I never thought I'd attend a Renaissance Fair (because ha!) but I found myself witnessing one today by accident. I met up with some teammates for a barbecue in a park, and much to our surprise, a lot of the space was claimed by a few hundred fully costumed Ren Fair devotees.
I like people-watching, but watching people who are playing pretend is fascinating in a whole new way. This wasn't a performance for an audience (though the couple dozen of us who happened to be at the park had great seats), just adults amusing themselves and each other by sweating through heavy costumes in heat that would have called for shorts and using funny accents to say words like "exalted" and "decree."
A lot of things were going on at the end of the Middle Ages, but if you were relying on these LARPers for your information, you might think it was nothing but fencing. The men loved fighting with their swords and that took up the majority of the day. It seems like it might be more accurate if some of them were sharecropping or whatever. Then again, if they were concerned with accuracy, I probably wouldn't have seen so many of them playing with their smartphones.
And then there was the Queen! She wore the fanciest gown and a crown, and had attendants follow her around with parasols to provide her majesty with shade. I wonder how they chose the Queen and whether she got to be the Queen every time they played. When an ice cream truck came to the park's parking lot, the Queen went over to buy some and several of her attendants tagged along. I also wondered whether they were obligated to do this or wanted popsicles, too.
Although the women remained primarily in subservient positions - true to the times, I suppose - it was nice to see that the African American participants held various ranks. More than anything, however, I was just surprised that there were black people there at all. It's times like these that I recognize my underlying prejudices. White people? I expect this kind of Ren-Fair shit from them. But black people… I guess I thought that black people were cooler than that.