Michigan Renaissance Festival is a week away and I am going to be working there this year as a banner carrier for the 'Sons of Sandlar' booth. I am very excited to be back. It has been about 3 years since I worked in my prior role, which was a CD selling belly dancer for Djiliah Pharlengo, and now I am coming back as something a little different. Sneak peak below. But first some words about lost loved ones, and my history with the fair.
This year is going to be bittersweet. I have been completely absent for a few years, and even the last few years I worked was more part time. I haven't been fully present since 2010. A lot has changed since then. The biggest change for me is Djiliah is no longer performing there, and I am very lost without them as they were my start and my muse. Also, a few other musical acts will not be there. Owain Phyfe passed away a few years ago. Kevin Tyler, another beloved performer we had shared stages with several times has left us. Jessica Masserant aka Tiger Lily, the Captain of the Crimson Reign (Brethren of the Great Lakes) left us in 2014, and this year I also lost a long time fair friend Charles Sanderson. So much has changed with and without me, and I am scared to go back. I am terrified of the change, as well as excited to return to my roots.
Michigan Renaissance Festival has a very special place for me. I grew up loving to play pretend. I had dress up clothes as a child, plus a wild imagination. MRF introduced me to a whole other world of people who had similar interest. People who could see the magic and indulged in fantasy. It's safe to say MRF was also my first LARP. I always wanted to be the idea of a gypsy dancer. I wanted to be Esmeralda, twirling to music, or the gypsy girl on the beach playing enchanting music in Queen of the Damned (before Lestat kill her). So one year during drama class our teacher told us about castings for the fair. I attend very unprepared and was given a role in the Enchanted forest with the fairies.
I loved putting on my costume and loved running around fair. I started in 2003/2004 when I was about 15 as a gypsy in the children area. It was volunteere babysitting essentially and I hated it, however, I was quickly "fired" about three weekends in because I didn't stay there. Can't cage the gypsy heart I guess. One of the times I slipped away is when I met Ernesto aka Spanish Bard, the man of Djilia Pharlengo playing his amazing music in the walkways. I just ran up and started dancing, and then followed him around from show to show. I came back the next year as his CD girl. Over the years I evolved from the little gypsy girl to a belly dancer (thanks to my biggest influential act which sadly is no longer there, Nommobugunte, an African tribal dance troupe, I sure miss that drum circle).
Nothing beats the morning dew as you stroll in with the sunrise half dressed to make the morning meeting. Even though its August/September it's chilly so you wrap yourself in your favorite cloak or snuggle up to your favorite person. There is a coffee shop in a building by the fountain which is always popular, or if you are early enough, you can make breakfast in the castle if you have a few bucks. Cast and the shop keeps are arriving and getting everything set up. The most iconic moment of a fair morning is when women are running around asking someone to lace them up (usually a long time fair friend, or a someone they fancy). There is a specific feeling in the air, like when you wake up before your alarm, early with the sun, and as you lay in bed, for whatever reason this morning feels... perfect.
Other acts I remember from my early days were the Pirates and Musketeers, E muzeki, some members later became Circe Paleo, Mark Valeras took his amazing talents to Wine and Alchemy for a while and then went his own way and hasn't returned to Michigan since, already mentioned Nommobugunte and their awesome end-of-day drum circle, of course Djilia Pharlengo, and I know there are so many more.
With that being said, the inevitable fact of life is change happens, good or bad, whether we want it to or not, and whether we are prepared or not. I am excited to feel those feelings again when I step back onto the fairgrounds. I only worry about who I will no longer see, and what else has changed. I worry those people took the atmosphere I love with them and I worry that everything is truly different.
Some changes are going to be made. First, I am including an underlining for additional structure in the bodice, that I will attach some steel boning to via the side seams, up the front closure, and some for support in the back. Also, the pattern calls for hook and eye closures in the front which I am switching out for lacing instead. That means that I will be adjusting the width so that there will be slight gap present to allow for lacing.
I am a bigger girl, and apple shaped so normally I would have needed to add room to the waist, a full bust adjustment, and drop the bust point slightly, but since this will be laced, and I intend to wear a corset under (which will assist with lifting and shaping) the only fitting adjustments I am doing is adding a quarter inch to the side seams (which I did by tapering my 5\8 seam allowance to 3\8), and for the bust, to reduce bulk and give a little room without pattern altering, I did my front princess seams at 3\8 off the bat, so that allowed approximately an additional inch in the bust and in the waist.
Head over to my Instagram to see new pattern purchases, as well as the material I chose. I am using a blue jacquard from the home decor section, that has a filigree print, and a gray lining to match the print but add overall contrast. my chemise is a gray tone as well. I will also be wearing black pants, boots, and as it gets colder, black gloves and a black hooded cape.
I am going to take pictures of my progress, and I'll post a blog once it's completed, or near completed. Stay tuned.