Kineton Farmers’ Market, 14 May 22

Set in the charming, intimate market square at the centre of the old village, the Farmers’ Market in Kineton has become one of our favourite regular annual events. The sun shone, and an appreciative local market crowd enjoyed watching us dance. We danced fifteen of our regular dances, including engaging with the market shoppers by dancing Shepherd’s Hey a second time with members of the audience, thus once again spreading the enthusiasm and raising awareness of traditional Cotswold dancing. A special mention should go to our three boys who were present; all were praised individually for the quality of their confident dancing and I was moved to emphasise to them and their mums how important they are for the future of our side.

Well danced Alfie, Owen, Theo and Luke! Photo by Hannah

The weather turned out much warmer than some of us expected and, after a few exertions with stick and hankies, one dancer particularly regretted wearing a vest under his shirt! However, a quick costume change at the half time break brought the temperature down. Percy brought a smile to many faces by sampling all the wares offered at the various stalls and he met a new friend in the form of a small cow at the ice cream stall! Because of its popularity we had originally managed to line up eleven dancers, but sadly on the day three of our number were absent due to illness; we wish them all a speedy recovery.

Our thanks to Hannah for the lovely photos and to Miles, who organised the market and supplied drinks and refreshments on the day.

David Snell, Bagman

Our thanks to Miles, the stall holders and all who encouraged us at Kineton Farmers’ Market on 14 May. Photo by Hannah

Lower Brailes Pub Dance at the George Inn with Shakespeare Morris, 9 May 22

Heading out into the gorgeous Cotswolds we had been invited to Lower Brailes for a dance-out with two sides hailing from Warwickshire – Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of llmington.

The evening started with our side dancing outside the George Inn, where we warmed up the crowd with Sweet Jenny Jones, Haste to the Wedding, Lads a Buncham, Hail to the Chief and Washing Day. Two of our newer recruits Matt and Chris, who had made it to the evening, danced brilliantly as well as Owen who really helped to add a youthful element to our side and bring the average age of the side down! Seeing an opportunity, as the other sides began to arrive, we offered them, and members of the audience, up to dance Shepherds’ Hey – providing the crowd with a taste of what we do and the other teams with a much needed warm-up!

After this Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of Ilmington began their set of dancing with a procession from St George’s Church which myself, Richard, Matt and David with our faithful Horse Charlie joined in on. We enjoyed a pleasant break taking in the dances of our fellow Morris sides, marvelling at the way in which similar songs and tunes are crafted to create different dances, routines and figures.

Old Betsy and Charlie with their riders!

Invited to dance again, John led the side in a dance of Postman’s Knock in which overzealous strikes left Richard with only half a stick mid-way through the dance! Whilst I was distracted entertaining the crowd, a quick-thinking Shakespeare Morris dancer managed to swap out the broken stick – a smooth transition which comes from years of experience.

We rounded off the dancing with turn and turnabout, in which we followed Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of Ilmington’s versions of Princess Royal and Constant Billy with our own! We were once again, revelling at the difference between the sides’ interpretations of the tradition. Since we were so close to the village it’s named after, we danced Stourton Wake before combining the three sides to perform a Brighton Camp for fourteen people as the light was getting to the point where it would stop play.

Not to be outdone though, Shakespeare Morris invited us to conclude with another procession of Constant Billy. It was a superb way to end, dancing side by side with Shakespeare and the Flowers.

Still standing after several hours of dancing, though Troy and young Owen had gone by this time …

Thank you to everyone who came from all three sides – it was great to have you all there and learn more, seeing all the dances is always an interesting and pleasurable experience as we learn about the Morris and its many intricacies. We’d especially like to thank Robert Albarton, Bagman of Shakespeare for the invite. We look forward to seeing you all again in the near future!

Squire Ryan

Preston on Stour Fete, Monday 2 May 22

AVMM were delighted to be invited back to this beautiful unspoilt village to participate in their traditional celebration of May. Assembling with a good sized crowd outside the Village Hall we processed through the village, dancing all the way to the green next to the magnificent church, accompanying the May Queen and her assistant and followed by the madding crowd. As we are a side without a traditional processional dance, we danced energetically behind Percy the horse to the tune of Speed the Plough. This provided all the warm up we needed as the road through the village is both longer and steeper than first appears to be the case.

