26 July 2015 - Sandway

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Constant rain was forecast for Seven Champions' Day of Dance at The White Horse at Sandway and for once the meteorological experts were correct. When we arrived, we realised that there was no prospect of being able to dance outside as the rain was obviously set for the day and the ground was awash. However, the hosts had a cunning plan B whereby the function room at the pub was cleared for action. This is actually the room that they use for practicing so is used to taking the punishment of morris dancing.

There was a great line-up of sides performing besides Seven Champions and us.

In some respects, the room that we used actually enhanced everyone's enjoyment as it was more intimate than an outside location and the sound of clogs and boots on the wooden floor reverberated around the room to great effect.

Seven Champions got things going in their own inimitable style and the other sides took turns to perform. We started with an energetic execution of Prescot and followed up with Marston 8 and Saint Helens Gala. With so many sides in attendance, there was plenty of time to recover between dances.

At about 1:40pm, we stopped to have lunch. The pub had laid on an excellent barbecue and hog roast which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

As the weather had not improved, it was decided to stay in the function room for the afternoon session. Our hosts took the opportunity to première a brand new dance. This involved one dancer at a time coming onto the dance floor and stopping in front of the musician. Gradually a long line of stationary dancers was formed and then nothing happened. The dance was of course entitled Operation Stack and was greeted with enthusiastic applause from everyone.

Many morris dancers and musicians belong to more than one side and we have one dancer (Janey) who also sings for Seven Champions. As they were hosting, Janey was attired in Seven Champions kit and performed with them. However, she was obviously keen to have a dance and she got her chance when Val persuaded her to join in with Kettle Bridge's performance of Annie's.

Several of our dancers had to leave before the scheduled end of proceedings but we did have time to do a final dance, namely Milnrow, and everyone gave it their all to finish in style.

A big "thank you" goes to Seven Champions for inviting us to their day of dance and for providing such a wonderful mix of sides. Everyone demonstrated that morris dancing is still alive and well but also relevant. Several sides arrange modern popular music to accompany their dances and I definitely heard "Son of My Father" (a million seller for local band Chicory Tip), "Spirit in the Sky" and "Paint It Black". Also, I think that the cosiness of the room contributed to creating a fantastic atmosphere where everyone had fun and enjoyed all the performances.

As usual the Kettle Bridge band played magnificently in slightly cramped conditions and definitely rose to the occasion. Also, one consequence of performing indoors was that it made photography more challenging than usual so please accept my apologies if some of the images are blurred — these wretched dancers just won't keep still!

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Kettle Bridge Clogs web site by Stephen Cordery is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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