Steve (akicif) wrote,

I think I've probably left it too late to justice to this year's Beltane, except to say that it all seemed to go incredibly smooothly in the run-up, mainly 'cos I'd delegated almost everything that looked remotely like work (officially, there were two of us - myself and purplerabbits running torchies, but there was also the torchie side of the Nightwatch "tinc" mailing list (Amy, Sara [WANOLJ], zotz), who did tons of stuff as well - the whole Neidfire thing, sorting tabards and bags, the fundraising club, etc, etc.)

I think, though, the most amazing session we had was when about twenty people made more than three hundred torchballs in a few hours on Easter Sunday afternoon (again, we'd more balls than we needed by about two or three each. This mightn't have been the case if the weather had been less clement, or if we'd double-shotted the torches more often, but whoever's running torchies next year would be well-advised to take my recommendations on ball numbers with a pinch of salt (copper, maybe?) as I seem to have a tendency to overestimate).

Also, the venue we used for getting ready in was pretty darn' good: it really helped having tea, coffee and sarnies (plus a swift half of wheatbeer) and plenty of time to get ready to head up the Hill.

The Hill

It didn't take too long to sort ourselves out behind the Acropolis (yes, I know) - in fact we'd time for a couple of group photos - and then it was time to get into position. There was a bit more greenery than the year before, but there was still room for us all, and standing in a line as we were, I think most of us got to see the crescent Moon and the flare of the Neidfire between the pillars. Then the flame was passed back, we lit a few torches on each side, and off we went, "over the top". Lighting the metal torches from one another when we were in our fours worked quite well - it was only later on we had to do it the Not Recommended way (lift ball from one torch's basket to hold it in the flame, and then replace it when it catches).

It can't have been that the Hill was less crowded than last year ('cos we know the tickets had sold out before we even started), so it might have been because we'd had so many walkthroughs that it had all become routine, but we positively raced round the Hill - the shorter performances at the points also helped (I'm looking forward to the video evening to see what we missed). The only problem near the beginning was that the exit from Air Point was so well concealed (punters sitting on it, I think we decided) that we had only just found it when it became time to leave for Earth Point (it was there that I ended up lighting the Earth Point exit torchies the Wrong Way described above).

Everything went pretty much by the book (including, unfortunately, the bits in the book that say you won't see much of the Red Men attack because of photographers) until we got to the stage. We'd been spoiled the year before, when we came in and found a cleared space and most of the audience already sitting down. It wasn't like that this time at all - getting people to move was next to impossible. And suddenly it was time to cut to the Bower (next year I want to make it to the Fire - but then I've been saying that for years, too). It seemed at the time as if we'd made it okay, but I think we'd actually managed to lose a steward (or was that later?).

The bower went more or less well: no idiots in trees this time, but a couple of very dodgy fire buckets (one of which was crammed in between the musicians and someone with a leg injury, so if it had gone over there'd have been the devil to pay - we got a fireblanket on it eventually). Back onto autopilot, standing down quite a bit later than intended (disposing of the torches by passing them along the circle more or less worked), and just happened to be standing in the right place for an excellent view of purplerabbits and Jon's handfasting.

After that, with the barriers down it got rather crowded at the Bower, so it was surprisingly easy to leave the Hill before the rush (even after we reconvened behind the Acropolis).

And after

The club was mostly okay - maybe slightly too large for the number of people (we didn't have it to ourselves - there may even have been tickets on sale on the night), but again I think I'd enjoyed it more in anticipation than at the time.

The after-party wasn't bad, either. The weather could, of course, have been better, and I should've spent some time at the fire or in the tent.

Thoughts on next year

Altogether, it made for a pretty good Beltane to be my last one organising torchies - I managed to not stress out too much or shout at people (well, once nearly), and we might have needed all those extra torchballs if the weather had been worse and it had taken longer to get round the Hill.

I've still to decide what I'd like to do for Beltane next year. Ideally I'd still like to carry a torch, and get to the Fire after the Stage, but it'd be good to be doing other stuff as well (it'd be tempting to volunteer to do press liaison type stuff - especially after the number of calls I had this time, or maybe something to do with the website?).

In the meantime, though, a nice break....
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