BB 2016 Summary

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Report from the year 2016

The year started with the news that long standing member Andy had decided not to continue with the side in order to pursue his time consuming hobby of sitting in airport departure lounges. A great loss to the side, who will miss his dance experience, musicianship, and indefatigable sense of humour. Whatever the mayhem around him, Andy can be guaranteed to be having a lovely time.

Meanwhile though the dancing year started even earlier than usual with an appearance on 27 Feb at the 2016 IVFDF Festival (Inter-Varsity Folk Dance), this time organised by the University of Warwick, but based in Coventry, and with the morris tours arranged by Earlsdon. A raw wind blew throughout most of the day, so we were glad our first dance spot was indoors in the Lower Precinct shopping centre, where we appeared to be dancing on AstroTurf. Later on we moved to the precinct near Lady Godiva's statue, who would undoubtedly have been wishing she had a few more clothes on. Later still we finished up dancing in the old Cathedral ruins, where Capering Crew joined us for some old (joint) favourites.

Our next event was appearing at a private dinner, part of an international conference organised by SAFE (Safety and Flight Equipment Association), in the Old Chapel of the Beaumont Estate Hotel, Old Windsor. We were the post dinner entertainment, and had put together an appropriate sequence of dances, though it proved difficult to get 'volunteers' for Coconuts from the diners, who came from all over the world and were mostly in dinner jackets. We did though eventually eventually pressgang a couple, and the display seemed to go down very well overall. We were also well looked after, with sandwiches, chips, and wine and beer provided, which we feel should be the norm for every event from now on. We had a good turnout of dancers too, including Alun, who had arrived fresh from University with nearly all his kit except rather crucially his BB socks, necessitating an emergency phone call to Roy, at home 20 minutes away - thanks, Roy!

Then on Sat 16 April we were once again at the Oxford Folk Weekend with spots by the Sheldonian Theatre, in Bonn Square, by The Bear pub, and at the Ashmolean Museum. Another very enjoyable day, followed a week later on 23rd April by attending Hook Eagle's 25th Birthday celebration day, also another success. For us this started with mass dancing in Odiham, followed by a coach tour to Andwell's Brewery in Hook, and then the Crooked Billet.

Thursday 23rd April was The Queen's 90th birthday, and we were invited in the evening to join a beacon lighting ceremony outside Finchampstead Church. Once the beacon on top of the church was alight (disappointingly lit by a gas burner rather than having a bonfire on the top) we did a short display, which seemed to go down well, before strolling down the road to the Queens Oak. There we did a few dances, including a chaotic Jolly Jockey in near darkness, before repairing to our usual Thursday haunt of The Bull at Barkham. 

Next up on 7th May was a visit to the revived Winchester Mayfest, back again after a 4 year absence. On (at last) a gloriously hot day, we danced first at the City Museum, and then at the Buttercross, followed by a single dance performance for the Mayor outside the Cathedral. And had she actually been there, we're sure she would have enjoyed our Cavalier. We finished the day with more dancing outside the Museum before one of the team had to rush off to see Leicester City's game on TV followed by presentation of the Premier League trophy to them. Wonder who that was then?

On Sunday 22nd May we were once again at the Kirtlington Lamb Ale, with Albemarle's Hop as our show dance in the traditional final stand in the school playground, and then 2 weeks later we had an evening with Fleet Morris at the Queens Oak in Finchampstead. A pleasant evening, and also notable for our new French recruit Florent capably making his debut. Magnifique!

Then the following weekend was our semi-annual (when someone gets round to organising it) Dorset tour - this year highly capably organised by David, who the rest of the side have now concurred should have the role for life. The weekend was based at an excellent campsite just outside Langton Matravers, and started at the far end of Swanage Pier, much to the bemusement of pier strollers, fishermen, and a big pleasure boat outing which docked during our first dances. Nevertheless it was a great setting on what turned out to be a beautifully sunny day. And it was a great pleasure to see our recent joiner Tom along for the weekend and performing for the first time with us, even though his white trainers were unfortunately not in Swanage along with him - however after starting the day in black trainers he was able to sort out a white pair at lunchtime. It also featured the full public debut of our new/old melodeon musician Roy, who after many months of practice knew many of the notes of many of our tunes. After a few dances at the far end of the pier came a lengthy procession along the length of the pier, after which some seats opposite each other at the near end provided good rest opportunities during each half of Highland Mary.

The tour than moved on to Durlston Country Park and Castle, with excellent dancing opportunities against a spectacular seascape background. Then after the traditional evening campsite barbeque came the David's trip highlight, and indeed the whole raison d'Ítre for the tour's base - the evening walk along a footpath giving distant views of the sea to the Square and Compass pub at Worth Matravers. There we found an appreciative audience, and unlike on our previous dancing visit there some 15 years earlier, no animals were harmed during the evening's entertainment.

The next day the tour reconvened in Salisbury, for dancing at the Museum and later with the imposing splendour of Salisbury Cathedral as a backdrop. It's doubtful the gargoyles at the top had seen a good coconut dance down below for many hundreds of years (who said they still haven't?).

A few days later came another good evening with Jackstraws at the Dog and Partridge in Yateley. Apart from some fine dancing, the evening was enlivened by peering in at the TV inside the pub and following the progress of a horror film - England 1 Iceland 2 in the Euros. Then on 9th July, a small but immaculately rehearsed team was off to Priddy in Somerset for the Priddy Folk Festival. A somewhat lower key festival, yet featuring some big names, this proved an excellent event to take part in, not least for the hospitality tent made freely available to all performers with a seemingly endless supply of tea and cakes. Apart from indulging in this, we had a number of spots on the Market Square and in the Eastwater Marquee, one of which was an hour long show along with the Outside Capering Crew. Although not an actual Big Caper show, it had much of the feel of it with the combined 4 musicians, and a number of joint dances, including the reappearance of the pampering routine where David was well looked after and Jameson wasn't.

