I’ve just seen a post from FolkWeekendOxford saying that they’ve only got 3 season tickets left – wow! Particularly exciting as I’m calling for the Saturday night ceilidh with the Simon Care Allstars! Really looking forward to it, and I get a lovely trip to Oxford in the process 🙂 Excited to see some of the other acts too, especially my fellow Sheffielders the Melrose Quartet who I never seem to get the chance to see in the North!
Also, think it’s worth a mention that last night was the last official ceilidh of my time as President of Sheffield Ceilidhsoc. The James Bond theme went down rather well, aided by the fantastic tunes and snappy dressing of DanceCupola and the calling of John Brown – wonderful as always. Unfortunately I didn’t get to dance as much as I’d have liked due to the general running around that Presidency involves, but with our AGM coming up on Tuesday hopefully I’ll get some time off now! Anyway, the last year of running a ceilidh every two weeks has been thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m certainly glad I ran for president and got the opportunity to contribute to the awesomeness that is Ceilidhsoc. It always puts a smile on my face to see so many people turn up to Ceilidhsoc ceilidhs (especially students who’ve never done it before!) and have a whale of a time 🙂
As per usual I’ve been fairly terrible at keeping this blog updated, but with my uni lectures over for the year I should have a bit more time for it (fingers crossed!). So with my Offspring excitement out of the way I thought I’d start again in earnest with a quick sum up of my calling so far this year.
Firth Court – my very pretty departmental building and the original site of the University of Sheffield
January was something of a quiet month due to my uni exams, but I still did have one wedding ceilidh gig. Ironically, the location was in the grand hall of my own departmental building, Firth Court, which I later sat an exam in! It was pretty cool to be sitting in the exam knowing that I’d used the very same microphone as the invigilator – though I hope my ceilidh calling created a lot more fun than its later use!
Since January I’ve had a flurry of private gigs (to match the snow!) as well as some fantastic public gigs. In February I thoroughly geographically confused myself by doing two norhtern ceilidh series: Phoenix Ceilidhs with Trinculo, then Ryburn-3-Step Ceilidhs with Albireo the week after. Having been to both events back in the days when I thought that Lincoln and Newcastle were quite close to each other (geography wasn’t my strong point at school) I nearly made some very silly transport arrangements for the second gig which were thankfully saved by the consultation of a map! Anyway, transport aside, both gigs were thoroughly enjoyable and gave me the chance to work with two fantastic bands. I even managed to fit in a quick polka at the end of both gigs – so I can say first hand that the bands were both very danceable 🙂 I’ve also been booked for next year’s Phoenix programme, this time with the Time Bandits – a great band who I’ve worked with before, with a fun European twist.
Aside from those gigs I also called for the IVFDF display ceilidh, which seemed to go down very well! I was thoroughly impressed by all of the display spots, especially Warwick’s display square. Some really cool figures called by Rhodri Davies, fantastic on-the-fly interpretation by the dancers and to top it off some thoroughly energising music from The Night Before 🙂 I might have to borrow some of those figures for my next dance!
Even if spring weather doesn’t seem to have appeared yet, I’ve certainly been doing a lot of springing recently! I’ve just come back from a 6 day morris dancing tour with Morris Offspring and Faustus that took us from Newcastle to Exeter…phew! We’re all knackered now, but it was definately worth it! The music from Fautus was absolutely fantastic, the theatres were all lovely, the lights did a very good job of making us all look pretty, and the dancing was alright too…
With all seriousness though I have to admit my massive admiration for the rest of the team, who got through shin splints, late nights and 4 hour coach journeys to put on a fantastic show every night – especially those who had jigs! It’s my first year of dancing with Offspring and it’s been a thoroughly amazing experience. Sadly it’s the tenth and last year of Morris Offspring – my weekends just won’t be the same without the monthly pilgrimmage to London for practises, the slow motion Hong Kong action, and the intensity and awesomeness of tour. Thankfully we’ve got one more show to go at Sidmouth Folk Week, a trip to Boston and Toronto coming up in the summer, and a DVD coming out in the autumn – onwards and upwards! I’m sure that the legacy of Offspring will live on in our friendships and dancing even though the project itself is coming to a close.
Anyway, for a taste of the show take a look at the fantastic work of photographer Alan Cole, who came to our show in Bromsgrove and took some stunning photos.
The Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival is coming to Sheffield!
This is a cause for major excitement! Every year IVFDF (pronounced iff-diff) is held at a different university and this year Sheffield is hosting it for a record breaking eighth time! It is the only folk festival with a specific focus on students – although anyone who can keep up is welcome. The weekend is filled with non-stop workshops, dances and music sessions, as well as a fair amount of singing, drinking and drunken singing! What more could you want?
For most university folk societies IVFDF is a yearly pilgrimage by coach, often joining forces with other societies. For the last couple of years Sheffield and Warwick have teamed up, as the festival has been held in Bristol then Aberdeen (which is a bit of a trek). The coach trip is always great fun though, with music sessions on the bus and some excellent service station performances by Warwick rapper!
Once you’ve made it to the right university the aim is simple: to try to go to every session, workshop and dance until you pass out. At this point you set up camp in a hall and try to get just enough sleep to do it all again! Although if you’re not quite up to going to a 9 o’clock workshop the next morning then there’s usually morris dancing around the town, which is a good way to see the sights and entertain yourself after a Wetherspoons hangover breakfast!
IVFDF is a place to try new things, go to new places and meet new people. I’ve met countless new friends, been to Bristol, Aberdeen and Durham, and tried everything from dark tunes to asymmetric waltzing over the last three years. It’s also renowned as a place for Ceilidhsoc to find new committee members, although I may have broken the record by being persuaded before I’d even started at uni! Anyway, this year in Sheffield should be absolutely stonking and even though it’s 3 months away I’m SO excited!
The beginnings of a ceilidh caller I’ve been ceilidh dancing ever since I can remember – my parents have been in several ceilidh bands over the years and my mum is also a ceilidh caller. I’ve been tagging along at … Continue reading →