Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Border Morris (and a Molly Dance)

I don't write quite so frequently about Morris dancing when it's not Cotswold season. This is mostly because I am squire of the Cotswold team I dance with, so for about six months the Morris team is my first priority. For those months, my team obligations are continuously on my mind. Somebody on the Border team asked me the other week whether I miss dancing during the winter and my response was that if I had to be squire for 12 months of the year I would burn out long before those months were up, in a spectacular flash of spontaneous combustion leaving only a few charred remains and a small spot of dead grass on the greensward. It would henceforth be known as the Squire's Slash and nothing would ever grow there again.

But another reason I don't write so much about Morris in the fall and winter is because I just don't enjoy Border dancing quite so much, which is why instead of dancing I play the bass drum. I do very much enjoy the Molly dances, though, because in that tradition the musical accompaniment is a solo singer and half the time I get to be that singer, belting out the song in a steady percussive rhythm that is unlike any other unaccompanied singing I can conceive of. With your voice alone you can work with the dancers, bringing them back onto the beat when they falter. I do love this.

Even though I don't particularly want to dance border myself, we do have some border danceouts that are wondrous fun. The biggest bestest border danceout is on Halloween, and I've written of this before, but last night we had quite a fine time as well. One night per year we show up at the small park across from the Ordway Theater in downtown St. Paul and dance while folks arrive for whatever show is in town. Then we go to Great Waters Brewing Company for good beer and quite reasonable food.

This is always a nice enough gig, but last night was just great. It was still bizarrely warm, and we had a larger and more focused and interested crowd than usual. We did a better job than we sometimes do of moving quickly from one dance to the next. It just went very well, and I spoke to many onlookers about who we were and what we were doing. Afterwards a large group went to the brewpub and it was as fine and friendly of a time as you could want.

To me, what we are doing, by showing up around town just to dance and play music and move on, is creating texture for the community. We make our city a more interesting place to live. We enjoy being with each other as we do this. The more years we do this, the more years we do this together, the richer the associations.

I am usually very very happy when I drive home at the end of these evenings, and not just because of the pitchers of nut brown ale.
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