BY BILL BROWN, PHOTOS BY JULIE WIATT
Summer came in with cloudless sky, a slight chill, and a bright, warming sun – perfect weather for “dancing up the dawn.” Three morris dance teams did just that at the Takoma Park Gazebo, where they have danced every May Day for at least two decades. The Foggy Bottom Morris Men hosted the Rock Creek Morris Women, and the Arlington Northwest Morris teams.
Seldom in all those years has the weather been so perfect for the May Day Dawn Dance as this May 1.
Around 30 dancers and as many spectators woke themselves up in the pre-dawn gloom to attend the event, which began around 6:00 AM. Dawn was at 6:12 AM. Several of the dancers live in or near Takoma Park, but many rose as early as 4:00 AM to drive from places as distant as Ellicot City, MD or Burke, VA. The dancers claim that without this effort and early-morning performance the sun will not rise. Since the sun did indeed rise, the claim is difficult to dispute.
Summer a’comin’ in
May Day has long been celebrated as the beginning of summer in Europe. Morris dancing originated in England where it has been associated with even older May Day traditions such as May poles since the early 20th century.
May Day has also long been a day of protest. In honor of this and Takoma Park’s activist reputation, the performers hold a tongue-in-cheek protest demonstration after the dancing.