Following the hailing and crowning of the May Queen and the singing of a supposedly traditional May carol of dubious provenance led by Donald, we performed our first set of dances to an enthusiastic audience. Beaux of London City (Shooting) went down particularly well, with Dylan and Percy milking the dramatic end of this dance for all they were worth. Our usual crowd participation number (Shepherd’s Hey Jig) featured a very healthy number of enthusiastic volunteers of all ages. A fine rendering of Postman’s Knock marked the end of our first set. However, some of the fitter younger members of the set used the break to join in the traditional sports (foot, egg and spoon, sack, wheelbarrow races et al.), where they acquitted themselves very well. Older and perhaps wiser members chose to take advantage of some relaxation time by enjoying the excellent cask ale on offer and looking for bargains on the book and plant stalls.

Audience participation in the Shepherd’s Hey, photo by Hannah.

Our second set of seven dances had to include Stourton Wake, as we were so close to the eponymous river. We also danced Constant Billy, Bluebells of Scotland, Washing Day, Old Woman Tossed up in a Blanket and finished, as is customary, with Brighton Camp. Special mention, though, must be made of the four man double Jig, Jockey to the Fair, featuring members of the same family including for the first time, young Owen, dancing with his Dad, Troy. It was good to perform this challenging dance on the green around the maypole splendidly bedecked in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Special thanks as ever to Donald for inviting us and for providing the musical accompaniment without which we could not dance. Thanks too to our guest musician for the afternoon, Nigel Dunn, of Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of Ilmington.

AVMM pose at the May Pole, photo by Hannah.

It was also good to meet up with our old  friend and former vicar of Adderbury, Stephen Fletcher, keeping an eye on his old flock and enjoying the proceedings as much as we did.

As I left, the tug of war was still being keenly contested between the local children and an invitation side featuring several familiar figures wearing bells and AVMM baldricks. It was a  lovely reminder of all that is best about traditional rural life. Thanks to Squire Ryan for leading the side and for his efficiency in marshalling the troops and to Hannah Ekers for capturing the atmosphere of the day so well with her photos. Our next dance out is at Kineton Farmers’ Market on Saturday 14th May from 10am.

John Ekers, Former Squire

Adderbury Day of Dance, 23 April 2022

An event we had been waiting two years for had finally come around! A Day of Dance throughout the village of Adderbury with the other two sides was about to commence and all the months of planning and practice were about to come to fruition…

After assembling at the library our team made our way over to conduct our opening ceremony at Charlie Coleman’s grave at St. Mary’s Church in Adderbury. An event which takes place every year to start the day, we take the time to welcome all of those who travelled to take part, and pay our respects to Charlie. This year, the ceremony began with the poem “Adderbury Sunrise” read by Jim Plester (filling in for Chris Garrett), followed by the Day of Dance song performed by Donald with the team, family and friends present accompanying during the chorus. Finally, we had Charlie’s son Mike, who had travelled all the way from Canterbury, pour the first beer of the day over his father’s grave, which he’d only just tidied the day before!

With spirits high and everyone itching to get dancing, we made our way round to Church Lane where many of the street’s inhabitants – including Countryfile presenter John Craven – had come out to watch us in the street (or to see what all the noise was about first thing on a Saturday morning). Dancing our two signature dances Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to Wedding (Flasher) with two sets, we then had our first triple set of the day, as eighteen dancers stepped up to perform Constant Billy. Our hard work was well rewarded, as snacks were provided by the residents to help keep our strength up. Finishing with Stourton Wake and Washing Day, the weather was starting to clear as we made our way down to the streams.

Our numbers continued to grow, as we made our way down through the churchyard, and arrived to dance and interrupt the peaceful tranquillity of the bridge crossing the Sor Brook. Another three sets danced Shepherds’ Hey (despite my set being somewhat misled by my bad calling) followed by the Beaux of London City. It was so brilliant to see such a varied group of people, from all different ages and walks of life, coming together for a fantastic day. The Day of Dance is a huge highlight in our year of events, and the team coming together in such strong numbers really made it an exceptional occasion.

Moving up to Rose Cottage, we couldn’t help but make the most of our numbers and dance a five set Princess Royal – that’s twenty dancers! Whilst the direction of our foot up was throwing even some of our most seasoned dancers off, we were undeterred and danced up and down the road. After this, three sets danced the Roast Beef of Old England before making our way up the village.

