The Abbots Bromliad
Every Wakes Monday, the dancers in Abbots Bromley, England take up the traditional horns for their legendary 16 kilometer trek of dancing through countryside and pub yards. In America, we dance on the closest approximation: Labor Day.
The California Revels is calling for dance teams and interested individuals to come together for a day of picnicking, dancing and music, which will culminate in the Bromliad: a mass dance of the Abbots Bromley antler dance featuring more people than have ever before danced it at one time (we hold the record of 144 dancers in 2010 and want to top that number this year).
All Abbots Bromley and traditional English, Scottish, Contra, Morris, and other dance enthusiasts are invited to join the California Revels in a day of good food, good music, good dancing and the largest celebration ever of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.
This free event will take place in a beautiful glade in Joaquin Miller Park–one of the East Bay's most picturesque park locations. Picnickers can arrive any time after 11:30 AM. Bring the kids, a blanket and your favorite picnic and beverages. There will be music and Morris dancing (teams cordially invited) as well as called group dancing (callers and players cordially invited, too). Then at 1:00 PM, we’ll set up for the largest Abbots Bromley serpentine ever. The fun continues until 3:00 PM as there will be English, Morris, and other dancing throughout the day as the spirit moves you. Join us and be a part of dance history!
Note: Sanborn Drive is a loop which meets Joaquin Miller Road twice. Use the southern-most entrance at the Woodminster Theater sign. There is plenty of free parking on Joaquin Miller Road, then just follow the path down the hill to the meadow and there we will be!
What to Bring
Picnic Lunch – Revelers often elect to pool their picnics, whereby a meal becomes a feast!
Picnic Blanket – space at tables is limited, but the meadow is wide and inviting.
Musical Instruments – if you want to play for the dance (see below for sheet music). If you have the Barnes book of English Dance, that would be wonderful to bring too.
Antlers – plain or decorated, real or artificial, heck, even a branch will do.
or Parasol – to be Maid Marion, the Half-Man, Half Woman
or Toy Bow – to be the Boy Archer (please, no real bows and arrows, the park does not allow them)
or Hobby Horse – to be the … well, the Hobby Horse.
What to Wear
Outdoor Shoes – light hikers or cross trainers are good
Autumnal Accessories – for example, head wreaths
Supernumerary Character Costumery
Maid Marion: the Half-Man/Half Woman – in dress, beard if possible, and parasol
The Fool – in motley
The Boy Archer – in best Robin Hood attire
The Hobby Horse – carrying or wearing a hobby horse. Some wearable hobby horses can be quite elaborate.
Some other more or less topical costume – go wild, you Morris Dancers, Faire Folk and Green Men!
If you plan to play along with the Bromliad, here's the tune we'll be using. Referred to as “The Wheelwright Robinson's Tune”, it is the one collected by Cecil Sharp at the time he first documented the dance. The date 1857 refers to the earliest specific date anyone in Sharp's time could remember it being played, but the tune is certainly older. You can hear it played here. For the Bromliad celebration, we usually play it in E minor, download a .pdf of the score in that key.
We will have a limited supply of horns available for you to borrow. First come first served. We will also have a toy hobby horse or two. Or bring your own antlers, bow, hobby horse or fool hat. Be creative! We've seen horns made from tree branches, coat hangers, and cardboard, paper fool hats, bows from a toy store and thrift-shop “Maid Marion” dresses and parasols.
Here are the antlers in their storage space in the priory in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire. They never leave the village and are only taken down for the annual antler dance. Click on the image to unlock a trove of Antler Dance lore.
How Is It Danced In England?
If you're familiar with the way the Horn Dance is usually danced in the US, you might find the pace, the energy and the music surprising.
Monday, September 2nd, 2019 11:30-2:00 PM
The Bromliad will take place at 1:00 PM
Pinewood Picnic Area, Joaquin Miller Park
3594 Sanborn Drive
Oakland, CA 94602
Street parking available, follow signs to the event.