The 2009 California Morris Ale

Presented by Seabright Morris and Sword

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As we nail them down, look here for details about:

The Story so Far...

Scene: late on a sultry August afternoon; dusk is just hinting at its arrival in the cool note rising on the breeze. An Upsc’Ale gathering of powerful people has convened at a quiet retreat along the rugged California coast. As they gaze out over the steel-blue waters of the Monterey Bay, they study each other with deceptively casual gazes.

Each is a giant in his or her field. There’s the Railroad Tycoon, who’s made a fortune ferrying ace bandages and ice packs up and down the west coast. Next to him, a cool martini in hand, is the Scandinavian Countess. Her family fortunes were in disarray until she married the Banker, whose dispassionate demeanor disguises a forte for figures—financial and feminine. Calmly, she surveys the other guests. Each has been brought here for a purpose, for each shares one disreputable passion that has united them here beneath the redwood trees in the dimming twilight.

The Countess consults her diamond wristwatch and coolly nods to the tall, elegant woman best known as First Accordion for the New York Philharmonic. It is time—

—time for the morris dance…

Meet your hosts:

The Countess [Kirstin Olsen, Ale-meister]. The President Pro Tem of this elegant soirée, she’s the woman to approach if you need parking information, housing assignments, or an excellent champagne. You may not get what you want, but she’ll probably give you what you deserve. And don’t let the title intimidate you—it’s as fake as the emeralds she inherited from her grandmother.

The Banker [Eric Voelkel, Registrar and Bag-Man]. So, you’re afraid of being late with your payment, or you want to know how much you’ll have to pay for a pillow and towel? Give him a jingle, and he’ll set you up with everything you need—for a price.

The Minister of Propaganda [Laura Rinaldi, Outreach and Merchandise]. She’s masquerading as a visiting artist from Moscow, but in reality she’s a high-ranking official with a knack for spreading the right sort of rumors. Approach her with questions about the website, publicity, the Ale logos, and communications—but never approach her stealthily. There’s a sharpened stiletto inside that designer evening gown, and you wouldn’t want to startle her.

The Concert Musician [Barbara James, Dance Master]. Yes, they all told her there’d never be an accordion in the Philharmonic, but she showed them all. They told her that “Over the Water to Charlie” would be laughed out of La Scala, too, but they were singing a different tune after her triumphant European tour. She’s First Chair when it comes to the Ale dances and the music.

The Movie Producer [Stafford Warren, General Organizer]. This go-getter knows how to make things happen. He’ll get you on the right bus, with the right itinerary. He knows where all the props are stored and all the bodies are buried. And he looks pretty damn nice in a tux, too.

The Industrialist [Karen Hellgren, Production]. She made her name in buttons—that’s right, buttons. Buttons, and hankies, and bell bags, and T-shirts. She’s cornered the market, so if you want an extra adult small and a bag to stuff it in, she’s the one to see. She knows what it costs, where to get it, and why your name’s spelled funny on your button.   Oh, that’s actually how you spell your name? Weird.

The Railroad Tycoon [Steve Allen, Carpooling and Emergency Services]. His business is moving things from one place to another and packing them as efficiently as possible. He knows who’s coming into San Jose Airport at 6:05 on flight 98, and who needs a ride from Phoenix to Santa Cruz. And if an unfortunate accident should befall you while dancing, he knows how to get you to an ice pack, an emergency room, or a pint of good porter.

The Dazzling Conversationalists [Devon, Rowen, Emily, Kathleen, Joe, et al.]. They’ll be at the party, too, with good advice, expert assistance, technical skill, and, of course, sparkling repartee. They’ll be such delightful company that you’ll almost forget that they like to morris dance.

Only one element’s missing now, as the twilight settles into a deep indigo nightfall and the stars emerge from beneath the trees. Only the remaining guests need to arrive, and then the dancing can begin.

It’s the Minister of Propaganda who hears it first, drifting softly out of the distant dark like the first flakes of a snowfall. The bells—

—the bells.

The party has begun.