On Colin Butler Green at the top of Adderbury Village is a tree which was planted in memory of one of the side’s founding members Bryan Sheppard. Being part of the team, which revived Morris Dancing in Adderbury in 1975, without Bryan we wouldn’t be enjoying this long-standing tradition. His influence still carries forward to this day, and he’s always being thought of as we spread the joy of dancing. Gail Sheppard (Brian’s Wife), had decorated the tree with heart-warming messages and paintings of his outfits worn throughout the years as the fool, including a large chicken, a priest and a gorilla. Once we’d danced Happy Man, we invited Gail to pour a pint of Hooky over the tree, much like with Charlie Coleman in the churchyard, which we will continue to do at Days of Dance to come. I hope that both Charlie and Bryan are always watching our dances and enjoying the continuation of the long-standing tradition they both played their part in preserving. Hail to the Chief, followed by Postman’s Knock (in tribute to Colin Butler who was the former postman which the green was named after), and Buffoon concluded our dancing, as we made our way down towards the Bell.

After assembling with the Adderbury Morris Men (AMM), we gathered for a minute’s applause to remember not only Bryan, but all the dancers we had lost during the pandemic. Tim Radford who was part of the group responsible for the folk revival in Adderbury during the 1970s gave a speech remembering all those lost, and following this, the AMM then danced their version of Happy Man and everyone present sang along to the tune which both sides know all too well. Before moving onto the Coach and Horses for a well-deserved lunch, we danced Lads a’Buncham, a four pair (eight person) Jockey to the Fair with all different ages, and the Bluebells of Scotland. I remember when Jockey could only be danced by a handful of members, but after practising throughout the early year, having eight performing for the crowds was a fantastic moment.

The crowds had begun to gather outside the Coach and Horses even before we arrived for lunch, and by the time we’d eaten I was told they weren’t content with just Black Joke and Brighton Camp, and were screaming for more! More dancing or more beer, I can’t totally be sure, but we were happy to oblige. We weren’t alone for long, as Sharp and Blunt had arrived to dance and support us in entertaining these raucous crowds. Alternating dances, we managed to fit in Roast Beef and Old Woman Tossed Up in a Blanket before hopping over to the Red Lion. To make sure the patrons of the Red Lion weren’t missing out on the day’s events, we danced Washing Day, Flasher, Postman’s Knock, Stourton Wake, and Sweet Jenny Jones – all with two sets!! At this point, if you’ve made it this far through the article, thank you for reading! But you may also be wondering “Ryan, how do you manage a side of twenty people and keep a track of what you’re doing and what you’ve done?” so I’m going to briefly give a behind the scenes detail. This is my first year as Squire during the Day of Dance, so I used some of my IT skills to create the tracker in the image below:

Ryan’s spreadsheet!

As some of the members of the team would tell you, I do like a good spreadsheet to keep track of things, and in order to write the report as accurately as possible this truly seemed like the best option!! Anyway, analytics aside, we were back to the Coach and Horses to make use of the crowd who had been attentively watching us and Sharp and Blunt perform.

After giving a performance of Shepherds’ Hey, we invited members of the crowd to join in, performing two sets as a jig which encompassed more than we had time to count! We love getting everyone involved and showing them just how much fun Morris Dancing can be for anyone interested. Hopefully we can use this opportunity to attract some new recruits – our email is on this website under the “Contact Us” section if you’re interested! We finished with Constant Billy, before moving onto the Bell and the much-anticipated drinking jig!!

As we watched Sharp and Blunt performing, orders of what everyone wanted were being noted down. We had both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, but this year we were joined by the members of Sharp and Blunt (including their Squire, Beth), along with landlord of the Bell itself Chris, his wife Sandra, and his daughter Grace. As I dashed inside to place the bumper order, I left the team in the capable hands of our former squire John, where they danced another set of Brighton Camp for eighteen people, Shooting and the Bluebells of Scotland. Emerging with the drinks in hand, it was time to set up and dance the infamous drinking jig! It was brilliant to have our side come together with Sharp and Blunt along with Chris from the Bell, for a drinking jig our members have been waiting for almost two years for! It was a truly memorable occasion and one we will remember for years to come! Not least because Chris’ daughter Grace downed her pint quicker than him during the jig – it’s probably a good thing that a landlord can’t down a drink too quickly, otherwise there would be none left for the customers!

