A Pub Crawl with a Morris team is just like any other Pub Crawl with a bunch of folks who like beer, except that at each Pub you clear some space and dance for a while and maybe sing a song or two. You'd think that publicans the world over would find this to be something they want to encourage, but alas, few and far between are the venues that welcome Morris dancers. People simply don't know what to make of us. As somebody on the Britannia Morris Men of Melbourne said when I was visiting last June, when we were told to stop singing right in the middle of a song because the one single other customer on the far side of the large pub didn't like it as it interfered with his watching of a football game, "Apparently they don't allow life in this establishment".
But sometimes a pub really does welcome us, and we try to cultivate this. Miraculously, Shannon of Swortsword managed to arrange for us to show up and dance at three different fine beer-selling establishments all on West 7th Street in Saint Paul. The staff at the first Pub (actually a German restaurant called Glockenspiel) seemed a little uncertain about our presence, but we were there at a slow time and ourselves brought them some business and eventually they seemed to calm down. The second pub was Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub, which is as sportsbar of a sportsbar as you will find in every detail. And yet they, and even their other customers, seemed to like us very much. At that bar some girls who happened to be eating in the back room with their parents came out to watch us with great interest and one of them, a girl about 9 years old, did some Irish step dancing for us (we provided the fiddle accompaniment). Then we went to The Liffey which is inside of a Holiday Inn across from the Civic Center (or what they now try to call the Excel Energy Center) but has managed to install the interior of an absolutely authentic Victorian pub. At that pub some of the customers sang along with us, and made appropriate comments throughout.
It all makes for a long day, with nearly two hours at each pub. But you do need that much time to order food and drink and set up and still have a little time to socialize. The day takes on a momentum of its own. It is very much like a tour at a Morris Ale, when teams from all over split up into buses and head off to several venues each. A tour at a Morris Ale always involves a pub stop in the middle (which, unlike Saturday's pub stops, is rarely long enough for everybody to eat and relax and also sing a few songs). At the end of the day Saturday, when I thanked Shannon for arranging things because this had been like a really good Ale tour, she said, "That's because the pub stops are the best part of the Ale tour, and this was all pub stops." She had a good point.
It's hard to swing your sticks indoors, and my bass drum isn't really suited for tin ceilings and small rooms, but it's fun to spend a day with a whole bunch of Morris folks and their entourage.