Days Gone By: Morris dancing and singing at Felixstowe Folk Festival
PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 July 2020
Are you in our Felixstowe Folk Weekend gallery? Readers have been sharing more memories of the much-loved festival.
Nazima Abulkhairi writes: “Answering your plea for Felixstowe Folk Festival Weekend memories, it was a highlight of my year as a child of the 80s!
“My grandparents were folk fans (my grandad, John Coptcoat, being a folk dance caller for dances held at Eastwick House, Colchester and The Triangle, Frinton). So I always jumped at the chance to join them for a whole weekend of events.
“One year my nan made me a beautiful white dress adorned with yellow flowers and I had a swirly circular to dance in, which I sauntered along the prom in and promptly fell over, grazing my knees.
“I seem to remember there was morris dancing featuring both male and female groups. There was an a fab ladies’ troupe that some of our family friends were part of, so an exciting watch for a little girl.
“For the folk dance events held over the two days, I proudly partnered my grandad, having practised the traditional dances before - my personal favourite being the Circassian Circle.
“I fondly recall the weekend’s culmination, the Sunday evening coveted Chorus Cup folk song competition, held in the Spa Pavilion.”
Mike Garland remembers how the festival began. He writes: “It was started by Peter Dashwood, who was the area organiser for the English Folk Dance and Song Society,
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“He wanted to set up a festival in the East to rival Sidmouth in the South West. He persuaded Wally Croft from the Felixstowe Council, I think, to support the idea, and members of East Suffolk Morris Men to help run it.
“The initial meetings over the winter of 1970 were held in Irvine Reid’s house in Felixstowe. I was involved for a number of years and ran the song sessions in the Grand or in the bar of the Spa Pavilion.
“We had some superb singers - The Dransfields, Cyril Tawney, Fred Jordan, Nic Jones - and many, many others. Other members of East Suffolk provided the music for dance sessions, and callers for the dances, particularly the Children’s Festival. We still come across dancers from some Morris sides who remember camping in Irvine’s garden.
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“East Suffolk Morris Men made an excellent connection through the Festival with the Dutch dance group Zajednica. It led to us going over to dance in Amsterdam, and was the start of our regular trips abroad. They were good days.”