pennsicdance: Gathering Peascods and "GOOP"
Maugorn at aol.com
Maugorn at aol.com
Wed Sep 7 09:10:59 PDT 2005
In a message dated 9/7/05 9:56:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time, waks at comcast.net
> Sorry, Henry, but I really don't agree. The word "grossly" implies a
> strong pejorative -- that this dance is not just a bit inappropriate,
> but that it is wildly inappropriate for our setting. Overuse in a case
> like this renders the term essentially meaningless.
I also agree that Henry seems to be confusing a matter of degree with the
fact that there ARE ends of the spectrum that vastly differ. It's a common
rhetorical fallacy often called "argument of the beard" (ie, how many whiskers
does it take on a man's face to call it a beard? Clearly the line is hard to
demarcate, but nonetheless a man who's face is visibly covered with hair has a
beard and a man who's clean shaven does not)
But there's another point Henry makes that I HAVE to agree with, and that is
the danger of making "rules and policies" about this without having any real
"authority" to do so.
You can't and shouldn't tell people what to dance.
You can like a dance or dislike it (for whatever reason)
You can teach a dance or not teach it (for whatever reason)
But when you start trying to police what others do, you start to create
And like I said before, this isn't a wedding, or (Really Big Social
Occasion/Event), or a matter of personal or national security. There are no "laws"
It's all a matter of personal aesthetic that is being influenced by a
cultural aesthetic that is as regional as it is subjective.
Nobody is dying or being gravely wounded here doing GOOP who's not dying or
being gravely doing any other kind of dance.
And I'd like to reiterate another observation: dances of all stripes,
styles, and periods come on the coattails of or are themselves fads. A dances
popularity is usually limited and ephemeral. People get bored and move on to the
next big new shiny thing. So, most of the time, if you don't like a dance,
all you have to do is wait it out.
But there ARE exceptions, and there are reasons for these expceptions. Some
people oppose the notion that, for instance: "Hole In The Wall" should be
granted some sort of "grandfatherly" or "traditional" status in SCA culture and be
"allowed" anywyay. If the goal is to foster "period" dance, then tradition
and ignorance of it's historical status can and ought to be trumped by what we
know now, is what they claim.
But I think that the reason that HITW persists as a popular diversion in the
SCA has little to do with it's periodicity and everything to do with the SCA's
sociological culture. And the reason I think this is that There are PUHLENTY
of dances that were
also popular back when I first learned HITW that aren't so popular now. A
prime example is the Earl Of Salisbury Pavanne. When I started playing in the
barn lo those many (OMG is it really becoming decades plural?!?!?!) ago, EOSP
was a MUST have in the musicians' repertoire. The fact that it was a
questionable modern reconstruction didn't matter then. It matters more now, and other
Pavannes that fit EOSP's niche have come along and quite frankly, as much as I
like the music for EOSP, I ALSO want to hear what some of the other actually
extant Pavannes sound like and to wrap my fingers around them.
Thing is, HITW was hugely popular then, and wouldn't be such a controversy if
it wasn't hugely popular still. One would think that the intervening
GENERATION of people between when I learned it and now would have had it going to
the same popularity of EOSP. But that's not the case. For an astonishingly
large number of people who learn this dance, as soon as they learn it, they love
it and want to do it- still.
And if this wasn't true, there wouldn't be such fervent calls to "stop
What I'm saying here is that many fads are simply social trends, but based on
my observations of this dance over the (OMG) decades that I've played it,
watched it, and sometimes danced it, HITW persists, not because it's a trend, but
because it answers a social need in the psychosocial structure of the SCA in
our time and place.
If you want to eliminate HITW, without a replacement that fills that need,
you are going to risk actual HARM to your community, and not just the dance
Actually I should say needs-plural.
Before you can even hope to get rid of HITW, you'll need to know
What makes HITW so popular? Ask the people who love it.
Ask LOTS of them. Find the recurring themes. Also ask alot of people who
experience the dance itself differently- you'll probably find something in the
movements themselves that is very pleasing to a whole lot of different people
for a whole lot of different reasons.
I predict that this dance is so popular and so widely appealing because it
meets alot of social and individual needs regarding dance. The reasons will be
legion, but the themes driving those reasons will overlap and reinforce each
other ALOT. And the end result of all of that is that alot of very nice people
are very very happy as a result of doing this dance.
Now ask yourself: What right do I REALLY have to take that away from them or
deprive them of it? What do I have to offer in return if I do?
What is it that really makes it more important to get your way on this issue
than to simply let people do what makes them happy in this case?
We all pay the same price to attend Pennsic and we all should get to play.
Not everyone has to like the same thing or for the same noble or ignoble
reasons. But when something strikes a chord, and resonates, and sustains the way
this dance has, I think that tampering with that without really knowing what it
is you're going to affect and basing that tampering on a projection of your
values onto someone else is GOING to have alot of unintended consequences.
Social engineering has a spectacular history of failures, because, well,
humans are both brilliant and morons collectively and individually.
For myself, I don't mind playing HITW once a night or so, and can and do
amuse myself thru the endless repetitions. All I ask is that it not be TOO many
times and not more than once a night, same as any other dance. I even like the
It ain't no big deal.
More information about the pennsicdance