The stars aligned for this one.
I have several friends who are serious about their historical dancing (AND their historical costume) and in fact I first met CJ at a ball (which had a theme of “pirates” – the photo of me on the right was taken that very night*). Swimming is one of my main modes of exercise, but it’s far less appealing in Winter, so I came up with the idea of joining proper dancing classes during Winter. And Steff Metal’s list of awesomeness gave me the push I needed to actually do it.
So CJ and I rocked up today for the first of four lessons with John Garden, who is mad as a spoon. (That’s him with the possessed eyes and the vest.)
He possesses a flourishing beard and a brood of young dancers (at least one of whom hasn’t hit puberty yet, but is a perfectly courtly partner). His wife attends all the classes, and makes her own period clothing. The classes always have live music, including John’s hurdy gurdy at every possible moment. The dance company is called “Earthly Delights”.
Only dance masters could imagine so many different ways to walk, hop, step and jump. My mind was spinning within minutes (ah, edumacation). Soon the rest of me was spinning too, as we made hay and minuets and a whole lot of other things I can’t pronounce.
I mentioned John is mad. “As a spoon” was the phrase, I believe.
People grow beards for different reasons. Some simply don’t care for human contact. Some couldn’t be bothered shaving. Others are so utterly wrapped up in their life that the beards just. . . happen. John is one of those. He’s constantly saying things like, “Oh, this dance is based on the first play performed in Australia – by convicts, you know – although of course we don’t know for certain that this exact dance was performed in the play. It was a musical, though, so it’s possible. A funny play, satirising the military. But of course! Are you a lady this time Eddie?”
The phrase “Are you a lady?” comes up rather a lot in his line of work. Not quite as often as “Where were we? Did I say left or right?” and so on. And throwaway lines like, “I was reading a manuscript from 1755 just this morning and IT said that. . .” or, “Something terribly funny happened in 1705. It was in all the papers. . .”
Last but not least, he’s the master of the double entendre. Except he doesn’t appear to notice. At all. Not a quirk of the eyebrow, not a knowing glance, not a cautiously modulated voice. I counted four wonderful lines today. One of them caused another young gentleman to double over in hysterical giggles, at which point John paused, blinked and said, “Oh yes. Very well.”
Community classes: beards, frocks, and misplaced innocence. That, and peculiar new skill sets. Do it, if you possibly can.
*So THAT, ladies, is how to dress to discover the man of your dreams.
Apparently. . .
Tomorrow’s awesomeness: I haven’t the faintest idea. Although I now have the necessary equipment for Secret #3, so maybe I’ll do that.