Meet the side…

Lyon, France 2010

Name: Toni (Hobbit)

Role: Dancer

Joined:1999

Why do they call you Hobbit?: I was given the name Hobbit by Mike our Squire, once when we were dancing with another side that also had a very small women dancer like me. Mike dragged me over to measure us both to see who was the smallest and it was me. Mike then called out loudly our Hobbit is smaller than your Hobbit and the name seemed to stick to me after that. So that’s what most people in Phoenix call me. I think some of them don’t even know my real name.

How I joined: Whilst I was working for Hillingdon Libraries back in Summer 1999 a colleague told me that she was a Morris Dancer and that she was dancing at Batchworth Lock on the Saturday, and asked me if I would like to come and watch her dance. I came to watch as it sounded like fun and from that moment I was hooked. I have always danced since a child, tap and ballet and modern jazz etc. but this was something new to me. I came along to a couple of practices on the Wednesday at the scout hut in Rickmansworth, but I had a problem as I was due to start teaching Genealogy at Adult Education in Richmond in September which was also on a Wednesday evening and I couldn’t be in two places at once. So, I came along to practices during the term breaks when I wasn’t teaching, but couldn’t come in term time. In Jan 2000 I didn’t get enough students enrol, as they had raised the number required to 15 per class and I only had 12 so my class was dropped. Which meant that I could now spend my Wednesday evenings practicing Morris Dancing.

First Dance Out: My first dance out was in February 2000 at Cheltenham Festival and I couldn’t drive up there until the Friday evening until I had finished work at the Library. The weather was pretty foul; it was dark and I found myself driving up to Cheltenham in thick fog, which was pretty scary. But on the Saturday when we were actually dancing the weather wasn’t too bad and I also took part in a workshop showing people the basics of Morris Dancing. I didn’t have a full kit just a plain waistcoat without a back badge and a few small badges that people had given me, a striped shirt, breeches and socks and a hat with a few flowers.

Wild Hunt Day of Dance, London 2018

Favourite Morris Memory: well, I’ve got two really special ones. First one was in Broadstairs on the promenade when I was presented with my bells. I was so excited I didn’t want to take them off when we finished and the Squire always says “Bells off Phoenix” I just kept jumping up and down to make lots of noise. Broadstairs is one of my Favourite Folk Festivals as there is so much going on, lots of workshops, concerts and Ceilidhs etc.

My other really good Morris Memory was when Phoenix were invited to dance at Lyon in France, we were made to feel very welcome by the local people and they gave us a big tea party with lots of cakes.

Favourite Dance: This is quite hard to choose as there are lots of good dances that I enjoy. I’ll say ‘Postman’s Knock’ but I also really like ‘Worcestershire Monkey’

Meet the side…

Oxford Folk Festival 2016

Name: Kate

Role: Deputy Squire and E-officer

Joined: 2011

How I joined: I had seen some Morris dancers at a local festival and thought it looked fun and a good distraction from studying for my Masters degree! I contacted Phoenix because at the time they were the closest side to me who would accept women.

Once I started I never looked back! In fact I have since joined 2 other sides

First Dance Out: New Years Day parade in central London. It rained A LOT but we had such an amazing time both in the parade and then afterwards dancing in local pubs.

Favourite Morris memory: Dancing with Phoenix in my wedding dress at our wedding reception. Sue (Foreman) had even written us a special dance, ‘Marriage Lines’ to a tune called ‘haste to the wedding’. Phoenix did an arch of sticks as we left the church and it made our day so special.

Wedding 2018

Favourite Dance: Stomp Hankie

A hot one at the 3 Horseshoes

On a hot, sweaty Tuesday evening Phoenix made their way to the 3 horseshoes, Winkwell to dance as guests of Wicket Brood.

A lovely setting with a good size audience, we were able to field 2 sets for each dance despite the relatively small dance space. We were even able to fit everyone in for a performance of Saturday Night.

Some lively, energetic dancing from both sides culminated in a joint Worcestershire Monkey, Brood’s signature dance.

The evening ended with cake in celebration of our Foreman Sue who will be celebrating a ‘big’ birthday this weekend

Chaos at the Coach and Horses

Last Wednesday was our local dance out at the Coach & Horses on Croxley Green. We had really great attendance at this welcoming pub with a good surface for dancing – definitely one to revisit .
We presented our annual Cheque £400 to the CVSS, the chairman John Bray collected the Cheque and was most grateful for our continued support. He and his wife really enjoyed their evening watching us dance and socializing with us all.

We also had some passing girl guides join us on mass with their team leaders. The kids enjoyed joining in Molly Oxford – it made their evening!

After dancing The pub kindly issued us with vast quantities of hot buffet food at no cost which was very welcoming !

All in all one of our more successful Wednesday night dance outs !

Blogging backlog

We’ve been so busy recently that we have a bit of a bloggers backlog! (Not as unpleasant as it sounds!)

Back at the beginning of July, Phoenix were lucky enough to be invited on another weekend of dance hosted by the lovely Rose & Castle and Queens Oak Morris sides. As ever it was a fantastic event complete with camping, food and an evening ceilidh. Despite the heat we danced our socks off and had a great time.

The weekend was closely followed by St Michael’s evening in St Albans the following Wednesday. As always it was a chaotic cacophony of Morris down the street – great fun!

Last weekend, Phoenix hosted our own day of dance at the 6th annual Rickmansworth Folk Festival. We were joined by our friends Whitethorn Morris, Merrydowners Morris and Wicket Brood for a number of spots around town, culminating in a mass Poppleton stick with Merrydowners and a mass Worcester monkey with Wicket Brood (And one member of Whitethorn). The dancing was of course followed by tea and cake for everyone.

The day was a big success and we want to thank our guest sides for coming along and putting on such a great show.

Finally, on Sunday we attended an event at Rickmansworth Masonic school. Another lovely afternoon!

Beautiful evening at the Black Horse.

Despite fear of rain, Phoenix Morris enjoyed a lovely evening of dancing at the Black Horse Inn in Chesham as guests of our friends Whitethorn Morris.Due to our Foreman, Sue, being lent to the musicians for the evening, deputy Foreman, Karen, and Deputy Squire, Kate, stepped in to drive the dances. The calls were mostly correct but at times a little more ‘creative’ than usual!Whitethorn were in their usual excellent form and a great time was had by all. A lovely location, good company and energetic dancing all round.

Wet and wonderful Wimborne

Another most enjoyable weekend for Phoenix at Wimborne Festival 2019. It was good to catch up with our long distance members and see some different faces attending Wimborne for the first time this year. Luckily the rain kept away for the dancing both days.

Saturdays procession was a success and our spot in the Square was well danced, our Cotswold style making a good contrast with Mythago Border Morris. A lovely end to our first day.

Sunday also went well; we had fewer dancers, but standard was good. It was a pleasure to dance our first spot with Severn Champions Molly Dancers.

We had some positive comments about our dancing over the weekend.

As well as our performing we had some off duty sociable fun including a Side meal, Ceilidh dancing and some of us joining in the Fezheads evening entertainment. Thanks to our Squire we won the prize for collecting the most money over the weekend towards next years festival. All round a successful weekend!