Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Dancing out in April

NEW MOON DATES FOR APRIL

Monday 17th April - Pitstone Museum during the day
Sunday 23nd April - Holmer Green from 3:30
Saturday and Sunday 29th and 30th April - Rochester Sweeps Festival, Rochester, Kent

Saturday, 14 January 2017

On into 2017

New Moon Morris started 2017 by wassailing an ancient apple tree in Piccotts End on Saturday afternoon.  The building is famous for the unique medieval wall paintings, and we were given a guided tour before we went outside to wassail the tree, which is of an unknown type, despite investigation by experts.



Apple tree wassail
We played a few tunes to wake the tree up, Martin, one of our drummers, read a wassail prayer to the tree, and we sang apple wassail songs.   It is a quiet spot, and only a few, slightly bemused, people drove past, although someone came from the church a short way up the road to take some photos and to wish us well.


Wassailing the tree


Wassailing the cows
Then a brief stop at home before setting off for Tring, where we wassailed Tring Brewery, and then the cows at Dunsley Farm behind the brewery.  According to drummer Martin this was a 19th C Hertfordshire tradition - the cows didn't seem phased by it.


We were due to wassail at Jeacock's Orchard in Tring at 7:30, so we set off for the Robin Hood, where we got to play, sing, and wassail the pub.  There is a short VIDEO on Facebook courtesy of the Robin Hood - although the band is sideways for some of the recording.  

After that it was straight off to Jeacock's Orchard and wassailing the trees - with the wassail cup, wassail songs and a shotgun and 'air cannon' to keep any 'evil spirits' from the trees.  Afterwards, hot soup, fresh bread, drink, good company, and - yes - yet more music!

We were lucky enough to have the excellent Tring photographer Stephen Kitchener taking photos of our exploits in Tring. You can find these HERE.

On Plough Tuesday we were invited to a meal by Whitchurch Morris Men.  They provided an excellent hot meal - and dancing until late.

Here they are teaching us a new dance...


That was all in the first ten days of 2017 - more wassailing next weekend!

 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Look what we've done this year!

The basic idea of New Moon Morris was dreamed up by four people in 2014.  They quickly recruited one other, and the details were decided in pubs over the summer.  We couldn't dance, as there were so few of us, and one had a broken ankle.  However, by the end of the year we were up and running with a practice hall in Redbourn and six members.  We did our first 'dance out' at a private party.

Our hall was very small, so that we had to dance out of the door and onto the landing in several of the dances.  When we got a number of new people interested it was clear that it needed to be much larger - so we moved to Ivinghoe.  We've got around 20 members now, with a couple who come along to practices and events when they can.  Many are musicians, some of whom also dance, and the band is sounding fabulous - although we could do with more dancers to share the dancing.

We were very pleased with how 2015 went, but we are even more pleased with just how busy we've been in 2016.

January:
  • we Wassailed the apple trees in the dark at Jeacock's Orchard in Tring
February:
  • We danced at Hemlock Morris's Ale in Bedford
 April:
  • dancing at Pitstone museum
  • Oxford Folk Festival
  • dancing for St George's Day in and around Aylesbury, then...
  • the New Moon band played for the ceilidh in the evening
  • Rochester Folk Festival
May:
  • dancing as guests of Wicket Brood at the Rising Sun in Berkhamsted  
(I've got to add THIS video again - I just love it!)
 June:
  • dancing at St Albans folk festival, and the same day...
  • the band played at the Stoke Bruerne Family Festival.  The next day...
  • dancing at Stoke Bruerne Family Festival
July:
  • dancing as guests of Whitchurch Morris at the Half Moon pub in Wilstone
 September:
  • Swanage Folk Festival
October:
  • a small group of us played at the Tring Apple Day at Jeacock's Orchard
  • dancing at Tring Day of Dance, (which we also organised)
  • dancing and playing at a private party in Wilstone
  • dancing and playing at a ceilidh in Pitstone.
  • dancing and playing at the Half Moon pub in Hitchin as part of 'Rhythms of the World'
  • our own special tradition of 'Dancing the Sun Down' on Pitstone Hill - to mark the end of summer
 November:
  • dancing at the 'Tring Together' switch on of Christmas lights, and the next day...
  • dancing at Stony Stratford switch on of Christmas lights
 December:
  • the New Moon band played at the Tring Christmas Farmers' Market, and the next day...
  • playing at Ashridge Monument for visitors to the Ashridge Forest and the visitors to the Craft Fair. 
 We've also arranged group music practices, and been out to see the Demon Barbers Christmas Carol 'Lock In', as well as a number of meals.  It's been a busy year, here's to 2017!

There are already photos for earlier events on this blog, so here is a selection of some of the things that we got up to later in the year.  Click on any of these to see all of them as an album at the bottom of the screen.


Squire Martin at Swanage


Amelia with Jackie and Chris at Tring


Cath and David at Hitchin "Monkey Off"


Charles and Amelia at Hitchin
At the end of October we 'Danced the Sun Down' on top of Pitstone Hill, six months after the more usual morris 'Dancing the Sun Up', which has the advantage that you don't have to get up at silly-o'clock in the morning.

It was extremely misty, and a bit windy.  We couldn't even see where the sun was, let alone when it was setting, so we had to keep checking on the Internet to see if we had said goodbye to the summer sun yet.

We were observed by three bemused dog walkers, unlike the crowds of some of our other performances during the year.


Our band

It was not possible to see anything at the bottom of the hill

We also danced at the switching on of Tring's Christmas lights.  It was dark, and very crowded.  Steve Kitchener took some great photos of the event HERE, including some excellent ones of New Moon.