Most of these are available on the site page, but just to call attention to them:

Checking In

Check-in starts at 3p at Cowell Circle (NOT in front of Stevenson Event Center - UCSC moved us).  After check-in, find your room in one of two dorms, Parkman and Morison.  For earlier check-in if needed (or if you or your team members plan to check-in later than 9:30p, contact the .

Check-out will be from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Dancing, sightseeing, and a last pub stop will continue until 3:00 p.m.


General Schedule (subject to change):

Friday, August 14
3:00 pm Check-in begins at Cowell Circle.
5:00 pm Workshops (if offered) begin
6:30 pm Dinner
8:00 pm Teaching of mass dances
9:30 pm Pickup dancing begins and continues until the wee smalls.


Saturday, August 15
6:00 am Coffee available for early risers
7:00 am Breakfast begins
8:30 am Assemble into tours and load buses
9:00 am Buses depart on tours
Noon - 1:15 pm Mass and show dances / lunch
6:00 pm Buses return to camp
6:30 pm Dinner
8:00 pm Skits
9:30 pm Pickup dancing begins and continues until the wee smalls.
Sunday, August 16
6:00 am Coffee available for early risers
7:00 am Breakfast begins
9:00 am -  Noon Checkout and pickup of box lunches
9:30 am Workshops (if offered) begin
11:15 am Meet to carpool to dance stop
11:30 am - 12:30 pm Dancing in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Final pub stop at Britannia  Arms

Sightseeing and Call for workshops!

The Upsc'Ale would like to feature workshops on Friday afternoon, Sunday morning, or both.

If Friday workshops take place, they will begin at 5:00 pm.  Otherwise, the first scheduled activity on Friday is dinner at 6:30 pm.  Folks who want sightseeing tips can contact the for good places to visit on Friday afternoon.  We may also offer a sightseeing "workshop" Sunday morning for those interested in seeing the Santa Cruz Boardwalk amusement park, the local beaches, the wharf, or the old-growth redwoods.

Meanwhile, if you're anxious to share a charming little dance you picked up at a fox hunt in England, or if you can't believe that no one on the west coast knows the tradition from Whateverington yet, or you if you have valuable insights on being a fool or a hobby that you'd like to share with adoring (yet respectful and civilized) throngs, pencil us into your social calendar.  Please reply as soon as possible to the and include the teacher; subject matter; equipment required; and whether it would be taught Friday afternoon (5:00 pm - 6:30 pm), Sunday morning (9:30 am - 11 am), both, or either.

Saturday night's dining and dancing

We'd never make you feel uncomfortable for not dressing up on Saturday night (that's the essence of good manners, and our nannies taught us well), but if you can't resist an opportunity to sport a black tie or a low neckline, our theme will be "Upsc'Ale Morris Garb or Togs."  Let your inner fashionista determine whether that means a vest with a cummerbund, a red-sequined baldric, or matching top hats and canes for the whole team, or put some other creative twist on ordinary morris gear.

TOURS: Another One Rides the Bus!

has determined the seating plan for our Saturday soirée to the cities.  These high-class coaches will of course contain the very Crème de la Crème of Upsc'Ale participants:

"The Ritz"
Apple Tree Morris, Renegade Rose Morris, Seabright Morris and Sword,  Sound and Fury Morris
Berkeley Morris, Black Wren Morris, Goat Hill Morris, Moreton Bay Fig
"Chateau Lafite"
Deer Creek Morris Men, Mad Molly, Rising Phoenix Morris, Wild Wood Morris, Wildcats Morris


We'd like to put together a morris-bus song book so that those of us who don't know the lyrics can fake it better.  If you or your team members have favorite on-the-bus or in-the-pub songs, send your preferred lyrics to the , and we'll put some copies of the compiled book on each bus.

Stuff to Bring

In addition to clothes (think layers) and such, bring bed linens or sleeping bag, pillow, towel, soap and shampoo (fragrance-free if possible), alarm, clock (or cell phone or other ringy thingy to wake you up in time for breakfast), and your own personal mug if you'd like to cut down on waste, morris kit, instruments, and anything to ensure you (or someone's good time).

Need more info? 
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