White Rat's History
The origins of the White Rat's are somewhat confused and contradictory
(not unlike the current team.) Here are some bits of history/legend/mythology
from various Rats.
From our sometime squire, Annye.
One afternoon, at a party, in a haze of not-altogether-legal smoke,
in a small group of people who wear the term "Pervert" with pride,
Nilos, our first Squire (now Squire-in-Exile) started to channel a 15th
Century peasant who happened to like to dance... Yes, *channel* - If you
want a more detailed explanation of that one, you'll need to chat with
both Nilos and Ned (the ex-peasant in question). It's pretty indescribable...
Ned's "tradition" (We don't use that word 'round here much
- "What tradition? It's the way we've danced it *always*!") comes
from somewhere he calls (we've only guessed at the spelling, and haven't
found it in the books yet...) Upsmerton, but the style most closely resembles
Adderbury, so that's where we've started.
The idea that we all have to dress alike to dance Morris rather seems
to offend Ned - as well as a few of the rest of us, I will admit. Our kit
consists of whatever we feel like wearing, so long as it's black. The sew-on
bells for special occasions are something that Ned refuses to understand
- but he's the one who picked an SM dyke to be channeled through, so we/I
don't let him gripe much about it. I wasn't exactly Ned's choice for next
Squire, but Ned sees more authority in the living, and doesn't want to
give up the dance just yet, so he and I are coming to a more easy peace.
I think when he and I get everything straightened out I'll drop the "in-training"
part from my title, but I'm not entirely certain I want to own up to that
Jane, who was one of the first Rat's offered this comment about the
The Rat's first style was actually Fieldtown with a smattering of Border
(of course, in grand old Rat tradition, that would mean 2 Fieldtown dances
and 1 Border dance). Also, there was once sort of a kit. We all used to
wear black fatigues and black shirts (we attempted vests, but the old Rats
never got it together). Of course, conflicting histories would be very
ratlike now wouldn't they?
Marian, another early Rat, had this to say about the beginings.
When White Rat's Morris was formed in 1991, we saw ourselves as a sort
of sexual pervert/street dyke/mildly neopagan/motorcycle gang/morris team.
We defined the San Francisco sadomasochist community as our audience.
Pretty quickly we were dancing at small sex parties and large sex parties
and SM-related street fairs and fund-raising events and ritual sm performances.
(Our first public performance was at a winter solstice-type sex party where
I had gotten through half gyp, hands around, and back to back before I
figured out that the thing I kept having to duck was a woman tied up as
a mistltoe ball and suspended from the ceiling.) We've acted as half-time
entertainment/security crew; we've "opened the space" (a supposedly
ritual term whose meaning has always escaped me) for various events, and
performed morris as a sort of magical dance underneath a woman who was
suspended from the ceiling by rows of hooks embedded down her back and
legs, while ball-dancers bounced happily around us.
And the community was happy to have us dance. In a few years the general
reaction went from "huh?" to the point where perverts with no
knowledge of folk dance whatsoever could not only identify us, they knew
the Abbot's Bromley by name when they saw it.
Leigh Ann adds a footnote to that last paragraph...
I was walking among the booths at my first dance-out, Folsom '97, belled
up, and a random person I didn't recognize pointed at me from a booth and
exclaimed, "White Rat!"
(More to come.)
Last Updated 05/17/99