Steve also came to see us in Tring at the Christmas Farmers' Market, a few weeks later, and took some fabulous photos of New Moon playing - find them on FACEBOOK (opens in new page)


Russ sings "Jingle Bells" at Tring
Jackie at Tring Farmer's Market

The following day we turned up at Ashridge in fairly heavy fog - but at least it wasn't raining.  Ashridge was very busy, despite the weather.


Playing in the mist

The dodgy corner...
The fog lifted after a while, and we had an excellent time.  

It's been a very good year, we've done so much, and we have had new people join us - both musicians and dancers.  

Here's to 2017, which is in the planning already...






Thursday, 22 September 2016

An update on 2016

We haven't got to the end of the year yet, and have a number of events still to come, but because it has been difficult for me to keep up with posts on this blog over the summer, due to personal reasons, it seems like a good time to post an update of all that we have been doing so far this year.

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

In April we visited Pitstone Museum again, a very enjoyable event.

Louise in full swing

The following week we went to Oxford, where we danced in several locations.

 
the musicians concentrating...


Squire Martin attacks the crowds

Smiles and Ribbons
On St George's day we were invited by Whitchurch Morris to their Aylesbury day of dance.  We danced at various locations moving towards the centre of Aylebury, where several sides had a massed dance in the shopping centre.


At the very welcoming Angler's Retreat in Marsworth
Dancing at World's End Garden Centre, Wendover


 
 Taking it seriously!


 Waltzing to the band


We march through the Shopping Centre in Aylesbury
Dancing in the shopping centre

"Teapot"
At the end of April we went to Rochester, for the famous sweeps' festival:
 
In step

Excellent hats

Charles and Martin join the Gong Scourers

Witchmen

Witchmen with sticks

In May we were the guests of Wicket Brood at the Rising Sun in Berkhamsted - an event that was captured on video by the local DeeTV.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
Video opens in new window.

In mid June we had a very busy weekend.  Many of the side danced in St Albans, then they headed up to Stoke Bruerne for the Boat Festival there, where others were already staying. We played in the evening, then danced by the lock the following day in the sunshine.

 
Always time for music, even in a break
"Whalebone"
Lockside dancing
Dancing 'Moonlight'


Hah!
Marching out
'Vampire Moon'
Avoiding the lock is always important
'Monkey Hey'
We had a break over the summer, although we did manage to dance with Whitchurch Morris at the Half Moon in Wilstone. As we finished our dance we packed up our instruments and a beautiful full moon rose over the pub.

  
In September we headed for the Folk Festival in Swanage:


The Saturday started in very heavy rain, as those of us travelling down the motorway in the morning found out, but it stopped raining around lunchtime, and by the afternoon we had brilliant sunshine.  Swanage is a small town, the beach is right next to the promenade, and there is a strong feeling of old fashioned family holidays.
Even the band get to dance sometimes
Attack!!!
the end of Worcestershire Monkey
'Vampire Moon', ribbons and waistcoats
David - 'Whalebone'
Squire Martin in the sunshine

At the end of the Saturday all the sides line up for a processional dance through the town and along the promenade, at the end, each side splits into two and turns to face the oncoming dancers, making a tunnel for them to pass under.  As they do this they cheer and congratulate the oncoming dancers - a really wonderful feeling for those arriving at the end of the long processional dance.
 



A great place to dance






 







photo: Susan Stimpson
 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tuesday evening practice

So, what do we do on a Tuesday evening, when we get together for practice?

Well, obviously, we practice, but exactly what we practice depends on whether we are expecting to dance out soon. In the winter we spend much more time learning new dances ready for the summer. When we are going to be dancing out the following weekend we practice the dances we will be doing, with the people who will be dancing that weekend in the likely positions that they will dance.

Last night we spent time going through all the dances that we know from last year, with as many dancers as possible in as many different positions as possible - so the musicians got to play the same tunes lots of times. It may not be obvious, but you don't just have to know a particular dance, because very often it is danced slightly differently in a different position.  If the person who normally leads off isn't there, then other dancers need to know how to do that - which bar of music they set off on and which direction they dance.  People on the corners of a set of dancers often have different moves to those in the middle of a row of people. If you are on the other side of a set of dancers, which side of your partner do you pass, right or left? Go the wrong way and you will likely crash into someone else.

The band plays on
After a short break for tea and coffee David got to learn Worcester Monkey - which we learned from Wicket Brood - and which he's seen before, but not danced.   We've only known this a little while, and we need to work on this to get our lines straighter, but this VIDEO shows some of the problems with how to manage complex moves and paces when your dancers vary in height by more than a foot.  Squire Martin gets over enthusiastic with stick bashing!

Then Chris was taught 'Moonshine'.  Finally, we practiced our new dance for eight dancers, a small bit of which can be seen here - HARVEST MOON. This section needs more work to get right, but it is beginning to come together.

A great evening, loads of fun.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

About New Moon

New Moon Morris was formed at the end of 2014, and we started 'dancing out' at the beginning of 2015. We started with 'North-West clog' tradition dances, and we are adding other dances from other traditions as we learn them, as well as making new dances of our own.

Dancing at the Apple Fair

We welcome new dancers and musicians, dancers are encouraged to develop their musical skills, and musicians encouraged to learn some of the dances.

We practice most Tuesdays from 8:15 to 10:15 at the Old Town Hall in Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, LU7 9EP (near the Herts/Beds/Bucks border). As we are sometimes away dancing with other sides, it's advisable to check that we will be there first.  We won't be at practice in Ivinghoe for about two months in the summer, from mid-July to early September.

In the spring and summer we are 'dancing out' most weeks.  We particularly love the opportunity to dance with other sides.
Tring - ribbons
If you are interested in coming along to see us, contact squire.newmoon@gmail.com. Or look at our events post (to be added soon) or our diary (on the right) to see if we are dancing near to you.