And I don’t just mean my hair (though, seriously, that mop needs a cut.)
Nah – not a post about my hair. The genuine Olympic torch containing fire from Olympia passed through Huntingdon on Sunday morning. Knowing that loads of people would turn out to see it, the town council decided to organise a bit of a fete around it. “I know,” they said to themselves, “what we need to welcome the sportsmen is a Day of Dance, because dance is so well represented at the Olympics.”
(Or something like that. I may be putting words into their mouths.)
At any rate, the upshot of their cogitating was that they invited Ely and Littleport Riot to dance in the square and entertain the people waiting for the torch to jog past. We of course said ‘yes please!’
Those of us – like me – who are the kind of grouches who get all huffy about sport were brought round into genuine excitement by the promise that there would also be a group of Hungarian dancers visiting from Huntingdon’s twin town, Szentendre. The Olympic torch, I can take or leave, but actual folk doing their actual folk dance is much more my thing.
We arrived at 7.45am and found hordes of people already there. I think you can tell I was enjoying myself –
(Portrait of the artist as a middle-aged folk dancer.)
We felt we had to raise our game a little because the Szentendre dancers were so good. Lo! There was much thigh slapping and boot-heel clicking and super-voluminous skirt twirling.
Some of it while balancing bottles of booze on their heads!
The Riot watched with much admiration, and a lot of commentary. We all agreed that the men’s dances are very similar in spirit to our morris jigs – there’s a lot of “I can leap higher than you! Look, ladies! Look at how springy and sprightly I am. I’m much better than him! Flock to me, little birdies” sort of thing about it. And while the women’s dancing is much lower key and more stately, it’s clearly designed to show off a lot of leg. We felt like undisciplined violent thugs in comparison. Or well, I did. I quite liked it.
At some point the Olympic torch passed by:
After which everybody in the marketplace did Zumba for a bit, lead by the teachers of the local Zumba class. Szentendre were unfairly good at that too! Then we were delighted to be invited to the tea in the town hall, where we danced for the mayor and various other organizers, Szentendre danced again, and then – joy – we got a chance to learn a dance from them.
This was a very simple circle dance, suitable for teaching someone who’s never danced before, but I still found it a lot harder than it looked. Hard to get my head around the asymmetric patterns of the stepping, and hard work physically too.
It was glorious. And they even let us be in the group photo.
Well worth getting up very early on a Sunday morning for. Even if the Riot almost managed to live up to the history of our name when one of the organisers told us we weren’t allowed to have any of the cakes we’d been promised. They had undercatered and now they were afraid that if they let us eat, other more important people wouldn’t get any. Fortunately hangings and deportations to Australia were averted when someone nipped out to Marks and Sparks and came back with a couple of tubs of chocolate rice crispie cake. Which was infinitely better than custard danish pastries any day.