Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Pirates Of Prescott

Raising the Jolly Roger and getting “jiggy” with We Make History!

Log of the “Wayward Star”
Capt. Bartholomew Burgundy
June 24, 1699

Ah… such wonder rattles me brain. Never in this life of mine 'ave I witnessed such merriment 'an revelry! Word came to me via reliable courier that I was invited to a large get-together of seafaring folk.

Mind you, I had me suspicions. The location, for starters: not a navigable drop of water in sight, at least according to the charts of the Wayward Star. And what dangers might be lurking for me? Ye never know who's after you nowadays, with all sorts of scoundrels out to plunder ye best privateering efforts. Used to be th' business was honorable... well... honorable to the best degree possible in these things, but I digress.

So now I gotta think like a landlubber. I arranged suitable transport by carriage, which saved me the unpleasantries of confronting somebody at the point of me cutlass for a lift like yer common amateur highwayman.

The hall of this fair shindig quickly be fillin’ with a stew of pirates and their wee ones, and a few landlubber ladies and gentlemen are joinin’ in. I spot a few familiar mates. I think, is that Cap’n Hook over there? And over there be that pirate star Cap’n Jack Sparrow, always the life of the party!

“We declare a truce!” say Dread Cap’n Scott, our gracious host in the red coat, a big red rose decorating ‘is hat. He immediately pushes all rivalries aside. This is to be a night of song ‘n dance and no pullin’ knives out of ye pants. No swordplay, no lootin’. Good fer me, as I come unarmed anyhow.

I be goin’ in style, as they say. For many pieces of eight, I’m dressed to th’ nines. Although I do get to thinkin’ about me cocked hat. Tis’ hard finding what I consider a suitable cockade, so I decide to improvise with a lil’ something I found in me trunk. Blimey, that bow is as big as the bow of me ship, but ya gotta look good to charm th’ ladies.

It’s been a long time since we las’ did this, declares Cap’n Scott. Too long, almost. “Maybe some of you have been dancin’ a jig in the mirror!”

Well enough waitin’. Time to get down to th’ business of pleasure. The good cap’n suddenly asks me for a lil’ help.

“Give us a cheer!”

“HUZZAH!” shout I at the top of me lungs, me hand in the air as if I was about to storm a Spanish warship full o’ galleons.

Photo by Michael Cynecki
The fest begins wit’ a promenade, and here’s me problem. Not only do I be unarmed, I be unaccompanied. Never fear! I spot a young lady standin’ in the middle of the floor, flanked by two of her fine friends. I kinda get this feelin’ they be looking for a partner, but ‘tis hard for me to pick from one from three and disappoint the other two.

Fortunately fer me, that decision resolves itself quite swiftly when one of the ladies nudges her compatriot forward. She be volunteered!

I could sense she was a lil’ nervous as we paraded ‘round the hall, but I made sure she got me best words of encouragement: “Yer doin’ just fine!” say I with a smile, and she returns it. I must a’mit I still be a little rusty with showin’ a lady a good time, but I’m learnin’.

Me pirate papa once told me, “No matter what ye do, son, when ye go out into the world, always be a gentleman!”

As for the rest of the evenin’, it flies by faster than the swiftest current I ever seen! If time were the ocean, I could’ve sailed from the West Indies back to me home port in England in just one night!

We dance all manner of sets an’ circles like the landlubbers do, and granted not all of us know th’ steps called out by the gracious Bahama Becky with the Plankwalkers at her command. But we keep on dancin’, makin’ things simpler for ourselves if need be.

At one point, we get to jiggin’ out there on th’ floor with the ladies, cuttin’ in nice and polite like. I see an opportunity to cut in, an’ great gusts! Several of the fair ones take turns cuttin’ in to share a dance wit’ me. Nearly lost me hat as it flew off during a few steps. I wound up finishin’ the caper wit’ a young lass who had quite the fancy footwork.

Now I said some of th’ dancin’ was tricky like. So we do this one number that involves us mixin’ things up so we pass hand to hand through seven partners so tha’ we all end up with new ones, see? Only some of me mates I’m thinkin’ are countin’ off pieces of eight and when some of ye do the math like that, a fella’s gonna end up marooned. So pirates ‘is runnin’ trying to find new partners on the other side of the hall.

It happens to me, too. I get caught without me partner, and here I am, runnin’ into the middle of the ring like we’ve been told to do, wavin’ about like me ship is sinkin’ as I try to signal a lady in the same boat. It takes a bit longer than I bargain for, but I find me new partner, and by stroke of luck she be the same lass I originally asked to start the dance with!

Photo by Michael Cynecki
Our hearty host Cap’n Scott announces somethin’ to raise all our ears: booty! We’ve all agreed on a drawin’ to share the wealth, but the Dread Cap’n adds a twist: recite a historical fact relatin’ to the year number on ye ticket, or ye dancin’ the jig alone in front of ye mates if they gives the thumbs down!

Well, some hearties ‘ave boned up on their history between voyages. But a few hadn’t, and we take great delight in orderin’ them jig for ten ticks of th’ watch to the fiddle to earn their share. One mate in particular impresses us with his high jumps! Might he actually be one of those Cossacks I hear ‘bout?

All this dancin’ puts all our feet to quite th’ test, a perfect time to take a few breaks, raise a glass of tropical ale or two, enjoy th’ pleasantness of the evening and sing a few shanties, one praisin’ tha’ old sailor Noah. Gotta honor any captain who has t’ work with a crew of such animals.

Photo by Michael Cynecki

Many times these shindigs woul’ end with a final pirate waltz. But ‘tis not over yet, for after th’ last dance, a few scores of us set a course for the local alehouse. Feasting with friends provides a wonderful diversion from th’ usual seafaring fare.

I must say, we might not ‘ave looted an enemy ship this night, but all of us surely found treasure!

Arrr... Click ye here for more on the festivities!

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