BB 2015 Summary


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Reports from the year 2015

The 2015 year started for us in fine style on 7 March with a ceilidh spot at the Haddenham ceilidh with the Jam and Crumpet Band, where a set of Wheel of Fortune, Cavalier, Mazurka and Fairies went down very well with an appreciative audience. A great start to another season, and it was refreshing to see a good number of dancers present, especially bearing in mind several doubts about injuries in the side going into 2015. But there's nothing like the smell of the crowd (especially a sweaty ceilidh crowd) to get everyone going.

The outdoor season started, as it has done for some years now, with a trip to Oxford on Saturday 18 April to dance at the Oxford Folk Weekend. It turned out to be a gloriously sunny day, and we enjoyed some excellent dance spots with other good sides in Radcliffe Square, outside The Bear, in Cornmarket, and in Bonn Square. David was tour leader for the day and so in charge of choosing dances which he did very capably, despite every dance choice being apparently strongly disapproved of by the rest of the side. The day was not without other incident too, with an alarming number of sticks dropped first in Jolly Jockey and later in Shooting - we would have blamed the bright sun except we were in shade both times. And then when putting sticks back in the stick bag, one sprang back and caused an instant bleeding lip for Jameson, who spent the rest of the day nursing it. Just an unfortunate accident though, just one of those things, no-one's fault at all, eh Andy? The day finished for us in Bonn Square with a very precise and well received Fairies, followed by Knees Up, which atoned somewhat for the preceding not-great Shooting. But overall a fabulous day!

Just a few days later on 23rd April we arranged a last minute St. George's Day evening dance out on our own at the Dukes Head in Wokingham, a substitute for the normal Thursday evening practice. A combination of fading light, small audience and uneven surface meant it would not go down as a season highlight, but it gave an opportunity for a useful run through of some of the more obscure parts of the repertoire. Then on Saturday 2nd May we packed our buckets and spades and headed off to the seaside in Hastings, for the Saturday of the Jack in the Green weekend - the first time we had been there for the Mayday weekend since 2001. During a cloudy but dry day, we had good day's dancing with Cavalier going down particularly well in the opening massed dance spot at Winkle Island, near the seafront. After the first spot, the rest of the day was unscripted, but we had a good time dancing on the front and around some of the pubs in town before returning to Winkle Island for what we were misinformed was a closing massed stand. But never mind. Many of the side took the opportunity during the day to partake of seaside fish and chips, and Alun found a good use for his hat as a fish and chips bowl...

2 weeks later on May 16th we were back at the seaside for the Brighton Morris Day of Dance, an invitation only day which we had attended several times in previous years, and which always features high quality dancing from the guest teams and of course the hosts. After doing a well received 3 by 3 in the first massed dance spot, we had excellent spots at the Brighton Tavern, the Pump House in the heart of the Lanes area, and at the Waggon on Horses, before finishing in bright sunshine with a massed stand at the Fishing Museum on the seafront where Fairies went down as well as usual. At the Brighton Tavern, tour leader John had determined we would do Coconuts. Jerry was responsible for bringing the coconuts, which he had placed in his car beforehand to ensure he wouldn't forget them - only at the last minute to accept a lift from someone else, leaving the nuts well behind him in Fleet for the day. Undaunted, John carried on with the dance anyway, which it has to be said lost a certain something - coconuts mainly. But overall the BB dancing standard was good throughout, despite (because of?!) a not very good Thursday practice just a couple of days before. Hmmm - is there a link there?....