We then made our way up to Le Halle place to join up with AMM and to enjoy some well-deserved tea and cakes organised and provided by Sharp and Blunt. Sitting in the garden outside Janet Blunt’s former residence, surrounded by Morris Dancers with their friends and family, was truly a delightful moment that made the hard work of the day feel so worthwhile. We did a turn and turnabout with the three sides, in which we danced Washing Day a final time, before inviting Sharp and Blunt, and AMM to dance Brighton Camp with us. AMM, stood in a set alongside AVMM and Sharp and Blunt to make two long sets of dancers, with our combined set having twenty four dancers – far more than any set I had ever led before, and my charts for Brighton Camp couldn’t account for it. After running the numbers, we put together an amazing collaboration, in a true display of unity across all sides of the village. We all love Morris Dancing (even when it has to be on soft grass), and sharing in that love is one of the things which makes the day truly remarkable.

We all made our way back down to the Bell for a final set of dancing. Taking it in turns between each side, we danced Flasher, Happy Man, Roast Beef, Hail to the Chief, another three pairs in Jockey to the Fair, and finally after Sharp and Blunt had done their version of the Beaux of London City, we decided we’d perform our version too (don’t worry I asked and they said it was ok) as we rounded off our day with a total of 40 dances. As our team started to disperse, we joined one final dance of Shepherds’ Hey with the Adderbury Morris Men, Sharp and Blunt, and members of the public bringing the day to a wonderful conclusion.

Ok, I think that covers the day’s events so now, we need to do a part I feel is equally important – thanking people. In no particular order:

Thank you to both the Adderbury Morris Men and Sharp and Blunt who dance with us every year, and are part of this wonderful tradition we all share. It was great to speak to you this year and be able to bring music and dance to the village after the two-year hiatus.

To Jim Plester, Donald McCombie, Malcolm Wood and Dorset Dave who provided music for our side throughout the day. Truly a linchpin of our team, the music was brilliant and we can only hope your hands and fingers have been resting as much as our feet have been.

To Gail Sheppard for not only decorating Bryan’s tree but also being present there and supporting our dancing and buying our side, as well as the Adderbury Morris Men, drinks that no doubt kept us going during the day. We truly appreciate your generosity and were so happy to have you there. We hope to see you at more events in the future.

To Louis for continued use of the Tythe barn for practices – a building which has been well looked after over the years, which has helped to provide a shelter from the elements and enabled us to hone our dancing skills.

To Tony and his team at the Coach and Horses for providing lunch which we wholeheartedly enjoyed! Our team needs fuel after I’ve marched them up and down the village and it’s always appreciated.

To Chris and his staff from the Bell for providing drinks to everyone during the day and also for the jig. We appreciate everything you’ve done for our side over the years, and whilst we want you to stay longer at the Bell, I speak for all of us when I say we wish you the best of luck in the future. Saying you will be missed is a gross understatement, but maybe with all that free time on your hands you might consider taking up a dance-based hobby…

To the family and friends who followed us throughout the day, providing drinks, food, lifts and around support we appreciate you and everything you do. We hope you enjoy watching as much as we enjoy performing for you. A special mention goes to Hannah, who is our prized photographer and does a brilliant job at making us look good in our photos. Hannah had a whopping 270 photos to sift through to pick our favourites for the the AVMM Facebook page.

To our young members who are the future of the side, including our up-and-coming dancer Luke, who took part in some of his first dances on the day, and received his first hat and stick. We also had Leo dancing around with our smaller horse Percy providing further entertainment and mischief – we hope to have you and many others continuing this tradition well into the future.

To all the members who travelled up and down the country to join us. Mark French and Bob Southern worked the box and made sure we have funds to pay for equipment, lunches and drinks on days like the Day of Dance. Chris and Matt who are two newer members also did brilliantly and managed to keep up with their first Day of Dance excellently. I mentioned the number of dancers we had a lot in the report but it’s because it was truly outstanding to have three sets of six dancing at various times throughout the day. Coming together like this is truly an amazing experience and every year we make memories that last a lifetime and I am so grateful to all who participated.

