We assembled as usual, outside The Bell at 12.30pm for our traditional post-Christmas celebration of dance but as Nicola and Andy had decided to open a little later in the day, we decamped to The Coach and Horses, where landlord, Tony, was delighted to welcome us.
With musicians Donald and Malcolm setting a brisk tempo, our dancers warmed up rather more quickly than the large crowd of family, friends and interested passers-by who stayed to watch our antics. Over the next hour or so, a group ranging from six to 70 years of age performed 11 of our core dances with barely a false step, despite some members being a little rusty and at least one suffering the effects of over-consumption of Wadworth’s Old Timer (5.8%).
It was good to have two dancers of primary school age, including Dylan’s young brother Rhys who performed his first Shepherd’s Hey dance in public. More importantly for the future of the side is the fact that two of our regular dancers, Theo and Dylan, are still at The Warriner School and they certainly danced as well as anyone yesterday. In particular, they impressed in Postman’s Knock and in Jockey to the Fair, where three pairs of dancers attempt to out caper each other in this demanding double jig. Our traditional audience participation invitation dance, Shepherd’s Hey Jig drew some novices from the crowd as well as more experienced performers to make up a cheery throng of 16 dancers.
As tradition demands, we concluded proceedings with Brighton Camp, featuring whistle player Malcolm as a dancer, before heading home to warm fires and turkey sandwiches.
On reflection, what brings us together on occasions like the post-Christmas dance out is a shared love of music, laughter, dance, song, fellowship and a unique tradition. Long may this continue. Morris On!
A Happy New Year to all our friends.