a couple weeks ago, my family took a sunday trek to a state park about 45 minutes from our home — out in the desert moutains southeast of san diego. we went because the family of my daughter’s best friend is part of a group i’d only heard about through them: the society for creative anachronism. that weekend, the sca was having a weekend-long “battle”.
the sca exists to to study and enjoy stuff from the middle ages — the period (they describe as) between the years 600 and 1600. from what i now understand, the 30,000 members of this organization (!) gather regularly for banquets, dances, lectures, and… yes… battles. we were the outsiders at this event. there were 3000 people camping for the weekend at this state park, and we paid for a day pass.
the best description i could come up with is that it was like a renaissance fair, but for members only (again, we were the outsiders). EVERYONE was in costume. EVERYONE was a “performer”. half the tents were period tents: a-frames and round turretted things, full of rugs and armament and middle-agey bits and bobbles. we arrived in time to see one of the last battles of the weekend, a “resurrection” battle (which means those who are “killed” — any blow to the face or body is an on-your-honor kill — can lumber back to a resurrection point and subsequently rejoin the battle; and the swords and spears and such are all wooden or pvc, with padding and lots of duct tape for safety). there were a dozen or more “war bands” on the field at once, each in war gear appropriate to the time period they embraced, using battle tactics theoretically appropriate to the time period they embraced. there were bands of greeks battling celts battling romans battling who-knows-who-else. here’s a picture of the hot-spot on the battle field…
oh, and here’s max wearing our host’s helmet (it’s the real deal!), and liesl with her friend in their, uh, costumes (is that the right word?).
there were merchants and food venders. lots of partying (though our friends were camped in a non-party zone — families, mostly — with a no alcohol rule). lots of insider lingo (there was a term for us visitors even — i’m forgetting what it was). i was politely referred to as “my lord” a couple times, like when someone needed me to move out of the way so he could pull a wagon past with a massive wooden throne on it.
the whole thing was massively surreal. kind of fun. somewhat intriguing. wildly freaky.
it always amazes me when i stumble onto a sub-culture i didn’t know existed.