Went up Friday evening and after getting the tent up headed over to the Friday evening ceilidh. I've never walked into a ceilidh to find all the sets back-to-front before (men on the womens side, women on the mens side), but it was consistent. Generally the Friday ceilidh was a very weak start to the weekend, not many people there and generally lacking in energy. I've not heard the Knifegrinders before, they didn't have a lot of drive to them, but that could be down to the audience. I think part of the problem was that 7.30-9.30 does seem very early for a ceilidh, the late night one on Saturday worked a lot better, as did all the late night spots.
On Friday the late night performance was by Mamienco, a French group mixing rock, jazz and gypsy music. They had a lot of energy and the pavilion was a lot more packed with much younger people than the ceilidh earlier in the evening, which gave it a much better buzz too.
On Saturday we were performing most of the afternoon at various places along the seafront. It was a nice laid back arrangement of dance between these times, here's a suggested starting spot, but we'll leave it up to use your judgement to move around spots. The one criticism I would have of that system is that they didn't include any details of when different sides were dancing in the programme, so you had no idea when to look around for them.
There was a short procession along the seafront to the bandstand during the afternoon followed by a performance there, which generally went down well, but not as well as the evening.
It was the torchlit procession that was one of the major highlights of the weekend. We'd been asked to lead it, so we were right at the front and the streets were absolutely packed with people. As it was dark we had the lights in our masks on and apparently as soon as the procession reached the bottom of the hill and turned onto the seafront, you could see our glowing red eyes bobbing up and down from the bandstand as we headed down that way.
As soon as we reached the bandstand, we found they'd changed the running order for the sides that they'd changed the running order for the sides which had been asked to do a dance at the end of the procession and we'd been moved from first to last. We got a good cheer at the end of that.
The performance nicely finished in time to get to the Glorystrokes ceilidh, who were good, but not as good as I've heard them play before. They only had one of their melodeon players (they've had 2 every other time I've seen them) and although it's the heavy metal electric guitar sounds that make them different they don't work quite so well without both melodeons cutting through it at the top. 2 hours did seem very short for a ceilidh and I could have happily danced a couple more hours afterwards.
Our second busking spot was on the Sunday morning and our dancing was generally a lot better than I've seen it in years. I was still buzzing from the Saturday evening and as it was our last day there was no need to save anything for later, so I was just going for it and I think a lot of the others in the side were doing the same. There was certainly plenty of energy flying around.
Loitered around for the Sunday evening, which was well worth it as the late night concert on Sunday had to be the highlight of the whole weekend. I'd never heard Warblefly before, but they had this amazing grungy folk rock sound. Was pleased to see they will also be playing at Wallingford, only to discover that they're concert is at exactly the same time as our ceilidh spot on the Friday evening, bother! I'm sure festival organisers shift through my brain to figure out the things I'd like so they can make them deliberately clash with spots.
All in all an excellent festival. I'm very tempted to try and go along for the whole week next year.
By the sounds of things we went down very well, so hopefully won't be too long before the Hunt get invited back again.