Friday, March 23, 2012

What's working, part 2: the Morris team

This is part 2 of a series on things that are going well in my life. Maybe you'll read it and think, yikes, that would never work for me. But maybe it will give you a jumping-off point.

I'm a member of a women's folk dance team, Muddy River Morris. We do traditional dances from the Cotswold region of England, as well as a lot of dances we made up in that style.

I love the pattern Morris it gives to the year: October is time for the apple orchard tour. April is New England Folk Festival time. May Day is for dancing at dawn by the banks of the Charles, and later in the month there's the Marlboro Ale in Vermont, a weekend of dancing throughout the countryside all day and drinking and singing all night. After each of these, there's usually a feast. The week is also patterned: Tuesday is Muddy practice night, followed by a trip to the bar.

We have women from their late teens through their early 60s (though mostly bi-generational, with a lot of 20-somethings and 50-somethings.) We have married, single, widowed, and divorced women. We have sets of mothers and daughters, ex-girlfriends, sisters, and sisters-in-law. We've seen each other through dissertations, deaths, births, adoptions, and the occasional goth stage.

I don't like the ways sports and political identities get antagonistic. Group identity can easily become us vs. them, which is not something I enjoy. With Muddy River, there's a solid feeling of us, and we don't really need a them. People wear purple shirts to practice because it's our team color. They get really excited to choose the theme for the team skit at Marlboro (last year: gnomes). There are Muddy River cocktail parties and potlucks. We show up to each other's concerts, plays, and weddings.

I love having a women's space. I think women feel freer to argue, drink, yell, belch, and talk in a women's space. I love that the older women started in an age when Morris was for men, and they've carried us through into a time when women's teams are normal. (Inasmuch as Morris is ever "normal.")

I like being in a community that's been chugging along since 1975. I like looking around and expecting to still be dancing with some of these women in another few decades.

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