May 8th, 2011

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A Fine Weekend of Dance

Didn't make it to either May Day or the International Steampunk City (which I hope folks have pictures from), because we'd long since made plans to attend the Northpass Dance Academy. So on Friday night I collected ladysprite and umbran, and the three of us headed south to Chez Dad for the night. We passed the time with ladysprite DJ'ing -- as usual, she managed to play almost entirely tracks that I liked and hadn't heard before, so I have some music shopping ahead of me. (Particularly excellent was the 80s hair band mashup group, who I need to look up and buy.)

Saturday was spent entirely at the event, and it was a complete hoot. While one shouldn't overdo specialty events, they have a distinct charm: an event that is all about people geeking on their favorite art has a friendly camaraderie that is hard to find elsewhere.

The main point of the trip was the three classes ladysprite was teaching, and those went quite well -- in particular, she demystified Villanella to the point where we had a goodly number of folks on the floor for it in the evening's Ball. The only downside of the day was that she strained her knee, so wasn't able to dance as much as she would have liked.

Other than that, I'd say the highlight of the day was the classes that Dafydd Cyhoeddwr was teaching on the Lovelace MS. This is a book of English Country dances that came to light only very recently: academics discovered it perhaps ten years ago, and the SCA found out about it last year. The original is at Harvard, so Gundormr managed to get access to the microfilm and put that online, and Dafydd has been tooling with it ever since. Many of the dances are related to the ones in Playford (indeed, Dafydd argues that the presence of Lovelace may have forced Playford to rush to press), but aren't identical, and the differences are even more intriguing than the similarities. I think the Society is going to have a lot of fun picking through this, but he's given it all a fine headstart, providing a transcription to go with the images.

I learned several dances at the event, but the winner is probably Lightly Love, from Lovelace. This is a simple, ridiculous, utterly delicious flirting dance game that I predict is going to utterly eat Pennsic alive this year. The verse is simply up a double and back twice, then set and turns, but the chorus is the meat of the dance. The first gentleman wanders down to the last lady, and proceeds to engage in a formalized dance duel with the last gentleman for her attentions; eventually, he takes her by the hand, escorts her to the top to become his new partner, and it all repeats. Done straight, it would be fairly dull, but if you ham it up and flirt outrageously it's a blast. We got one three-couple set for the evening Ball, and kept the crowd entertained for a fair while as we all got more and more into it.

(The best discovery of the day was that Lady Jane Milford can match me flirt for flirt on the dance floor. This was a great deal of fun, and calls for further practice.)

Plus a simple but tasty feast (I haven't had Savory Toasted Cheese in an age, and had forgotten how addictive it is), and a ball that ran longer than we could cope with (we bowed to exhaustion after 4+ hours at 10:30ish, while things were still going strong) -- overall, an excellent time. We really need to drag more of Carolingia down next time.

Today was relatively lazy: we got up when we woke, and had bagels with Dad and Sandy before heading northwards again. (Becky finally got to understand just how much like my father I am.) Travel home was uneventful, but they introduced me to Traveler's Food and Books, which I've driven past hundreds of times but never gone into before. Lovely place, with truly excellent clam rolls, and I did pick up one strange but neat book: "The Quintessence of Ibsenism" by George Bernard Shaw -- apparently a summer assignment he got from the Fabian Society one year, in which he explains what Ibsen's plays are *actually* about. (Regardless, of course, of what Ibsen might have thought.) Not entirely sure what to expect, but an unusual book of Shaw from 1905 (I appear to have the only copy of this edition in LibraryThing) for $2 is by any definition a win...