There’s a moment during Tacoma’s annual Christmas Revels that brings the entire Rialto Theater to a hush. While a recorder plays a haunting solo tune, a group of grown men in burlap clothes solemnly prance around the darkened stage with giant antlers held to their heads, bowing and nodding. If it seems like an esoteric medieval moonlight ritual, it actually is: The Abbots Bromley horn dance dates back to 11th century England and is still performed there today on the first Monday in September.
Which happens to be Labor Day — and thanks to the Puget Sound Revels, Tacomans have the chance to do it too. On Monday, the Revels performers will bring their antlers, costumes (the dance also traditionally includes several other characters), fiddles and whistles to Old Town Park, where everyone is invited to join in the dance.
What you need to know: It’s not hard to do the Abbots Bromley.
“All you really need to be able to do is walk and laugh at the same time,” says Revels director Mary Lynn. “Unlike the version on stage, we’ve made it into a giant line dance. It’s super-easy...just some silly fun.”
You don’t need a costume, or even actual antlers — just find some antler-ish branches in your yard.
Nor do you need to play music, although if you do, the Revels folks will teach you the easy, lilting tune until it is thoroughly stuck in your head.
There will also be a caller for the dance.
Finally, you’ll have fun. Bring a picnic, join in some of the other dances and games the Revelers will organize, grab a drink at nearby Treos (modern practitioners of the Abbots Bromley take their procession around the pubs of an entire village before finally stopping at dusk) and imagine yourself for an hour back in medieval England.
At the very least, it will perk up your Facebook timeline.
IF YOU GO
What: Abbots Bromliad dance and picnic.
Who: Puget Sound Revels and anyone else.
When: 1:30-2:45 p.m. Monday.
Where: Old Town Park, 2350 N. 30th St., Tacoma.
Cost: Free (Bring your own food, instruments, antlers).
Information: 253-756-1804, pugetsoundrevels.org.