Saturday I drove up to June Faire in Port Gamble, at the invitation of my sister. This was a fun day trip, and on the way back I pondered on the nature of the fun.
I had been active in the SCA many years ago, primarily in the combative art but also, as the customer was, helping out with organizing the larger events and socializing in general. I have not lifted a sword in a decade, but I remembered the experience fondly. So what is different now?
I'd introduced my sister to the SCA many, many years ago, and she and her husband remain quite active. It was through their activity that I saw with much older eyes what I had missed in my 20s: this is a massively multiplayer venue for artistic expression. Everyone, or almost everyone, expresses themselves by choice of costume and persona, and most go further by explicitly expanding their knowledge and practice of arts. (I'm sure this is discussed extensively among the organization's philosophers; it's unlikely no-one has ever thought of this before!)
The showiest art is the combat, and it is quite elaborate, ritualized and satisfying for the participants. However more conventional arts predominated this event. Crafting of every kind of object, from clothing (and armor of course) to food, drink, jewelry, and so forth - and in most cases, the sellers of objects had crafted it themselves. Moreover, there is a highly organized system of recognizing artistic mastery, and supporting those who wish to develop master by apprenticing.
Many if not most of the artists had started out as people with regular jobs doing regular things, and in their spare time working on their craft. The SCA excels at giving these people the opportunity for community. It has the advantages of bowling leagues, sewing circles and cooking classes, all rolled together. Pretty neat, huh?
As it happens, none of the arts there practiced are the arts I currently practice. There was therefore little space for me at this time; perhaps later. I went home that evening remembering the fun I had had those many years ago, but I don't want to force trying to do the same thing again. My current arts are writing (such as this blog) and organizing veterans and legal events; they just don't fit into the SCA's frame. Maybe later.