Just one week later it was the Chippenham Folk Festival, where we were in attendance for all 3 days for the first time since 2009. 11 BB dancers attended on and off over the 3 days, though scheduling the dancers was a logistical challenge for tour leader Jameson with some only there for 1 day, a couple involved with other teams, and one taking to his sick bed for most of the last day (and never was there a more apt description). However it turned out to be highly enjoyable, with a mix of workshops, street performances, processions, and bigger stage and ceilidh spots. The weekend started on the Saturday with a workshop in St. Andrews Church Hall, where As The Tide and Arse About Face were taught, followed by a procession through town with the usual posing en route. Then came a dance spot with Old Palace Clog in Borough Parade, followed by another spot outside the Rose and Crown with Harberton Navy. Saturday evening on the campsite included a gin party, the effects of which were still being felt by a few on the Sunday, particularly one or two of our Windsor friends. Sunday started with a spot at the top end of the High Street with Sergeant Musgraves and Malmesbury before heading off to the Arena Stage. On our last visit in 2009 this had been a covered stage with uncovered audience seating, but in recent years this has changed to a fully covered Big Top with a large stage and lots of room for the audience. We had 2 stage performances, before and after lunch, both of which went very well, and were able to incorporate references to the large festival banner across the back of the stage which had close up photos of a particular BB member taken on the previous 2009 visit. Though surely his nose was never that big.
In the evening we had a spot in the Sports Hall, during the excellent Melrose Ceilidh Band ceilidh. Despite a few mistakes in some of the dances, the whole spot was remarkably well received, unlike the sticks in Shooting. There were a couple of broken sticks too, most notably during Cavalier, when Alun, not in the dance, came on to hand over a new stick to the front of the set at exactly the right moment, doing the 'Jameson Walk' as he went, much to the audience's amusement.
 The next morning, Bank Holiday Monday, started with another workshop, this time teaching Binfield Jump to the attendees and some of BB. Our numbers were slightly depleted due to the effects of another hard night, which for some had barely finished before our morning workshop, and for one in particular would last well into the afternoon, mentioning no names eh Alun? After the workshop came a spot outside the Angel Hotel, shared with Chinewrde and Chippenham Morris Men. There was some good interaction with Chinewrde, most notably when some BBs sat down in front of the Chinewrde musicians during one of their dances to get a better view of the high kicking - which was promptly repaid during BB's Princess Royal (see YouTube video here!). There then followed another procession, this time for various reasons with only 4 BB dancers, and then a final well received Arena Stage spot concluding with Fairies. Overall an excellent weekend, and many thanks to tour leader Jameson for co-ordinating.

The next outdoor event was on Thurs 4th June, with an evening at the Stag and Hounds in Binfield along with Customs and Exiles. An enjoyable evening but not a huge BB turnout and not our finest dancing, though the opportunity to dance Binfield Jump in its home town was not one to be passed up. Then on Tues 16 June we met up with Fleet Morris for a pleasant evening at the Queens Oak in Finchampstead, one of our regular old haunts, and very near the Devil's Highway which provided another dance opportunity. But the big event for us in June came at the end of the month when one of the guest teams at Windsor Morris's 40th birthday weekend. This turned out to be a highly enjoyable weekend, once again based at Trevelyan school in Windsor, where Emma is a teacher. The weekend started with socialising on the Friday evening, followed by a day of dancing in Windsor on the Saturday, along with other guest teams Great Western, Bristol, and Seven Champions. After good dance spots around the town during the day, it was back to the school for afternoon tea and then, in honour of Windsor's 40th, a 70s themed evening. Cue an opportunity for some over the top 70s outfits, and a mix of real and fake dodgy moustaches. After a cava reception and supper, there was a mix of entertainments from all the teams. Seven Champions kicked off with a 'Spot the Molly Dancer' line-up with molly catcher extraordinaire Chris Rose sniffing out the real one while dressed as a cross between a witchfinder and a pilgrim father. Great Western's spot consisted of mimes of 1975 references, and Windsor's spot was mimes of 1975 song titles. Our own offering was a reprise of one of our spots of yesteryear, our own version of YMCA, retitled 'In The Bedlams', as first performed at the Bunfight in 1995. So once again out came variations on the Village People outfits, with a couple of cowboys (Paul and Bob), a couple of construction workers (Will and Malcolm), a very authentic US cop (Roy), a couple of saucy sailors (Jerry and Jameson), Mark as the over moustachioed leather boy, Rob gamely reprising his significantly under dressed Red Indian, and out front, complete in the gayest BB kit you're likely to see anywhere, and striding the floor in the way only he can, David, doing a great job on the lead vocals. Another roaring success, and as the audience included several Bunfight regulars who have been trained over the years to demand an encore, an encore was demanded - though a single verse and chorus only second time round. More games followed all the spots, and overall a great evening.

For the Sunday, Windsor had arranged to dance with the guest teams at Cliveden, a National Trust owned country house (partly now a hotel) by the River Thames near Maidenhead. After a drizzly start, the weather improved and the second dance spot, alongside the Orangery Cafe, was a great success with lots of interaction between the teams, including Great Western and Windsor doing a leapfrog dance together, Will and Mark joining some of the Great Western dances, and some of Great Western joining us for Coconuts and Knees Up. Not sure they quite got the hang of the hands-on-knees figure though... All in all a great weekend, and huge thanks to Windsor for immaculate organisation throughout.