Thanks also to David for being bagman, voluntary road safety officer, tailor, stick curator, lunch buyer and horse wrangler. It is sometimes overlooked but the work of a Bagman is a hard, often thankless task but I truly do believe that it is vital for our side to keep going. Your organisation is brilliant, you bring everyone together and I couldn’t do what I do without your help. In my eyes, a Bagman is more important than a Squire – I just turn up and shout figures at people! Finally, a big thank you to all the agencies and volunteers who enable the Day of Dance to happen.

Right, I can hear the orchestra playing which means I’ve been talking for too long, but I did have a lot to say about the day. It was brilliant and as my first Day of Dance as Squire, I don’t think it could have gone much better. To sum up the day I can only think of something which one of our members Ian Baum said when looking at the wide range of dancers we have in our side – we remember the past, and look forward to the future. Thank you for reading, if you came to see us, thank you for watching and I’ll see you all at the next event!!

Squire Ryan

Deddington Farmers’ Market, 26 March 22

Perfect, sunny conditions welcomed us to Deddington Farmers’ Market, for our first dance out in 2022!

After weeks of practising in the Tythe Barn, a twelve strong team of dancers along with musicians, friends and family set up outside of Deddington Church to entertain the crowds attending the farmers’ market. Whilst we were a little way away from the main thoroughfare, it certainly didn’t stop us being heard, as some of the stall owners could hear us singing (I promise they definitely didn’t say droning) from all the way across the square.

Hitting the ground running, our first half started with our signature Sweet Jenny Jones, Haste to the Wedding followed by Constant Billy, Stourton Wake, two sets for Shepherd’s Hey and Bluebells of Scotland, Black Joke, and Lads a Buncham, and finishing with Brighton Camp before taking a break to enjoy the market. Stalls of varying wares were dotted around the church and the main marketplace, and I didn’t want to miss out on some of the food-based goodies which were on offer!

AVMM dance Constant Billy, photo courtesy of Hannah Ekers

As the sun continued to shine down on us, we got back into the swing of things with the Beaux of London City (Shooting), Shepherd’s Hey again (as requested by our audience), and the Roast Beef of Old England (we apologise for the lack of a vegetarian option), before concluding the event with a selection of our previously danced dances. I should also mention that we performed a really good double-jig version of Jockey to the Fair – this bodes well for the season ahead!

Thank you all to everyone who danced, not least to Pete Jordan and his two grandsons (Alfie and Hector) who danced with us, as well as Alfie’s Dad who was coerced into participating in the final Brighton Camp. We’d also like to the thank the visiting Morris dancer (an octogenarian!) who happened to be at the Farmers’ Market for his encouragement, along with all the other family, friends and market-goers who cheered us on. We hope to see you again at future events. Our thanks also to Hannah Ekers for her lovely photos.

A fantastic morning was had by both dancers and audience members alike, with special thanks to our former Squire John Ekers, as it was his musical debut on melodeon, accompanied by Troy (also for the first time) on drums and Dorset Dave on his harmonica. With enough dancers for two sets at times, it was truly a strong start to many events to come this year, and I’m looking forward to the Day of Dance on 23rd April. I hope to see some of you there!

Squire Ryan

AVMM outside the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Deddington, Saturday 26 March, photo by Hannah Ekers

AVMM is back in the Tithe Barn! March, 2022

At long last we are back in the wonderful surroundings of the ancient tithe barn in Adderbury so that we can prepare for the new Morris dancing season, and the joy we all felt was obvious. Former Squire John played for the first couple of dances and when Donald arrived there was a wonderful moment when we had three musicians, with Richard playing some whistle for the first time (Richard says that learning the tunes on a whistle was a lockdown project!)

Although a little rusty, we all threw ourselves enthusiastically into every dance, and surprisingly few mistakes were made, given that none of us had danced since December. As you can see from the image, we were all jumping for joy! 

Our first practice session back in the Tithe Barn, Adderbury on Wednesday 2nd March 2022

We hope to see everyone at the practise sessions in the barn every Wednesday starting at 7pm.

David Snell, Bagman

AVMM around the world! January, 2022

As we look forward to resuming our weekly practices at the end of February, our Bagman David Snell suggested that you might like to know that the eyes of the Morris dancing world and beyond are waiting to read about our performances! For example, today (24 January 2022) the AVMM website was visited by people located in China, Latvia, the UK, Ukraine and the USA.

