The Gazette thanks Lady Aaradyn Ghyoot for this account and the accompanying photos.
Known World Dance Symposium - billed as a “dry name for an awesome event” – this was more exciting a time than even our hosts could have imagined! Deeply entrenched in the front lines, bransling in the streets was just one of the many things this Eastern reporter witnessed at the symposium. For, when a fire alarm goes off during classes, what else are we do to but take to the streets? An event, a demo… at that point, none could tell. A drink here, a drink there, the tavern was well stocked with local brews, tasty sodas and much needed waters, and those stores were well depleted daily by hordes of thirsty dancers. From the first moments of the meet and greet to the last moments of clean up, the Altes Rathaus was filled with music and dance day and night.
The opening night in the lower hall, where musicians gave us hints at the melodies we would soon tread the stones too, saw attendees in garb and in mundanes alike, swaying to the music that echoed wonderfully off the heraldic pennants and stone walls. We met and greeted each other, finding common languages and learning a little of foreign tongues. The talking and jam sessions lasted late into the night, and the last hangers on were shooed out of the hall at nearly the stroke of midnight. Out into the empty, quiet streets we went, and on toward waiting beds.
Thursday opened with much fanfare, or at least much coffee, and classes started quickly and with great attendance. The ladies at gate were efficient and ever so kind, assisting all and tirelessly answering questions from the passers by whose interest in the old building and the oddly dressed gentles entering it drew them close all day. The lower hall rung bright with the sounds of English Country Dance, and the upper Hall was filled with the swishing feet of Italian dances. The kitchen, ever bustling, presented the dancers with meals all day, filling all with delectable meals of period origin. This humble reporter was gifted with the head cook’s own copy of the recipe book, a wonderful gift from a wonderful chef! Each night closed with a Ball, and Thursdays saw the Gentlemen on one side and the Ladies on the other, with a Caroso Ball our entertainment. It gave excellent opportunity for discussion, and exquisite opportunity for new dance partners!
Friday dawned, and sleepy dancers (as the nightly dancing didn’t end till almost 1am!) again filled the halls with echoes of called steps and beautiful music. The cooks again delighted the populace with tasty meals… and were tragically interrupted by the howling of mechanical alarms as we were forced out of the building and into the streets. So palpable was our pain and disappointment of having been robbed of dance time in the beautiful halls, that bransles broke out in the street as dancers refused to let something so modern as a fire alarm stop them. The musicians played on, ringed protectively in hordes of dancers as onlookers drew out cameras to document the goings on that covered the fair streets of the medieval city. The dancing continued, even as the blaring sirens and flashing
lights of the fire department arrived, and making way for the monstrous vehicles, the dancers closed ranks again and continued, wasting no time of their dancing event simply standing and waiting to be allowed back in. Our own Duchess Thyra joined their dancing, smiling bright to keep spirits up. So long was our delay that the staff, having figured some way back in momentarily, returned to the streets with meat pasties and mushroom pies, and pitchers of water to
keep the dancers going. All was met with much applauding, and more dancing. At long last, the bransles waned and the building was declared safe, and the event continued as well all moved inside again, and back onto the carefully planned schedule. No ill effects were felt from the kitchen, and all the foods were well prepared and presented. The Ball that night went late again, as is their way, and the dancers were up to the end… Duchess Thyra being among the last to leave the grand Upper Hall in the wee hours of the night.
Saturday came, and with it a surge of new dancers! The halls, full before, were now packed with the happy faces of dancers young and old. The staff, in their grace, took this in stride and everything continued to run beautifully. The kitchen, having already filled all to the brim with excellent fare, produced even more wonderful dishes for the waiting masses. The classes were well attended again as everyone prepared for the Grand Ball that night. Court for their most generous Highnesses of the Kingdom of Drachenwald and their gracious Excellencies of the Barony of Knights Crossing was also held as graceful dancers performed for them in honor of the event. Then, in a hall decorated for the occasion with long tables in white linen and colors announcing brightly the host Kingdom (a more amazing feast hall this reporter has never seen the ambiance was perfect and I was, for a moment, transported to another time completely) a grand feast was held for all assembled. The dishes presented were full of flavor and dressed beautifully, and the kitchen amazed us all. Then tragedy and disaster struck again! Our feast was again disrupted by the infernal screams of mechanical alarms, and flashing lights as
though from hell itself rained down on our fair scene! Good gentles all, adorned in their finest for the feasting and coming Ball, fled the hall in a riot of color, spilling out again into the streets of Miltenberg with goblet and napkin in hand. Finding ourselves again in the street, we did what all dancers do when evicted suddenly from such gorgeous surroundings we bransled. Much laughter did come from the populace as we danced in the streets for our smiling Royalty and Baronage, and again we made room as the rushing vehicles came to see to our safety. It was declared fine, and we returned to the feast, only the dessert suffering slightly for the delay we had a lovely compote and cookies instead of milk pies. The Grand Ball was as full and amazing as it sounds, and as an added treat we were entertained through dance by Countess Judith of Northumbria and her merry troupe, recreating for us scenes from mythos.
Sunday dawned and the last of us gathered again in mundanes, to tear down the event and clean those great halls. Carrying stacks of chairs and moving piles of food we hand many hands to help carry the SCA out of the Altes Rathaus and leave those halls as they were before. Slowly the staff departed for their own lands, and this reporter, after many hugs, wandered off as well, back into the warm light of the afternoon and the sounds of a modern medieval city.