Observations of a social dance enthusiast based in the Midlands - as sent to a group of his friends and copied to SeeRed, August 2010.


Personal impressions of my 22nd consecutive Sidmouth Folk Week.

The weather was good: just a few light showers, and not too hot for dancing. (It was lucky it wasn't the following week: which was cold and rainy).

After last year's rain and mud I noticed the extra precautions against wet weather - campsite entrance, extended marquee floors, walkways, various large gazebos. These must have cost money.

My main interest, as always, was social dancing. I attended two dance workshops each morning, then went to the Blackmore Gardens marquee for a lunch-time dance, and eat my sandwiches. Afterwards I usually went to the afternoon concert in the Ham marquee (evening Ham concerts aren't included in the standard season ticket).

In previous years I usually had to miss something I'd have liked to go to so I could have an evening meal. This year there was often nothing to do between 4.30 and 7.30 - so I sometimes went back to the tent to eat.

Some evenings there was no social dance (inevitably the ceilidh dance was crowded), on other evenings there were sometimes three social dances (inevitably some were very poorly attended).

Two events I particularly enjoyed featured Saduto: a group of Lithuanian dancers from London. http://www.saduto.co.uk (I'm in the photo of the dance workshop) and www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlv3bT0QmQw

I do miss the international dance groups who used to come pre 2005.

The social dances were in three church halls (St Theresa's, Methodist and All Saints), each having a comfortable capacity of only about 60, and the larger Blackmore dance marquee. It was expected to be able to use the All Saints church itself, as the fixed pews had been removed to make multi-purpose venue - but it was found out, rather late, that it had been carpeted.

I went to a couple of evening events in the Bulverton marquee - but, as usual, the music was too loud and the dancers too inexperienced.

I calculated that I was in events for an average of 9 hours per day; and if I paid separately for each event I would have paid 392 (the season ticket cost 148)

Some feel that social dance is being marginalised (I remember 200+ people at 9.30 workshops in the Ham marquee). Is it the lack of provision putting people off, or the lack of interest means less is provided?

There are suggestions that they are considering larger, but out-of-town-centre, dance venues see: www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk/Resources/Sidmouth2010SocialDanceFeedback.pdf

I am unlikely to go next year - partly because I prefer Warwick as a festival, and maybe I'll to to Broadstairs for a change.


Whilst the observation that the season ticket is good value compared with buying all event tickets separately is valid, this is a different point from asking whether the season ticket would be even better value if the Bulverton costs were stripped out. Here is someone who has attended for 22 years but who may not come in 2011 - partly because the Sidmouth Festival is not what it was and partly because the 2011 event overlaps with Warwick festival.


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