I had one of me "moments" the Tuesday before last. I needed to find a new noun to accurately reflect what happens. Anyway, this one wasn't quite the same as those that had come before. It came from the collective.
We were learniing the Alex Woodcock's Waltz; a massive group of us - some new people who only started in January and some who've been with us from the start. We were learning a step that's, frankly, quite tricky and there was this moment where everyone was absolutely together. I couldn't see this of course, because I was out front, but I heard this amazing sound - we were a unit! It was only for a moment, mind, but it happened and it was blinking brilliant. It happens sometimes in Rossendale Clog, particularly when we're doing the Jonathan step in Sam Sherry's Hornpipe and it's fab - Donald always shouts out "Hot Dog!!" when it happens and we all know it and go yay! But it's so fab when we get those moments when we're all completely together, in unison. I actually couldn't believe that it had happened so early on in learning a new dance - on a brand new step, but it did.
It got me thinking, over these past few weeks, how far we've really come. I've been getting organised with a programme of clog dances we can learn over the coming months and, in doing so, I've been thinking about dances that are accessible to everyone and something to challenge the increasing number of people who are chomping at the bit to move on... I can't describe how proud and pleased it made me feel to be thinking about these next steps for our lovely group. You'll be pleased to know that I have some options and I'll be running them past our young-uns soon so we can have some direction.
As some of you know, I've been enjoying these "moments" for a while. These are things that I have enjoyed on a personal level - those moments when I've challenged myself and learned something new or a rare occasion where I've managed to play the whole of Rossendale's Extended Waltz without some kind of Les Dawson-on-the-accordion episode. Those are the times when I have a little smile of satisfaction and say something nice to myself in my head about how I do actually belong here and I can do it. Since last Summer, the "moments" became a bit more pronounced and have, on occasions, caught me off guard to the point where I've actually yelled out with excitement. I don't think I will ever forget the clogcycle-in-the-bog when that pelaton came round the corner from Turvin down to Ripponden and the crowd made this noise like I've never heard, and Tom's beautiful voice was clear: representing our local pride and the band was playing and me and Robyn were spinning round like mad things in those bike wheels... WOW. Then I had one in the tunnel under the canal in Tod at the lantern parade. There was something about the combination of the beautiful tune we were playing and the acoustic in that tunnel, which was made so many years ago and through which so many people have trudged and I felt connected. WOW. Again, I have a very clear memory of every single detail of that moment that I don't think will leave me and it's brilliant.
The one I had in practise though, was different. Not only is the moment clear in my memory, but the residual sense of it has lasted these few weeks. It's like a bit of magic that's tuned my brain into this sense of what we're doing and I just can't help noticing more and more and adding to it. This one is about our group. It's pride, in everyone in the group who I have come to know (or know better) and I know how brilliantly each of you are doing (even if you don't believe it yourself), and in our band, who are full of joy and life and I love it. Today, at the Walloper's Weekend I was sat there about to watch the Sam Sherry Waltz, which a sizeable chunk of our group have learned this weekend, and I am not ashamed to admit I got a bit misty eyed. It was the first time I've watched you dance, you see. Oh my goodness, you were all absolutely fantastic. All of you with your own style and gait and the concentration and, probably, a bit of nerves in there too. Anyone who saw Steve playing this afternoon will know what I mean. That man, in that moment, looked like pure joy.
This afternoon, I had this surge of folk-love.
So that's my new word. A folksurge. So thank you, everyone: it's an absolute pleasure to be with you.