Help for Newcomers at KWDS
If you're new to the SCA and are thinking about attending KWDS III as your first SCA event or one of your first events, please take a moment to read this information. The more you know about what to expect, and what you are expected to do, the more comfortable you will be.
KWDS III is an SCA event. SCA events are official gatherings of SCA people, often focused on a particular activity practiced in the SCA (in this case, dancing). Newcomers are welcome to come to SCA events, but they should be aware of how these things work before showing up at the event. A little preparation now can prevent a lot of hassles and possible misunderstandings later.
What you need for KWDS III
The basic requirements for participating in an SCA event are:
So, where do you get pre-1600 clothes? The easiest way is to borrow some, either from a friend or from the official stash of loaner garb available through "Gold Key". The KWDS liason for the local Gold Key is Lady Godith Anyon (617-776-6777), so if you need something to wear at KWDS, or if you have other questions, feel free to contact her.
What to Expect at KWDS III
Check in first
The first thing to do at an SCA event is check in at the event's registration desk, which is called "Gate" (SCA jargon). (You might also hear Gate called "Troll.") There you sign in, pay your fee (if you haven't yet), and get your receipt and event schedule. For KWDS III, Gate is in the School for the Arts (aka the Theatre Arts Building) at 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Mass. If you're confused about where to go or what to do, Gate is the place to ask. Gate is also where you can get a list of local restaurants, get driving directions to other parts of Boston, get general newcomers' information about the SCA, and pick up any loaner garb you might have arranged to borrow for the event. If you wish to volunteer to help at the event, Gate is a good place to find out where your help is most needed.
It's a big event
KWDS III is going to be larger than the average SCA event. If you can, try to attend a smaller SCA event before tackling KWDS III, to get a better idea of what the SCA is all about. Note that most SCA events include a meal (often called a "feast"), where you are expected to bring your own table setting. This won't be necessary at KWDS III, since there is no feast at this event.
Everyone's wearing costumes (or, almost everyone)
There will be a lot of SCA members attending this event, from all over the country as well as other countries, and they'll all be wearing garb. There will also be a few "outside experts," people not in the SCA who have been specially invited to share their expertise at this event. The "outside experts" are allowed to attend this event without wearing garb, although we will be delighted if they choose to wear garb. Also, members of the general public are allowed into the event on Tuesday only without garb. Everyone else is expected to wear garb every day they attend the event, including Tuesday.
You will have more fun if you try to meet people at the event. Everyone understands the importance of helping newcomers, but at such a large event there are lots of unfamiliar faces; no one will know that you're new unless you tell them. Be willing to introduce yourself and say "I'm new." One good way to meet people is to volunteer to help.
KWDS III consists of classes, balls, and a more informal component ("schmoozing", "jamming", etc). There will be a certain amount of walking around outside, at least on the weekend when classes are held in two separate buildings. You will have to go offsite to eat (or else bring food each day).
How the event runs
The SCA is a volunteer-based organization; there are no paid positions. The people who teach the classes, play the music, run the Balls, staff the Gate, and clean up afterwards, are all unpaid volunteers. (The only exception might be the handful of outside experts especially invited to share their dance or music expertise at this event.) You might consider pitching in and helping out a little. SCA events run best when everyone helps a little, so no single person is overwhelmed by all the work. Also, helping out is a great way to meet people and feel involved.
Classes are offered during the daytime Saturday through Tuesday, June 9-12. Each day there are timeslots for 2 consecutive classes in the morning, a break for lunch (bring food or go offsite to eat), then 2 more classes in the afternoon. In any given timeslot, there will probably be several classes to choose from. You might want to look at the class schedule for each day ahead of time (perhaps the night before) and plan which classes you want to attend.
There will be Balls each evening, Friday through Monday, June 8-11. There will be a live band providing the dance music. Each dance will only be danced once. Typically the person in charge of the ball will announce the name of the dance out loud, and give a moment for sets or couples to form up. It is considered good form to dance with different partners for each dance. If you need a partner, stand up when the dance is announced, and look around for anyone else also standing and looking. Try to form your set as quickly as possible. The dances will not be taught at the balls, so you should try to take classes during the day that will teach you the dances for the ball that evening. Also, you can ask your partner to help direct you if you're not familiar with the dance.
KWDS III will be held in an unusually public space compared to most SCA events, and with no food served at the event you will need to venture offsite for lunch and/or dinner. On Saturday and Sunday, June 9 & 10, the KWDS classes will be held in two different buildings, with a 5-10 minute walk between buildings. Both buildings are located on a large busy city street, and KWDS III is happening during the peak tourist season for Boston, so you can expect to encounter lots of people. You may get some quizzical looks, and people might even ask you why you're wearing a costume ("Are you in a play?" is the usual question). You don't have to talk to strangers unless you want to! Informative leaflets explaining the SCA to outsiders will be available at the event, and you can take some and give them out if you want.
More about the SCA
The SCA has lots of internal traditions that are not obvious at first. These web pages describe the SCA in more detail:
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May 9, 2001
Last updated May 9, 2001