[SCA-Dance] KWDMS - Midnight Parties, especially Friday Night

David Learmonth david.a.learmonth at gmail.com
Wed Jun 19 01:37:38 EDT 2013

Good evening Dancers,

After the main dancing is finished on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
evenings, I would invite those who still have energy to join us for
additional dancing (and games perhaps) not far away at The Inn at Saratoga,
in their Ballroom.  If you arrive for Thursday evening, we'll be easy to
find as we are in the building right beside the Thursday night site.

231 Broadway, Saratoga, New York 12866

All 3 evenings we have the space for Open Dancing officially from Midnight
until 3 am.  (if we're lucky, we'll start even sooner, depending how
quickly we all get back).

However, on Friday night, we have Additional Plans, a Book of the Courtier!

Here is a link to the description, and being an email, I'll also paste the
description below for convenience.  We hope to see you there!


Friday night Book of the Courtier ball
The Book of the Courtier (Il Cortegiano), by Baldessare Castiglione
contains a description of a rather unusual evening in the Court of Urbino.
 Buried therein is much information on what might happen during a more
typical evening.  Among other things, it is clear that a typical evening
involves a good bit of dancing - that this setting is one in which many of
the dances we learn likely were originally done.

On the Friday night of KWDS X, after the main ball we are going to try to
recreate this milieu.  That is, we would try to recreate not just the
dances, but the setting in which they were originally performed - not a
formal ball, but a small, intimate meeting of friends, much as is really
the case here.

There is much similarity between the setting described in Il Cortegiano and
our typical Caroso balls, but there is also more detail.
There is a clear presence, a lord or lady who really does run things.
 Though they may delegate their authority temporarily, it is most
definitely theirs to retain whenever their whim dictates.
People are called upon individually to entertain the company in some
fashion or other.  Even in the games (which sometimes temporarily devolve
into a free-for-all), there is always a reversion to polite serial
monologues.  Please come with the intention of both being entertained and
of entertaining.  Watching is as important a skill as performing, and
performance requires an audience.
As to more practical details, whereas Caroso tells us to segregate by
gender, and arrange ourselves in order of precedence, Castiglione tells us
that gender was alternated as far as possible, and that precedence, with
the exception of the presiding lady herself, was lost or ignored in such an
intimate gathering.

How would one entertain a company of close friends? Our predecessors would
do much the same things we do now - dancing, singing, playing music,
joking, gently teasing each other, and playing games.

We aren’t the first dance geeks.  Dancing is probably the most universal
and popular pastime of the day, referenced in nearly every account of
private parties or gatherings.  However, in this context, it would never be
a social free-for-all.  As we mention above, your purpose in dancing is to
entertain the presence and the company, through grace, or storytelling, or
sheer athleticism.

For those so inclined, a musical performance (vocal and/or instrumental),
would also be a good choice. (Note that the musicians are not paid artists,
but members of the social group.)

Participants could also recite a piece of poetry (original or otherwise) or
a short story or anecdote, or even lead a short game to entertain the
group. Such offerings would add variety to the evening's amusement, and
leave more possibilities for those participants not already highly
specialized in dance and music.

In the original Book of the Courtier, the games are the focus of the book.
 In our recreation, we want to emphasize the other aspects (like dancing!).
 Nevertheless, many of the games described would still be short enough to
be viable.  They tend towards philosophical “thought experiments,”, and are
often laden with in-jokes.  Examples of these include such gems as “Why do
all women hate rats and love snakes?”, and “What does the letter ‘s’ mean
that the Duchess wears on her forehead?”, or perhaps even “Why does Gwommy
always wear purple?”  The seem more than anything else to be a simple
vehicle with which to astound the company with one’s wit.

The courtiers of Urbino are long since dead and buried, but their keen wits
and their playful energy live on in us, their spiritual descendants.  Spend
a gracious evening with us, show us your mettle as Renaissance men and
women, and help create another little renaissance of early 16th-century
dance and music culture.

So, when the Friday night ball at KWDMS ends, our celebrated hostess
Countess Thyra Eiriksdottir invites you to while away the late evening in
her salon at the local hostelry:
The Inn at Saratoga (231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs)

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