Kellybrook Cider Festival / Days of Dance
(by Roger Foster)
No doubt indicated to some by the alignment of the planets and the reading of a small animal’s intestines, but in our case by such mundane means as a calendar, there was early observed in this year of our Lord 2009 the propitious sequence of dates such that Mayday fell on the Friday preceding the 21st Kellybrook Cider Festival weekend in outer Melbourne. Members of the Adelaide Morris Men , some having previously attended, some of a superstitious nature, and all having been regaled with tales by past attendees and by Britannia, the hosting side, were determined to attend given such favourable circumstances. Attrition by obligation reduced to four those of the side to make use of this fortunate sequence. This saw the entire side up at sparrowfart to dance in Victoria Square (the centre of Adelaide) on Mayday as per tradition, followed by the (also traditional) breakfast fry-up at Zuma’s at the Central Market . We then forgo the day dancing at pubs with other sides as three of the side headed east in the early morning for Melbourne to try their Morris fortune in the bigger city, while another, similarly encumbered with aforementioned obligations, but of greater determination , follows later.
The road trip was uneventful, the small talk pleasant and the weather unsympathetic until a few hours short of Melbourne after which it shone ( the weather, not the talk) and then held for the entire weekend. The night saw us comfortably ensconced in Melbourne, with drinks and solutions to the world’s problems in hand, at Dave Purdue’s in preparation for Kellybrook on the morrow. Sufficient comment has been made in the past on snoring at Morris events that you get the gist (not meaning to speak for the Purdue clan…..)
We lobbed at Kellybrook Winery , just east of Melbourne, on Saturday morning to find several marquees, Morris sides, a multitude of employees , the management and a band, all in various stages of preparation. Greetings of friends and acquaintances was even more vigorous than usual, probably heightened by the recent “Nash”(National Folk Festival) in Canberra. Sides highly represented that day were Brandragon – a local mixed North West team – and Morris Men of the Adelaide, Britannia and Whyalla pedigree. Everybody benefitted from the warm up dances in the morning and by midday the punters were rolling in.
A brief but touching memorial service was held by his Britannia brethren for Derek “Drafty” Brown who shuffled off this mortal coil a few years back, doing what we all would probably prefer to be doing at such a moment (i.e. dancing) and quite literally on that spot.
Saturday’s close at the winery saw a reduced, but still motley, crew kick on to a microbrewery (a pub for bacteria?) and thence to Nigel “Nobby” Edwards’ (Britannia) place for more social interaction, punctuated by songs of quite accomplished performance. Some more’n others…
Sunday we danced again at Kellybrook with an increase of both punters and Adelaide Morris men, and, despite an absence of Brandragon, the day was at least as successful. Past members of sides, present on both days, injected a dose of variety and nostalgia into the general mix.
Sunday’s close saw the explosion of the Morris collective back to their respective spheres, eventually, with remnants of Adelaide passing the night in an alcoholic miasma at Nat James’ (Brandragon) place after a pub meal featuring fricassee of some of our more flavourite national emblems, notably kangaroo. The taxis to the red-eye were to be endured rather than enjoyed.
Our perception of the weekend dancing is blurry, due to the quantities of both cider consumed and dancing performed, though both were generally of good variety and standard. The cider, initially with the rather novel quality of ‘freshness’, continued its fermentation throughout the weekend, commencing proceedings with an appropriate lightness of flavor and alcoholic content yet seeing out Sunday with complexities of the same qualities such that the focus and endurance of some participants , both in and out of the sets, were, almost imperceptibly, flagging.
I wrote and rapidly deleted some stuff here about how good it is to dance with other sides… If you dance you know, if you don’t dance, ask someone, or skip to the footnote** below.
The weekend was a hoot and will surely become a regular gig on the calendar.
** A benefit in a less-than-complete side attending a foot-up is that there is more interaction and dancing between sides. This introduces both new aspects to dances common to those sides, dances to be learnt and the novelty of interaction with new dancers. This benefit, however, is outweighed by the sheer charge obtained from doing a good performance with your complete and well rehearsed side in front of a good crowd. (I was going to say ‘new’ crowd but we’ve never had an old crowd that weren’t dancers themselves…….. ‘Nuff said.)