Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Brazen Squaredance Association

The Brazen Squaredance Association
Sunday October 15th 5pm (sharp)
meet at top of River Street Parking Garage
between River and Front Streets near Wells Fargo
live music, dancing in the streets
reclaiming public space
(square dance instruction will be provided)

bring: water & snackies, an instrument if you play

This is a do-not-miss event. This is a sporadic happening and has become no less than legendary. Amy and Karen, an rollicking old-time band and a caller down from the East Bay. Spread the word.

Reportback from Last BSA

And just for you here's the reportback from last time:

We'd done Brazen Squaredancing once two years earlier, inspired by a visit to Portland where we joined kids dancing to old time out under the stars along the river. We came back from Portland and created the BSA, the Brazen Squaredancing Association. We planned to start our squaredance at an out of the way location downtown and progressively move to increasingly more brazen locations.

It had been a week of pouring rain, so we were afraid we were going to get rained out. Nobody can say they weren't warned. In the AC invite we said: "But what if it rains? We get wet. Wear a wet suit. Wear your swim trunks. Wear paper clothes, so as you dance and as the rain falls, you will dance naked into a new life." But we were worried about the band since we knew they couldn't play their fiddles and banjos and guitars in the middle of a downpour. So we had two sets of brazen locations planned before the dance, one for rain, one for clear.

We started the dance early evening in the ruins downtown, a leftover from the '89 quake. The called who came down from Portland walked us through basic squaredance moves, do-see-do, see-saw, right hands round, left hands round, and of course, swing. He walked us through each dance before the music started. The band were tremendously awesome folks who came down from the West and East Bay, some of the same great folks who'd played for us two years prior. Starting out, there were enough people for 4 or 5 full squares, about 40 folks.

Midway through the second dance, the sky started spittling on us and so we moved to a semi-covered bank foyer a block away. After a couple of high-energy dances, we moved several blocks down Pacific to the plaza in front of the giant multiplex movie house. The sky cleared up a bit and dried up. Here we started picking up people. Maybe 7 or 8 squares or so or about 8 people each. This was a location that attracted a lot of attention. We had spectators on the sidelines cheering us on and as much as we could we dragged them into the dance. The caller taught us the Virginia Reel in preparation for our next and final location.

After a bunch of dances, we moved down the street again in time for it to rain in earnest this time. We put the band under several market umbrellas at a curbside restaurant. At a signal from the caller who remained on the sidewalk, we took the street for our Virginia Reel. Long lines, forward and back. Do-see-do your partner. Right hands around. Left hands back. Before the head couple sashays down the line. Cars eventually gave up trying to use the street and turned on to the side streets instead. We were whoopin and hollarin and the crowd on the sidewalk was excited and confused.

Finally, a patrol car parked in the street facing us. He flashed his lights and we kept dancing. Finally the officer got out of his car and talked to the caller, who at this point we didn't need since we knew the dance. We heard the caller on the bullhorn, "This officer would like me to tell you to come out of the street." We kept dancing. Several minutes went by with the officer in consultation with the caller while we danced and the music played. We heard the caller say, "This officer says if you don't come out of the street, he is going to give me a ticket." At that point we returned to the sidewalk. Though it made us wonder, what would he have issued a ticket for? Maintaining Friendships with Persons Who Dance in the Street? The cop drove off and, to his credit, didn't call for backup and make a bigger deal of it.

We finished the reel and the rain had stopped. We were wet and steaming. The band played a waltz and we grabbed a partner and danced back into the street. People walking by grabbed their partners for a waltz. We saw several old couples passing by dance into the street with us.

It was a great evening. Now seldom a week goes by that someone doesn't ask when the next Brazen Squaredance is going to be.

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