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The Annual Party

[Written last night, but only uploaded just now due to an LJ issue I didn't figure out until Shannon said he hadn't seen this entry.]

My two important yearly landmark events:
  • January 1: The new year's day open house party at Deb/Alan/Fred's house
  • May 1: May Day (Morris dancers dance up the sun at Inspiration Point)

So, today (well, the 1st ... it's after midnight now, so I should say "yesterday" ... but it still feels like "today" ... so bite me) was one of my two important days of the year, one of my most anticipated days of each year: The Big Annual Party. Deb, Alan, and Fred are three members of my chosen family, three of my closest of close friends. I lived with them for several months in 2001 when Shannon and I were split up.

Anyway, Deb has been throwing a new year's day open house party for about 20 years, I guess. I'm not sure for how long, but it's been a longstanding tradition, since before she and Alan were even together, and since long before Fred shared their house. I've been attending for ... uh ... something like 7 or 8 years, I guess. Over the course of those years, I've become close to quite a few people in this diverse community of folks, and so it's wonderful to see everyone.

It was good to see Fred, my long-time dance and charades buddy. We used to go dancing on "80's night" at The Stud (a gay club in San Francisco) all the time ... but then they stopped having an 80s night. *pout* We also used to go to New Wave City every month, but then their djs started sucking. *pout* *POUT* We've been to Polly Esther's a few times, more recently, but it just isn't as much fun. Too crowded, poor ventilation, and the music isn't as good.

Anyway, Fred and I got a rollicking game of charades going today, which was lots of fun. We play a charades game that is non-competitive, with no teams, no winners ... the game just ends when everyone feels like moving on to do something else. (In all honesty, this usually happens right after I leave the room, which is rather odd.) Shannon's boss was there, and seemed to be having a great time, and scratched my back for me (he's not at all pervy, just really really nice, and we socialize with him and his partner quite often ... they're great people), and acted out some fabulous charades. He's really very good. I rocked, as usual. Fred and I shouted out one of the answers ("no deposit, no return") at exactly the same time, and so we did the next charade as a joint effort. It was the first time we'd ever done a two-person charade in our game, so that was neat. We acted out "JFK and Jackie Kennedy" by doing a motorcade, and then him getting shot, and me chasing his brain. Morbid, but effective.

I also spent some time talking with Donya, my good friend and fellow Buddhist (with whom I sometimes go to Green Gulch Farm for retreat), who gave me a beautiful wrist nenju which she bought for me on her most recent trip to Japan. We would both love to make another Green Gulch trip sometime soon, but I don't think I can afford it right now. Perhaps if I save up some money. (It would cost me $70 per night. So if I do that instead of buying my cloak, I could afford a three-night stay.) I need to think about this some more.

Matt and Janet were there, both looking a little fragile in the wake of their difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy (due to health factors) a few months ago. They desperately want to have children, and are clearly still grieving deeply. Janet and I have grown apart in the past few years, which makes me sad. I should email her and make plans for us to get together, since things are rough for her right now. We could be there for each other.

My friend Tom (one of the owners of The Other Change of Hobbit) was visiting from Seattle, and it was wonderful to see him, even though we didn't get a chance to talk very much. He seemed a bit distant, but that may have just been the crowdedness of the party. He plans to be back in town in a couple weeks, so perhaps we can talk more then.

I didn't get to spend much time with Deb and/or Alan, since they were fairly busy with hosting duties. But we're making plans for me to start coming over to their house for dinner regularly again, perhaps once a week. Though I'm completely happy that I'm back with Shannon and we're doing so well together, I must admit that I really miss being a part of Deb and Alan's household, too. I wish I could have it all. By trying to spend more time with them, I hope that'll be a bit more possible. I miss and love them very much. They're closer to me than anyone except Shannon and my brother.

Well, there's more to write, but Shannon is waiting for me to come to bed, so I'd better go. I just wanted to write some of this down before it fades in my mind. I'm glad I went to the party, and I seemed to tolerate the crowd quite well, though I was only there for 3 hours. I talked to many people, and then came home absolutely exhausted and fell asleep on the couch for most of the evening. I imagine I'll sleep a lot tomorrow, as well. It was fun, but a lot more social interaction than I'm accustomed to lately!



