At a time when lockdown and isolation has been getting us all down, Oxfolk Ceilidhs decided to move its events online. It’s been a much needed tonic for dancers and musicians alike; a break from the stresses and uncertainties of the world outside and a chance to focus on some of the fun things in life.
In some respects it’s just like a normal dance. There’s a live band, a caller and sound engineer making sure everything sounds good. The difference is that it all happens in Zoom, the video conferencing software that suddenly became massively popular at the beginning of lockdown. Dances are adapted for 1-4 people. It works really well for families, groups of housemates and couples. One of the delightful surprises have been the dancers who live alone, dancing with mops or teddy bears.
Jane Bird, Oxfolk’s Chairperson, said, “The whole experience is as much like a ceilidh in your local community centre as we can make it. Because we use Zoom, it’s quite interactive – you can ask the caller to repeat things if you need to, or find out what tunes the band is playing. As well as it being a fun thing to do, it’s a great way to spend time with family and friends around the country, and we regularly get dancers from outside the UK joining us, too! A Zoom ceilidh is a really fun and joyful thing, and often quite moving.
Oxfolk has picked some contrasting bands to play. Cath Watkins (fiddle) and Nic Bradford (guitar) are based in Southampton and play traditional tunes from Hampshire. Switched-On Playford is Chris Green’s electronic take on 17th century dance tunes from the Playford collection. Naragonia is a duo from Belgium who often top the bill at European festivals.
Upcoming events are
Saturday 13th June, 8pm – ceilidh with Cath Watkins and Nic Bradford
Saturday 11th July, 8pm – ceilidh Chris Green’s Switched-On Playford
Sunday 19th July, 3pm – French dance workshop with Kerry Fletcher and 4.30pm – French bal with Naragonia from Belgium
Tickets and full details are available from oxfolk.org.uk
Here’s a short film to give you an idea of what the dances are like: