An Exciting Time to be a Shrewsbury Morris Dancer

We don’t often blow our own trumpet (well…..not very often anyway) but right now is a very exciting time to be a member of Shrewsbury Morris. If Ray and Bev are reading this then of course it’s always an exciting time to be a member of Shrewsbury Morris! :))

So far 2014 has been a very good year. We’ve danced in great locations around Shropshire, visited the Lake District for The Morris Federation Day of Dance, enjoyed our traditional walking weekend, had lovely articles written about us in the local press, won several social media awards, danced in a pantomime, taught new members, increased the size of our team, hosted a major Drum, Music and Dance event in our own town, danced for charity, danced AND worked simultaneously at two major UK folk festivals, been sponsored for the first time, judged competitions, supported local business, hosted two Open Evenings and been invited to dance for Parliament…….and I haven’t even mentioned Christmas yet…’s coming though!!

Our most recent dance out at beautiful National Trust Dudmaston, for their Orchard Day was a great success, attended by a lot of team members which was great because everyone could get a chance to dance but, over three 45 minute dance spots, so could people get a chance to rest between dances (the advantage of having a big “squad” to use Premier League parlance :))

We were watched at each spot by a very enthusiastic and appreciative crowd and, as usual attracted some very lovely comments. Halfway through the afternoon we were asked to judge the produce competition, during which we were interviewed by our friends at BBC Radio Shropshire. With our “GBBO” heads on (yeah right!) we judged apple pies, chutney, apple cake, sponges and also decorated apples (well it WAS Orchard Day!) What a Morris Dancer knows about cake judging you could write down on the back of a very small postage stamp but it was done, we got out safely, it was a lot of fun and it got us a massive shout out on local radio so…..result!

So, to the present moment. As I type, the team has just finished hosting what we think were two very successful Open Evenings attended by some 16 new people overall. We hope, and think that a good proportion of them will come back and join us as most of them seemed to enjoy the events and the hospitality. If you’re reading this, and think it’s too late…it isn’t. Just give us a call and ask to come along to one of our practices on a Thursday night from 8pm at Sundorne School, Shrewsbury. We’d love to see you.

We are back at practice now with a vengeance as we are looking forward to (hopefully) dancing for Parliament on Monday December 8th. This follows a very kind invitation from our local MP Daniel Kawczynski who is keen to host us there. The team is very excited about this chance to represent Shropshire Morris Dancing and looking forward to it immensely. Details are still being finalised but we’ll publish further news about this wonderful opportunity on here, our FB page and our twitter account.

Just prior to that however, we have a busy weekend because on Sat Dec 6th we are holding our annual Christmas Ceilidh at Sundorne School, Shrewsbury from 8pm. As always, there is a fancy dress theme and this year it’s Frost and Fire, so plenty of dressing up opportunities, although it’s not compulsory!

This is always a really fun event, there is a terrific band (Pump Action), some great calling from Bev Langton and is always well attended so book early. There’s currently an Early Bird offer of only £6.00 per ticket which represents tremendous value we think, so call the number on the poster attached and book early for a great fun evening. But be quick because the Early Bird offer ends on 31st October.

So there you are, we’re approaching 2015 at breakneck pace, are excitedly expecting our new dancers, are planning another big event to host next year in Shrewsbury, we’re constantly raising our profile in many different ways, are looking forward to new sponsorship from local business and working towards 2016 when we will celebrate our 40th birthday :)))))

So you see, it really is an exciting time to be a Shrewsbury Morris Dancer!! Call us, it could be you enjoying the bright future with us! Beware, you might need shades though :)))

Dancing Dayz at the Day of Dance

Last year we (and Shrewsbury of course) had the serious privilege of hosting The Morris Federation Day Of Dance (it’s actually their AGM but it’s a damn fine excuse to hold a huge Morris houlie too).

It was a great success and one of our guests that day, the delightful Belfagan Women’s Morris Dancers from Cockermouth in Cumbria were chosen to host this year’s event in the beautiful Lakes town of Keswick…walking boots on Shrewsbury Morris!!

We had been looking forward to this all year so it was with great relish that we made our collective ways (or not) through the varying degrees of backed up motorway traffic to Keswick on Friday 26th September. We had all decided to stay in different accommodation so the hardier souls camped or motorhomed, those with rugged tastes stayed in the town youth hostel and the lightweights and comfort seekers stayed in B&B (hello blogger!! *note, and webmistress!).

Those who were lucky enough to be retired or on a career break (as my wife calls it) had legged it up the M6 early enough to avoid the traffic, checked in chez comfort and were checking out the Keswick ale houses by 4pm……it should be said at this point that we are NOT a boozy side but there are certain things that need to be reconnoitred early in order to inform the later arrivals of their location and suitability (that’s my excuse anyway). Actually I fell asleep (lightweight again) so missed the later arrivals!!

By 10pm we were all in location and in various states of tiredness etc and looking forward to the weekend’s dancing.

