Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,
Steven
unzeugmatic

Ritually Summoning the Halloween Revelers

The Halloween Border Morris gig is a great one. The residents of Sargeant Street in St. Paul block off the street between Cretin and Finn and build elaborate clever stage sets in their front yards, making a sort of free Halloween theme park for trick-or-treaters. Somebody on the Border team years and years ago -- before my time and I've been around for a while -- came across this annual neighborhood event and the next year we just showed up and danced. The residents had no idea who we were and how we found them, but they loved us from the beginning. (In fact, they started blocking off the street for our benefit, after a rather dicey encounter one year between a Morris stick and a passing vehicle, and they even set up floodlights for us.) We're now considered a key part of the evening, and we've been told that things die down entirely when we leave towards 8pm.

But before they die down they are large and festive indeed. We get attentive shifting crowds over the course of the evening, with small children earlier and teenagers later. People return to this block year after year, so they expect us and are thus receptive to what we are doing. Michael Shewmaker notes that at Halloween, Border fits perfectly into the American psyche: black clothing hats and masks with colorful rag vests, vigorous pounding stick-clashing dances, ragtag ensemble of musicians playing any instruments handy. It's a colorful textured background to Halloween fun.

For outdoor events I love pounding on the bass drum. The bass drum can be heard for blocks, as anybody who has lived within a half-mile of a field where marching bands practice can attest. So when we start dancing and I start playing the trick or treaters from a long way around can hear the drum and know something is going on, which draws people to the event. I feel like the gong player at the Shinto shrine, or the person who blows the shofar on the mountaintop. Or so goes the Steven-centric view of the universe, as somebody pointed out last night.

Afterwards we head over to Lynn and Tim's lovely home a few blocks away, where chili is simmering on the stove and the refrigerator and cooler are packed with beer. We also bring our finest bottles of Scotch, although last night there wasn't much Scotch drinking. We sit around and laugh at each other and everything we've ever done and make nefarious plans for the rest of the world.

A happy Halloween for certain.
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