Society for Creative Anachronism is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to researching and re-creating pre-17th Century European (mostly) history.

Some topics of study include sewing, calligraphy, court dancing, embroidery, fighting, cooking, fencing, armor making, brewing, playing musical instruments, illumination, candlemaking, archery, middle eastern dancing, boot making, singing, and that's just to start with.*

The SCA was founded by some folks in Berkeley, California in 1966, and over time has spread through every state in the USA, Canada, most of Western Europe, parts of Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan (and is still growing). Currently there are fifteen kingdoms, with one more about to be created at any moment**.

For some real, official information: http://www.sca.org/


* As I've said occasionally, "If someone did it back then, someone in the SCA does it, except for assassination, torture, and, of course, the Black Death."

** Lochac (aka Australia) is about to split off from the Kingdom of the West.

Last updated 2002-01-08

Imagine that a group of SF fans in Berkeley, mid-60's, under the heavy influence of J.R.R. Tolkien and who knows what else, decide to have a "tournament" theme party. Then imagine that it gets to be so much fun that they do it again, and again, and again...and before long, people start taking it seriously. They start to care who the king and queen are, take oaths of knighthood, and develop into a "society."

Then imagine that they decide to call themselves a historical education group so that they can get non-profit status and look respectable. But some people think that they're serious, and so they start trying to make their costumes look something like what medieval people would actually wear. And they start trying to get other people involved.

Now imagine that the group starts to spread and in 30 years it has 100,000 people who spend time in a parallel universe that's made up of equal parts serious research into the history of the Middle Ages, Victorian fantasy, and Heinlein-inspired libertarianism. You could even pretend that one of the early kings, a person who still remains influential, is Milton Friedman's son and was crowned around the time that he was helping to organize the Libertarian party.

Now consider that this thing actually functions, and they call it the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). There are chapters almost everywhere in North America and in many parts of Australia and Europe.

Back in August of 1998, I was just entering college at the University of Illinois.  Having fenced all throughout high school, I decided to go to a Fencing Illini practice to see whether I wanted to keep fencing in college.

So I get to the Armory, where the club meets, at about 6:30 PM--the time that the website said practice usually starts.  Well, the page didn't mention that no one ever shows up before 7:00, so I had thirty minutes with nothing to do.

I put my fencing knickers and shoes on, stretched out for a while, and decided to run a few laps around the track for a while to warm myself up while I waited for people to show up.

After a lap or two, I start hearing an odd clinking behind me--the sound of two pieces of metal grating against each other.  Half a lap later, it still hasn't gone away.  So I turn around, and see a guy in full battle gear and armor waving a mace around about ten feet behind me.  When he sees I've finally noticed him, he starts screaming, "ARRRRRR!  I'LL CUT YA NOW, YE PANSY MODERN FENCER!!!" before speeding up and chasing me around the track.  I bolted, managing to lose him in a back corridor somewhere.
 

That was my first and only experience with the Society for Creative Anachronism.

The Society for Creative Anachronism, commonly abbreviated SCA, also commonly known as Sex, Combat and Alcohol or Society of Consenting Adults.

The SCA is an organization where you can get whatever level of fulfillment you want from it. There are dozens of various things that go on in local chapters, including the very obvious heavy fighting and fencing, sewing, weaving, belly dancing, leather working, blacksmithing, weaponsmithing, armor making, siege machine constructing, ale and mead brewing, and so on. In every group there is usually at least one or two people involved in any number of these things, so it's very easy to find people that share the same interests in the SCA as you. Since the SCA is so open-ended, you will be accepted regardless of whether you involve yourself in already ongoing activities, or start something on your own.

You will find SCA members that fill a range between weekend-hobbyist and the very extreme ultra-purist. I myself attend events here and there and enjoy rapier fighting, armor making and getting loaded at feast. There are members in my local shire, however, that live and breathe the SCA in every waking moment, and get severely bent out of shape when I wear out-of-period boots with the rest of my garb. I don't tell them about my titanium mail armor. Some of them had period weddings. Some of them live in hand-built stone castles. Some people camp in wal-mart tents. Some people build $3,000 period tents. So, do you have any life outside the SCA?.

SCA events are where most of the fun is to be had. Most local groups put on an event once or twice a year. Most events have heavy and rapier tournaments, classes on period topics, and usually a feast on one day. Some events are day-trippers, some are weekend-long and you'll have to camp or stay at a hotel nearby.

Among Large SCA events in the US are Gulf Wars (www.gulfwars.org) and the great Pennsic War (www.pennsicwar.org/). Gulf Wars is a week-long event in Lumberton, MS, involving extreme amounts of fighting, eating, and drinking. There are typically five THOUSAND people present at Gulf Wars. The Pennsic War, in Slippery Rock, PA, is a two-week long event hosting more than ten thousand people.

Awards

Getting more that foot-wet involved in the SCA does have its benefits beyond knowledge about period times and the friends you will make. One is given awards for various service. Given enough service to your shire and/or kingdom, you may be given a title by the king and queen, which can entitle you to wear a band or a pointy hat. Wearing this to events will cause non-titled members to endear themselves with loads of ass-kissing. muhahahahaha!

Joe member can become king by winning a tournament. In the kingdom of Meridies, there is a crown list twice a year. All that is required to become king is to be authorized for heavy fighting, show up at the tournament, and kick everyone's ass. Pretty cool, huh?

Dating

There are plenty of men and women members of the SCA. A lot of these represent boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife combinations, however the rest are often single and available. The SCA is a fairly liberal group, and you will find people of the opposite sex in an extremely wide range of backgrounds, beliefs, looks, interests, and so on. If you are looking for an umfriend you will be able to find one, however it is completely possible to find one's spouse in the SCA. Beats LAN parties, for sure.

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