Where can you go to see a bunch of white people dressed as pirates, wizards, gypsies, fairies, and knights, and wearing black-bangled apparel, pink neon somethings, corsets, nerdy t-shirts, plaid shirts, and kilts without shirts?
The Renaissance Festival. Naturally.
Earlier this fall, my friend Becca and I went to the local Ren Fest. It was my first time, but she’s a regular at Fest, and knows all the performers by name and subject. It’s always more fun to go with someone who knows what they’re doing at these things, someone who loves every aspect of the event. Becca helped me grasp the significance of quarry in the parking lot. Her friend brought me to a weapons shop and I got to hold a couple of swords (which was thrilling for a lifelong fantasy fan who spent way too much time after reading Lord of the Rings and Eragon planning an elaborate hilt design for her sword in the event of an Epic Journey).
Most importantly, Becca steered me to all the best performers:
A guy who starts his performance out slow by juggling fire on a tightrope (I think that’s what he did’ it’s hard to tell through the fingers over my eyes).
Villification Tennis, wherein two teams of two lob insults over the line like off-color whiffle balls (there were plenty of Yo Mama jokes, barely a level above high school hallways, and because they knew how to pander, there were also local references and a sprinkling of nerdy jokes, including a gasp-inducing jab at Firefly).
And… The Tortuga Twins, who were, of course, three grown men using the select audience members to tell the story of… okay, a story of Robin Hood.
Now, Becca and I both dressed up, because that makes everything more fun. I pinned my hair into a crown of braids, she wore the flower crown we gave her back in college for being Queen of the Nerds (alternate titles include Nerd Wrangler or President of English Club), and we both did the flowy clothes thing. This is important to picture, because the poor schmucks lucky audience members the Tortuga Twins pulled up onstage were wearing regular old street clothes. Not a coincidence.
So we sit there in the back of the audience, enjoying the jokes of this PG-rated show (if that’s PG, I’d sure like to see a PG-13 showing) and clapping and hollering along with the performance. The Twins made a comment about Maid Marion saving Robin Hood. We cheered. They said she didn’t need a man to save her; she’s a strong, independent woman. We cheered much louder.
“FEMINISTS!” they shouted back at those of us who cheered at that last one.
Becca and I just about collapsed in laughter. You know you’ve made it when you get publicly identified as a feminist.
Honestly, you don’t claim your education at a women’s college and then walk away thinking, “Yeah, women really aren’t equal to men. We should really just wait around on a Husband to choose us and then follow his direction in all things at all times.” My friend Sara likes to say that “unconventional and controversial are minors you automatically get at [our women’s college].” I like to think I live these minors in my day-to-day life. It’s a goal of mine.
Anyway, now that Becca and I have bonded over the joy of being branded feminists in public, we strive to uphold our reputation as much as possible. Recently, we went to an advance (for our area, at least) screening of Suffragette, the film with Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, and a bunch of great actors that’s about the efforts of working women in women’s fight for the vote in England. Feminist moment of the week achieved, we congratulated ourselves. Okay, I jest, but it does seem fitting. Because I’ve been waiting for that film for ages and it was brilliant and I’m a history lover and a (shhh) feminist, I’ll post a review of Suffragette here soon.
Oh, and because life is weird and wonderful, I got to hop inside a life-size TARDIS that happened to be at a candy store on our way home. The best part is that all the other shoppers were just passing it by like a piece of furniture… until my friend and I, adults that we are, ran inside and started taking pictures. Nerd invasions are always good, my friends. One might even say… fantastic.