These seats were directly in front of a huge television, but we got them to turn the television off (despite what I detected as their reluctance to do so).

Our server turned out to be very friendly and pleasant, and one of our group made some reference to us singing for her at some point, to which she replied that she would like that. This astounded us, and we kept it in mind. After we got our beers I sang something -- I don't even remember what -- and the group joined in, fairly quietly and decorously for us. It was about this point that the manager came over to turn the tv on again -- apparently one of the pool players had asked for this, to check some sports event, but the person who asked for it stopped the manager and told him he'd rather listen to us (to the manager's seeming annoyance). But again, why would one single person have more clout than a dozen folks all buying beer and food? Certainly our singing is no louder than the sportcaster's play-by-play. But that's how it works in our world, which is not optimized for me.

We took the pool player's approval as a sign, and various people took turns in leading songs. It wasn't the best place to sing really, but it was fine and fun. I was delighted and impressed that we had enough people willing and able to lead, even without Walser there. With the possible exception of the manager, nobody minded us in the slightest. I truly love a session like that, just fifteen minutes or so of singing after a practice. We told the server that we weren't actually a singing group, but a dance group, which surprised her.

It was just a small block of time, and there were no especially transcendent moments of song as I have sometimes described taking place at, for example, an Ale. But oh what a lovely thing to have on a Tuesday night. For once, for brief, for me at least, my cultural landscape was thus enriched.
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