Beltane is coming, la la la la la, surely my favorite of the eight solar holidaze, singing, dancing, and sex, what’s not to like?
For many years we’ve dragged our sleepy selves out of bed in the pre-dawn chill and rolled up the 101 to the Baylands, where we meet up with like folk who are crazy enough to want to join the circle and help dance up the sun. And it always works! The local Morris dancers and the tribe dance and dance in the dim light and sure enough, here comes the sun! Sometimes it peeks out from under the clouds before disappearing again, but all is well.
If we get there early enough, we can catch the vision of men with antlers on their heads emerging from the gloom to perform the Abbots Bromley horn dance, a ritual traced to a small English village that is thought to be over a thousand years old. We see it every year on stage at the Revels in December, but standing in the cold dark and witnessing this is shiver-producing in more ways than one. And beyond this, there is just the silliest silly costuming, antics and carrying on. As you can see, no dancing actually required of the circle, but kissing and other frolics are encouraged.
Here is one of my favorite dancers with the accordion player, getting ready to launch herself into the middle of the measured dancing and upset the apple cart.
All photos from the 2001 Beltane at the Baylands; my camera actually adds more light than there is, so just imagine the dark sky in the background, getting lighter and lighter.