Our website includes a simple statistics counter that provides summary details about the locations of AVMM website visitors and here is an overview:

Top 9 country visitors to the AVMM website (January 2022):

1 – United States

2 – Germany

3 – United Kingdom

4 – Russian Federation

5 – Netherlands

6 – China

7 – France

8 – Ireland

9 – Singapore

In addition to the ‘Top 9’ that account for most website visits, our visitor count country ranking (in order of frequency of visits) is: Brazil; Turkey; Sweden; India; Vietnam; Luxembourg; Hong Kong; Canada; Belgium; Ukraine; Austria; Thailand; Poland; Columbia and with small numbers of visitors from more than 70 other countries!  

The purpose of the AVMM website is to provide a simple, low cost and low maintenance AVMM point of presence, including contact details. Prior to establishing the site, we knew that a number of visiting Morris sides had tried to make contact with us but had experienced difficulties in doing so.

The site has five sections:

Home: Where AVMM is based; Link to the ‘Way of the Morris’ official trailer (YouTube – run time 2:14 mins); An overview of Morris dancing in Adderbury; Some AVMM highlights (Son of Morris On, Laugh dance and sing CDs; Tour of Northern France & Belgium; Way of the Morris; Fairport’s Cropredy Convention (2012)); AVMM on Facebook link. This content can be updated but it doesn’t need to be changed regularly, so it is mostly ‘static’ content.

History: Static content – The origins of Morris dancing; Morris dancing in Adderbury; The modern revival in Adderbury, the list of past Squires.

News: Dynamic content – a news report (normally written by the Squire or the Bagman) and a least one photograph of every AVMM dance-out. I always post links to the latest news item on the AVMM Facebook page and as this page is well established, the link increases traffic to the AVMM website.

Join Us: Static content – Become part of the tradition and contact details.

Contact Us: Static content – List of current AVMM officers, Further information and bookings and contact details.

AVMM on Facebook

The AVMM Facebook page was established by Nick Duxbury (prior to our current website) and it is an important resource as anyone can easily upload their photos and videos of AVMM in action. Facebook is a ‘free-to-us’ way of maintaining an image-based archive. It is also an excellent source of referrals for our website as lots of people know about it and follow the posts. As noted earlier, after every dance-out, I post a link to the related news item on the AVMM website. When viewers click on the News item link, they are transferred across to the detailed News item on our website. Nick and I are the AVMM Facebook page administrators and I regularly check for any messages and booking requests sent to us via the AVMM page as some people prefer to contact us via Facebook Messenger.

Richard Teare

AVMM website and Facebook page administrator

Christmas Tree Festival & Banbury Dance Out 3-4 December 21

Season’s greetings everyone! Adderbury Village Morris Men have just completed a double-bill of weekend dancing in the local area and I’m here to give you the details!

On Friday 3rd December, we partook in an hour of dancing, set against the backdrop of the beautifully decorated trees at the Adderbury Christmas Tree Festival in St. Mary’s Church. Myself, John, David, Chris, Troy and his son Owen along with musical accompaniment by Donald provided entertainment for the viewers and perusers of the delightful trees decorated by various organisations associated with the village of Adderbury. This included a tree from our side decorated by John and David. As you can see John was overseeing some of the finishing touches, to get it ready for the public.

Former Squire John Ekers pictured with the Adderbury Village Morris Men Christmas tree decorated by David and John

The reception was wonderful, and the acoustics of the Church always add to the performance – and certainly let people know we were there! After our signature dances of Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to the Wedding, we performed the Bluebells of Scotland as the church is known for playing the tune on a Wednesday evening. We partook in another edition of Old Woman Tossed up in a Blanket, with a call and response opening, which echoed throughout the church. Despite how tight it was in the pews, we also managed to perform Beaux of London City, Lads a’Buncham and Washing Day, as well as both a 6 and an 8 man Shepherd’s Hey Jig – since we managed it so well, we did it twice to allow for audience participation! Finishing with Brighton Camp, we concluded without knowing quite how much we would miss the luxury of indoor dancing…

There was extra incentive to keep moving in Banbury on the 4th December, given it was cold with strong winds – we needed to keep moving just to stay warm. Starting our tour of the town, we danced by Banbury Cross opposite the Fine Lady statue, where strong winds whipped round us as we danced Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to the Wedding. For the first time in my Morris Dancing career, I saw hats and hankies blown from our dancers – kindly picked up by the audience before they were lost to the traffic!

