20 August 2016 - Whitby (Day 1)

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Gathering at Pannett Park.
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We were very pleased to be invited to this year's Whitby Folk Week. Many of our side had not even visited the town before so there was much eager anticipation. We were booked to perform on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the beginning of the week but several stayed on to enjoy the rest of the festival.

Most of us found suitable bed and breakfast accommodation in or around Whitby with a few preferring the official campsite. Just about everyone encountered some sort of traffic delay on the trip up from the south of England but everyone eventually arrived safe and sound.

Our first stand on day one was at the Whitby Museum which is located in Pannett Park, to the west of the town centre. Here there was an excellent dancing surface just outside the entrance to the museum and delightful views of the Church of Saint Mary and Whitby Abbey in the distance. Perhaps more importantly there were toilets in the museum!

I popped into the museum for a quick look round and came across some interesting ancient relics. However, as soon as they realised that the tea rooms were closed, the Kettle Bridge dancers quickly left.
I know that this was a very predictable "joke" but it was too tempting to resist.

We were accompanied at this stand by three sides.

  • High Spen Blue Diamonds, a rapper side from Gateshead. They have a tremendous history going all the way back to 1926 with continuity provided by successive generations of the Forster family (mostly called Fred!).
  • Shropshire Bedlams, a male border side from the south west corner of (not surprisingly) Shropshire. They are a very energetic side and they wear distinctive individually made black masks which I found very impressive.
  • Martha Rhoden's Tuppenny Dish are a female border side and a companion group to the Bedlams, being based in the same area and always performing together. They too are a very lively side with some spectacular high kicking.

Incidentally, the Bedlams and Martha Rhoden were founded by none other than John Kirkpatrick. Click here to read an interesting article about their origins and click here for a more in-depth look at the basis of their style and appearance.

Taking our turn amongst the other sides, we danced Prescot and Colne. The main problem was the wind that swirled round, lifting hats off as it went. As usual, the dancers coped ably with this hazard.

Our next stand was down at the Tourist Information Centre in the middle of town. This involved a 15 minute walk (downhill, thankfully) through the crowds of rather bemused shoppers. There was a large dancing area here and a very convenient Co-op Food Shop just across the road. We had the same sides for company as before and we performed Shawforth and Saint Helens Gala. Being near the centre of town, there were more people in the audience and they certainly seemed to enjoy the show.

Stand three was back up at the museum and the walk back up the hill had to be taken slowly and steadily not really what you want after an energetic session of dancing. Not only that, the weather took a turn for the worse and we got rather caught in a downpour. After a little while, the rain relented and we were able to dance again. For the record, we did KBC Processional and Aughton (appropriate as it is nicknamed "the windscreen wiper dance").

With the dancing over, after a few minutes' rest we made our way up to the promenade where all participating sides were gathering for the start of the grand procession through the town. The band made a tactical substitution with Nicola coming in to play the bass drum. This had two noticeable effects there was now at last a proper accomplished musician in the band and the average age of the band went down by 50%.
Seriously, a big "thank you" is due to Nicola for helping us out and keeping the dancers in time.

The procession took off at a good pace and we were encouraged by the organisers to keep up with the side in front of us. This was fine until they stopped to do a short static display and then hared off into the distance. We did our best to keep up but it was very difficult to rush down a steep slippery slope without losing our footing. Clogs were not made for running in!

Having reached the end of the procession, all the sides congregated again outside the Office de Tourisme to perform a show dance each. Our contribution was Ealuscerwen and you can click here to see a video of our performance.

That marked the end of proceedings for the day and we all dispersed to our accommodation for a well-earned rest.

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Kettle Bridge Clogs web site by Stephen Cordery is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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