A tradition of the Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Club, the annual Viking Funeral was held last Saturday. Really just an excuse for adults to wear costumes and have yet another big piss-up, what happens at the funeral is that an effigy of a hairy, bearded dead Viking is hoisted aloft by a noisy entourage of beery Viking men, buxom wenches, fire dancers, Scottish bagpipe players in kilts and other strange, not-quite-historically-correct characters, and laid to rest on a dragon-headed barge anchored in shallow water in front of the yacht club.
History buffs and stuffy Scandinavian bores, beware, it’s not meant to be solemn or serious, or accurate. It’s not even meant to be Nordic. The ‘Viking’ inspiration for this event is more Hagar The Horrible than Leif Eriksson…and Hagar is more the mascot of Americans, Brits and Australians than he is of Norsemen. The first funeral took place because a Dinah Beach Club member had died and his rotten boat was on hand for burning. Just a silly party, leave your hemorrhoids and lousy sense of humor at home.
In past years the local archery club—ranged along the banks of the inlet—fired flaming arrows at the petrol-soaked and fireworks-studded barge and (often after quite a lot of misses) one arrow would find its target, and the whole thing would go up in a conflagration worthy of Benares.
This year there was a total fire ban law in place, and although the club had applied for and received a special permit to set fire to the “longship”, the permit was revoked a few minutes before the effigy had been carried to the barge. Disbelief! Two hundred drunken spectators wandered back to the bar in disgust, and the dead Viking was left to float in the dark for a while.
Everyone was, of course, betting on some unofficial pyromaniacs to save the night, and sure enough, the petrol-soaked barge proved an irresistible magnet to some, who took it upon themselves to set it alight. Good on ‘em.
The rest of the night was spent dancing to a great blues band, standing in line at the bar for half-hour intervals, trying to buy a drink…