The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

Gig: October 10, 2009

On Saturday we awoke only slightly hung over, and only slightly sore.   Some ibuprofen, orange juice and a breakfast pasty or two solved those issues and helped us to face our strenuous day.

And by strenuous I mean: we mostly just hung around our camp.

We did a little bit of jamming, but for the most part were content to just wander the War site, sit quietly reading in the shade, or chat with however happened to be in the camp.

However, all this lazing about couldn’t last, and we gathered up and got ready for our daylight performance at 4:00 PM, on the small stage.

The Afternoon Show:

Known as the “Open Arms Bardic Hall” this is a smaller stage, with a goodly sized bunch of hay-bale seating rows.   Overall a crowd of about thirty would have room to sit comfortably and watch a performance.

The Open Arms provides space for the various Bards, Singers, Storytellers, and Artists at the War.   Generally speaking you are asked to provide a twenty to thirty minute set.  New performers take the stage every half hour, on the half hour.  It is a really great set up, and the folks that manage the stage and the performers are really nice, and still somehow well organized.   On her walk Friday afternoon our fearless leader found that the Open Arms had a bit of time they were looking to fill, and so we hopped in.

One slight problem…it really is a small stage.  No bigger than six feet by ten feet.   Small.

But we are nothing if not flexible, so we simply dragged a few hay-bales off to the side of the performance area, and set up outside of the stage area, with the audience now facing us.

The actual performance went off without a hitch.  Our groove and confidence from the night before was still with us, and our transitions were very smooth.

We are beginning to be spoiled by it, but yet again we drew a nice sized crowd, and they filled in the area all around the dancers.  I even noticed that we captured the attention of the local park rangers.  It was interesting to see them smiling to each other, pointing and obviously having a nice time, heads bobbing to the drums.

The Anniversary Show:

Months ago we were asked to make a special performance to help to celebrate the twenty year anniversary of one of the more famous pirate camps in the SCA.  They have been doing this for a long time, and wanted to have a big time bash for their celebration.

We have performed for them in the past, including a huge show that transformed into an outright revel with two hundred or more people.  So they knew what to expect, and wanted more.

Coming on the heels of Friday’s performance with the other pirate camp we heard the buzz all day at our camp.  People seemed genuinely excited that we would be performing again Saturday night.

When we arrived at the camp at about 9:00 PM there were already a good number of fires going, and just about fifty party goers already in full swing.

We set up, got everyone gathered up, and then started.

This time however, the dancers had a surprise.   Bloomers.   The ladies took their dance around in a wide circle making sure that they had everyone’s full attention, and then they shimmied and danced back into a chorus line.  They reached down, hiked up their long black skirts and tucked the skirts into their belts revealing frilly, lacy, racy, pure white bloomers.

The pirates went crazy.  They roared, ROARED with approval.  And that roar brought every bit as many people to the camp and the performance as our drums.   It was huge.  It was jubilant.  It was LOUD.

And then the girls danced, whirling and twirling.  Solos with sword dancing while doing back bends, and the full splits to show the amazing body control of the dancer.  Solos that were pure gypsy sultriness, where you could feel grown men holding their breath as the dancer strutted, flirted, teased, and then walked away winking as she danced towards the next victim on the other side of the crowd.  Group dancing that was as precise as it was spontaneous.

One thing I will tell you: No matter what you may have heard pirates are a great audience.  They are appreciative, attentive and surprisingly educated about the performances.  The pirates know a good show when they see one, and this was one of the best.

The dancers were great.  Simply, wonderfully, perfectly great.  The audience ate it up.

Looking up from the dancers, and my drumming, I noticed that we had attracted a huge crowd.  The entire camp was full, as were all the open side areas.   It must have been three hundred people.   (In fact the next day the Captain told me that his camp was so full that for awhile there no one could get into it at all.  We had filled it to standing room only.)

And then the party started.

Other dancers and drummers joined in, and we played and danced, and laughed and drank, and played and played for hours.   It honestly became a huge blur.

One of my favorite memories is of a Park Ranger walking up to the drummers, curious about what we were doing and how we were doing it.  D seized the moment, sat the man down (uniform and all) and handed him a drum.   And he joined in our groove, found the beat, and played.   He had a great time.  Talking to him afterwards it turns out he has studied a few instruments, piano, trumpet, and that sort of thing, so his talent was not surprising in retrospect.  At the time though, it floored the whole party how much groove he had.  I mean, he was playing with us, not just stumbling behind.

And of course women love a drummer.  Women love a man in uniform.  A drummer in uniform?  Off the charts.  He could not have had more compliments or attention.  Needless to say he understood why we like to drum.

Obviously the weekend gigs went very well.  We made a lot of connections, had a great time, and further increased our reputation as not only a great show, but also as a great group to have for a party.

I want to run away and drum for dancers and pirates every night.

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