Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day! May Day!

Somehow, it seems we have not discussed morris dancing here much.

Morris dancing is a form of English folk dancing blah blah hankies, sticks, swords, etc., yadda yadda Langstaff something bells something go read Wikipedia.

I first learned of morris dancing through my cousins, who dance or have danced with teams in the D.C. area (Foggy Bottom Morris Men) (Rock Creek Morris Women). One of my early exposures was through their annual May Day dance, which happens at dawn, and which I have dragooned a few other people into attending with me over the years. It's a neat tradition.

Now, the last time I attempted to write much about morris dancing, particularly in my current area, I sort of started an incident. The internet was younger and I was more foolish in 1998.

I will attempt not to start any incidents this time, but I will say, one of my good friends up in these northern parts is also a morris dancer, and so I saw her team and one other dance this morning at dawn (which necessitated me getting up before 4, I'll have you know) on a mountaintop, and it was lovely. Great dancing, great company, stunning weather. Here are my (I hope) noncontroversial observations, based on years of morris spectating, followed by some pictures.

  • Drinking 32 ounces of Pepsi on an empty stomach at 4:15 in the morning may keep you awake for your drive and subsequent hike, but is it worth it? Really?
  • Nothing ensures that you will not need a flashlight on a sunrise hike like having a flashlight on a sunrise hike.
  • A group of people outside and up earlier than should be true are often in pretty good spirits.
  • Putney may be the Takoma Park of the north, or vice versa.
  • Morris dancing is one of those things that makes a slow shutter response really infuriating. Whatever fun morris thing you are trying to get a picture of, the thing you will get a picture of happened after it.
  • I may go to mountaintop or National Mall, to the rural reaches of New Englande or the bustling Parke of Takoma, to the north or the mid-Atlantic, and no matter how often or deliberately I move, wherever there be dancers with funny costumes and songs of whimsy, there will be someone prepared to stand directly between me and these dancers.

Putney Mountain Morris Women dance in very little light.
It worked! The sun's coming up.
Now there is cake, impaled on a sword. 

Really good cake, that I accept from a stranger and eat without even thinking about it.

Putney Morris Men dance in somewhat more light.
...and so do PMMW.


Mike said...

It is possible to get great action shots of morris dancing (peruse any morris dancer's Facebook page), but the trick is to abandon all attempts to capture specific moments and take a large number of pictures as fast as your camera will allow. Law of large numbers. Granted, this approach was prohibitively expensive for casual photographers in the film age, but then, Cousin Mouse was just saying today (at the local morris gathering) that he hasn't printed a photo in 15 years.

Joe said...

I love it. And cake impaled on a sword, to boot.