American Morris Newsletter  

American Morris Newsletter

Volume 25, Number 2
July, 2005

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 AMN Article, Vol. 25, No. 2  

Taking a Risk and Embracing the Unfamiliar -- Toronto Women's Sword Checks out The Midwest Morris Ale

Last Labour Day weekend Toronto Women's Sword had the pleasure of spending a day with Ramsey's Braggarts of Minnesota. It was one of those easy connections of dancing, singing, and conviviality that made for a splendid day of dance. Over a few beers and songs, we began to talk about the ales we regularly attend. The Braggarts spoke well of the Midwest Ale and planted the seed of interest in attending the Midwest Ale among the members of TWS.

The more we thought about the Midwest Ale, the more the idea began to take hold. Participating in the Midwest Ale appealed to TWS for a few reasons:

  1. The Ale was to be held in Port Huron - a mere 3-4 hours drive from Toronto. This was a key factor for us since we, as Canadians, do not have a holiday corresponding to Memorial Day. 
  2. We'd never been to the Midwest Ale before. We were intrigued and drawn to this notion of 'novel'. 
  3. Speaking of novel, the California team White Rats would also be there and we were curious to see them in the, ahem, flesh. 
  4. We be able to spend some time with our new friends the Braggarts. 
  5. We had not been invited to Marlboro.

There were some concerns (as there usually are when considering something unfamiliar) about attending this Ale. When we looked at the list of teams attending we did not know many of them. This is unusual for us because we tend to go to the same Ales -- London, Toronto, Half Moon, Marlboro - and consequently know many of the dancers. It also was more expensive that other Ales and it was more so once the conversion of American to Canadian dollars was made. However, these concerns proved less significant and we made to commitment to securing an invite to the 2005 Midwest Morris Ale.

From the Friday night of the Ale, through to the Sunday evening, TWS were treated exceptionally well. The slight unease of attending a new dance event was completely swept away by the unfailing friendliness at every turn. We were encouraged to take part in the mass-dance workshop on Friday night. Most of us decided to have a few G & Ts instead, but it was lovely to be included. This decision was quite alright by the organizers, and it gave us a chance to meet our cabin-mates -- the three members of White Rats. Lovely folks. We shared conversation, a drink or two and some black-and-blue tights but that is another story. The Rats also bestowed temporary tattoos on our upper arms -- no sutures necessary!

Saturday was spent dancing in picturesque spots followed by a good pub. Perfect. That evening we attended one of the most memorable Ale country dances that I can remember. Perhaps it was the even ratio of men to women and/or the low average age of Ale attendees, but the dancing was enthusiastically enjoyed by all, despite many of the dances being too complex for the crowd. During and after the dance there was some satisfying singing and great local beer in kegs.

Sunday, we again boarded the luxury tour buses (that was the expensive part of the Ale fee and well-worth it) and were taken to a few more dance stands, leading up to a final show dance by the water. TWS performed Papa Stour in a drenching downpour that began as we walked on and stopped as we walked off. The support shown by our fellow dancers was amazing. They did not duck for cover from the rain; rather they remained rooted to the spot and watched our dance attentively. You just have to love a group of dancers want to watch your dancing.

In all, a highly successful weekend. We were able to dance and pub with our friends the Braggarts, but we also made new connections with teams that we had never met before. As a team, TWS felt well cared-for (the organizers and our extraordinary tour leader Andy Bullen(*), took everything into account), well-danced (the ratio of dancing to pubbing was right), and happy to have taken the risk to try a new Ale and embrace the unfamiliar.

(*) Ed. Note-- In my humble opinion, this is the best article of the entire issue; perhaps the best article ever published in the history of the AMN! (See what a favorable mention about the Executive Editor can do for you?)

 AMN, Vol. 25, No. 2, July 2005  ISSN: 1074-2689