Tag Archives: dance

Midsummer Crawl 2017- Oak to Holly

IMAG0058IMG_1100What did you do on the hottest June day for 40 years? No-one knew exactly what to expect for the second Midsummer Crawl, even those who were in on the planning, but the outline of events was in place. As before, we convened at the Apni Haveli (formerly the Woodman) opposite an oak tree for initial mingling before the assembled party read out snippets of information about how Midsummer is celebrated in various countries round the world. These gave an inkling of what was to follow. Then came the adorning of the willow headdresses which culminated in revealing John as the Oak King, with Dee as his consort, The Goddess. It was explained that tonight they would consummate their union in an act so overwhelming that the Oak King would perish and be replaced by the Holly King who would steadily gain in power until midwinter. Needless to say, there was a fair amount of innuendo throughout the evening.

Midsummer 2017 blowing bubblesMidsummer 2017 walking by Sladeimag0059.jpgThereupon all set off, blowing bubbles on the way, to the Who’d a Thought It up the road. The activity here was for the women to gather names of 9 sacred herbs written on small cards which The Goddess had strewn around the garden. Meanwhile, the men drew lots. On the women’s return the couples were matched up, willow rings were exchanged and the Oak King declared them married, since fake marriages are a Midsummer custom in some parts of the world. Meanwhile, the other customers looked on with amusement, and one bloke came over to introduce himself, see above. Once Dee had shown everyone how to dance a simple dance step, the parade danced via the back roads towards The Star, to the accompaniment of wrist bells for the ladies and The King’s Knee Tremblers* for the men, and with natural confetti showering all around. Here, we picked up a few extra punters and chatted up the locals who wondered what on earth we were doing.

Midsummer 2107 Erik reading poetry The Star


Feasting Swedish-style on herring, new potatoes and sour cream with dill

At The Star, Erik read several Midsummer poems in the garden, including audience participation, then joss sticks were lit for the journey to The Ship. Here, the activity was to draw effigies of witches, bulls, cocks and cats. These were duly burnt in a small tin, and while the women practiced jumping, the men prepared the Midsummer Fire. In reality, this was a trio of tealights in a facsimile of a fire pit, but it served the purpose. Once everyone had jumped over the fire thrice, The Oak King led us to the holly tree that stands adjacent to the Rugby Club. After a quick group rendition of various animal noises with an ‘authentic’ Swedish accent, the old year was wound down by walking three times clockwise round the holly tree, before the new year was wound up by walking three times anticlockwise, accompanied by the hullabaloo of bellowing animal cries. As with so many Art Plumstead open air events, those who wished to, adjourned to The Old Mill.


Preparing to jump the fire

*these are made from can lids lashed together like castanets and secured to the knee with knicker elastic from the £1 shop. They make a splendid clattering noise and are ideal for drawing attention to oneself.

Midsummer Madness

Msummer birdmaking afterwardsThis year Art Plumstead decided to stay put instead of devising a promenade performance. It was just as much fun, but all in one place, on Winn’s Common. There were three different workshops running concurrently, aimed at all ages, because adults need to play too! The first activity was making a paper cockatoo, embellished with additional feathers and optional beak. As people finished, they were free to choose which of the next two activities they wanted to try next, which made space for the steady stream of new arrivals.

Msummer birdmaking 1Msummer birdmaking 2The second workshop was all about quick sketching in unfamiliar ways, such as with eyes closed, scribbling constantly to create a tonal study of the landscape, or using the opposite hand from usual. To end, everyone was invited to make a life study of Andrew, the facilitator, using all the skills that they had practiced so far. The final workshop was an informal group exercise that allowed freestyle weaving of natural materials onto a framework of branches prepared by Marje .

Msummer sketching 1Msummer sketching 2Msummer sketching 3Msummer sketching 4Msummer weaving 1Msummer weaving 2After all that sitting around it was time for a bit of physical activity in the form of dancing with partners, led by John and Erik, who were suitably dressed for the occasion. Weaving a bit of humorous banter into their teaching, they managed to coach the group through a routine involving steps, kicks and doh-si-dohs. To round off the festivities, we all adjourned to the Art Plumstead pop up bar, where snacks and drinks were on offer.

Msummer dancing 2

Msummer dancing 1Msummer dancing 3