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Just To Prove Festivals Never Die


Gog Magog Molly - Bunkfest 200918
Originally uploaded by dr syntax


It was interesting returning to Wallingford this weekend with Gogs. Last time I was there was 2006, the year before it collapsed due to funding issues, but it's nice to see the organisers have managed to pull the festival back together out of nowhere.

There were less sides around then before which was a shame. They don't offer as much for performing sides anymore though. The ceilidhs used to be free for us, but now they're only half price (except if your doing the interval spot when they're free).

I know a number of people who object to being invited to perform at a festival and then having to pay to see the rest of the festival when we've given our time for free. I can see there point, especially with places like Chippenham when they work you really hard for 2 days and still charge you £30 or £40 for the priviledge or work you really hard for 3 days a leave you no time to see any of the rest of the festival. However, it seems somehow different with Wallingford, as given the funding issues, I'm guessing it's more an issue of charging or the festival wouldn't run.

I do wonder whether this could have been releaved more by having more collectors out with the dance sides or encourage the dance sides themselves to collect. Helen and I were discussing this on the way back to the campsite on Sunday afternoon and wondered whether a prize for the side that collects the most like Ely has would help.

In terms of our performances, they seemed to go well, we even got a scream for "more" at the end of our ceilidh spot, which was cool :-)

There's some good photos of us dancing on Sunday here (including the feet at the top of the post)

As for other sides, Beltane were impressive (probably helped quite a bit by the power of their music), I especially liked the way they used pauses within one of their dances with all the dancers and musicians stopping until one of the dancers resumed the beat by hitting the ground with their stick. I personally felt they repeated things a bit too much though and lost some of their impact as a result. The pausing for example was wow the first couple of times, but after that it wasn't as unexpected.

Wicket Brood had a lot of power and interesting dances. They'd been given the other ceilidh spot and certainly made a lot of impact. They lost audience attention between dances as the forming of the sets seemed a little disorganised, but as soon as they started dancing again they got it back.

I was also impressed with the performances from the Heneghan/James and O'Gara Schools of Irish Dance. It was the Sunday performance I saw, and given how young some of them were I was impressed with the amount of confidence they had. Given how showy the Irish stuff is, it can look fairly rubbish without that and most of the child sides I've seen doing it have always seemed incredibly nervous, so it was nice to see this for a change.

Borderline (the brightly coloured ones rather than this lot who I've not seen yet) seem fun. I'd seen them a Chepstow, where they'd seen a bit of fun, but they seemed to have more energy here which meant they made more of an impact. Very different from most border, but it seems that when they're on form they're very dramatic. Probably worth keeping an eye out for them to see how they develop.

As for the ceilidhs, I didn't get to much of Climax Ceilidh Band on Friday night due to rehersing the interval spot and running off to see Warblefly, but they're normally good and the last dance was good. Toothless Mary on Saturday were excellent with endless supplies of energy, there were a few issues with people not being able to hear the caller over them, but people seemed to generally be having fun, so not a major problem. All in all, the ceilidhs were less well attended then the used to be (but then they used to be free to the Morris sides and their used to be more sides there, so perhaps that's only to be expected). Friday's seemed particularly empty, whereas Saturday's was probably a reasonable number of people given the space (it used to be overcrowded).

Didn't see many of the concerts, although Baka Beyond on Sunday evening were good. They had an interesting blend of celtic and african folk. However, the real highlight of the festival were Warblefly who, if anything, were even better than at Broadstairs. I got a copy of their latest CD, so they're be more about them soon, but for the curious have a link to their myspace profile.

All in all Wallingford is still one of the best of the smaller festivals and lot less tiring when you only dance with one side there.

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