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The American Morris Newsletter

April, 2007 -- Volume 27, Number 1


The California Ale, 2007
Little Audrey Hits the Big Time!

Audrey Goodman

After being offered a healthy up front 'commission' of insincere but adorable flattery by our beloved editor Andy, I agreed to do up a little article about a terrific Ale held in Berkeley California last weekend. It was dubbed, "Beyond the Pale Ale". I have no idea what that means, but the tee shirts were real cute! In attendance were about 12 terrific Cotswald and Border teams from up and down the West Coast and Western Canada (for a specific list-go to Berkeley Pale Ale's beautiful website).

My original plan was to arrive at 7 PM, having left Santa Monica at Noon, ready to learn the mass dances; Vandalls of Hammerwich, Balance the Straw, Simon's Fancy and Lollipop Man. But alas, my beloved partner, Morris dancer extraordinaire and driving companion Brian, had to 'finish his taxes' that morning. Which really meant starting them at 9:45 AM, finding a mistake in them at 10:15, starting them from scratch at 11 and...yea, you know the rest. So pulling out of Santa Monica at 4:30 PM, YET ANOTHER YEAR, At 11:30 PM we arrived at the Headlands Institute, a great place for Marine research, not to mention an Ale. Ah well...there were still enough people awake and dancing to have a lovely visit with a number of good friends.

Saturday's rain only slightly dampened spirits (not anything CLOSE to what Sunday's lack of coffee at 9 AM did to 'em - Oy!- but that's another story), which couldn't even be squelched by the lack of the inimitable "One Grecian Urn" (n.b.-- see my editorial comment below-- AB) morning stretch as we joyfully bounded onto our buses and headed out to San Francisco's Exploratorium in the nonstop downpour. The MANY patrons on this rainy day surely got more than they anticipated with their admission fee. We were to have been dancing outside, but the rain was heavy enough to get us relocated inside, at several spots throughout this wonderful 'hands on' science museum. The children and adults were all agog! Especially when Vancouver Morris Men did their black faced, feather encrusted hatted bit-Yeow! Those guys were superb.

Vancouver Morris Men

Midday, the rain, the crowds, and the legs/ankles/wrists of the dancers all cooperated for a dry and colourful Union Square show dance set. As well, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, our last stop of the day, was a grand one with dry weather, happy family type crowds, and only five minutes from camp (and Beer! - or Cider in my case). That evening, in spite of some sore muscles and flagging energy, we banqueted, danced and drank into the wee hours. All in all, a full day and evening of festive English style merriment.

Rising Phoenix Morris

Sunday, we FINALLY got that coffee at 9:30 AM, by which time many of us were improvising some Morris tune lyrics threatening less than happy circumstances for the fellow hording the kitchen key. During breakfast, we learned that the "Best Hangover" award was this year given to three upstanding members of our community; Erik of Wildwood Morris, Jocelyn of Goat Hill Morris, and Michael of Faultline Morris for CAUSING the most hangovers in honour of their respective birthdays of the weekend. After the applause died down (because too m any people grabbed their heads complaining about the noise), we cleared out and got our little tushies over to the Pyramid Brewery Pub, which turned out to be a perfect location for further dancing , drinking and that English revelry stuff we never seem to tire of. Cider in hand, (which is why I kept dropping the pen), I circulated through the crowd to pick up some memorable quotes to share with you, the readership, as follows, plus I've added a couple that I overheard at other moments in the weekend (last names withheld to keep the guilty from getting jeers from their friends if applicable):


"Hey, mine has vodka in it!" - Jamal from Appletree Morris on getting a flask of something he thought wasn't vodka.

"Are you complaining or bragging?" - Nora from Rising Phoenix Morris
(Note: OK, I was drunk at the time and it sounded funny then).


"OK teams, grab your musicians and get them moving!" - Jay from Faultline Morris in an attempt to get us out of the Exploratorium and back to the bus.

"Where should we grab them to get that done?" - Nora from Rising Phoenix Morris
(who was in good form that day in my opinion)


"Gawd, my head hurts!" - either Michael from Faultline Morris, or Erik from Wildwood Morris. They can't remember which one said it.
"No" - anonymous from Morton Bay Figs Morris
"Holy crap, it was supposed to be warm down here!" - a lovely gent from Vancouver Morris Men
"No." - another lovely gent from Vancouver Morris Men
"Awesome weather, (well today anyways), fabulous dancing and 3 great birthdays! Hi to Andy. - Jocelyn from Goat Hill Morris
"What a waste of P's!" - anonymous after picking up a bunch of broken off letters left in the wake of Seabright Morris's keyboard clashing dance.

And speaking of which:

"Oh Daddy, look at all the clowns!" - unidentified little boy taking a pee next to a few of the Vancouver Morris Men in the Pyramid Brewery's Men's Room.

Well, that's all folks. I'll report back when our side has returned from our visit to the Mothership, or as it's more colloquially known to you and those attending, the "Chippenham Folk Festival" (yes, that's in England) where my beloved Rising Phoenix Morris will be dancing with sides from all over her Majesty's kingdom during Memorial Day/Bank Holiday weekend in May. And hey - we are NOT crashing either, check out the website -Rising Phoenix Morris is on its list of invited guests!!!

Audrey Goodman
Rising Phoenix Morris
Santa Monica, California

N.B., from your Editor: I have helped raise two successful children with my lovely wife, I am a success in my chosen career, I live in a lovely old house in a beautiful city, and I am editor of this fine periodical; however, all that pales beside the accomplishment of introducing the Grecian Urn to my California Brethren (and, er, Sisteren). You may take me at any time now, O Lord.