Then after another excellent evening with Customs and Exiles at the Stag and Hounds (14 BB dancers at one point! 14!!) it was time for a season highlight - another week long appearance at the Sidmouth Folk Week after a 3 year absence. We were pleased to be able to take a strong team, even though Jameson was only able to be with us part time due to having previously committed to be there with 7 Champs. And once again it turned out to be a great week, even though we had a fuller programme than in previous years due to the addition of scheduled spots every day for the booked teams on the seafront at the Bedford Steps and York Steps. There were many highlights during a week of high profile performances, but a particular highlight came on the first day there, Saturday 30th July, with an LNE spot at midnight. Before this though we had a number of other commitments during the day including an appearance at the Hub, a procession along the seafront, 2 dances in the first of the Blackmore Marquee dance shows, and another spot on our own on the seafront. The LNE spot started with the Jameson walk on for Wheel of Fortune, which got a great audience reaction in itself, followed by our Sword Dance, Coconuts, and Going Away, all of which were very well received.

The next day featured only a couple of dance spots on the seafront, as the main feature for Cotswold teams on Sidmouth Sunday is always the John Gasson jig competition. This proved a great success for BB members with no less than 5 receiving awards, albeit not in BB kit - Alun and Mark with Tom playing won the double jig competion, Jameson won best over 40 and 3rd place overall in the solo jig (accompanied by Saul Rose), while Jerry was musician for Charlotte and Maria of Windsor who came 3rd in the double jig. A big honourable mention also for Will accompanied by Sue in the solo jig who were in BB kit - not placed but it must have been a very marginal decision as it was a fantastic performance from both.

On the Monday, rain from late morning onwards caused most of the outdoor dancing to be cancelled, though not before we had some impromptu performances under the overhang at the front of the Ham Marquee. Later on despite the rain we carried on with a scheduled 30 minute performance in the outdoor covered stage area in Blackmore Gardens as part of the Childrens Festival, during which Jerry gamely led a participatory Shepherds Hey. The weather cleared for Tuesday, which was our day off, then on Wednesday we had the first of our 2 early morning workshops. Mark ably led this, teaching Schrodingers Hat and Dance of Chance, before further spots in the afternoon around town, in the Connaught Gardens show, and later on in the Market Square.

Thursday was our busiest day, starting with another morning workshop, this time led by David, and teaching our stick dances Base over Apex and then Jolly Jockey. Then after a lunchtime performnce on the York steps came another procession along the seafront, a spot in the Blackmore Marquee afternoon show, another York steps spot, and finally our second Market Square appearance. And then all too soon it was the final Friday, which first featured more spots around town and on the seafront. During our final seafront spot at the Bedford steps, Will and Sue reprised their solo jig from Sunday's competition, and while Will was going for a particularly high kick there was an ominous ripping noise. Still, it was a hot day, and no doubt the extra ventilation helped the cooling process. Later came a splendid final Connaught Gardens show for all the booked teams, culminating in a 'blind-leads-the-blind' procession all around Connaught Gardens. The day (and festival) finished with the torchlight procession along the seafront and onto the beach, followed by the extinguishing of torches in the sea (tricky as it was shortly after high tide) and a terrific firework display. Overall another wonderful week, throughout which the whole team acquitted itself very well despite the more taxing schedule this time.

Then it was on to September, and our annual visit to the Wallingford Bunkfest - a great event as usual. This time we went on the Sunday, Sept 4th, and enjoyed an excellent time with big crowds in attendance. And if Bunkfest gets better and better every year, so does Chunkfest at Sue's house - our annual unmissable tea-with-pineapple-chunks in Sue's garden. Then no other events in September until the Morris Federation AGM Day of Dance, this year in Nottingham City Centre, very capably organised by Mortimers. We had some good dance spots throughout the day, including one around Robin Hood's statue where we had a bit of a long shot at some of our more difficult dances and despite some of the side being in a quiver, just about managed them - though it was an arrow escape...

The final event of the outdoor season was the Lewes Day of Dance on Sat 8 Oct - another great day, and good to see Florent playing a full part in the day's dancing. Vive la Danse!

And then it was into our year end sequence, starting with the Bunfight on Sat 25 November, another great night - see here for all the pictures. This year's band was Panjandrum, consisting of half of the members of the now sadly defunct Committee Band, and they played some excellent sets to a good turnout of dancers. The theme was 'Living La Vida Bunfight - Bunfight goes to South America', so we had a wide and wild variety of great costumes, not least all the animals of the rainforest from Fools Gambit, including Tom as a solitary tree. In the first break of the evening, as well as the compulsory Irish Bingo BB had 12 dancers for 2 sets of Cavalier, including new recruits Ben and Charles who both did great jobs. Then in the second spot, BB performed their mysterious 'Men in Bags' spot. And what do you now, the audience demanded (or Nick demanded on their behalf) that we do it again, which we did after something of a pause while several people worked out how to get Lee's iPod to rewind.

Then the next day was the annual Wokingham Winter Carnival, this year in cold but generally fair conditions, and once again the team acquitted itself well with generally good crowds watching. After that, the last event of the year was the now traditional St. Thomas's Day dance out on Sat 17 Dec, at lunchtime in the Wokingham Market Place. Once again it was a pleasure to have our most recent recruits with us, in more or less full BB kit for the first time, and again they acquitted themselves extremely well. 2017 looks like being another great year, not least with our 40th anniversary celebrations in July!

Reports from earlier years are also available - 2015 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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