Sunshine and icy winds in Banbury town centre meant that AVMM had to dance as much as possible to stay warm!

After performing Constant Billy, we moved onto the bottom of the High Street. Once again finding another wind tunnel to be buffeted in, we performed Postman’s Knock, Black Joke (which for once I actually asked to do in a vain attempt to warm-up) and finally Roast Beef. We moved onto the market place, where we were still unable to find shelter from the icy wind, but the crowds provided enough of a reason for us to stay. Often our audience didn’t watch for long, but we were grateful to anyone who stopped and took the time to enjoy the entertainment – even if it was so gusty that our sign got blown over! We performed, Washing Day, Shepherd’s Hey, Happy Man and two pairs of Jockey to the Fair (luckily our placed hats were not lost to the weather conditions), before moving onto our final spot of the day.

Outside the Reindeer, we found some reprieve from the howling gales. We’d finally found an area sheltered from the wind. We finished strong with Beaux of London City (Shooting) and the generosity of the people of Banbury was evident as they were quick to donate in aid of our veterinary bills, Which is strange, given our attempt to fire upon our own horses at the end of Shooting. Finally, we rounded off the performance with Stourton Wake, Brighton Camp, and then lastly a Princess Royal before retiring to the Reindeer for a well-earned drink.

All that’s left to say is thank you to everyone who performed over the weekend – Donald, David, John, Raf, Troy, Owen, Matt and Chris – providing us with the numbers for both events. If you’re reading this and saw us at either of our events – thank you – and if you were one of the kind folk in Banbury who gave us a small donation I thank you again for your generosity – every little helps (as a certain supermarket likes to advertise). Additionally, should you not hear from our troop before then, happy holidays and have a great New Year. Stay safe, and we’ll see you next time.

Squire Ryan Jamniuk

P. S. No horses (nor the children who ride the horses) were harmed in the performances descibed above.

(Not) The Hobby Horse Festival, Banbury, 16 October 21

With the Hobby Festival once again being postponed for Covid related reasons, our Bagman had the inspired idea of AVMM filling the gap in the calendar by entertaining the shoppers and merchants of Banbury with the full range of our dances whilst introducing two of the finest ‘Osses in the land, viz. Charlie and Percy to the crowds that gathered quickly wherever we performed. Starting outside the White Horse we processed through the pedestrianised lanes of the town to dance whenever the mood took us. The weather was calm and unseasonably warm and spectators were happy to linger and show their appreciation for our unique repertoire. Starting with just six dancers we encouraged members of the public to join us on our audience participation numbers, which they did in good numbers. One such volunteer turned to be a member of the original 1970s revival side, Chris Taylor. After living in the Netherlands for a couple of decades Chris has returned to live in Banbury. He danced with us on Constant Billy and Shepherd’s Hey and then joined us for the rest of the afternoon enjoying seeing Postman’s Knock, Happy Man, Old Woman etc as well as our double double jigs: Shepherd’s and Jockey to the Fair. We were also privileged to have a Royal Academic of Music trained cellist, Matthew Forbes augmenting the wonderful sound of Donald’s melodeon.

Adderbury Village Morris dancers and musician (L to R) Troy with Luke, Richard, Owen, Donald, John, David and Ryan joined by Chris Taylor and Matthew Forbes – photo courtesy of Hannah Ekers

All in all it was a great day and I feel sure we made many new friends in the town. We certainly fielded more than the usual number of enquiries about our availability for future displays, the origins of AVMM and Morris dancing generally. My thanks to Ryan, David, Richard, Troy and Owen for dancing as well as to Dylan and Luke for helping with the horses and to Chris and others who joined us during the day. Last but not least, thanks to our musicians, Donald and for part of the day, Matthew. We’d also like to thank Hannah our photographer and Jacky and Sam for cheering us on.

Squire John Ekers

Action shot – literally – our horse riders Dylan and Luke with hobby horses Charlie and Percy, go to ground in Banbury market place. Photo courtesy of Hannah Ekers