[ This article appeared in volume 1 of the Letter of Dance. ]
Unto Justin du Coeur and the good patrons of the Letter of Dance, greetings from Morgause of Holyoke:
I wish to comment upon a topic I personally hold dear, the courtesy of dance.
I originally began attending dance practices and events in my home barony of the Debatable Lands some years ago. Not being particularly graceful nor blessed with a keen memory, I struggled long before I began to feel proficient in the basic steps. The members of my group were patient and encouraging so that SCA dance became one of the most eagerly anticipated activities that the SCA had to offer me. At events, everyone who seemed slightly interested was encouraged to try the dances and most of us considered it a matter of honor that our out-of-barony guests be asked to dance and so enjoy themselves. I particularly remember a left-handed gentleman who did not dance who was obviously struggling with Gae Gordon's. Being a southpaw myself, I understand the problems of following directions for the right-handed masses. When I got round the circle to him, I quietly talked him through the steps from a leftie's viewpoint. He danced the remainder of the dance without a problem, seeking me out afterwards to thank me.
Having begun my SCA dancing with such a wonderful group, imagine my surprise when I moved west and attended a few events in other areas! I've found that unfortunately, several groups I've visited run dancing with a "Prom Night" mentality. By this I mean that "couples" only dance with each other and new people are only asked to dance as a sign of sexual interest. Admittedly, most of this behavior was observed in the very young, many of whom consider everything in terms of sexual attraction.
My point? Only to ask that those who teach dance try to encourage a sense of chivalry in dance. Dancing is a great opportunity to help new-comers and visitors feel involved. Though many may stumble through the steps, they will head homeward with the feeling that they had a great time and their fellow SCAdians are what we propose to be: gentle, chivalrous, and gracious to our fellows. I feel dance can be an expression of our SCAdian ideals as much as any other aspect of the Society. It is an opportunity to keep "the Dream" alive and well.
This by the Hand of