DREYNEVENT 2020 REPORT
Dreynevent. One of the oldest and most well-regarded HEMA gatherings in Europe. And if you ever visited it, you definitely understand why. While this was not my first Dreynevent by any stretch, i could not attend the last few – some because I couldn’t make it, some because the tickets just went so damn fast – so even just knowing I could attend again filled me with the special kind of joy only HEMA gatherings bring. You know the one – it smells like sweat and sounds like the ringing of steel.
The event itself is hosted in a complex housing four halls. Three of these halls are booked for lectures and workshops, while one is free for sparring. The workshops are well-rounded, with a great variety of weapons and for all skill levels, as long as you have the equipment. However, what I love the most about Dreynevent, is the atmosphere the organizers have created. As an event centered around connecting people and sharing ideas, it is without peer. Sure, there is a tournament,
but it’s much more friendly than most other tournaments, and the ruleset mirrors that. To give you an idea of the atmosphere: in the sparring hall, all equipment needed to be behind a specific line. If it was not, the Shame Wizard would come and shame you until you put it behind the line. Oh yes, and you can recognize members of the organizing team by their silly hats. The whole thing centers around being fun and relaxed, which is the best environment for ideas to multiply and flourish. This of course includes stupid but awesome ideas, such as Stupid Sexy HEMA, which will be made into a thing. You have my word.
Sadly, I have not visited any of the workshops – partly because I wanted to spar, and partly because there were a few Rearguard masks for people to try out if they wanted to. However, my clubmates went to many of them, and from the responses of other participants, they were quality workshops. With instructors such as Michel Rensen, Keith Farrell, Ton Puey and Karl Rapp, to only name a few, that is hardly surprising. The lectures were likewise interesting, ranging from the specificity of the female body mechanics in HEMA, through blackpowder, to what drilling with sharps can teach us.
The tournament is somewhat different than most. The first few bouts only go to 3 points, with deep targets awarding 2 points, and shallower ones 1. The semi-finals and finals have no points at all, and are instead judged on the repertoire of techniques used, and how well the fighters controlled their opponent. Definitely an interesting approach that has its merits and should be tried out, though it is of course not meant for more serious competition – nor was it designed for such.
I have had the chance to spar with many, many people and as is usually the case, it was an absolute pleasure. Once you’ve been in HEMA long enough, fighting people you’re not used to fighting is the primary motivation for improvement and indicator on where you need to improve – most often, this means back to the basics.
It is wonderful to see just how much the general skill level of HEMA has risen in the past few years. People who have only started fencing a year or two ago already show good skill, and if the adage that every teacher’s goal should be to train students that will surpass him, the older generations of HEMA have done their job marvelously.
VENDORS AND EQUIPMENT
Of course, there are also vendors for HEMA Gear. Regenyei is quite the staple, and there were a few other sword manufacturers present, so the selections was decent. For non-sword things, there was Black Armory, who very kindly also lent me a jacket, since I outgrew mine. In fact, the two main new pieces of gear I had the chance to try out here were these two:
The jacket sold by Black Armory is a very mobile, light one. The defining feature is the flap that completely covers the bib of the mask, which makes your throat much safer, at the price of taking a little bit longer to get ready for a fight. The padding is sufficient in most places, but it was purposely designed to be light and mobile, and that has to come at the expense of some protection. I will admit I missed the rib plates of my Guardian Angel. Still, the ARCEM jacket is something I can definitely recommend to most HEMAists.
YES! Look upon me, ye mortals, and despair! For I have not only witnessed the glory of the ProGauntlet, they have graced my hands in a fight! Now, keep in mind, I’ve been fanboying over these since I saw the very first finger-only prototype waaaaay back when. I am happy to say that they held up to what I hope they would be. Except the expensive part. Because hot damn, they be expensive (about 450 eur). The mobility the gloves provide is really amazing. They feel slightly more cumbersome than having a heavy leather glove, such as are commonly used for rapier. The protection, as far as I can tell, is absolutely superb. To be absolutely sure would require far more use, so that will come once I can afford them… In my eyes, their main selling point is the thumb. Wonderfully protective and just so beautifully mobile. This is the only heavy glove where I felt I could consistently use the thumb grip (with a bit of getting used to), which is HUGE. Plus, the whole design just screams that is was made by someone who understands HEMA, from the super grippy underglove, to the modularity of parts, to the way the inner wrist is protected… All in all, expensive, but it seems like they’ll be worth the price and then some.
FOOD, LODGINGS AND THE REST
A person can only go hitting others on the head for so long before going hungry, and Dreyn has you covered here as well. Whether it be on-site meals or the evening restaurant, it is all superbly organized and pretty damn tasty. Saturday dinner was organized at a pretty damn huge venue called Centimeter VII (yes, we all made the same joke). The thing with having so many HEMAists all in one place is that it is incredibly easy to find good company. After all, all these weirdos have at least one point in common with you. So good food with good people at a good place. What more could one want?
The lodging is also very nice and comfy. We were nested in the Jugendgastehaus Brigittenau, which is a lovely, modern youth hostel. The atrium is huge and well padded, so a wonderful place to hang out after the dinner is over. Traditionally, this was where the magic and many of the dirty jokes happened, but his year it felt somewhat empty. A point that needs improvement for next time, though the burden for that lies on us participants instead of the organizers.
Dreynevent remains the event that is dearest to my heart. Not only because the organization is absolutely superb, while still keeping the levity which makes everything so much better, but because the atmosphere created there permeates the air itself. No mistake, every HEMA event I have been to has the feeling of camaraderie, but at Dreyn, it’s turned up to 11. Good workshops, good people, good food. 10/10, would recommend.