After breakfast on the Saturday (during which I had to pose in Morris kit for some overseas visitors to take photographs!!) all the visiting teams (some 30 of them) met up at the central location for the day, bought our super duper laser guided badges and filled up with coffee, tea and biscuits before splitting up and heading off for our first dance spots.

We were starting our day by the town underpass with the delightful Carlisle Sword and Clog team, many of whom were already known by some of our members, so it was a good beginning to the event for us, along with Ripley Green Garters too. We then had a hysterical dance set in Museum Square with Pately Long Sword before a less than hysterical forced march down to the riverside of the spectacular Derwent Water for a spot on the Landing Stages with the lovely Westmorland Step & Garland Dancers. It did get easier after that with us wending our way gently back to the town, stopping to dance with the super Strictly Clog (who boast the Morris Federation President in their ranks) in Hope Park on the way.

An elongated lunch break allowed us to rest a little and get some fuel on board after a very energetic morning and was for me a chance to get round town to put human faces to Twitter names, having been talking online to Keswick tweeps all the week before.

In the afternoon all the visiting teams got a chance to showcase a particular dance in front of everyone else in a massed spot which is always an enjoyable (if a little nerve-racking) experience.

It had been a lovely day’s dancing, our musicians were, as always superb, all the dancers put everything into the performances and danced well and I think we entertained a lot of people judging by the crowds and the smiles on lots of faces.

The evening saw us enjoy a wonderful team meal in Sienna’s in Keswick, which had a brilliant restaurant upstairs with superb staff and fabulous food (you know, the sort you take mobile phone pictures of and post on Facebook/Twitter/insert your choice of social media platform?)

Sunday morning of the Day of Dance always sees some teams stay and dance in the morning before leaving for home and this was no exception. Our hosts (who did a brilliant job the whole weekend) had organised a really nice dance spot at a well known local tourist rest place called Rheged and a good few teams had stayed overnight and rocked up there to put a good finish to a fine weekend. The teams rotated around the real estate until finally all converging on the large downstairs hall area where representatives of all the teams were involved in a final “massed dance” called Greenhams (I think) – anyway it was great fun.

A great weekend, we had super fun, it was lovely to meet lots of other teams dancing different styles of Morris and the weather was pretty good to us all.

Congratulations and thanks to the fabulous Belfagan Morris for organising such a brilliant event which went like clockwork and for looking after us all so well. No doubt they had a houlie of their own afterwards to celebrate the end of a long year of preparation….and we know what THAT’s like!! :)))

Marketing & Heritage…ing

It’s a busy period for us at the moment and it’s not over yet as we have dancing visits to come at Prees WI on Thursday 9th October and at NT Dudmaston for their Orchard Day on 12th October.

However, back up the days a little and Saturday 20th September saw something of a double header for us as we danced for Shifnal Farmer’s Market in the morning and then went on to dance at the Ironbridge Heritage Day Festival in the afternoon.

The Shrewsbury Morris bandwagon rolled into lovely Shifnal at 9.30 on a dull but warm Saturday morning and we did what we do best on arriving early at a dance venue….we got coffee!….and breakfast 🙂

We received our usual warm and friendly welcome from the Farmer’s Market staff (most of whom we know from Twitter anyway) and had a quick explore of the varied stalls (more Twitter buddies) on display as the rest of the team arrived.

Once we were all in place we began the first of our two 45 min dance spots and enjoyed a really good morning of energetic and fun dancing with a fair old crowd watching us and being very appreciative (not all Twitter friends…oh OK, some were!)

Just as we finished our second dance spot and were taking a break a lovely lady (@lajina on twitter) turned up with free, warm, just cooked bhajis – perfect timing! Whenever you present a Morris side with free food they never fail to disappoint with their appetites and this was no exception as the bhajis quickly disappeared as though they were going out of fashion!

Unexpected lunch devoured, we said our goodbyes to our market friends, mounted up and made our way to beautiful Ironbridge, where we had been offered free parking at The Station car park, not an area of the town that too many of us were familiar with but which looks extremely interesting and well worth a further visit. But this was dance business so we crossed the Ironbridge itself and amused ourselves for an hour amongst the many stalls and activities going on, before starting our first set right outside the Tontine Hotel in front of the Ironbridge – a great place to dance!

A very large crowd gathered to watch us and they were extremely lively and appreciative which always energises us a little more. The same happened at our second spot in The Square 45 minutes later which was marvellous for us. We even had some children joining in and had to pose for photos with them afterwards, which of course we were more than pleased to do, even though we are very shy and retiring (*coughs*…*splutters*)

All afternoon (in fact all day) our dancers and musicians were brilliant and I think we entertained lots of people on a pretty spectacular Heritage Festival Day. The feedback given to us by some of the spectators was really lovely and most kind which is always great to hear.

A tired but very happy Shrewsbury Morris made our way home with the applause and encouraging cheers still ringing in our collective ears….

…..and at least it didn’t rain :)))