In July we had a series of Thursday evening dance outs at various local hostelries, including a particularly successful. evening at the Beehive at White Waltham, and a visit to Mortimer to dance at the Turner's Arms before visiting Lee's fabulous new house nearby. Then it was August, and there were (just) enough BB dancers to appear once more on the prom on the Sunday morning of Sidmouth Folk Week. Then the week after Sidmouth, we had an interesting evening dance out in Reading with a visiting team from Australia, Adelaide Morris, plus our good friends Windsor Morris. The evening finished in pedestrianised Broad Street with one of our more bizarre Magic Arches, with the last entry through the 'arch' being a large cherry picker which had been waiting to pass through the morris dancers to do some maintenance work further up the road. The driver looked first bemused and then rather pleased as he was applauded through the arch though the dancers had to stand a long way back to let him through.

Then just a few days later we attended the Baldon Feast at Marsh Baldon, a very pleasant country fair type event in a quiet but pretty village just south of Oxford. Despite a small team and a few injuries, we were very well received. However the mc for the day, when introducing us, was very surprised to find out that there were morris dancers outside Oxfordshire, where he had assumed they all came from. We reassured him they could also be found in other parts of the UK, but refrained from blowing his mind by telling him they could be found worldwide...

Sat 5 Sep saw us once again at the Wallingford Bunkfest, with its customary good weather, and the day finished, as usual at Bunkfest, with a Chunkfest in the garden of Sue's new house in Crowmarsh Gifford, just across the Thames from Wallingford. Though this time tea and chunks were enlivened by the cattle in the field at the bottom of her garden wandering across to inspect the tennis ball which kept being whacked into their field. And then at the end of the month we had a day of bright sunshine in the beautiful surroundings of Bath for the Morris Federation Day of Dance. Another excellent day, with 4 dance spots around town during the day. For various reasons we did Cavalier 3 times during the day (the first time was the best!), and we also finished the day rather unusually with Going Away, for which remarkably the song didn't actually sound too bad for once. Must do it every time!? This was followed on Friday 9th October by one of our more unusual events - an evening at the Rising Sun Arts Centre in Reading, as part of what was billed as the Big Untidy Night Folk Tales Special. A very interesting evening, with our dances sharing a bill with other folk acts and a storyteller, and we seemed to go down well with the smallish audience.

And then to November, with practices being taken over by development and rehearsal of this year's chosen Bunfight spot - an interpretation of the opening of the Austin Powers films, with a range of 60s dances being done behind a colourfully suited Austin Powers (Mike Myers) to the tune 'Soul Bossa Nova', an instantly recognisable instrumental tune. The first dilemma was who would play the part of Austin Powers? - and as one, we turned to look at Mark. The theme for the actual Bunfight was 'Bunfight on the High Seas', so we had a wide variety of nautically themed outfits, including inevitably lots of pirates. Fools Gambit however excelled themselves by coming as the entire cast of Peter Pan, with some ingenious outfits, not least Will as Peter's (Mark's) shadow. The band this year, as last year, was the excellent Steamchicken, with Nick Walden calling once again as only he can (marvellously). In the first interval, we performed our sword dance dressed as pirates - a second appearance at the Bunfight for the dance, the first being in 2003 when it was the main spot. Then after the Irish bingo (ably called by Jerry) and more dancing it was the Austin Powers dance. And amazingly, and not at all because Nick told them to, the audience clamoured for it to be done again. Which we (not very reluctantly) did. Overall another great night, leaving us as usual wondering how we can top it next year. No idea, but we'll have fun trying...

The day after the Bunfight, as usual, was the Wokingham Winter Carnival. 6 morris teams this year, so as well as us there was Borderline, Customs and Exiles, Fleur de Lys from Godalming, Fools Gambit, and OBJ. The day started in mild but very blustery conditions, which meant that some of the gazebos for the stalls couldn't be erected, or the canopy over the outside orchestra space. However apart from some showers soon after the start, the rain held off and all of the teams enjoyed a good day's dancing, culminating in the procession through town for which there were the customary large crowds.        

Reports from earlier years are also available -
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 
You can also see pictures of all events in the various Picture Galleries


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