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2003 06:30 pm (UTC)
that's cool that you watch the Morris Dancers dance up the sun. My husband's a morris dancer out here, and therefore it's our Beltaine tradition to watch hubby and children (they're on the children's morris team up here) dance up the sun, then we go around them all in kit and bells to their schools and pass out flowers to classmates and teachers. :) I get 4 floating holidays per year. My boss knows I'm pagan, and assumes I'll take the cross quarterlies off - but the only one I actually do is May 1 :)
Jan. 2nd, 2003 06:54 pm (UTC)
Would you care to inform those ignorant among us as to what these Morris Dancers are, and what dancing up the sun is? Like me! I'm ignorant! But I wanna learrrn! Teach me!
Jan. 2nd, 2003 07:15 pm (UTC)
To learn a bit more about morris dancing, you can check out the Berkeley Morris Dancers' website or a more complete list of morris info here.

For more on morris May Day festivities here. The basic idea is that traditional lore said that morris dancers must dance early on May 1st or the sun would not rise. The dance with bells tied to their ankles and wrists, and also often strike swords or sticks together, to wake the sun for another year. This happens all around the world on the first of May.

You can read some other May Day and/or morris dancing stuff here, here, here (this one includes video), or many other places online.

I'll write a thorough description of our May Day festivities when the day rolls around, but from the descriptions I read at these various websites, ours is pretty traditional.
Jan. 3rd, 2003 06:58 am (UTC)
What she said.

I can describe what it's like up here - but I'm not as interested in the history and stuff of Morris Dancing in particular as my husband.

I suppose the first thing that usually gets brought up is that there's no such thing as "traditional" because it is a living tradition - it's evolving and changing - and there are so many different influences. One of which is as you learn more about morris dancing, you'll find references to various styles - the styles are the region or town that they "originated" from, but really even now, new dances are made up world wide in a particular style, new styles are made, etc...It's pretty interesting to watch.

Up here in the Twin Cities, there is a specific knoll on the banks of the Mississippi - all of the Morris teams from throughout the area converge upon this knoll. We have about 6 morris teams (including the childrens' team), and umpteen unknown number of border teams, sword teams, etc., that also participate. There are MANY community members - who also show up to watch and make it a part of their own May Day traditions. Gathering starts in the pre-dawn, we tend to arrive about 15 minutes or so before official sun-up which means for us getting up at around 4:30 in the morning ( we have three kids to wrassle out of bed and into kit between our two families ).

The dancing opens with a mass dance - every morris dancer on the knoll joins in this one. I don't remember the name of it, but it's a more than common one up here and is done in a circle - if I'm not mistaken it's one that pretty much *every* morris dancer knows. Then each team takes turns and does several dances. All the while, community members are watching, shivering, laughing, talking. We have a bonfire set up comprised of everyone's Christmas/Yule trees - and we roast Peeps over the fire. Another mass dance is done at the end to signify that it's done, and most of the people on the hill go en masse to breakfast at a local diner. (We're talking at least 100 people here - probably closer to 200 or more).

After breakfast, routes are planned for the teams to go out and dance out around the Twin Cities - oftentimes at schools or churches - sometimes places of business or parks. We usually stop by the Montessori school that my girls went to. At that point, our family diverges. My husband sometimes at this point goes off dancing. I take the girls back home, and we go deliver flowers to their classmates - all the while the girls remain in kit. After passing out flowers, the girls go down for a nap - yes, they take the day off from school. In the evening, there is another dance. In downtown Minneapolis, there is a street called Nicollet Mall. Here is mainly a pedestrian zone, with a street open only to busses. This is where the weekly farmers market is, etc... Those who participate are divided into two groups. Each group starts at opposite ends of Nicollet Mall, and dance in parade towards the center, where they meet up again and do some more mass dances.

As early in the morning, the entire morris community joins for dinner en masse - sometimes at a restaurant, sometimes at someone's house. As a side note - when the morris dancers aren't dancing....they're singing *smile* loudly and usually in harmonies.

It's a great thing to watch and participate in. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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