Apparently my summer of strange sports is going to continue - first kayaking, now fencing!
Ed invited me to go yesterday. I don't know who the people are who meet in the park in Golden, but they were very welcoming and after I signed a waiver they gave me some equipment and attempted to teach me and the other newbies a few things.
Having already been asked a bunch of questions about this by Mosch, let me issue the following disclaimer. I know nothing about fencing. I do not know any names or rules associated with what these people were doing, beyond what is in the post. If you ask me questions I will not know the answers.
OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way. It was a bunch of people, some new, most not, and they met in a park. I was given an inordinately heavy red jacket to wear, and some heavy gloves. Try stuffing thick, too-long sleeves into way-too-big gloves and you'll understand why I got duct-taped together. I didn't need a helmet because I wasn't allowed to fight with anyone for real.
We formed up in lines and learned some things (engarde, how to move forward and backward, thrusting, and lunging, I guess), and then we did some parry drills, and then they broke out the newbies from the others. Three of the leader-people lined up side by side (wearing helmets now) and we formed a line and went to whoever was open and they would put their hand in three different positions and have us hit (touch) it.
For me it was kind of a sexy and fun time. Many of the guys were very pretty to look at. (People were mostly not wearing the kind of plain white fencing gear you usually see, but rather stuff in different colors and with a certain style to it.) It was very casual, people were nice, and it wasn't one of those things where you have to do one thing 1000 times until you get it right and then you can move on. (This is good since I have no real interest in becoming an excellent fencer. Kind of like I am not going to hit 100 baskets of balls just to improve my tennis game.)
It appears that, as these people play, you can hit (poke, at least) people anywhere. If your sword arm is hit, you have to switch hands (so we practiced at least the initial things with both hands). I would speculate about the rest of the rules, but I'd just be wrong, so I'll leave it at that.
After we newbies got retired ("You're using muscles you've never used before, so you guys are done now"; I wasn't particularly hot or tired myself) I got to watch the other people continue playing, and that was very entertaining. They were doing this thing of forming a circle, with points in the middle, then breaking out and fighting each other. It wasn't quite a melee but it was in the melee direction from normal fencing.
Update: Here is a document that describes basically exactly what we did, made by the people I was with. (Ah, the good old SCA. Who knew?) You can get a sense of the style if you go look at it.