Log in

29 January 2012 @ 08:34 pm
Harpelstane Dance Moot  
This weekend we attended the Harpelstane Dance Moot, held in a lovely old stone church not far from Edinburgh. Friday night was the normal Shire dance practice, held in the living room of some of the musicians of Gaita, who were also the musicians for the event. Practice was well attended as both locals and people who had traveled here for the event were in attendance, and it gave us a chance to learn some of the more complicated local dances, meet people, and visit with some of my old friends.

Saturday the event itself opened at mid-day. There were classes for a variety of dances during the day, then a feast, which was held early enough that I got to eat, followed by court and then the evening dancing. The feast was full of good food, and I fully intend to write them and ask for some of the recipes. They played a fun game for the dancing. During the feast pieces of paper were handed out to everyone who was willing to participate (and some men got more than one card, since there were more woman than men present and interested in dancing). Each paper gave the name of one member of a famous couple (or, in some cases other size group). Everyone had to find their other half, and decide what dance they would request. Then, when the ball started each famous couple was called forward, in Order of Precedence (first was King Malcolm and Queen Margret of Scotland, since the event was held in a Scottish hall), and they told the musicians which dance they would like to do.

Some of the more amusing pairings were the ones that weren’t just couples. The Prince of Insular Draconis was given the card for Zeus, and his other half was “All the Ladies”. So he chose a bransle, and danced with us all at once—sometimes he was in the ring, holding hands with two of his partners. Other times he moved into the center of the ring and danced facing out at all of his lovely partners. lord_kjar was one of the men to get more than one card.

Early in the evening he was King Arthur, and he and his partners, Guinevere and Lancelot, chose a three-person dance. Later in the evening he was Henry the Eighth, and all six of his wives were present (I was Anne; the other Anne decided that she’d rather be Cleves, so that left me to be Boleyn). They gave us wives the option to each choose a dance we could dance with our Henry in turn, but three of them didn’t want to select a dance, and two of the others both wanted the same dance—the local version of Canarios, which is a complicated performance piece for six dancers. So those two wives, and four other ladies, performed that dance (normally the floor would fill with other couples dancing the requested dance), and then the band played my choice (bransle l’official) and lots of other men came in to help Henry toss his wives (and other ladies, too) around.

Even after all these years in the SCA that is still my favourite dance. I never outgrew my love of being picked up and carried around, and having someone do it in time to the music makes me happy. Especially on evenings like this one, when there were a fair few men dancing who are strong enough to actually lift us up. Once all of the famous couples had had a chance to request a dance the floor was open to take any requests from anyone, so we kept dancing for a good bit longer before everyone pitched in for cleaning the hall.

We were all encouraged to take home any leftover food we wanted, as what wasn’t claimed would be tossed, so we packed up quite a nice collection of things for lunch and other meals today. Today was scheduled to be a normal shire gathering at Linthgow Palace, but given the late night dancing most folk didn’t head out. We went, along with our hosts sismith42 and loupblanc, but we showed up rather later than the normal shire gathering start time of noon. Even though there were no other SCA folk present we did have fun exploring the palace. Yes, I had been there before on another visit to Edinburgh, but that time the tower wing wasn’t open. This time we got to go all the way to the top. After exploring the palace we retired to a nearby coffee shop so that the others could have a hot drink and sweet desert and I enjoyed a scone with jam and plenty of cream. Yum!

Then we took the train back to Glasgow and they took another train back to Edinburgh. It was great to see them again, and a generally delightful weekend. Now to get as much work as possible done this week while lord_kjar does his second week of class of complicated server stuff. We still haven’t decided what adventure next weekend will hold, but since we don’t fly out till Sunday afternoon there will be some time to play.
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
JTlearnteach on January 30th, 2012 05:25 am (UTC)
That sounds like a wonderful way to hold a dance! Must do it sometime.
Stephanie Rebours-Smithsismith42 on February 2nd, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Mistress Judith of Northumbria's research has encountered a ball from Ulm, dating to 1503 (I believe) that this was loosely based on. I say loosely because at the Ulm ball, because in the original (and at Academia della Danza), the participant's own order of precidence is used. (I think also only the couple spotlighted gets to dance, but I could be mistaken on this, as I haven't read the source material). We added the historical couples thing in because a lot of attendees are local reenactors and thus don't have any prescdence.
JTlearnteach on February 2nd, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
There is a term for this in the SCA dance community, a "Caruso" ball, but it's not done in Crosston because, well, we just haven't done it, and order of precedence is somewhat unused. I love the masqueing element of picking historical/mythical couples most!

Thank you!