Below me, I could see a collapsed person in the crowd being tended first by our own stewards, then by a Rock Steady supervisor, and then taken away by the ambulance paramedics. I found out later that it was alcohol rather than smoke fumes that had knocked her over.
Eventually (all through the procession times seemed longer and distances further) we moved in our turn down off the Acropolis and caught up with the main procession. Into the rhythm, down to the stone, sharp left, proceding forward, follow the spinning May Queen and Green Man around the next left, then back towards the Fire Arch. We got our moves right here, the Neid Fire Bearers and Court Torchbearers coming forward with MQ and GM (sorry, I'm dropping into cue-speak), in time for the performance. I was up near the front and didn't see a thing - MQ and GM have pretty solid costumes.
There was some degree of trouble from a punter further back - the steward behind me (a Rock Steady colleague moonlighting with the BFS) wanted to set a Blue Man on the punter, but Blue were sort of busy at the time).
Then, eventually we were through the Fire Arch (hot, but not as hot as the sculptures on the Acropolis), and starting the long descent to Air Point. Thank goodness for their banners - we may never have found them otherwise!
We managed to make the circle fairly promptly - I think the cunning plan of dealing with the skewedness of the entry and exit points by nicking some torchies from the Processional Drummers worked, as did having NFB and CT form a four person "gate" at the exit to give the front BM somewhere to lead us out of the circle from
The Air performance - involving various birds battling one another - was pretty good, and then it was time to swing out of the circle and head for Earth Point. And again a short distance seemed like a day route marching.
We managed not to set any trees or punters on fire at Earth Point - their performance was also pretty darn' good, involving circling dancers around a sort of seed pod that opened up to reveal another dancer, and then it was off to Water Point, who had amazing fishes on sticks - fishes that really belonged in Finding Nemo or The Life Aquatic.
My torch was burning down nicely on the way to Fire Point (as it should've been - I still had to resist an attempt to top it up), but there were enough torches burning brightly on either side of me that having it go out would not have been a problem (actually, the problem we did have was people topping up too early and ending up with almost overflowing torches).
At Fire Point the procession stops in a line and turns left to watch the performance, the left hand torchies and stewards kneeling. We went down more or less on cue, and rose ditto, so that was all okay, then it was off around the Hill again - carefully ignoring any Red Man taunts (there were a few bitys earlier where random RMs came through the crowd at the procession - I didn't see their fake WW, though).
Then the Red Men and Beastie Drummers attacked! Now, according to the storyline, only the White Warrior Women - by virtue of their warrior virtues as it were - can protect us, so the TB(LHS) drop back to give them a clear field of fire. This meant that we were now nearer the back of the procession, and it definitely did not help to have Air Point cheering on the charge directly in our ears. Oh, and there were a couple of eejit punter photographers at this point who wouldn't get the heck out of the way.
Still, if I'd not looked back to see what the commotion was, I'd never have seen the two double-shotted elemental point torches burning a beautiful shade of blue-green.
The RM having been repulsed, we formed back up, and went up the Hill, past the gun and across the car park - no problems, barely got hit by WW at all!
Fire Guard and Ether Point had held the space around the stage very well, and stayed in place while we attempted to take over the circle. Okay, it was a little smaller than it could've been, but all the punters were sitting down, and mostly amenable to reason. Oh, except for a small bunch at the exit, and near where the drummers had to be.
The ritual at the stage went well: we all dropped when the GM collapsed, and there wasn't a crowd surge that we'd have needed to be standing for before he revived. More stuff on the stage, and the Court (MQ, GM, BMs, NFBs, CTs, WWs and PDs) headed for the Fire.
As the last of the PDs headed past, we fell out, formed up, and made a beeline through the crowds to the Bower, which we took and held.
(Okay, we'd an eejit or two here as well - mostly up the trees).
Air Point handed their banners over to the Stewards, who turned them into barriers, and we waited until the Court returned from the Fire. Then the various points made their presentations to the MQ (including, for the first time, the torchbearers), and there was a handfasting (one of the white women who'd been a torchie the year before) before the RM reappeared and began, eventually, to successfully seduce the WW.
Eventually the Courtly Dance of the Red Men and White Women became somewhat less courtly, and finally, with minutes to spare before the 1am curfew, opened up first to other performers and then became general so there was no longer a need to hold the line.
The torchies stood down, dumped our torches behind the Acropolis and then hared back to the Bower for at least a token drink on the Hill.
I had time to take the flask around a few people, and then it was time to head down the Hill to the Club. This was slightly faster than it should have been, because someone had unblocked the steps to Waterloo Place (yes, the ones blocked earlier because they're unsdafe for more than a few hundred people at a time).
We found the club with no problems, after diverting past a money machine, and discovered that the group of people hovering outside weren't a queue, so got in quite quickly.
The club was good - I didn't talk to, or even catch up with, half the people I wanted to, but almost all the Beltane folk looked as if they were having a good time. There were a few fairly obviously non-Beltane folk looking a tad lost or overwhelmed (I think they were on their own, rather than being accompanying friends), but over all it was pretty good.
Closing time rolled around far too quickly - I managed to miss quite a lot of people, and then it was timer to cut across to the after-after party. I think the way we got there could be best described as "eventually", and it was raining a little, and there was no chai left, but I had a flask and a half left or thereabouts, so that wasn't so bad.
Hung around, mostly with torchies, and eventually left when the last torchies did. A foolish attempt to find an open pub failed, and I made it to bed for 10am (probably the earliest I've been to bed on a May Day in years, but I blame the weather).