pennsicdance: A word from the fringe.

rahne at rahne at
Thu Aug 25 08:40:44 PDT 2005

*throws great unwashed hand into the air*  I'd like to put a word or three in, if I may.

I'm still new to all this.  This year was my fourth Pennsic, and I've only been a member for 1 year.  I started going to dance classes at Pennsic XXXII, started teaching some of the dances to my local non-SCA group the following year, have attended Dancing Fox twice, and go to dance practice in Poughkeepsie once a week as my schedule permits.

At Pennsic I started going to dance classes in the tent, and enjoyed evening dances there in XXXII.  In XXXIII I went to more classes, but there seemed to be an increasing focus on the Italian dances, which simply don't interest me much.  At the tent there was always somebody who would ask me to dance, and that was lovely, but I got very tired of having to wait ages for the dance to begin as various laurels would bicker about which reconstruction was more accurate.  That year I also dropped in at the Barn once or twice, but it always seemed I got there just as things were winding down (also, it was beastly weather for dancing that year).

This year, I think I went to dance in the tent once.  I checked the dance list and found nothing in which I was very interested.  I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces and did dance a turn or two, but the atmosphere definitely seemed to me to have become more arrogant, more exclusive, and less welcoming than it had in previous years.  So...I migrated to the Barn to see what was what.

I'm glad I did.  At the Barn they danced my favorites (and certainly things at which many on this list would turn up their noses):  Black Nag, Female Saylor, Lord Sun Lady Moon, Heralds In Love, Petit Vriens, Rufty Tufty, Hearts Ease...etc.  There was nothing stuffy or unwelcoming or intimidating.  In fact, it was what, in my opinion, dancing should be about -- laughter, enjoyment, and sharing a smile with new friends.

So I'm one who has largely abandoned the tent in favor of the Barn.  I am certainly in a minority on this list, but I want to put in a voice for the "others."  Most of those who prefer the Barn format are, I suspect, not subscribed to this list.  They are not well-represented in this debate.  I would hate for people to make assumptions about "What People Want" based on an inaccurate sampling.

The GOOP, SOOP, Whatchamacallit dances are alive and well, and those who dance them are having a blast and not worried about whom they are or are not impressing.  Sure, we'd love to have access to the tent floor to save our calves, shins, and arches...but I'm guessing not at the expense of abandoning the dances we love best.

The themed dance parties are fine, but I feel they have overrun the schedule.  Certainly the fact that the themed parties are (with the exception of the Ball) ONLY held in the tent only increases the idea that dancers who don't prefer the offered themes are not welcome.  I think it would be beneficial to have at least one Open List evening during war week.  (Hm...I can't help but think of the scene from Caddy Shack where the caddies got to have access to the club pool for, what, an hour?)

Okay, you can uncover the ears of your children now.  I'm done.  ;)

--Gillian de Whittemere

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