Thursday, July 26, 2012

utopian weekend in the West Country

On my way to Kirby's birthday camping weekend at the woods near Bath where he's apprenticing, I somehow ended up at a Lindy Hop dance at the Oddfellows Hall in Bristol! It's called the "Odd Ball", the summer dance for the Bath and Bristol Lindy Hop crowd, people getting dressed up in period gear, vintage hairstyles, etc. This happened 'cos I ended up staying at Rosie's place on the eastern edge of Bath, and she'd already planned to go, asked if I'd mind coming along. She used to be deep into the whole French and Breton folkdance thing, but got bored with it a couple of years ago and decided to get into Lindy Hopping instead!

It was fascinating to watch (no, I didn't attempt to join in – someone with no spatial awareness and several left feet would be a fool to try!), as Lindy Hop is more like a vocabulary of moves rather than a fixed set of steps, so lots of room for improvisation and self-expression. And everyone was so invigorated and happy. I didn't see anyone in the hall looking at their mobile phone all night, which is rare these day.

We got a lift to Bristol and back with a woman called Petra. I couldn't quite place her accent, but was woken from my dozing in the backseat as we arrived back in Bath by her asking Rosie (I have no idea what the context was) "do you remember a band called Can?".

"I do!" I proclaimed, sitting upright. She briefly mentioned seeing them in Heidelberg in 1970 (she's German, I learned). But then we were back on the pavement walking to Rosie's flat, me still half-awake and wondering if that had actually happened.

The next morning, the horrible weather finally lifted – we got a proper sunny day! So I bought an Ordnance Survey map in the model railway shop around the corner and set off along the canal and out across the land with my rucksack and saz. Nice to be out walking again. When I arrived at Cherry Wood, Kirby was getting wood together for a bonfire, so I go involved (then with helping put sides on a yurt, harvesting salad greens, chopping vegetables, etc. as various friends, many from E. Kent, arrived). A great party. All of the Sondryfolk triumvirate, the whole of Syd Arthur (off duty, though, they didn't actually play) and friends linked to the Furthur/Dawn Chorus collective. Everyone in a particularly good mood because of the long-overdue sunshine. I played a little bit of music with Tom T – old-time American folksongs, the same as the last time I saw him at that midsummer party in Boughton.

The next morning we collectively made our way down to the nearby lake (dug in Victorian times, with multi-hued rhodedendrons planted around it) to cook breakfast, hang out in the sunshine, swim, etc.. I played a bit more saz, accompanying Tom again (fiddle tunes, slowed down, mostly). Then Elise borrowed his guitar and played some killer grooves which were a joy to jam along with. She's got an excellent style, but absolutely no musical pretensions or ambition, just loves to play whenever there's a guitar around to borrow. A shame I didn't record that (my Zoom H2 was nearby, but I didn't want to break the vibe).

I've since helped out in getting this piece of Sondryfolk sound art up on Soundcloud (recorded on the streets of Bristol and edited by Elise and Laurie, based on asking people what the idea of "home" means to them):


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